Thoughts Roundup 8/15/22 — Blueberry Green Tea, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Noragami, Dynasty Warriors 8, Gerald Horne

lu meng thinking like the nerd he is

Previous in this series: 8/8/22 roundup

I don’t know have much general thought this week, just thoughts about specific things. A good break from last week where this section was quite lengthy, no?

Let’s get right into it:

Tea

Blueberry Green Tea — Harney & sons

by WHOM?

It sounded good. Green tea? Blueberry? Well. It was really mid. And no matter how much agave I added to sweeten it, it continued just tasting like...kinda nothing. Like I do with all tea that comes out mid and underpowering, I added lemonade to make it more interesting and gulped the rest down. Would not buy again!

TV

Noragami (2014)

Not a safe place to sit but ok

Noragami is actually an anime I watched as it was airing back in the day, I felt like some type of anime hipster because I didn’t see any hype for it and I discovered it on my own. I re-watched it recently and it’s still really good to me. Sure it has spiritual slavery, weird age-gap relationships between gods and spirits, a hot female war-god who kinda has Nazi vibes, but that’s part of what makes it enjoyable!

Noragami stars Hiyori, a high school girl who really loves martial arts who suddenly tries to be a brave heroine like the martial artists she looks up to and attempts to save a man from being hit by a bus. Little did she know, this man was actually a god who didn’t need her help and the accident she ends up in puts her state of being in limbo between the dead and the living.

Because she can now traverse between the spiritual realm and living realm, Hiyori ends up friends with the previously mentioned god who is identified as Yato and they deal with the daily dramas of the spiritual realm. Hiyori, Yato, and Yukine — Yato’s spiritual weapon — end up on adventures such as: slaying spirits that do things such as encourage people to commit suicide, fighting other gods that that wage war on Yato, and granting wishes that Yato’s few followers pray for.

There’s plenty of action, plenty of likeable characters, and the plot has interesting references to Japanese mythology, it’s truly a wonder this series didn’t end up more popular and its anime adaptation only ended up with two seasons. Definitely recommend.

Music

Handsome Boy Modeling School — So How’s Your Girl

just two men of color vibin. dudes rock

Favorite Tracks: The Truth, Once Again,

Handsome Boy Modeling School is a hip hop production duo consisting of Dan The Automator (notably featured on Deltron 3030 and Gorillaz tracks) and Prince Paul (De La Soul). When I saw the silly name of their group about a decade ago, I had to check out what they had to offer. The duo’s name is a reference to the sitcom Get A Life (1990,) a show that began airing and ended before I was born, meaning it’s 100 million years old.

This album’s upper class parody tone is set by its intro track “Rock ’n’ Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)”, where the duo is introduced at a formal setting and suddenly sounds out of place when the Stetsasonic sample “Your rock n’ roll could never hip hop like this!” drops.

The skits on the album sample the aforementioned sitcom and it all just sounds so…wacky. There’s one track where a sample just repeats “I’m a male model, not a male PROSTITUTE” over and over.

My favorite track on here is The Truth, a jazzy hip hop track where Róisín Murphy(yeah I had to copy and paste her name) sings her ass off about how there’s no hiding from the truth of her love, then J-live hops on with a rap verse that transforms the setting of the song into a court of hip hop and drops all these metaphors about how his opponents can’t hold up to him in court. It’s the peak of the album for me and if I had to pick one song from this album to recommend, it’s probably that one.

Handsome Boy Modeling School’s So How’s Your Girl is definitely worth a listen, it’s a wacky assortment of tracks and skits that probably has at least one track for everyone.

Games

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends

Do not pursue Lu Bu

Dynasty Warriors 8 is one of my favorite Warriors games. A lot of people tend to look down on the Warriors series and claim it’s just a game where you press the same button over and over with no variation, and so what!

Nah, but really though, there’s a lot more depth to Warriors games in general than people realize and specifically the Dynasty Warriors series got me into the lore of the Chinese Three Kingdoms. While previous warriors games had some pretty zany storytelling and voice acting, the 8th game in the series finally perfected the presentation. The voice actors even say warlord Cao Cao’s name like “Tsao Tsao” instead of “Cow Cow!”

One of the biggest appeals for Dynasty Warriors outside of the action-filled unrealistic gameplay itself is its Romance of the Three Kingdoms base. I love multi-faceted storytelling, and this game is filled with it. You can choose between the stories of Wu, Shu, Wei, and even the later Jin faction that evolves out of Wei that caps off the Three Kingdoms era. It’s fun to see the perspectives of three warring sides as geopolitics and clash between ideals unfold.

The Three Kingdoms era of China is based off of real history, but both the Romance novels and Dynasty Warrior games take a lot of liberties with the depiction of characters and their personalities. Ones I welcome, because it makes the cast very colorful and unique and its kind of akin to how depictions of mythological gods can vary from culture to culture. It basically turns Chinese history into an anime.

The actual history can be interesting regardless. Take Lui Bei — one of the warlord founders of the Shu dynasty — and the story of him crying because he felt like his thighs were getting fat. Truly a man born in the wrong era, as big thighs are in now.

Or the story of Wu’s strategist Lu Meng, who initially refused to read because he felt it wasn’t important and later became obsessed with reading. A wholesome story about a jock in the year 200-something who becomes the biggest nerd ever. It’s fascinating high-key to see how relatable people from literally more than a thousand years ago were…despite being warlords who cut off people’s heads and shit.

Dynasty Warriors got me into all of that and 8 is its best iteration. I definitely recommend it and think people should have more of an open mind about it!

Interviews

Gerald Horne on Diasporic Music 8/7/22

king

Black Marxist historian Gerald Horne shares his thoughts on Bill Russell, America’s obsession with getting into simultaneous conflict with China, Russia and Iran to its own detriment, and a fact I didn’t know about Black Panther shameful sellout Eldridge Cleaver — that he killed a North Africa man that Kathleen Cleaver had an affair with. A great listen.

That’s all for this week. I try to write these every Monday. Thanks for reading, feel free to share any thoughts and share these writeups with anyone you think might like them!

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