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June 15, 2009

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June 15, 2009-Seein’ as how the Brickster was born in the USA and is a big cultural icon in Japan, you’d think he’d be a natural choice for a guest at events that like to promote Japanese-American cross-cultural activities and other BS. But not only do I regularly get ignored in the States, the choices for the ‘celebs’ they do use practically border on the insane. For example, last week in Hawaii at the Pan-Pacific Festival in Waikiki, who do ya suppose they enlisted from Japan as their guest of honor? Ichiro? Aso Taro? Uchiyama Rina? Matsudaira Ken? Hell, no. They imported that dumbass cat and samurai pest Hikonyan. How humiliatin’! So not only does that big white tub ’a goo get to ride around in the cool convertible and get cheered by the crowds, but he was also surrounded and doted upon by hordes of hot Hawaiian chicks. Not to mention gettin’ an all expenses paid Hawaiian vacation, somethin’ I coulda really used since Ko’s always whinin’ about wantin’ to go there and I can’t afford it. I’d say marryin’ a rich man’s daughter sucks, except for the fact that Koyori’s a sweetheart, gorgeous, smart, and her dad pays my salary.

And just to further yank the Brickster’s chain, the Crown Prince Akihiko Scholarship Banquet next month (also in Hawaii) is featurin’ a dinner with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan as the guests of honor. Now, since I’m well acquainted with Cloistered Emperor Go-Chikatetsu-no-Eki, you’d think that I’d be first in line for an invite. But no. Who gets one instead? Kitsuno, the Shogun of the Samurai Archives. While that ain’t quite as bad as bein’ upstaged by Hikonyan (after all, the Emperor always met with the Shogun at some point in taiga dramas), it still comes off as a bitch slap right across the kisser. And damn-Koyori would KILL to be at a dinner with the Emperor. If I got an invite, I’d be a hero in her eyes and would gain enough cache to get away with all sorts of silly antics for months. Her dad might even give me a raise. I’ll have to figure out some way to swing it-maybe I can pass myself off as part of the security detail (anti-ninja squad), and sneak Ko in under the guise of a high-priced call girl. Or maybe me an’ her can pose as rovin’ table entertainers-I’m sure the Emperor and Empress would like a couple of nice balloon animals to bring back to their hotel room as a souvenir of the event. Course, right now the only balloon animals I know how to make are snakes and amputee wiener dogs so I’ll have to bone up on my technique.

It all makes you wonder what’ll be next-maybe Harvard University will invite Ashigaru to a symposium to give dramatic readin’s and interpretations of naughty Heian era limericks, or Obenjo will get invited to a nun tastin’ in Notre Dame.

June 8, 2009-Occasionally a film will come along and stand a genre on its head, not only givin’ it new life but takin’ it to a higher plateau of excellence in the process. Such a film is Ishii Teruo's 1973 masterpiece “Bohachi Bushido” (‘Code of the Forgotten Eight’…forgotten eight virtues, in this case). Rarely has the field of jidaigeki seen an effort like this! While the Brickster was initially hesitant to drop 25 bucks on a film he had never heard of, it’s the best investment I’ve ever made on a DVD. ‘Bohachi’ stars Tanba Tetsuro, who had previously appeared in several minor films such as Seppuku, Kaidan, Secret of The Urn, You Only Live Twice, Goyokin, and Three Outlaw Samurai. Tanba finally got a chance to shine in his role as the embittered and suicidal ronin/assassin Ashita Shino who lends his murderous talents to the Bohachi. The Bohachi are involved with prostitution in the Yoshiwara red-light district and are primarily involved with procurin’ women and breakin’ them to the fold. The members have renounced all claims to the eight virtues-godliness, respect of elders, loyalty to friends, trust in allies, modesty, justice, conscience, and shame. Except they’re also supposed to be loyal and respectful to their boss and follow all of his orders. They worship at an altar featurin' a harigata and even the kanji on their jackets have double meanin's as sexual positions. Boss Omonshirobe has a bell given to his family by Tokugawa Ieyasu (in appreciation for their role in providin’ women to the construction crews who built up Edo in the early 17th century, keepin’ them happy and out of trouble). This symbol makes him all but untouchable to the local authorities and even extends his influence inside Edo Castle. In this he’s aided by the Bohachi women-a group of female bodyguards who put the ‘bush’ in ‘bushido’-or maybe not, since lead actress Hishimi Yuriko explains the use of maebari in her interview elsewhere on the disc. It doesn’t take long for the film to establish that there’s gonna be a lot of blood, violence, and severed limbs. And boobs. Oh, yes, there will be boobs. Even the actual DVD features a group of topless babes ringin' the edge against a black background, arranged so that it appears they are clustered around the viewer and lookin' down from above.

The film kicks off with a beautiful impressionistic swordfight on a bridge over the credit sequence involvin’ Shino and several samurai. The stark red lightin’ foreshadows the bloodlettin’ to come and casts the participants into silhouettes. The slow motion strikes by Shino cause shock waves that reverberate and form the credits. The cuts that dispatch his foes cause huge blood geysers, which like the shock waves also form words. As the last of his foes are cut down, real time and standard color photography kicks in as Shino is surrounded by police. Shino mutters to himself, “I tire of this”, and attempts to commit suicide by jumpin’ into the frigid waters of the river below. He awakens to find himself in the company of several naked women vigorously rubbin’ him down and pressin’ themselves to him. Their body heat has kept him from freezin’ to death after bein’ pulled out of the river. I think this scene demonstrates perfectly why the Japanese are among the most suicide-prone people in the world-with a potential payoff like Shino’s, it ain’t always such a bad choice. But no one saves a loser like Shino out of kindness-the boss of the Bohachi wants to use his murderous abilities in his latest scheme. The boss’s chief enforcer, Shirakubi Kesazo, gives Shino the grand tour of the Bohachi’s operation-includin’ the torture chamber where women are ‘conditioned’ to accept their new status as prostitutes. As his first mission, Shino is sent out to aid a Bohachi enforcer in collectin’ the daughter of a deceased samurai who is unable to pay off his debt. Shino slices her clothes off (ala Nemuri Kyoshiro) when she gets all uppity with him and knocks her around a bit for good measure. She’s spread eagled in the buff and put on display-to be bid on by the Bohachi’s perverted clientele. Shino is given 50 ryo by the Bohachi and told he might want to bid on the woman with it. He does so and wins-but then does nothin’ to her. He’s then informed that he’s failed what has been an elaborate test-the whole scenario was staffed by the Bohachi’s own people. Shino has failed for showin’ a conscience by not rapin’ her. As the actress who played the samurai’s daughter and her attendant begin to mock and laugh at Shino (especially at his favorite catchphrase-‘To die is hell-and to live is also hell’), he gets more than a little pissed and lops off one of their ears. He’s failed yet another test-he still has shame. The Bohachi turn him out and just to show there are no hard feelin’s, have arranged for him to be met outside by several dozen members of the local constabulary. After Shino carves a large chunk out of their numbers, the fight comes to a halt when Boss Omonshirobe makes his entrance. He tells the cops that Shino is one of his men and that he’s just out of uniform-and then displays the Aoi crest of the Tokugawa to send them runnin’.

Shino is accepted by the Bohachi and taught (among other things) their sign language, which in many cases is based on rude bodily functions. There’s also a fantastic set piece where Shirakubi pits his gun against Shino’s sword-as Shirakubi pulls his gun, the action freezes and the screen fades to black except for Shino and himself. With time slowed to a crawl, Shino pulls off a lightnin’ fast draw that cuts Shirakubi’s gun in two-but only after Shirakubi has shot a Bohachi woman’s hairpin in half (his intended target). This sets up a likely showdown between the two later in the film. Shino’s then informed that the Bohachi’s operation in Yoshiwara is sufferin’ due to the many illegal brothels frontin’ as teahouses along with a plethora of free agent streetwalkers. Shino’s job is to carve up the customers, expose the teahouses, and kidnap the women-a task he sets to with relish. Soon, the teahouses find themselves empty, with their customers dead or scared off by displays of tied up nude samurai and illegal prostitutes bein’ paraded through the streets bearin’ placards that detail their humiliation. The Teahouse owners band together and attempt to raid the Yoshiwara in retaliation, but are stopped by Shino and the promises of the Bakufu to mediate in the dispute-just as Omonshirobe had planned.

Meanwhile, the best section of the movie is just gettin’ started. Shino is targeted for death by the Bakufu’s ‘Kurokawa men’ (ie, Ninjer) and is trapped in a ring of fire after a ninja disguised as a merchant spills his barrels of oil around him. Things look bad for Shino until the Bohachi women arrive, don firefighter cloaks, and put out the conflagration by rollin’ over the flames back and forth. They then ask Shino to cut off their burned clothes and strut around naked for the next ten minutes or so, pourin’ water over each other in the chilly weather just to make things a bit perkier. The girls are then set upon by the Nameless Kurokawa Master, who easily defeats them, but not before the ladies pull weapons from who knows where and engage him in what has to be the best cinematic display of naked fightin’ ever filmed. Nameless, havin’ seemin’ly gotten a bit excited when one of the gals jumped on his shoulders and encircled his head with her legs, decides to take them back to his place for some fun before killin’ them. But killjoy Shino breaks up his party before it has a chance to start and ruins his day. Nameless taunts Shino with his dyin’ breath, predictin’ his own betrayal and death before long.

We’re then treated to the Bohachi women (still nude) strippin’ and fondlin’ a Western blonde haired, blue eyed Catholic nun with big hooters. Why? No reason I can think of, but it sure looks great. In the same vein, Omonshirobe is holdin’ an audience with all his girls lined up in two rows to either side of the room. They’re there to give him his New Year’s greetin’, and also for no real reason, are doin’ it naked. We have a great photo of this same scene as shown in the remake (which the Brickster’s currently filmin’), which is available fer yer viewin' pleasure further down the page. In the meantime, Omonshirobe’s scheme has paid off-between his offerin’ a ‘reward’ for each illegal prostitute brought in and the Bakufu’s decision in the Yoshiwara/Tea House conflict (the former establishments and prostitutes will be allowed to set up in Yoshiwara-legally, and under the Bohachi’s power), the Bohachi have at one stroke largely eliminated the competition and acquired their women for next to nothin’. As a condition of the decision, however, Omonshirobe has to eliminate the wild Shino. This sets up an extended ‘opium’ sequence where Shino is given wine laced with opium along with a pipe full ‘o the stuff-and despite the fact that he knows why, he goes along willin’ly. After all, to die is hell-and to live is also hell. Goin’ out blasted and bein’ pleasured by the entire group of Bohachi women doesn’t seem like such a bad way. And just in case, the entire Bakufu police force is waitin’ outside to make sure. Is Shino whacked by the gals (in every sense of the word)? Does his duel with Shirakubi come off? Does Omonshirobe walk away the big winner or does he end up locked in a cage full of syphilitic, rottin’ sex addicts? And can Shino fight the Bakufu forces while stoned out of his mind? The final ten minutes of the film are perhaps the most entertainin’ you’ll ever see-while not quite as good as the concludin’ fight in ‘The Betrayal’ or ‘Azumi’, it’s still somethin’ to behold, and has some new wrinkles to throw both in plotline and action.

Like the Hanzo the Razor series, Bohachi Bushido delivers a straightforward jidaigeki film-and then adds a ton o’ extras guaranteed to please a male audience. The swordplay is outstandin’. Photography, set design, and costumin’ are all at the high standard that you would expect from a Japanese jidaigeki film made durin’ the ‘golden age’. Several set pieces are beautiful, surreal, and impressive enough that they would be at home in most art films (such as the openin’ bridge sequence, the sword vs gun battle, and the opium dream). Tanba turns in one of his best performances in what would be considered a throwaway role by many actors, and the other members of the cast give straightforward approaches rather than play their roles for comedy. Unlike many films that try to combine sex and violence with history (‘Ninja Vixens’ comes to mind), it’s not a low budget cheapie churned out with a no-name cast for a quick buck. It’s just like a regular period film-with the bonus of a lot of naked chicks runnin’ around.

The DVD even gives the red carpet treatment to the extras. The Main Menu is without a doubt the greatest yet seen in DVD history. There are more breasts, naked babes, blood geysers, flyin’ body parts, and swordplay on display in the menu than you’ll find in a dozen mainstream films put together. Even the on screen selector is a samurai sword! A subtitled commentary track by moderator Hayashi Yoshiki, film writer Sugisaku J-Taro, and director (not of this film, it should be noted) Nakano Takao captures the mood of the movie perfectly, attemptin’ at one moment to analyze the film while askin’ “Should we be so serious when there are breasts on the screen?” the next. It’s an energetic and funny yet informative commentary. There’s an interview with lead actress Hishimi Yuriko, featurin’ clips from her other roles in stuff like Ultra 7 and Godzilla Vs Gigan. As one might suspect, much of the interview revolves around nudity and how movie producers maneuver women into doin’ it. And Yuriko is still lookin’ pretty damn fine for bein’ over 60. Film geek/pinky expert J-Taro gives his take on Toei and the Pinky genre in an amusin’ interview filmed in his cramped secret lair. There’s a lengthy essay by Chris D. (who’s done a lot of the better commentary tracks on Pinky films) on the film, and a shorter one done by Mark Schilling tellin’ how he came to include Bohachi in an Ishii retrospective, bringin’ it back to the notice of the film world. Several pages from writer Koike Kazuo's Bohachi Bushido manga are reproduced as well (complete with English translations), with an emphasis on the sections adapted directly for the film. A photo gallery is short on shots from this film, but has a lot of Tanba and Ishii on other productions and even reproduces several pages from Ishii’s personal shootin’ script (complete with handwritten notations). Finally, you get the original trailer along with several other trailers from films that are equally ‘out there’-includin’ a cornball Chinese period torture film that would have Kenny Swope salivatin’ and proclaimin’ the superiority of Chinese over Japanese methods.

If you’re a true film aficionado lookin’ for a sensitive portrayal of the human condition, and a real ‘slice of life’-well, egghead, pack your bags and keep lookin’. But if you like an entertainin’ film loaded with nihilistic action, surreal set pieces, broodin’ ronin, slimy yakuza bosses, hard as nails women, great swordplay, crazy over the top effects, buckets of cartoonish gore, and gratuitous nudity constantly on display-it simply doesn’t get any better than this. If the Brickster could keep only one film NOT starrin’ Oshida Reiko, this would be the one. Along with the Hanzo the Razor series, it’s the top of the mountain-a five star classic that only gets better with each repeated viewin’.

June 1, 2009-As you can see by the accompanyin' photo, the Brickster's recent visit to Kyoufu Byouin was a howlin' success. I met a lot of great people...misunderstood people. Apart from killin' off a bunch of mooks who probably deserved it, they aren't any different from you and me. Well, except maybe the drool and hearin' voices. But the Brickster found he bonded at once with these poor outcasts of society. Why, on the spot, I even started up the Kyoufu Liberation Front! Yodare held his breath until they promised the inmates bean paste jam and applesauce at least once a week, and Kyouki barricaded himself inside the Chief Administrator's office. He insisted he wouldn't come out until an explanation was comin' for there bein' a female Zatoichi. He also wanted them to destroy the giant talkin' spiders he shares his cell with and demanded a dozen used bunion pads from the hospital staff. His final demand wanted them to force the bathroom plunger that claimed his virginity to marry him. However, we didn't think the world of Japanese Mental Health Facilities was quite ready for such sweepin' reform, and besides, they threatened to cut off TV time for the rest of the inmates. So I talked old Kyouki into comin' out of the office and tellin' us where he had stashed the Administrator, and the TV rights were retained. A big sigh of relief swept through the crowd, as they realized how close they had come to missin' out on their weekly dose of 'Abarenbo Gaijin' (provin' you don't have to be crazy to like our show, but it helps).

I gotta tell ya, those guys (and gals) know how to have a good time! They danced around like crazy and sang silly songs, whether there was any music or not. And the laughter-I never felt so appreciated in my whole life! The chicks there were more than happy to show off their goodies, and their restraints made the follow-up "Now you'll have to die" talk tough for them to follow through on (on the outside, it's a lot riskier for your average horn dog). It seems like a bunch of celebs go there for a rest, and I met Amaterasu, Uesugi Kenshin, Ishida Mitsunari (who divulged his donut makin' sekrits), several Emperors, a couple of Elvises, and some guy who claimed he was Uchiyama Rina, but I could tell he wasn't. I wouldn't have minded stayin' a few days, and I think the Doctors and staff felt the same way. From what Ko tells me, she had a hard time convincin' them to let me go and that I didn't belong there. But I'll be back-you just can't find friends like that on the outside!

May 25, 2009-As I've said several times, one of the great things about bein' a movie star is the opportunity to give back to the community and bring some sunshine to those less fortunate than yourself. It's also a good way to get free meals and drinks if you're runnin' a little short at the end of the month. The Brickster, bein' the champion of the common man, has a real soft spot for the outcasts of society-and in Japan, practically everyone who doesn't fit in is lumped into that category. One of these groups is the mentally challenged-in the States, we bend over backwards to accommodate folks like that and get them help, but in Japan, they're considered embarrassin' for their families and are usually just shut away out of site. So when the Studio suggested the Brickster take advantage of a lull in filmin' to do some community service work, I decided to accept an offer that had been extended to me by the nursin' staff at the local mental health facility, Kyoufu Byouin. How could I say no to a group of cute Japanese gals in those crisp white uniforms? While I can use the 'extensive physical therapy' they promised, I'm also gonna be expected to visit with the patients. That's inconvenient, but I guess it goes with the territory. The folks there are even worse off than many other hospitalized groups because the majority of 'em have no family. Well, OK, mostly because they killed 'em off, but I'm sure they didn't mean to. So's anyway, I'm headin' there later in the week.

May 18, 2009-I hate to say it, but the end is near for Well, sorta. Since internet hostin' outfits simply just can't leave well enough alone, the geniuses in charge are gonna be movin' my site from Google pages to Google sites. Why? Who knows? From what I've heard, Google sites is a helluva lot uglier than pages and the sites moved there tend to look nothin' like they did before. But it uses a Wiki base which is supposed to be easier for morons to use than html, hence the move. Now, I have no idea what this will end up doin' to It might not do a thing-it might just change the backgrounds or layouts. It might screw up the vids I have posted or embedded links, since the new base doesn't support all html. It might make the whole mess inaccessible or give it a new web address, even though I own the domain and have a redirect on it. This is all supposed to take place in June, so if you head over to the Brickster's site and get an error message that it doesn't exist, or it looks like a big jumbled mess (even moreso than usual)-that's why. If that happens, you can always visit the Brickster's Yashiki in the Samurai-Archive's Samurai Film Forum to find out what's goin' on. I did download the entire site, so if the worst happens, I'll be able to rebuild it-but with my lack of net skills, it might take forever, and by that time the dumbasses at Google will probably be ready to move it again.

May 11, 2009-Well, the Brickster finally got around to watchin’ the Morning Musume 47 Ronin musical, Edokko Chushingura (Girls of Edo: Treasury of Loyal Retainers), after havin’ had it for about a year. Seems like I never had the three hours to sit down and watch the whole thing. I was expectin’ a regular cinematic musical, but this was a filmed stage performance of the musical Morning Musume put on in June of 2003 at the Meijiza. The group put the kabuki theatre walkways and lifts to good use in introducin’ characters, and as with most live theater, the performances were exaggerated and way over the top, makin’ them even better in my opinion. There were loads of regular actors and dancers in the cast as well, sendin’ the babe quotient of the production through the roof. Especially those kunoichi dancers. The dialogue is extremely rapid fire and the entire play goes at a frentic pace. Now, I WAS disappointed that the production wasn’t a traditional tellin’ of the 47 Ronin’s feudal drive-by of yore with an all-girl cast (who would be tougher than the historical Ronin were). So-just what was the plot?

After a rousin’ openin’ song and dance number (where the flexibility of gals in restrictive kimono is nothin’ short of amazin’ and you get a quick flash of the historical 47 Ronin), we’re introduced to Iseya Suzu and her sisters Yaya, Tsune, and En. Their dad Shinbei owns a small roadside restaurant, and they’re confronted by a large gaggle of gigglin’ gals wavin’ broadside sheets that herald the anniversary of the Ronin’s attack along with other news. When the adults in the group fill the youngsters in on the legend of the Ronin, the kids decide that puttin’ on a play based on Chushingura would be a good way to raise money for (presumably) the local clinic. However, Suzu’s dad isn’t at all pleased with their choice of material-he’s violently opposed to the entire subject of the Ronin. You can see where this is headin’, huh?

Meanwhile, up at Edo castle, Princess Adzukihime is bemoanin’ the fact that she’s held a virtual prisoner by the Evil Bakufu Retainer, Maekawa (who, like most bad guys, steals the show-he’s the ultimate slimeball who just revels in his behavior, kinda like an Edo period Snidely Whiplash). It seems the Princess is from a kuge family (although her retainers are samurai) and had been brought to Edo castle to marry into the Tokugawa. Maekawa is keepin' a tight leash on her as she's his charge and ticket to higher status. She just wants to hang out in the town and have fun like a normal girl. And with the help of her flighty ladies in waitin’ (comprised of the standard five hot babes and one old ugly fat one), she does just that. Her loyal retainer, the elderly Ji (well, his name is actually Nonohara, but nobody ever uses it), tries to hide the fact from Maekawa but is busted. Faced with seppuku, Ji sends out the ladies in waitin’ to find the Princess. Well, except for the fat chick, who decides it’d be more fun to stay behind and seduce the old guy. Ewwwwwwwwwww!!!!! Ji also calls out the clan’s kunoichi, who were the high point of the film for me. Morning Musume must have some kinda trainee pipeline group, because all three of the featured kunoichi (as opposed to the kunoichi dancers) were a good head shorter than anyone else in the cast. Still, they’re awfully cute in their little plastic day glo outfits and played for comedy. I gotta admit, after havin’ watched so many “Ninja Vixen” movies lately, it was a nice change of pace to see kunoichi that kept their clothes on the whole time. Tsukikage, Chacha, and Ranmaru (who really is a gal this time) always operate as a team and their sekrit ninpo skillz hardly ever work. They set out in clueless pursuit of the Princess.

As fate and the script would have it, Adzukihime strikes up a friendship with Suzu and her girlfriends. She even joins the cast of the play, but comes close to bein’ exposed when Sensei Sugita Genpaku (a famous historical doctor) from the clinic recognizes her. He keeps his mouth shut, though-bad choice for him. However, usin’ their high-tech ‘Princess Detector’, the clan kunoichi catch up at about the same time the ladies in waitin’ do. The ninja gals prove to be no match for the catty, bullyin’ behavior of the older women (who have decided to cover for the Princess) and resort to cryin’. Since the Japanese like things in sets of three, Maekawa and his merry band wander by as well. They were tipped off by the fact that Suzu’s little troupe was stupid enough to include the real name of the Princess on the printed broadsheets for the play. How they could tell, I don’t know, because the broadsheets are the exact same ones used in the openin’ scenes. But I digress. Since nobody’ll give up the Princess, Maekawa grabs En, declarin’ his intention to make her the ‘stand in’ for Adzukihime and will present her as such to the bakufu. When the Sensei tries to interfere, Maekawa strikes him down with a sword slash to the face.

While the adults in the cast are too frightened to raise a hand against the samurai, Suzu’s friends, the ladies in waitin’, the Princess, and the kunoichi all don their red sequined 47 Ronin wear and plan a raid on Maekawa. We also learn why Suzu’s dad reacts so violently to the 47 Ronin legend-he’s an ancestor of Horibe Yasubei, one of Asano’s most trusted retainers and a leader of the raid on Kira’s mansion. Horibe’s role in the raid and resultin’ seppuku left his family abandoned. The Ise branch gave up their samurai status and foreswore a life of violence, changin' their name to Iseya and becomin' shopkeepers. He refuses to aid Suzu, so the Edokko Chushingura brigade heads off alone after the ghost of Horibe appears to fill Suzu with resolve for her righteous cause. This bein’ fantasy an’ all, a group of totally unarmed women proves to be more than a match for swordsmen who have trained their entire life. The battle is the ultimate in surrealism, with left hooks that miss by three feet sendin’ samurai soarin’ through the air. En is rescued just as she’s ready to meet a fate worse than death-but things look bad for the girls when Maekawa decides he’s had enough and commands his samurai to get serious and start killin’ somethin’.

Of course, at this point, Suzu’s dad Shinbei shows up to save the day. He’s reclaimed his samurai heritage and is lookin’ to settle the score. Since this is, after all, a Morning Musume production, you know there ain’t gonna be the bloodbath one would normally look forward to at this juncture. Dad flips his sword in the best fashion of Wise Shogun Yoshimune from Abarenbo Shogun and cleans house with the flat of his blade, and Suzu takes out Maekawa with her signature “wooden bathtub broken over the head” technique. Everyone escapes and the Princess is returned to her castle, much to the relief of Ji. But wouldn’t ya just know it-Maekawa, when confronted with his evil deeds, informs the Princess that she musta’ dreamt the whole thing and she has no way to prove anythin’ other than the word of some unreliable peasants. Sensei shows up with his eyepatch and lipstick scar to put the kibosh on that idea, and the Princess orders Maekawa to be placed under arrest. He’s drug off stage sputterin’ and fumin’ in a most satisfyin’ manner. In a nod to the historical Ronin’s march to Asano’s grave at Sengakuji, the Edokko brigade solemnly files out of the castle, headin’ towards the back of the auditorium and biddin’ the Princess a final goodbye (since you just can’t have royalty mixin’ with commoners). Until a few seconds later when they all pop out from backstage to hang with the Princess and further vex Ji.

And once the stage play is done, the show’s just gettin’ started! The last half hour of the 2 hour plus DVD features a Morning Musume mini concert, with the girls doin’ their usual line up of songs. Now, it does become a bit creepy when you see that the audience is comprised of middle-aged Japanese men holdin’ up light sticks in lieu of lighters who are screamin’, hootin’ and hollerin’ over a group of teen girls-but that’s Japan for ya. You also get an ‘extra feature’-a 10 minute or so backstage look at the production, which proves to be funny and utterly charmin’. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how silly and goofy teen gals like to act, but it’s brought home here. Watchin’ the three Lilliputian ninja show off their version of ‘ninja stealth’ as they proceed down the hall towards the stage just can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

But the bottom line is-was the DVD entertainin’? You bet-light years better than the other Japanese history musical the Brickster’s seen (Stephen Sondheim's Bakumatsu-Meiji ‘Pacific Overtures’). I paid a nice chunk of cash to see that live, and it didn’t feature hordes of cuties and wasn’t nearly as funny as Edokko Chushingura. I’da loved to have seen this show live, but the DVD did a good job simulatin’ the experience. If you feel like takin’ a break from chanbara films filled with senseless killin’, ribald sexuality, and monsters and want a unique and amusin’ jidai-geki experience-this wouldn’t be a bad choice.

May 4, 2009-Whooo-hooo! The Brickster’s prayers have been answered. Well, at least one of the really minor ones-the biggie involvin’ Uchiyama Rina has yet to come to fruition. Anyway, I’m happy to report that loathsome toad Paul ‘Fluffy’ Daugherty has been shown the door by Clear Channel and unceremoniously booted from his position as host of WLW Sportstalk and Extra Innings (the post game call in show that airs after each of the Brickster’s hometown Cincinnati Reds games). And just a little over a month after I ripped Pee Doc a new one on the Monogatari! Yes, the odious Daugherty’s karma has finally caught up with him. And in his typical classless fashion, he abused his position as a sportswriter (yes, a sportswriter, not a columnist, as much as he likes to kid himself) for the Cincinnati Enquirer to devote an entire column to givin’ WLW a partin’ shot. I’d reprint it here, but it’s so full of self servin’ righteousness, lame rationalization, blame shiftin’ and whinin’ that it’d make everyone nauseous. Picture an eight year old kid snufflin’ into a hanky and sobbin’ out, “I never wanted that dumb ol’ job anyway” and you’ll get the picture. Daugherty painted himself as the quintessential journalist, a man who refused to ‘bite the head off chickens in the world of talk radio’. Well, BS, Paul-the poorly informed fluff sports pieces you churn out hardly qualify as serious journalism. Your so-called attempts at serious writin’ in the Tempo section of the paper were so bad that they landed you right back in the sportwriter’s chair. And you sure didn’t seem to mind bein’ part of the carnival of talk radio until AFTER they pulled the rug out and that hefty paycheck wasn’t comin’ in any more. If another radio station offered you a gig (which ain’t gonna happen), you’d be fallin’ all over yourself tryin’ to sign on the dotted line. And as far as your claims of bein’ over-prepared for the show-well, if sittin’ in a sports bar or restaurant moochin’ free drinks and occasionally checkin’ out the game on the big screen qualifies for bein’ over-prepared, the Brickster and millions of other guys should be gettin’ shows of their own. Guess all of this makes you not just a hypocrite, but an unethical hypocrite with no sense of journalistic integrity.

You weren’t let go because you refused to join the carnival of talk radio, Paul. You lost your job because your sports knowledge (especially baseball) was barely at the level of a typical adolescent male. Because you displayed a thinly veiled contempt for the same sports that paid that hefty salary you didn’t earn. Because you based your opinions of an athlete’s performance on the personal relationship you had with them. Because you made it clear to your listeners that you considered stayin’ up late to do the shows a burden. Because you wasted hours of your show talkin’ about ridiculous non-sports topics, such as how you were dealin’ with the ground moles in your front yard (an entire show of that) or talkin’ about whatever wuss movie you watched recently. Because your disinterested and smarmy, arrogant attitude caused listeners to drift away one by one. Simply put, you lost your job because you weren’t very good at it.

Of course, this is only half the battle-Daugherty’s still at the Enquirer, where his asshattery continues unabated. In his aforementioned partin’ shot to Clear Channel, Daugherty’s infatuation with Red’s second baseman Brandon Phillips hit new heights (or lows) when he referred to Phillips as the sweetest man he’d ever known. And the day before (when he was shown the door at WLW), he devoted an entire article to makin’ excuses for Phillips’s extended slump and cryin’ about what a shame it was that it was happenin’ to such a great guy. Any other player would’ve just been viciously ripped, but the Gametime Burger got special treatment. For such a supposedly sweet guy, I find it puzzlin’ that Phillip’s former teammates on the Indians hated him. A guy who had custom shoes made in his rookie year with ‘The Franchise’ on them and bitched to the press about a teammate’s big contract (sayin’ “It should have been me”) doesn’t seem like all that and a bag of chips to me. Even now, he regularly shows a bad attitude by jakin’ it on popouts, puttin’ on a big show when he hits a dinger (and makin’ himself look like a complete ass when it ends up not goin’ out), and whinin’ when it’s his teammates gettin’ attention and not him. But, once again, the Brickster is digressin’. Hopefully the Enquirer will boot Daugherty’s backside out the door and give the space his articles infest to guys who know their stuff like Fay, Erardi, and Skinner.

Then we can get on to Phase Two-gettin’ rid of Marty Brenneman and Jeff Brantley, MLB’s worst broadcast team. As one pundit put it, “The Mount Rushmore of Cincinnati sports buffoonery has the faces of Daugherty, sMarty, tHom (Marty’s son), and the Cowperson (Brantley) chiseled on it”. With Brenneman’s recent meanderin’ performances where he not only ignores the game but misidentifies the players and even the team the Reds are playin’ (he referred to the New York Mets as the San Francisco Giants for an entire innin’) havin’ been noticed by his employers, things might be lookin’ good on that front as well. Then all would be right in the world of baseball, and I could devote my entire attention to more important things, like Uchiyama Rina.

April 27, 2009-Recently the studio released a film about a Japanese volleyball team full'a losers that suddenly became worldbeaters once their sexy female instructor promised to show them her boobs IF they were able to win the big game. Now, you know when there's a lady flashin' the goodies, the Brickster's not apt to be far behind, so durin' a break on Yasuke, I walked over to the Oppai Volleyball set to see what I could see. Of course, the horny kids playin' the teens were fans of the Brickster and recognized him immediately, and begged the director to put a cameo for me in the script. Well, he was fine with it, since I'm under contract and it wouldn't cost him nothin'-so see if you can catch the Brickster in the trailer. Hint-I'm the guy flyin' through the air and screamin' like a banshee.

April 20, 2009-Now, if there's one thing the Brickster likes almost as much as drinkin', dancin', and the ladies, it's the game of baseball. Has there ever been a sport that combines team play with a one-on-one confrontation better? I don't think so. And unlike other sports where you can run the clock out on an opponent, there's no such thing as an insurmountable lead in baseball. It's a sport largely based on skill, unlike other contests where genetic freaks hold court. Where else can a fat guy (the Babe) be the best player of all time, small players (Joe Morgan) be Hall of Famers, or men well into their 40's continue to be among the best in the game? Not to mention long games (especially in Japan) give ya plenty of chances to check in with yer adult beverage vendor. Granted, baseball does bring along its downside-that bein' goofballs like Marty Brenneman, Jeff Brantley, and Paul 'Fluffy' Daugherty. But all in all, it's pretty much the perfect sport.

But just when you think it can't get any better, along comes someone like Yoshida Eri to prove you're wrong. Who's she, you ask? Well, she's the 17 year old knuckleballer who recently became Japan's first female professional baseball player, signin' with the Kobe 9 Cruise. Jackie Robinson might have broken the color barrier in MLB, but even he would look like a wuss when compared to the crap a woman tryin' to play a man's game must go through. You'd never know it to look at her, though-check out this video of her layin' down the special K with her sidearm knuckler:

Damn! Even though she couldn't break a pane of glass with that pitch, just check out the movement on it-particularly that one pitch where it gets to the plate and then drops straight down. I can only imagine how humilated the guy who whiffed was-bein' struck out by a girl wouldn't exactly be somethin' to gain the admiration of yer teammates.

Even better, little Eri (at all of 5' 1") is a cutie in trainin'-not some woman that looks genetically altered, a gorilla enhanced by steriods, or like a man in drag. By the time she makes it to the Central or Pacific leagues in Japan (at least, we hope she does), she'll be a full fledged heartbreaker. There'll be a lotta guys in Japan whose hearts will be flutterin' as much as her knuckler. Heck, maybe one day she'll make it all the way to MLB-she's already better than 90% of the pitchers on the Cincinnati Reds. But until then, she's earned the Brickster's respect for her guts, talent, and performance under pressure.

Speakin' of Japanese baseball, the Brickster was recently invited to throw out the first pitch in a ceremony honorin' team Japan (who won the 2009 World Baseball Classic when the dumbass Koreans pitched to Ichiro with a base open) before a Dragons game. We'll have pics of that after it goes down. Wonder how I would do squarin' off against Eri? I don't think I'd have the problems the Japanese players do-Japanese women haul my ass out of the fire and make me look bad every week on my TV series, so it's not like I'd have that fear of bein' shown up by a gal foremost in my mind.

April 13, 2009-Seems there's been some confusion lately about one of the other SA members bein' featured in Yasuke. Obenjo emailed me with an additional interview question to clear it up, and here it is with a publicity shot just to dot the 'I'.

OK: We've heard recently that historian and SA member Anthony Bryant has been offered a walk-on role in Yasuke. There seems to be some confusion in fandom over what part he's actually going to be playing. Can you shed any light on this matter?

Brick: Well, A.J. was originally slated to play the role of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki-but he was cast sight unseen. When he showed up on the set, the gal who's our castin' director got one look at his legs and decided he'd be perfect for the role of Shiz-he-ka, the evil shirabyōshi dancer. Imagine my surprise! Looks like it was a good career mood for Lord Effin'ham, since the Brickster hears he's slated to be part of the next round of "Dancing With The Stars" on American TV.

Also, yesterday was Easter, and even though he's a day late samurai pest Hikonyan wantred to release this information to his fans to clear up a misconception of theirs: "Happy Easter, everyone! Well, not for me it isn't! I'd just like to remind all the kids out there that their old pal Hikonyan, glorious vassal of the Ii family and protector of Hikone Castle, is NOT the Easter Bunny! Not not not not not!!!!!!! Those are HORNS on my helmet, not big fuzzy ears. And the next one of you that comes up to me and asks where I've hidden my eggs is going to find them right up their back passage. Nyan nyan! "

April 6, 2009-The Brickster has died and gone to the Pure Land thanks to a great new DVD set! Some of you might know that my birthday was last week, and Koyori gifted me with the best b-day present EVAR! Take a look at the batch of DVD goodies I got:

The Naked Sword! Twin Blades of the Ninja! Lady Ninja Kasumi volumes 1, 2, AND 3! Not to mention the true shinin’ crown jewel of this get together of naughty kunoichi-the 10 movie set ‘Ninja Vixens’! We’re talkin’ Demonic Sacrifices, Forbidden Paradise, Crimson Blades, Devilish Angels, Flame of Seduction, Vixen Dropouts, Web of Passion, Carnal Enchantment, Treasure of Lust, and Virgin Nightmares! There’s Musashi-Yagyu-Hattori Hanzo-hordes of naked chicks-and so much more! The Vixens even make the rounds of the 47 Ronin in the entry based on ‘Chushingura’! Two of the films are even ‘Ninja Vixen’ spin-offs, ‘Vixen Bounty Hunters’! And finally, there are jidai-geki films with lower budgets and cheaper sets than the ones I make! Not that you’ll mind-sure, the costumes look like somethin’ bought at Halloween Express, but the gals don’t usually wear ‘em long enough for that to matter. And the only real swordplay on display is from the butaniku chanbara (豚肉ちゃんばら) school-most of the gals rely on their sekrit ninja powers to put the smackdown on the enemy, or gettin’ what they want by sweet-talkin’ their mark and actin’ all coy (like most modern Japanese women).

While I was tempted to watch all 15 films in one sittin’, fine works of art like these need to be taken in small doses, allowin’ the true connoisseur to enjoy and savor them like a fine wine. So’s I started out with ‘Flame of Seduction’. The film opens in modern day Japan where a little cutie is bitchin’ to her ojiisan about how hot it is and why the hell won’t he spring for an air conditioner. Grandpa (a portly old gent, quite the sight in Bermuda shorts and white knee socks) does a ninja flip and turns off the fan, decidin’ he needs to tell her a story about how tough women were in the old days. Fade back to the Edo period, where almost all of the ninja have been wiped out by the Lion King (no, not THAT one). The Lion King and his mighty army of….err, two flunkies and one ninja turncoat are poised to take over all of Japan, havin’ arranged for the Shogun to be slowly poisoned. Of course, it looks like Japan’s population is roughly that of Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped-durin’ the course of the movie, you only see the Lion King’s 4 person organization and the 5 members of the ninja alliance. Bridges, highways, towns, temples, and fields are deserted except for one chick that wanders by at the end of the film so’s one of the male leads can act up (throughout the movie, this same guy turns in what’s EASILY the worst actin’ job the Brickster’s EVER seen in a movie-and that’s sayin’ somethin’). We’re treated to three huge doses of nekkid ninja within the first ten minutes of the film-yep, it wastes no time in deliverin’ on its promises. My personal fave is the hyper-glum and serious mute swordswoman Bell (for some reason the translators use literal translations for proper names-so Ryu is called Dragon, Ayame is Iris, Suzu is Bell, etc) gleefully sheddin’ her clothes and dancin’ in the middle of a stream at midnight, after which she reverts to bein’ hyper-glum and serious again. What’s better than a dancin’ naked woman with a perfect butt who can’t talk? If you know the answer, don’t bother tellin’ me, cuz I won’t believe it. Now, I won’t bore you with the delicate intricacies of the plot as it moves from here to the final confrontation between Ninja Vixens and the Lion King (who seems to be one of the two cast members who can actually act, and he even looks like he’s had sword trainin’). Vixens Iris and Bell face off against flunkies Gin and Kin, Iris’s turncoat sister Dark Mist, and finally the Lion King hisself. Goofy optical ninja powers come to the forefront (since it’s painfully obvious the girls are barely strong enough to lift a sword, much less use one). You ain’t lived until you’ve witnessed “Ninja Power-Boob Needles!” play itself out on the silver screen. And after the Lion King seemin’ly kills Bell, she comes back to life and plays her trump card-“Ninja Power-Flames of Seduction!” What happens here is that all of her clothes suddenly disappear, and waves of flame gather around her…ahh…Circle of Life, so to speak. Ya, rlly. She then fries the Lion King with ‘em-how befittin’. Then, in the film’s best scene, the four survivin’ Ninja alliance members head off to market to sell the food they’ve grown. For absolutely no reason at all, they drop the cart, spread out in a line, and as the soundtrack blares forth calypso music, break into a dance number. It gets better-the rest of the cast (includin’ everyone that’s died up to now) is shown in their respective locations joinin’ in. Even Grandpa from the film’s prologue is shown hoppin’ around like a frog on a hot plate. I gotta tell you, this film looked for the world like one of my own films where I just happened to have not shown up in the script yet-it was that good!

The Brickster also sees that not included in his bday surprise were the films I Was A Teenage Ninja and Ninja She-Devil, both of which he just ordered off Amazon. I gotta say I’m absolutely APPALED that Kitsuno doesn’t have the Ninja Vixens 10 film set for sale on the SA Store. It’s an inexcusable oversight! For only $5 more than some tired old chestnut like Seven Samurai or Seppuku, you get 10 times as many films-and 100 times the hot chicks! If Kurosawa had liked women, you know he’da been makin’ films like Ninja Vixens and there’s no tellin’ how far he mighta gone in the movie biz. They might be direct to cable shot-on-video cheesy FX low budget bad actin’ messterpieces, but they’re also good natured, entertainin’ and funny as hell (sometimes intentionally so). Just the sight of Grandpa dancin’ was enough to bring tears of laughter to the Brickster’s eyes. Hopefully, Kitsuno will correct this glarin’ omission so’s the SA can regain its rightful place as the guidin’ light of pre-modern Japanese history in the West.

April 1, 2009-The SA decided to run my interview on my birthday-a nice touch. Here's the transcript courtesy of the Samurai Archives-since most of the pictures used for the story have already been on the Brickster's site, we're only includin' the new one of Yasuke here.

Love him or hate him, or maybe you’re like one of the millions of people outside of Japan whom have never heard of him-let alone seen one of his films or TV show. Brick McBurly is not only a real person, but he’s a celebrity and a loyal member of the Samurai Archives Citadel Community. We were lucky to have a chance to sit down with the fun-loving star of the Japanese TV Show “Abarenbo Gaijin” and more than a dozen films for an interview over two sittings in bars in Tokyo and Kyoto. As always, hanging out with Brick was a wild and rollicking adventure, and thankfully we were able to get the digital MP3 recorder to work for transcription purposes after Brick accidentally dropped it into a bottle of Mexican beer, thinking it was a lime wedge. So without further ado, let’s get to the interview.

OK: How did you get into show business?

Brick: While attendin' the University of Cincinnati back in the early '90's, the Brickster found hisself in need of some spendin' money. Y'see, when I was young, we were so poor that folks used to call me Patches, so there wasn't a whole lot of money left over for me to live on after tuition, room, and board was paid. One of the coeds I was datin', Trixie, was strippin' at bachelor parties for megabucks and mentioned that some friends of hers were lookin' fer an actor who could perform under pressure. Well, I figured that all the storytellin' I was layin’ on her and my other gal pals qualified, so I went to meet these guys. Turns out it wasn’t the type of performin’ I thought it would be-they was shootin' some soft core adult films, but I couldn't dream of anythin' I was better suited for. Hell, I was still gettin' Trixie's goodies, but now I was gettin' PAID for it! That's how the Pizza Delivery Guy series of films got started (‘Our guarantee-you’ll come in 30 minutes or less’), and eventually I got into the more respectable horror genre by appearin' in low-budget vampire films, poundin' my massive stake into nubile soft girly vampire flesh.

OK: Who were your greatest influences and whose work are you a fan of?

Brick: Well, tops on the Brickster's list is Hollywood's greatest untapped natural resource, Bruce Campbell. The man can play anythin' and pull it off with aplomb-whether it's Ash from the Evil Dead series, Old Fat Elvis from Bubba Ho-tep, or his own bad self in My Name Is Bruce. Sure, he’s givin’ the same performance for every character, but he’s so good at it that it don’t matter. Then there’s Rudy Ray Moore-his Dolemite character was a HUGE role model. Man, what a snappy dresser that guy was! Kurt Russell and Roddy Piper also had a big impact on the development of the Brickster’s on-screen persona, particularly Russell’s performance as the clueless hero of Big Trouble In Little China. Stephen Hayes’ breakthrough role as the Dutch sailor who falls outta the riggin’ into the ocean in the Shogun miniseries is a must see for anyone interested in real ninjitsu. Annette Haven and Kristara Barrington starred in the first AV films I saw, and I must be their biggest fan-even though they’re both prob’ly pushin’ 50 by now, I’d still love to co-star in a film with them. On the Japanese side of things, there’s Katsu-shin, who had the role of a lifetime in the Hanzo the Razor trilogy. I love how Tsugawa Masahiko takes over every film he’s in and really makes his characters larger than life, whether he’s playin’ Tokugawa Ieyasu or Chiyo’s uncle in “Komyo Ga Tsuji”. And everyone already knows what a fan I am of Uchiyama Rina (the only reason to watch the Musashi taiga) and Oshida Reiko of the Delinquent Girl Boss series. Reiko’s in her 60’s now, but the memory of her peddlin’ down the street on a bike in her miniskirt lives on. And she’s STILL smokin’ hot. And of course, I’m a big fan of my wife Koyori’s performances. It must suck for her to always be in the Brickster’s shadow.

OK: And your favorite top five jidai-geki movies are?

Brick: Besides my own? Well, right at the top of the list is Bohachi Bushido. It's the yardstick by which all other jidai-geki films are measured and come up short. I mean, a horde of big-boobed naked kunoichi rollin' on the ground, whippin' out shuriken from god knows where, and jumpin' up on a guy's shoulders for the old head twist-like you’d really mind dyin’ that way? All that AND Tiger Tanaka? Then there’s Samurai Resurrection. You got undead historical characters brought back to life only to get whacked by Yagyu Jubei. Monsters and samurai-it’s a tried and true winnin’ combo, the Reese’s Cup of filmdom. Not to mention Jubei ain’t the only one-eyed actor in this little drama, if you know what I mean. American Ninja-Mike Dudkoff and Steve James are some smooth pimps in the movie bringin’ it to the man as only they can. This movie proved there’s no reason a Westerner couldn’t become the master of Japanese genre films. Kunoichi-Lady Ninja had the single greatest effect in film history-electric nipple magic. I’d like to see ILM try to pull that off. And it also featured a different chick whose sekrit dreaded ninja power could only be activated by havin’ sex. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve used the ‘ninja test’ on some sloshed Brickster groupie in a bar to maximum effect. Then there’d be Sukiyaki Western-D’jango. If the Brickster can play Japanese samurai and Chinese actresses can play geisha, then why can’t the Japanese be cowboys? And the critics loved it. You didn’t see bitchin’ about ‘why don’t they cast Americans as cowboys’, and no one complained about the gaijin in the cast (Tarantino) like they did with Tom Cruise or Christopher Lambert.

OK: Why is it that the original print of Shogun Sexecutioner is missing? Do you know what happened to it?

Brick: After its initial release, the Studio didn't know what a hot property they had and used the master print as part of a giveaway at the theme park. To quote the brochure, with your ticket, you got a strip of 'original collectible 35mm film from the master print of one of our many smash hits'. Of course, bein' the Studio's token gaijin most of the films were mine, so's after that the only master copy of the film belonged to Koyori-she had videotaped it with a handheld off the big screen and was sellin' bootleg copies on Japan Yahoo auctions. So’s when the demand to release it on DVD overwhelmed the studio, her dad had to come hat in hand with his wallet out to get her copy. She ain’t only gorgeous, but brilliant too.

OK: Is this the reason that it was never released outside of Japan?

Brick: Nah. It was kinda the same thing that kept Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah from bein' released in the US for years and years-political correctness. The Studio thought it would be politically incorrect to export a film to America that showed an American behavin' like yers truly. They'd obviously never seen an epsiode of Springer. For that matter, none of my films have ever been officially released outside of Japan. I think the Studio views ‘em like Paramount does the Friday The 13th series-they love the money it brings in to produce the A films no one goes to see, but they’re embarrassed to admit that they did ‘em. It’s kinda like havin’ sex with an ugly broad.

OK: In Shogun Sexecutioner II, the prosthesis you wore to enhance the size of your manhood, was it functional? Because it sure seems like you were actually doing it with some of your female co-stars. And if so, how does Ko react to it? Can she brush it off as just acting because you, as Brick, are emotionally devoid of the people you are interacting with while your character maybe isn't?

Brick: Huh? What the hell are you talkin’ about? Well, the prosthesis was of course our tribute to Teh Man, Hanzo The Razor. No regular mortal can measure up to the legacy he set, so we had to go for artificial enhancement. And no, it wasn't functional-unless you count the effect it has on gals when you wear it to a party. Chicks are flat out mesmerized by it, like it was a spittin’ cobra or somethin’, and it’s way better than usin' a rolled up sock. Since I have no clue what the rest of your question means, why don't we ask Ko?

Koyori: Obenjo-san, all of the sexual relations in our films are simulated. It is to the credit of our special effects master, Kondo-san, that they look so real to our viewers. I will pass on your compliment to him. There is also the matter of Brick realizing that were he ever to engage in an unfortunate improper relationship on the set or away from it, my daddy knows many fine men with tattoos who would be pleased to help him find his way back to the righteous path. Yes, it is indeed fortunate that many eyes are constantly on my darling Brick to aid him in behaving correctly.

Brick: Uhhhhh…yeah, what she said. And it ain’t like I’m smart enough to employ a Brickster Kagemusha to throw private detectives off the trail or anythin’ like that, freein’ me up for a night on the town.

OK: We all saw some of the stills from Shogun Sexecutioner III. Wasn’t this supposed to have been released already? I don’t remember seeing any ads for it at the theatres.

Brick: No, yer thinkin’ of SS II. III is still filmin. If you’d been readin’ McBurly Monogatari on (the Official Website of the Brickster, complete with a filmography, reviews of other samurai films, and purchase links for official Brickster merchandise) you’d know that we had to suspend filmin’ in December to get my New Year’s specials done. Now, as you know, B-movies in Japan usually go straight to video but the Studio wanted to establish SS II as a theatrical release. After the gala premiere, it showed fer a weekend at the Lucky Star Theater so they could market it as a ‘big screen blockbuster’.

OK: Oh, so SS II went to DVD after a one-weekend run at a theater in Kabuki-cho. Well, I haven’t even seen the disc on sale in shops. Who is distributing the DVD? As a matter of fact, I haven’t been able to find any of your SS series of films on DVD. The copy of the first film that I have was burnt on a disc for me by a friend.

Brick: Well, like I said, most of the stuff I film is direct to video or fodder for the Studio’s Samurai Action Channel on cable. And like a lot of B films, big chain stores don’t carry it and many times the specialty stores stick it in the ‘adults only’ section, which I’m sure you never venture into, Benji. Things are complicated further by the fact that unlike in the US, Japanese film companies only print up the amount of DVD’s they think they can sell. And they ALWAYS lowball my films-I think they still find it hard to believe that someone would rather watch Shogun Sexecutioner than a wuss film like Hana, or Ballad Of Narayama which spotlights a guy bonin’ a dog. I know you can get SS II at the Studio Store in the theme park, YesAsia, and other fine online retailers. The SS I boxed DVD set was produced in very limited quantities and was an instant sellout. It sometimes shows up for a King’s ransom on eBay and Yahoo Auctions. The old VHS copies that have a butchered cut show up sometimes, too. Yer lucky you knew someone with a copy of the DVD, even though ya really shouldn’t be acceptin’ stuff from video pirates. Bastards.

OK: You once said that you try to inject a little historical realism into all the jidai geki you make. Assuming you weren’t talking about injecting something into your female co-stars, how so? Would you care to elaborate on this?"

Brick: Well, for example, recently on “Abarenbo Gaijin” I was put in the situation of havin’ to disguise myself as a woman to blend in with Hideyoshi’s version of the Ooku. Now, one of the Taiko’s servin’ girls was shown bringin’ a tray of raincoats to him, but I balked at that when I saw what the prop department had done. They were your typical garden variety Trojan brand-and I refused to film the scene until they substituted Taiko-enz, which history has recorded were the only brand that Hideyoshi would use. Another example took place in Shogun Sexecutioner II, where Orugasuma Eito seduces the wife of the 47 Ronin’s leader, Oishi Kuranosuke. The script called for a straight up session, but since historically Oishi’s wife preferred it magatama style on the kitchen floor, I insisted we do it that way.
That’s not to say I’m an anal-retentive history geek like you guys on the SA. If it’s somethin’ minor that the viewers will like, such as givin’ Wakizaka Yasuharu an early version of a nuclear sub with a ninja strike force led by Stephen Seagull shot out of the torpedo tubes to deal with Korean Admiral Yi, that’s OK. Never let a small detail get in the way of a good story, except when it turns out Seagull is too fat to fit in the torpedo tube.

OK: After you are dead and long gone, what do you think your acting legacy will be? How do you want to be remembered?

Brick: Like most actors, I just want to BE remembered. Hopefully, people in future generations will still be entertained when they boot up the 3-D virtual reality interactive version of Shogun Sexecutioner. If I can provide a few laughs, a few thrills, a few shivers of delight for the ladies-I’ve done my job. If nothin’ else, I hope to still be able to do mall openin’s and memorabilia shows after I’m too old to act. Celebrity in Japan truly is fleetin’-today’s Idol is tomorrow’s Soapland employee. But as long as I’m married to the Producer’s daughter, I have confidence that my career’ll be long and productive.
More important is my legacy as a human being. That’s why I take such pains to use my celebrity to perform good works within the community-like the ‘Brick McBurly Valentine’s Day Hot Tub Party’, or the traffic safety promos I do with Hikonyan. It’s important to be a role model for the kids. I love how their little faces light up when I’m makin’ an appearance at their school and tell them that lyin’ is always wrong, unless it’s necessary to get you out of a tight spot. And that the Brickster was just helpin’ their mommy out when she wasn’t feelin’ well, and nothin’ was really goin’ on there, really. When the little ones hear that violence never solved anythin’ but that a six-iron to the groin provides a nice temporary fix from the neighborhood bully, it really means somethin’ to them comin’ from the Brickster.

OK: You once told me, as you were getting up to use the toilet after draining a six pack of warm Shibata Premium Draft, that in your films, you aim to please. I remember replying, “I hope you aim, too, please.” ‘Aiming’ just doesn’t seem to be one of your strong spots, does it? As a matter of fact, I seem to recall you were recently apprehended by the police for showering Sean Penn from a balcony at Roppongi Hills as he was stepping onto the red carpet for the Japanese premier of his film, Milk. Was this just really a publicity stunt, as you later claimed in the press? After all, is the Japanese designer, Nigo, who was scheduled to unveil a new line of clothing called “A Bathing Brick” And what was it that you poured on Sean Penn?

Brick: That is one damn long question. Well, it was a joke between me and Sean Penn. I poured the contents of a milk carton down on him, while yellin', “Love milk?” Me and Sean Penn became friends while filmin' was rollin' for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. My cousin Stone played one of the guys in the van with Sean’s character, Jeff Spiccoli. I was allowed to visit durin' filmin' and met him on the set one day and accidentally spilled a glass of milk on him. In typical Sean Penn fashion, he slugged me. Since then, it’s become a bit of a tradition between me and him. As I was up on the balcony, I figured he’d have a hard time sluggin' me this time, but I didn’t figure on the cops comin’ up. Actually, no charges were pressed and the cops all had a good laugh about it after they realized what a photo op they stumbled on.

OK: Controversy seems to follow you as much as shrine maidens! Speaking of controversy, tell us a little bit about the trouble you got in at the end of 2008 with the Church, the Hosokawa Historical Memorial Society and the Kumamoto Chamber of Commerce? This had something to do with your Christmas film Cum All Ye Faithful, which ran only one time on the Rainbow Channel, right?

Brick: Well, yeah, I was ex-communicated for a few days because I played a bad monk, if you know what I mean, who was gettin' it on with Hosokawa Gracia, who was supposed to be all saintly and stuff. Actually, my character was gettin' it on with just about every hottie on the island of Kyushu, and one of them hotties in the film was the real life daughter of the President of the Kumamoto Chamber of Commerce. I’m still persona no grata there. But regardin' the Church, to make a long story short, I was re-communicated and forgiven, even though I’m a Buddhist and not Catholic, when I agreed to attend an autograph sin’n session at the Vatican for a bunch of my nun fans on the Pope’s behalf. Hey, Benji, you know a lot about the trouble nuns can cause for men, don'cha?

OK: Sounds like a lot of ‘nunsense’ to me. I got to ask you this, though. Was it really a coincidence that you happened to be at that McDonald’s in Japan while an AV movie was being filmed there-at least until the police shut it down?

Brick: Well, I was ‘lovin’ it’, at least while it lasted. And I never woulda had Ko's mom (former Olympic judo bronze medalist), 'Right Cross' Chiba, along fer the ride if I knew in advance what was goin' on.

OK: One review, in the Japanese monthly magazine “Bigu Sukureen Stahs” described you as the new king of ‘Poruno Jidai-Geki’. How do you feel about that title?

Brick: I’m proud as hell. After I read that article, I tried gettin’ the guys in costumin’ to make me a crown emblazoned with that on it along with a regal cloak so’s I could wander around Gion like the Burger King, surprisin’ unsuspectin’ ladies with a free helpin’ of my wares. And who among the current crop of Japanese movie stars deserves the title more’n me? It’s like Bruce Campbell says at the end of Army of Darkness’-“Hail to the King, baby”. You’d think they was makin’ every film and TV show for gay men, seein’ as how metro sexual and feminine most of the male leads are.

OK: Do you think that the poruno jidai-geki genre is in the midst of a revival or renaissance of sorts? After all, you’ve been linked to a remake of Ishii Teruo’s classic, Bohachi Bushido that starred Tamba Tetsuro as an inscrutable ronin who sure knew how to swing his katana within the Yoshiwara.

Brick: You bet. Historically, whenever times get tough or society is in a state of flux, that’s when people turn to escapist films like horror or jidai-geki for entertainment. And it don’t get much more escapist than watchin’ a Westerner in a Japanese role rackin’ up the score in an historical settin’. Unless ya throw in a few monsters or aliens, all of which we’re also more’n happy to do. And let’s face it, there’s ALWAYS a market for porn. Heck, Al Gore invented the internet just so there’d be a place to host it all.

OK: When are you going to start filming Bohachi Bushido?

Brick: It can't be soon enough for my tastes-prob'ly after I’m done filmin' my new historical epic, Yasuke.

OK: Oh, I see. Tell us about this project, it sounds interesting.

Brick: As you know, Yasuke was an African brought along by the Portuguese while visitin’ Nobunaga. Oda took an interest in him and requested that the Portuguese hand over Yasuke, which they were only too happy to do since they really didn’t groove on rap. It’s really quite the upliftin’ story. Yasuke-kidnapped and forced into slavery-torn away from his posse and beeyotches-forced to wear the ridiculous lookin’ clothes of the Portuguese. Strugglin’ to keep his head high and uphold his dignity while assaulted by the taunts and abuse of Nobunaga’s redneck country samurai, who even tried to wash off his skin color. Becomin’ the REAL Afro Samurai and followin’ the way of the warrior. Carvin’ out a friendship with the Demon King, even bein’ afforded the privilege of callin’ him ‘dawg’. Standin’ by Nobunaga until the very end, not even givin’ in to the temptin’ words of the Great Emancipator, Akechi Mitsuhide. Now, there are some who said Yasuke ran like a scared rabbit when Mitsuhide attacked at Honno-ji, but he really was just battlin’ through overwhelmin’ odds to reach Nijo Castle and defend Nobunaga’s son. Course, the son got wasted too, but that wasn’t Yasuke’s fault. Heck, some tales have him swingin’ a terrible swift sword as big as a pine tree, showin’ the strength of fifty men, and scatterin’ the Akechi army like so much dust before the wind-even though they somehow managed to kill off everybody else in the Oda army. And he did it all faster than that newfangled steam hammer could, too. Since history doesn’t record what became of Yasuke after that, the script ends on a happy note with him becomin’ the founder of the Yoshiwara district in Edo years later, with his instant catchphrase, “Where my money?” The Studio loves the idea, and since all Westerners look the same and just like Elvis to them, they didn’t have the problems with me playin’ the title role like an American studio would.

OK: So, you are really playing the part of Yasuke? I guess this is conceivable since Robert Downey, Jr., who is white, played the role of an Afro-American in the recent comedy Tropical Thunder and Eddie Murphy and the Wayan brothers have played Caucasians before. Besides the makeup, are there any special challenges to playing Yasuke?

Brick: Not really. We have a lot in common. Me bein' a feared and respected foreigner just like Yasuke-me bein' somewhat of a curiosity for the Japanese to stare at just like Yasuke-me bein' a muscular stud just like Yasuke-me dancin' every bit as good as Yasuke-the list goes on and on. If it wasn't for the skin color difference and the fact that he's been dead for hundreds of years, we could be brothers. I also wear the prosthesis from Shogun Sexecutioner to give the role a little more historical authenticity, jus' like we talked about before. I’ve re-watched the Dolemite series to put me in the proper frame of mind to accurately portray this forgotten hero of Japanese history, and I've also re-watched a buncha “Good Times” episodes with Jimmie Walker. The only real problem is the dread locks--I cringe every time I look in the mirror and don’t see my trademark impeccably groomed ‘do but do see Manny Ramirez/Bobby Marley starin’ back at me.

OK: Why do you suppose that widely acclaimed Japanese samurai film connoisseurs, such as Patrick Galloway, refuse to acknowledge your work?

Brick: Patrick who? Ya mean that fashion plate in black socks and sandals that lurks around the back lot sometimes and has to be chased off by the Studio's Mall Cop? Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that movie reviewers dislike anythin’ that supposedly disturbs the ‘purity’ of the films they love. The disdain for the Brickster is no different than that shown for Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. Add to that the fact that most of these guys can’t speak Japanese and can’t get subtitled copies of my films, and I don’t stand a chance. But who cares? The Japanese love ‘em, and they’re the ones buyin’ tickets and DVD’s. When Japanese women are lookin’ for a spicy film to heat up their day while their husbands are at work, it’s a good bet from schoolgirl to obaa that they’re usin’ their tremblin’ hands to insert the Brickster into their DVD player.

Now, as to Pat personally, while he’s got a serious case of HUA when it comes to my films, I think he’s a great guy. His books have tipped me off to a lot of classics I might have otherwise missed, and unlike some critics he gives B movies the same respect he shows A movies. And he sends me photos of Reiko-chan, so he’s O-tay by me. Benji, don’t he have a new book comin’ out in a coupla weeks? I’d buy it, but I’m sure I’ll be gettin’ a complimentary copy in the mail any day now.

OK: You’ll have to wait for that book from Pat. Publication’s been delayed and I don’t think he’ll be sending you anything after what you just said about his fashion sense. What would your 'dream project' be, if you had an unlimited budget and complete creative control?

Brick: Well, that would be a full length (yuk, yuk) production of the unabridged Tale of Genji with me in the title role. I mean, when smooth-talkin' cultured and educated womanizin' horn dogs are brought up, my name is always first out of the gate with the ladies of Japan. It's a natural!

Even though it wouldn't be an historical epic, I'd also like to get the starrin' role in the film adaptation of Lian Hearn's Tales Of The Otori. I'm talkin' of course, about the role of the naughty warlord Iida Sadamu. Now, of course, there'd have to be a few minor adjustments made to the script to accommodate the Brickster. Fer example, Kaede would have to turn on Takeo and put his head on a spike outside Iida's castle. Nobody would ever believe a hot babe like Kaede would prefer a wuss like Takeo over the roguish charm of Iida as performed by me. One'a those SMAP guys would be perfect for the role of Takeo, and nobody'd miss him when he got offed. We could then end the film with a rousin' pillow fight between Iida and Kaede. I think it'd be the perfect vehicle to introduce the Brickster to Western filmgoers.

Hey Benji, I gots a question for you if you feel up to it. Whatever happened to that Lt. Boomer guy and Mr. Dorka? They were two of my fav’rites on the SA.

OK: You mean Msr. Iaidoka, and Domer, right? Domer supposedly got in trouble with his wife when she walked in on him stripped down to his boxers and wearing 3D glasses while watching some of your movies with a big bowl of popcorn. As for Iaidoka, I don’t know. Well, anyway, Brick, it’s been a real pleasure. Good luck with the films and we’ll see you on the small screen.

Brick: You bet. Thanks. By the way, can you spot me 1,000 yen? I’m feelin' thirsty and need another cold one after talkin' with you.

OK: You’ve got to be kidding, right?

Brick: About bein' thirsty? Never, big guy. Come on, Benji, you ‘kin add it to my tab of bar bills that you’ve been coverin' for me.

March 23, 2009-After runnin' interviews with Thomas Conlan, Dan Free, A. J. Bryant, Pat 'Fashion Plate' Galloway, and Sylvain Jolivalt, the Samurai Archives has finally landed the BIG interview-the Brickster hisself! Yep, you'll soon be privy to all sorts of startlin' new insights into the Brickster's career and personal life-not to mention get the breakin' news on my hot new project. I was gonna announce it in this week's entry, but I'll hold back a week so's the SA gets the exclusive scoop. It's gonna be one fer the ages, and you'll be able to check it out next week on the SA's 'Shogun-ki' Japanese history blog. Me'n 'Benji over at the SA are meetin' again this Wednesday at the Lucky Star on Gojo-dori in Kyoto to finish things up, so if you'd like to stop by, say hi, get an autograph, and pay for my drinks, feel free. We ran into some problems gettin' finished at our first meetin' in Shibuya when the babe sittin' on the stool next to me turned out to be a former shrine maiden. She wanted to give me the grand tour of her sacred region, so how could I say no? Not to mention the fact that Ko called and told me the neighborhood Denny's was givin' away free Gurandu Suramu meals-you can't pass up a feast like that. I meant to call Obenjo at the bar and tell him to wait until I could get back, but he's the impatient type and wasn't there the next day when I called. Heck, if he'da waited I was plannin' on pickin' up the tab. Anyway, make sure to check out the Shogun-ki in early April for the full interview.

March 16, 2009-The Brickster makes a rare appearance in a work of Western entertainment! The English language release of the PC Japanese samurai warfare simulation ‘Takeda 3’ has my first film character, Randy Schadel from ‘Idiot Foreign Son-In-Law’ and its sequel ‘Idiot Foreign Son-In-Law Must Die’ as a gaijin general in the army of Nagao Kagetora (who you prob’ly know better as Uesugi Kenshin). The programmers must be a big fan of the film, since Chiba-san, my father-in-law from the film (and later to become so in real life), is also in there as well. I like it because it’s my only chance to put the crusty old geezer under my personal command, or even execute him if he gets snotty with me. Anyway, here’s a screen shot where the programmers put the Brickster’s mug behind a menpo to disguise the fact I ain’t Japanese, just like they did in many of my early jidai-geki roles. Damn, look how low an intelligence score they gave me! At least my combat and leadership skills are high (not to mention my ability to command ashigaru), acknowledgin’ my status as the champeen of the common man.

But after I had a chat with the game’s programmin’ lead, Ming-Sheng Lee, I was let in on the sekrit of how to swap out portraits-so I stuck in a shot of me from ‘Shogun Sexecutioner’. And here I am commandin’ Chiba-san to take his unit and ride alone into the Takeda main camp on a suicide charge for the greater glory of the Uesugi. Note that the Brickster’s units are sportin’ the banner of the mightiest samurai army to never take the field, that of the Samurai Archives clan.

The early rounds went like this:
Day 1: The Brickster marries Kagetora’s sister, Aya. Becomes heir.
Day 2: Kagetora is convinced to retire and take the tonsure.
Day 3: I beez daimyo now. Sweet!
Day 4: All 5 female characters in the game that are part of the Nagao clan are ordered to report to the home castle of Kasugayama. Chiba-san sent out to conquer Japan for me.
I love this game! It gives you all the thrills and options of real samurai combat, and none of the annoyin’ crap, like havin’ the laces of your armor infested by insects, sloggin’ through mud in straw sandals, or gettin’ yourself killed. The only drawback is that while me’n daddy Ko are in the game, Koyori herself ain’t (although they have a Chiba Isehime in there). Guess it’s just as well, since if Kenshin got any bright ideas like marryin’ her off to some other moron or grabbin’ her for himself, I’d have to get all Honno-ji on his butt.

March 9, 2009-Also while back in my home town, I was reminded that the new baseball season is gettin’ into full swing-so it’s time for the Brickster’s annual sermon on the sorry state of baseball journalism and broadcastin’ in Cincinnati. Since I was exposed (and I use ‘exposed’ in the sense that one is ‘exposed’ to the black plague, anthrax spores, or radiation) on a nigh-daily basis to the insipid fluff pieces churned out like clockwork by loathsome toad Paul “Fluffy” Daugherty, I think I’ll reserve this column just for him. Daugherty, as you’ll recall from last year’s sermon, is a sportswriter for the Cincinnati Enquirer and the host of the post-game call-in show that airs after Reds games. Three salient points to remember about Paul:
1) Smarmy
2) Disinterested and Uninformed
3) Potential Wife for Reds Second Baseman Brandon "Gameti
me Burger” Phillips

Now that you’ve got the basics, let me expound. Daugherty’s baseball knowledge is limited to what he reads off the back of a Topps card and whatever the equally uninformed Marty Brenneman says. Despite the fact that he makes his livin’ writin’ about sports, it’s clear that he finds them all (except for ‘the sport of wusses’, golf) beneath his notice. In fact, the only time Daugherty has shown any real emotion is when some idiot called to tell him that he was “his favorite sportswriter”-at which Paul angrily snapped back, “Hey, pal, I’m a columnist, not a sportswriter, OK?” Well, no, Paul-what you are is a talentless schmuck who bases his opinion of a player’s skills on how much that player sucks up to him and provides him with interviews. No matter how great a player might be, if he doesn’t kiss the overstuffed butt of Pee Doc, he’s gonna be pilloried on a regular basis. Such was the case of former Red Adam Dunn. Dunn was one of the premier sluggers in the game and far and away the best player on the Reds. He was a no-BS sort of guy who let Daugherty know exactly what he thought of him, and consequently Daugherty lost no opportunity to lambaste him in the press and on the airwaves. For years I hoped the 6’ 6” 280 lb Dunner would get fed up and choke-slam pencil necked geek Daugherty through the nearest table, to be followed shortly thereafter by the carcasses of the equally obnoxious Brenneman and Jeff Brantley. But it was not to be, and now Dunn will crank out runs for the Washington Nationals and Team USA while the Reds new ‘speed based’ offense will score one or two hundred runs less than last year, but Daugherty’ll still tell us how much better it is.

As a broadcaster, Daugherty’s delivery is right up there with Don Knotts in his dotage. He’s got a nasal, reedy, tinny voice that brings to mind Doug Whiner from old episodes of Saturday Night Live. And his laugh sounds like a cross between Snidely Whiplash and this chortlin’ fat geek I knew in summer camp who always ended up sprayin’ chocolate milk outta his nose. His baseball philosophy of ‘team speed, stealing bases, bunting, hitting behind the runner, and hitting line drives’ is cuttin’ edge-or would be, if this was 1909. Now, it’s just a blueprint for a losin’ season. He also likes to let us in on his homemade gardenin’ potions and enthrall us with stories of how much he enjoys workin’ in his yard. Strangely enough, they’re at least more intrestin’ than when he talks about baseball, and when he marries Brandon Phillips he’ll have somethin’ to contribute to the household.

As a writer, Daugherty worships at the altar of the National League’s worst manager, Dusty Baker. A recent column praised Baker for his skills. Accordin’ to Paul, Baker is skilled seemin’ly because he burns scented candles in his office and has an MP3 player with a variety of music on it. Last year Paul gushed like a giddy schoolgirl over Baker because he was able to give Dusty a Van Morrison CD. Now, while I can see where unloadin’ a Van Morrison CD would be cause for celebration (kinda like transferrin’ the gypsy curse in the book ‘Thinner’), thinkin’ that you’re doin’ the unlucky recipient a favor is just warped. Another column praised the Reds On Radio team of Brenneman and Brantley, sayin’ that listenin’ to them in the spring is like invitin’ family over to your house. Well, maybe if you have Gene Siskel and Lenny from ‘Of Mice And Men’ in your family it would be-but if that’s family, I’d be turnin’ off the livin’ room light and pretendin’ no one’s home when they come callin’. This column is also a Daugherty specialty-he runs virtually the same one EVERY FRICKIN’ SPRING. And yesterday, Daugherty filled his entire column with an extended whine about how since the Reds are movin’ their spring trainin’ home from Sarasota to Arizona, he’s no longer gonna get that annual two week all expenses paid vacation to Florida. No more pretty sunsets and moochin’ free food and drinks for pooooor drunken Paul! Geez, my heart’s breakin’-somebody hand me my cryin’ towel. This week the Enquirer was runnin’ page headers with a picture of Daugherty in a pink shirt (Brandon likes pink) and a constipated grin on his face with the caption, “Wondering what’s on Paul Daugherty’s mind?” Well, actually, no, I’m not, but I imagine it would be somethin’ to the effect of “…where’s my next free drink coming from?” or “…I wonder what Brandon’s wearing under that jersey?” Accordin’ to the Brickster’s grey haired elderly mother, the Enquirer has made it known that due to the paper’s fallin’ circulation they’re puttin’ a lot of cost cuttin’ moves into effect. I’m gonna write them and suggest they start with showin’ Paul the door, which’ll save ‘em that hefty contract, payin’ for vacations disguised as work, and open up the sports pages for the writers who know somethin’ about baseball, like Erardi, Fay, and Skinner.

March 2, 2009-The Brickster was back in the States last week to attend to some promo work he’s doin’ for one of the local haunted attractions. While there, I was treated to a private screenin’ of the new Friday The 13th film that launched a coupla’ weeks ago. Well, it only turned out to be a private screenin’ since I got a free ticket outta a DVD box and I was the only person at the 10:15 PM showin’ at Showcase Cinemas in Florence. The F13 franchise is one of my all time faves and I was pumped up to see what they’d do for the ‘next gen’ film. I was hopin’ it’d be like Rob Zombie’s balls out Halloween remake, or even the TCM remakes. But no such luck. It actually looked way too much like TCM, complete with the dilapidated old lair and drippy, junk filled basement. Hell, it mighta been filmed at the same house/set fer all I know-and as I wasn’t surprised to find out, TCM and F13 had the same producer-Michael Bay.

It started out auspiciously enuff, with Jason’s mom Mrs. Voorhees gettin’ her head whacked off via machete just like at the end of the original F13. But after that, it was just serviceable-there’s so much they coulda done that was ignored in the process of puttin’ together a routine, if rather bloodless, slasher film. It featured poorer examples of ‘by the numbers’ kills than most of the series’ prior entries. Sure, there was the occasional inspired moment like Jason usin’ a broad in a sleepin’ bag suspended over a campfire as bait for her friends, and there’s one scene where a chick with a nice rack meets…errr, another nice rack. Havin’ ‘Sackhead’ Jason in the film’s early goin’ was another nice nod to the series’ history. But other than that, it’s filled with annoyin’ lightnin’ quick cuts, way too dark photography, and is bloodless, goreless, and uninspired. While the production team bragged that they were usin' the best moments from Parts Two, Three, and Four, they didn't even throw in the fat chick sittin' by the side of the road eatin' a banana. They even blew the endin’-Jason’s all set to meet his ultimate demise by bein’ drug into a tree shredder but they even put a premature end to that. And of course, they screw up the whole ‘Jason is now human’ premise by havin’ him return in the by-now familiar F13 coda.

On a more cheerful note, there’s lots of female nudity on display-more so than ya normally see, and the teens that get whacked are obnoxious drunken little jackasses that really do need killin’. I give it an ‘A+’ for art direction and set design, ‘B’ for chicks, ‘F’ for soundtrack, and a ‘C’ for gore, blood, and action. Overall, maybe a C+. It just ain’t easy to do a legend justice. All in all, I enjoyed the ‘Angry Video Game Nerd’ short film on the ‘His Name Was Jason’ DVD a helluva lot more.

February 23, 2009-Even though Hikonyan has been a major pain in the ass since Ko gave him room on my site awhile back, that ain’t to say he’s not without his uses. Last week, when he begged to be allowed to perform at the Brick McBurly Valentine’s Day Hot Tub Party, he offered up a pretty neat little bargainin’ chip. The samurai cat had come up with some old photos from 1858/59 (while glass plate photography was still in its infancy) of Ii Naosuke settin’ out to put the Ansei Purge into action. That idiot cat treated ‘em like they was cheese popcorn or somethin’! Well, I figured these were worth lettin’ his fat butt give the teenage gals in attendance a few guffaws, took the photos, and allowed him to set foot in the Promised Land. Here we see Ii Naosuke has donned the family armor that his ancestor, Ii Naomasa, had made famous at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He certainly has an air of authority in keepin’ with the way he is usually depicted in most histories of the Bakumatsu.

More interestin’ is this shot that shows Ii with somethin’ that you hear about all the time in Japanese history, but to my knowledge no one has ever seen a picture of. I’m speakin’, of course, of Ii’s sekrit weapon-the multi-katana wieldin’ Dog of the Shogunate. Now, we all know that many a limousine liberal Loyalist wet their kimono at the mere mention of the Dog of the Shogunate. Katsura Kogoro even changed his name to Kido Takayoshi durin' the 1860's in an attempt to keep one step ahead of the rarely seen beast. There was no doubt that the Dog was bad news, and few that ever glimpsed it in action lived to tell the tale. American photographer Matthew Brady, who journeyed to Japan to try his hand at takin’ spicy girly shots, found himself at the scene of one the Dog’s attacks late one evenin’ after he had stayed in Gion well past midnight. He snapped this murky pic of the Dog scuttlin’ away, and his blasted psyche found that things were never the same after that. He decided to leave Japan and take photos of ‘safer’ subjects, like the American Civil War.

Here we have an Ansei Purge photo taken of Yoshida Shoin after an encounter with the Dog has left him unable to pen any more psychotic treatises, or put together Charlie Manson-like plans to start a revolution. He probably had a tough time combin’ his hair or tyin’ his sandals, too. The Dog began to take on a mythic status, especially since no one really knew what it looked like or where it came from (although it was speculated that the buddin’ Kasa Pharmaceutical Company had a hand in things). Consequently, everythin’ that went wrong in the Loyalist camp (from too much starch in their fundoshi to the high cost of sake) was blamed on the Dog of the Shogunate.

Activists from Mito decided to ambush Ii durin’ the daylight hours in an attempt to take out the brains behind the Dog-and as history records, in this they were completely successful. Ii was killed and no one knows what happened to the Dog after that, but it continued to be feared far into the Bakumatsu and even today finds an echo in Jidai-geki novels and films. Who hasn’t seen a movie where a fearful ronin will rail against the Dog of the Shogunate? Hikonyan tells me that after Naosuke’s death, as a cat he constantly feared bein’ attacked by the Dog. If it wasn’t fer the fact that his daily frolickin’ duties took him outdoors, he says he never woulda left the castle. Me, I think the big pantywaist was just scared of bein’ whacked by some shishi.

February 16, 2009
-Just like last year, the Brick McBurly Valentine’s Day Hot Tub Party was a ragin’ success. As you’ll recall, the party became necessary when the amount of ladies sendin’ the Brickster Valentine’s Day chocolate threatened to overwhelm the oji in the studio’s mail room, not to mention breakin’ my budget when I tried to reciprocate all my adorin’ female fans on White Day in March. Instead, we lined up some corporate sponsors lookin’ for some good publicity and put together the Hot Tub Party to not only return the favor but to also give the gals a chance to meet yers truly in the flesh-somethin’ I’m always just too happy to do. Even with the bad economy, we had more than enough sponsors, contests, and giveaways, and as usually happens with the Brickster, all the women walked away completely satisfied. We had boxes of Kyoto chocolate, coupons for days at local spas, gift certificates at Damaru Department Store, a free buffet, season passes to the studio’s theme park, Mr. Donut gift packages, autographed boxed sets of the Brickster’s DVDs, and complimentary packs of neon colored Taiko-Enz carryin’ the ‘Hello Kitty’ imprint. I posed for pics, signed autographs, and washed the backs of any of the gals who felt like bravin’ the queue line.

After the event’s smashin’ debut last year, there were a plethora of applicants this year, and since the Brickster’s motto is ‘No Woman Left Behind’, the studio had no choice but to move the event from the special FX pool outdoors into the Olympic sized pool in the executive’s lounge. We even had enough room to let in the handful of fat chicks that showed up. Now, while I really missed simultaneously freezin’ my butt off in the Kyoto winter while immersed in hot water outside, it was great bein’ indoors in the nice cozy overall warmth of the pool. And while it would have been fun to have given some of the assembled cuties a ‘spring surprise’, Koyori was hoverin’ over me and playin’ den mother to make sure that didn’t happen. While you would think throwin’ the Brickster into a pool crammed full of bathin’ cuties would lead to trouble somewhere down the line, remember that this was a family event for schoolgirls through grannies, and everyone was required to wear a swimsuit. Now, that ain’t to say that a few of the slyer ladies didn’t figure out ways to lose their top, or that our guest mascot Hikonyan didn’t scamper off with one while he was in the midst of his frolickin’and cavortin’. But for the most part it was good clean fun, and not at all like an episode of Springer or Girls Gone Wild.

The only issue we had was with gate crashers. As ya might suspect, plenty of horny guys did their best to sneak in and take a share of the Brickster’s bumper crop, but as this was a one man show they were all turned away by my crack security team, headed up by Ruka (see the pic on the left). The gay ones were sent over to Ishikawa Raizo's digs, while the straight ones were given directions to the nearest Soapland. From what I understand, Obenjo tried sneakin’ in dressed as a Buddhist nun but that 7 foot frame, “Samuraipunks Here To Stay” T-Shirt and face paint were a dead giveaway. Ashigaru had to be led away in handcuffs by Ruka, which for some reason just put a big smile on his face. Josh tried showin’ up in Imperial Court garb and bluffin’ his way through by tellin’ us he was the Imperial Prince, but tripped hisself up when he didn’t know the sekrit handshake taught to me by retired Emperor Go-Chikatetsu. There was also some enterprisin’ gaijin kid standin’ outside with a sign that read, “Will massage Kofun for food”. All in all, though, a splendid time was had by one and all, and I can’t wait until next year’s gala. Ladies, make your reservations now-and then lose ‘em when you show up (hyuk, hyuk). You’ll be glad you did!

February 9, 2009-The Brickster was bein’ interviewed today and one of the questions was “What would your dream project be if you had an A-list budget and your choice of director/co-star?” Well, that’s simple-it’d be the starrin’ role in a full length, live action version of ‘The Tale of Genji’ with Uchiyama Rina as Fujitsubo and Oshida Reiko as Aoi No Ue-with me as director. Based on the 11th century novel (attributed to Murasaki Shikibu), this tale about an elite, refined, smooth talkin’ womanizer who only cares about his personal gratification cries out for that special touch and subtlety that only I can bring to the role. Of course, there’d have to be some changes to the story-the biggest bein’ that Genji would have to man up. He wouldn’t be some coy poetry spoutin’ pretty boy-no sirree. Unless, of course, you count limericks. And you’d have to have a bigger dose of comedy as well-maybe a couple of zany, excitable servants ala Officer Hanzo’s assistants in the classic movie series ‘Hanzo The Razor’. I think Obenjo Kusanosuke and Ashigaru'd be perfect for those roles. Add in some big boobed court ladies, and you just know Murasaki, a lady in touch with what men really wanted, would approve.

For such an old book, Genji sure does have its share of admirers-last year was designated the 1,000th year anniversary of publication of the novel and there were all sorts of special events and celebrations all over Japan. Here in Kyoto, there’s even a museum (the Kyoto Costume Museum) that consists of little more than a dollhouse sized replica of Genji’s palace inside-it’s huge, incredibly cool, and takes up an entire room. I especially get chuckles out of the way that Genji is worshipped by academia. Over on the PMJS (Pre Modern Japanese Studies) list, I’d say about half of the posts are devoted to Genji (with the other half dwellin’ on lame poetry and tryin’ to find a way to cram gender studies into every situation). You’ll see post after post go on and on debatin’ the subtlties of a single word-when it’s pretty clear the age old story is just about a horny guy with a sense of entitlement lookin’ to score and to hell with the consequences. What’s really amusin’ is how the normally serious and stuffy academics treat Genji-they simply refer to it as ‘THE book’ and lavish it with all the love that you’d see some otaku givin’ to Naruto. I can understand why they’re particularly int’rested in readin’ Genji, though-since the study of pre-modern Japanese literature ain’t exactly somethin’ that’s gonna strike it big with the chicks, it’s probably the closest any of ‘em get to scorin’. But it’s good to know that the closed-off and rarefied world of academia really does enjoy the same things as the rest of us-check out what was in the latest edition of Monumenta Nipponica (the premier academic journal of Japanese history):

Woo-hoo! Can’t you picture the Brickster playin’ Genji? I sure can. Who else could pull off the line “I can go anywhere and do anything” with conviction? And I find it outlandishly cool that Genji never takes his hat off, even for sex. There’re guys like that in the US, but usually it involves a backwards baseball cap moreso than an eboshi. Y’know, it gives me hope that one of my Brick McBurly Romances For REAL Men will, in a thousand years or so, be hailed as every bit the work of genius that Genji is.

And while we’re talkin’ bout romance, remember that this Saturday is the big day for the ‘Brick McBurly Valentine’s Day Hot Tub Party’. I’ll hold forth on this topic next week, that is, unless I’m torn asunder by an ardent pack of feminine admirers durin’ the proceedin’s.

February 2, 2009-Last week the Brickster narrowly survived an assassination attempt from a most unlikely source-Charlie (as he’s been known to call hisself, no doubt in homage to last week’s subject, Charles Manson) the Keebler elf. Now, how did it come about that such a stalwart symbol of corporate America tried to put the hit on me? Well, I’m glad you asked. But first, a little exposition is necessary. While the Brickster pretty much loves all things Nihon, Japanese food ain’t one of ‘em. Sure, if Ko wants to sit on my lap and hand feed me Japanese food while purrin’ sweet words of love, I can find it within myself to partake. For the most part, though, I’m more’n happy to visit the golden arches (see the Monogatari’s 3/17/2008 and 4/14/2008 entries), enjoy the haute cuisine of ‘Spaghetti And Cake’ in downtown Kyoto on Gojo-dori, hang out at Mr. Donut, or eat junk food from the local conbini. Then of course, there’re the packages of food that the Brickster’s sweet old adorable grey haired mother sends him from the United States in a vain effort to get me to come to my senses, divorce Koyori, and move back home. And one of my favorite gourmet treats she sends along are those little orange squares of delectable bliss-I’m speakin’, of course, about Keebler Peanut Butter And Cheese Crackers.

So last week, I’m happily munchin’ away on a brand new box of Keebs on the set when Koyori comes up and snatches the box out of my hand. Well, hell, if she wanted one, all she had to do was ask. She starts givin’ me this song and dance about how the crackers are deadly and’ll kill me if I eat them. Like most Japanese wives, she loves bitchin’ about the stuff her husband eats, so I’m kinda used to hearin’ this-but later on, I checked online and found out she was actually tellin’ the truth. Seems that the peanut butter used in the crackers was laced with salmonella-the manufacturer that supplies Keebler, Peanut Corporation of America, had been investigated and they were guilty of all sorts of health code violations that ended up resultin’ in the deaths of several people and a massive recall of products usin’ their special blend of peanut butter and salmonella.

Well, as you can imagine, this got me to thinkin’-mostly about what Ko did with the rest of the box, since I had scarfed about half of it with no ill effects. But I also wondered why that insanely grinnin’ pint sized rat bastard elf Charlie got it in his head that I needed to be offed. I mean, it couldn’t be just because I decided to quit eatin’ Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies (since they’d always melt en route from the States), could it? Even the fact that I prefer ‘Chips Ahoy’ chocolate chip cookies to the Keebler brand wouldn’t explain it. And, oh, how devious Charlie was-refused entry to Japan (and seen in this picture angrily stormin' out of immigration in Narita with his luggage) by the protectionist import laws forbiddin’ foreign cartoon mascots comin’ to oust their beloved Japanese counterparts, he figured out a sure-fire way to poison the Brickster and lay the blame on someone else’s doorstep. And therein lies the answer-jealousy. I believe he just couldn’t deal with the attention and exposure that Hikone castle's mascot Hikonyan gets on our site (not that I’m all that happy about it either) when Charlie can’t even enter the country. I can only be grateful that Charlie isn’t a redneck country elf or I’da got explodin’ crackers instead. Anyway, I made sure that my chainsaw is gassed up and ready to go just in case I decide to pay a visit to Charlie’s home inside that magical hollow tree back in the States…

In other news, the second annual ‘Brick McBurly Valentine’s Day Hot Tub Party’ is comin’ up here in just a couple of weeks. We’ll of course have all the details for ya then.

January 26, 2009-One of the most amusin' things that occurs on the Brickster's annual holiday trip to Cincinnati to see his sweet elderly grey haired mother is when Koyori starts goin' through my old stuff that's still stored in the house. Some of the stuff she uncovers is classic-it's like uncoverin' a time capsule full 'o crap you've totally forgotten about. Amongst the stuff she dredged up this time is an old newspaper article about Cincinnati's second most favorite native son (after the most overrated player in Major League Baseball history, Pete Rose)-I'm speakin', of course, about well known cult leader and convicted serial killer Charles "Call Me Charlie" Manson. Now, many of you younger readers probl'y don't realize that Uncle Charlie was a member of the 60's pop group The Monkees-but as you can see, it's a fact. Anyone who's studied the Tate-LaBianca murders knows that Charlie was a frustrated musician, but unless you were alive in the 60's, you'd never know that his fall from the rarified atmosphere of primetime TV was the motivatin' factor behind the killin' spree of '69 (you didn't really believe all that 'Helter Skelter' stuff Vince Bugliosi ladeled out, did ya?).

Charlie's charisma, goofy antics and oddball charm proved to be a big hit with the ladies and made him one of the most popular members of the Monkees' TV show that ran from 1966-68. However, when the show was cancelled amidst allegations that the group didn't play it's own instruments, a bitter Charlie retired to his underground lair in the desert, bringin' with him his retinue of hard-core followers to plot his vengeance. Everyone knows the tragedy of the murders that followed in the wake of this decision, and when Charlie was convicted and sent to prison, the producers of the Monkees TV show (and also the holders of the rights to their catalog of songs) altered all the shows to remove Charlie and also took out all of his credits. That's why the original runnin' times of the shows were longer than the versions shown from the 70's on up. Today, the only evidence of Charlie's musical talents is a credit on an obscure Beach Boys song.

I've always been surprised Bugliosi didn't use Charlie's body of work with the Monkees to help put together his case. I mean, the plans of the Manson cult were there for all to see. Just look at some of the lyrics in the group's theme song, fer example:

Here we come, walkin'
Down the street.
We get the funniest looks from
Ev'ry one we meet
. (well, havin' an 'X' carved in your forehead will do that)

We go wherever we want to,
do what we like to do
(goin' wherever included the Tate and LaBianca homes, along with the 'do what we like to do' part)

But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down
. (meanin' that once Charlie was no longer singin', he had time to 'put down' lots of folks like dogs)

We're the young generation,
And we've got something to say
. (boy, did they ever)

Any time, Or anywhere,
Just look over your shoulder
Guess who'll be standing there
(how much clearer can the random stalkin' aspect of the killin's be laid out?)

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees,
You never know where we'll be found.
so you'd better get ready,
We may be comin' to your town
. (a chillin' threat for everyone-much like the panic that gripped LA in '69)

This sort of thing infuses all their songs. 'Last Train To Clarksville'? Yeah, I'll bet it was. Anyway, I guess this makes the Brickster the third most famous guy to emerge from Cincinnati. Ko says that there's other similarites between me an' Charlie-for example, we both travel around with large groups of promiscuous females. Course, my sweeties are more likely to cuddle up and play kissy face with ya than stab you dozens of times and use your blood to write nonsensical messages on the wall. And my hair is a lot more impressive. So I guess bein' third ain't so bad, at least in this case.

January 19, 2009-One of the perks of bein’ a celeb is that you get a chance to do stuff that your talent don’t justify, AND get paid for it! Keepin’ that in mind, the Brickster is proud to announce that his latest CD single is burnin’ up the charts in Japan. Now, I’ve had other singles that featured me croonin’ the theme song from some production or another that I’ve been involved with-but this is the first time that I’m playin’ lead guitar on it as well. Now, for those of you who didn’t know I swung a mean axe, check out the pic to the side from the Brickster’s early years. Even back then, it’s obvious I knew how to style and profile. But as far as playin’ the guitar-well, I gots to admit that it ain’t somethin’ I’m all that good at. Yer average scrawny punk with a copy of “Guitar Hero” is prob’ly better.

Luckily fer me, “House Of The Gaijin Bum” is based on the Animals/Clapton classic “House Of The Rising Sun”, and it’s simple riff was the first thing you usually learned how to play back in the day. I learned this right after learnin’ my scales from hot Ms. Cordover, which I still remember via that old chestnut she taught me-“Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”. Lookin’ back, I never woulda suspected Ms. Cordover was a gay pedophile. Well, OK, maybe the pedophile part, since the Brickster was but a strappin’ lad of 16 when he spent most of his lesson time learnin’ how to strum the G-string from Ms. C. But everyone knows that pedophilia can’t be applied to teenage guys and older woman-it’s more of a rite of passage and a learnin’ experience. Actually, I think it was more of a learnin’ experience for Ms. C, but again, the Brickster digresses. Anyway, here’s the lyrics to the tune that’s burnin’ up the MP3 players of schoolgirls and housewives everywhere (it's even rumored Obenjo Kusanosuke has been doin' a karaoke version while takin' part in Dance Dance Revolution competitions):

There is a house in Kyoto
They call the Gaijin Bum's
And it's been the ruin of many a poor gal
All of whom I've done.

My mother was a tailor
She sewed my fundoshi
My father was a sailor
In the service of the Queen.

Now the only thing the Brickster needs
Is a geisha and a bunk
And the only time he's satisfied
Is when he's drop dead drunk.

------ organ solo (take that however ya want to)------

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in fun and ecstasy
In the House of the Gaijin Bum.

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to Kyoto
Runnin' from the cops again.

There is a house in Kyoto
They call the Gaijin Bum's
And it's been the ruin of many a poor gal
All of whom I've done.

January 12, 2009-If you've been readin' along at home, you'll know that the Brickster's fav'rit entry in the world of video games is the iconic Splatterhouse series, which is due to be updated to the new generation of game consoles sometime this year (mor'n likely in June). Recently a talented Splatterhouse fan, Charlie Osceola, produced this great trailer for a fictitious Splatterhouse movie that perfectly captures the over the top action, violence, and bloodlettin' that gives the game its unique charm. I enjoyed it so much I'm postin' it here, even though I know I'm gonna get the mother of all lectures from Koyori. It's worth it.

I'm kinda jealous, since his effects budget looks to have larger than my last three films put together.

January 5, 2009-Well, has everyone recovered from their New Year's hangover? The Brickster's assumin' it is indeed so. I hit the ground runnin' this year with an excitin' new project-it's a co-production between a couple of studios in Japan along with two of Hong Kong's more famous studios known for their kung-fu epics. Slated for a 2010 release, it's bringin' together many of the biggest stars from both Chinese and Japanese action films, along with some of Korea's (just because we need somebody everyone can beat up on). The Brickster's proud to be the only Westerner selected for the cast, and they also picked up Koyori to appear with me.

Security on the production's so tight that I don't even know what the title of the film's gonna be-and the only part of the script I have are the parts that directly involve me. For some actors, that would be a drawback, but since my characters are essentially clueless to everythin' goin' on around them anyway, I think it'll enhance my performance. From the script excerpts that I have, it seems that it's a modern day organized crime story pittin' the Chinese mob against the yakuza. There are flashbacks to the past durin' the Edo period, but whether this involves time travel or is just a concurrent storyline I can't tell. Here's a couple of early shots of the Brickster relaxin' on the set between takes. This particular scene has me bustin' up an illegal Chinese gamblin' den in a hotel. I tear through it like a divine wind-hence the headband (which is also my characters name, which I ain't allowed to divulge, but if ya read kanji it's kinda obvious). This is gonna be shot off an on throughout the year to accomodate the schedules of the stars involved-our studio was nice enough to tell the Chinese to "...take McBurly off our hands whenever you feel he's needed. Please." We'll have more on this throughout the year.

The Brickster's also likely to be startin' on his first American made film since he moved to Japan. You'll be able to watch this baby on the big screen in the States-or at least, on your DVD player. It's kinda low budget. More on that later in January.

December 29, 2008-Things here are gearin’ up for the big New Year’s holiday. I’ve had a break from filmin’ and haven’t been doin’ much of anythin’ besides walkin’ around the studio theme park and gladhandin’ the payin’ customers. I’ve also been paired with Japan’s newest goofball mascot, Date Onigiri, for a series of public service announcements that’ll be posted in JR stations throughout Japan. Maybe I can enlist Date’s help in bouncin’ that pesky samurai cat, Hikonyan, off my site. Course, it’d probably just turn out that Date is an even bigger pain in the ass (especially if he’s anythin’ like his obnoxious historical template Masamune), so maybe I’ll stick with the status quo. The studio also took some new publicity shots of the Brickster for the occasion, a couple of which are reproduced here.

The Brickster did get an early New Year’s gift in the form of a Playstation 3, on which I’m currently playin’ Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan! (Like A Dragon-I Have Arrived!). This is an offshoot of Sega’s Yakuza series, which places many of the protagonists from the original games (which are set in present day Tokyo) back in Kyoto durin’ the Edo period. The twist is that hero Kiryu Kazuma (here Kiryu Kazumanosuke, who was also the hero of all three of the entries in the regular series) is actually overrated clown Miyamoto Musashi, operatin’ under an alias after gettin’ his butt handed to him at Sekigahara. Kazuma/Musashi is a jack of all trades who will do anythin’ for money-he shakes down merchants, collects debts, delivers messages, beats the crap out of rival thugs, and gets hisself into all kinds of troubles. There are also flashbacks to the Sekigahara battlefield which are fun to play through. The real pleasure of the game, though, is that you can pretty much put the main game on hold and just screw around, explorin’ the virtual city of Kyoto at your leisure. It’s highly detailed with tons of people to talk to and interact with. And instead of generic locations, it features highly recognizable historic locations such as Kiyomizudera and Sanjusangendo. Kazuma/Musashi can spend his time wanderin’ around to bars and drinkin’, gamblin’, goin’ to restaurants, shoppin’, romancin’ the ladies in the red light district (goin’ out on ‘dates’, playin’ silly games with ‘em, and eventually sleepin’ with ‘em), and takin’ side jobs from people he runs across. I really oughta sue Sega since this part of the game looks like it’s been lifted right outta the Brickster’s book. Anyway, it’ll give ya weeks of time-wastin’ pleasure.

Anyway, everyone have a great New Year! The Brickster’ll be back next week and hopefully have somethin’ a bit more intrestin’ for ya!

December 22, 2008-It looks like the Brickster has finally earned some time off this holiday season after wrappin' up his guest-starrin' role in the new 47 Ronin New Year's TV special, "Chu-she-ngura". Fer a week or so there, I was shootin' on three films concurrently-"Shogun Sexecutioner III: The 69th Ronin", "Cum All Ye Faithful", and "Chu-she-ngura". I was happy to do it, though, since Chu-she-ngura is Koyori's first full fledged starrin' role and I wanted to support her any way I could. Besides, her dad told me if I didn't the studio wouldn't renew my contract for next year. Ko's still shootin' but I'm done, so that means I get the extra beneft of hittin' the night spots and not worryin' about her bein' hot on my trail. But anyway, for those of you who are actually intrested in the film, here's the press release the studio gave me to promote it. And ain't it ironic that even though I'm not the star, I'm still the one featured on the picture included with it? Hyuk hyuk! Ko's gonna be pissed when she sees that.

"The story of the 47 Ronin is one that warms the hearts of the Japanese people every holiday season. But never before has the entire truth of the loyal retainers been told-until now. Startling new evidence and the latest in historical research have been incorporated into Toei’s lavish new television New Year’s special, “Chu-she-ngura”.

When the lord of Ako, Asano Naganori (a guest-starring role played by famous American action film star Brick McBurly), takes to the streets of the Yoshiwara district to satiate his wicked desires, he is set upon by a rabid dog that has escaped capture due to the Animal Protection edicts of Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. Asano drags himself back to his mansion, only to find that he has become infected by rabies. His retainers do their best to mask this from the Shogunate (despite Asano’s newfound insistence on being called スパット), but the truth emerges in Edo Castle’s Hall Of Pines. The confused Asano mistakes Lord Kira Yoshinaka for a fire hydrant and tries to relieve himself upon him. When confronted with a moving target, Asano becomes enraged and attempts to strike the rebellious hydrant down. In the wake of the attack, Tsunayoshi proclaims that Asano has been a ‘bad boy’ and must be put down.

Now finding themselves ronin, the former retainers of Asano band together to plot their revenge under the command of Osihi Kuranosuke-played by starlet Koyori McBurly. Yes, that’s right-the leader of the Ako ronin was really a woman! Historians have established that Asano promoted his vassals on their ability to procure women for his amusement-and who better at doing so than the madame of the biggest house of prostitution in Edo? While all the men of Ako write Asano off as a selfish and rather silly samurai, the women of Edo swear revenge. Now that Asano is no longer around to keep the pleasure houses solvent, there is no shortage of volunteers amongst the dispossessed prostitutes of the Yoshiwara looking to take out their hissy fits on the incorruptible Lord Kira. They come together one cold, snowy evening in order to teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget…

Please watch for our humble program, Chu-she-ngura, this New Year’s day on Samurai Action Channel!"

Since this'll be the Brickster's last Monogatari entry before the holidays, Ko and myself would like to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas!!!! Well, everyone except for Kato Kiyomasa and that one guy who keeps emailin' and tellin' me how much I suck...

December 15, 2008-Whew! The Brickster is gettin’ his butt run ragged these days. Not only am I finishin’ up filmin’ on the holiday special “Cum All Ye Faithful”, but now I hear that I’m supposed to be appearin’ as Lord Asano in one of those wretched end of year 47 Ronin specials. I guess they figure no one can play the part of an inebriated, arrogant lech quite like the Brickster! Granted, we have the luxury of a one week shootin’ schedule (for a two hour runnin’ time), but still, I haven’t had much time to do any holiday shoppin’ or partyin’. I’ve been gettin’ home really late (and legitimately for a change) and Ko’s always fast asleep, so’s I’ve been resortin’ to surfin’ the net for a few minutes to amuse myself before turnin’ in.

None of my Japanese films have been released on DVD outside Japan, so in the United States only the hard core fan-subbers and people from my hometown of Cincinnati realize what a cinematic icon I am. It really sucks when you’re tryin’ to mooch free drinks at, say, O’Hare Airport or impress some waitress at the local Holiday Inn’s bar and they have no clue who you are. But based on the results of my web-surfin’ that may be changin’. There’s several English language jidai-geki film sites that have a link to the Brickster’s site or mention him as an inspiration. And lo and behold, I even have my own page on Samurai Wikipedia!

Whoever did it musta had the two disc boxed set of Shogun Sexecutioner I & II since there’s entries for both of them as well. Since it’s on Samurai Wiki, it’s only a matter of time before Darin Fidika steals it and puts it on regular Wiki. After that, the sky’s the limit. It’s good to see that America is finally startin’ to realize what an untapped resource they have in the Brickster. I hope the day comes when there are more English sites with me on ‘em than that damn pest Hikonyan.

December 8, 2008-Filmin' on the holiday special continues at its usual frentic pace. I'm puttin' in a lot of hours at the studio, and it's freezin' cold (most Japanese studios ain't heated or air conditioned) there. Anyway, the guys in publicity have decided on a title and put together the poster/ad matte for the production. 'Come All Ye Faithful' won out over the Brickster's choice of 'Jesuit Bushwhacker', but bein' so low on the food chain there ain't much I can do about it. The new title does make sense, though, since I am feelin' joyful and triumphant right about now. The poster looks great and brings to mind all those cheapo cheesy porn novels of the 60's or 70's, or even a garish VHS box. The publicity guys don't speak good English like me, so the title also had a little bit of spellin' fouled up.

They've also made a few changes to the script. Most noticibly, I ain't the Father-Visitor any more but rather a humble monk (our historical consultant Obenjo said that the Father-Visitor spent most of his time sittin' around sippin' wine and makin' deals with merchants, while it was the Brothers that did all the hands on work). Here's the press release that they cooked up last week:

"Coming for New Year's to Samurai Action Channel is the newest film from American film idol Brick McBurly, star of the hit show 'Abarenbo Gaijin' and the popular 'Shogun Sexecutioner' series. In this new epic, "Cum All Ye Faithful", Brick is Brother Jesus "Pepe" DeMarco, former adventurer and all around scoundrel. After getting caught in bed with the wife of the governor of Castilla Vieja, DeMarco is forced on the lam and enters the Brotherhood to avoid the wrath of the vengeful governor. Always looking for fun and adventure, Pepe is lured to the Japans by tales of beauties whose eager wells to their souls need special salvation. Besides, the Church begs DeMarco to help establish its nascent position. How could he not agree to be a propagator of the faith? Our new Brother soon finds himself 'converting' woman-folk at a very rapid rate, so much so, that special mass conversions are arranged. At these special masses, Demarco gives them the "embodiment" of Jesus (himself or his namesake?). Brother DeMarco then breezes through all the ladies in waiting of a wife of a particularly important daimyo, Hosokawa Tadaoki, played by Hard Gay, who challenges DeMarco to a duel. At that point, other senior clerics, along with Hosokawa's recently 'converted' wife, Gracia, for the sake of the faith and DeMarco's life, urge Pepe to leave Japan--but not before the ninja attack. Hosokawa sends six ninjers after DeMarco but they get wasted by him and some nude women whom he was in the process of 'converting'. The women are all trained in the deadly art of the boobie slap, and use it to deadly effect against the ninjers. One even loses an eye to a nipple poke. DeMarco is then seen setting sail for more adventure with throngs in thongs of new female converts waving from the shore. Please watch for our humble movie and don't forget to ask for Samurai Action Package from your local cable provider !"

Make sure'n watch. I got a lotta gifts to pay for that I bought for that rich man's daughter I married (although Ko's worth every cent). We'll have more to say next week, but for now I gotta go finish filmin' the damn thing.

December 1, 2008-Even though filmin’ is still ongoin’ for our latest smash hit, Shogun Sexecutioner 3: The 69th Ronin, we temporarily halted production so’s to get started on the Brickster’s traditional holiday jidai-geki TV special. As you recall, last year’s entry was the overwhelmin’ly popular Kuraku’d Tengu. This year, we plan on puttin' the X in Xmas and bringin' the New Year in with a bang while fillin' yer hearts and trousers with a nice, warm feelin'. The Brickster’s also movin’ in a bold new direction-for the first time, I’ll be playin’ a period foreigner-the Father-Visitor from the Jesuits. Of course, with the Brickster in charge of the spiritual well-bein’ of his flock of erstwhile heathens, you can be sure there’ll be a few changes in protocol. For starters, check out this teaser publicity shot (you know it’s a teaser ‘cause we blurred all the good stuff) from the first day of filmin’:

Conductin’ mass sure takes on a whole new allure, don’t it? You’ve never seen the gospel spread quite like this! It’ll become apparent why Hideyoshi and Ieyasu ended up bannin’ Christianity. The third of the unifiers, undead fiend Oda Nobunaga, also appears as Mori Ranmaru’s talkin’ fist puppet and our special New Year’s guest star is well known actor Hard Gay. He has a cameo as jealous husband Hosokawa Tadaoki, and gets his ass handed to him in a clash over the ‘baptism’ of his wife Garasha. Our hard hittin’ expose puts to rest those nasty rumors that Jesuits were nothin’ but drunken lecherous molesters of little boys and sets the record straight-they were simple men of God, only int’rested in bein’ drunken lecherous molesters of busty gals. We think this’ll be the highest rated New Year’s special ever!

Currently the debate is ragin’ over some of the finer points of the script and also the title. Since there’s plenty ‘o historically accurate snake handlin’, layin’ on of hands, and speakin’ in tongues, we figure we’re a cinch to win approval from the Vatican. Early choices for the title include ‘The Naughty Father-Visitor’, ‘Come All Ye Faithful, ‘For This Is My Body’, ‘Divine Intervention’, and my personal fav’rit (since there’s a lot of two-fisted fightin’ action as well) ‘Jesuit Bushwhacker’. I figure this gem won’t be hittin’ the small screen until January 1, so we have almost a month to get all these annoyin’ details ironed out along with preproduction, filmin’, and editin’. The way I figure (although I only use my math book on special equations-hyuk, hyuk), that’s plenty of time. We’re shootin’ fer perfection this time-if the Brickster were a critic, I’d give it 3 ½ stars outta 5. Make sure to check back durin’ the next couple of weeks-we’ll have more info, screen shots, storylines, and maybe even the finished poster!

November 24, 2008-The Brickster doesn’t normally keep track of what’s goin’ on in the world of American TV. Until the network execs start upgradin’ the programmin’ to appeal to a more sophisticated and intellectual crowd (say, like, by airin’ dubbed episodes of Abarenbo Gaijin), there ain’t much point in lettin’ my few remainin’ brain cells die off watchin’ the garbage churned out by the networks and cable. Of course, this doesn’t mean a decent show won’t turn up by accident occasionally-Samurai Girl bein’ one of ‘em on ABC Family (see the Brickster’s review of the series over at the Samurai Archives). But for the most part, it’s brain dead so-called ‘reality TV’ crap that has captured the imaginations (such as they are) of the American public. One of the offshoots of this genre came to the Brickster’s attention recently since it seems to have garnered an audience in Japan (not surprisin’ly, since it was based off a Japanese game show). I’m speakin’ of course about Dancing With The Stars.

Now me, I just don’t get it. A bunch of obscure celebs (most with two left feet and there for comedic value) dancin’ with pros, with one team or so eliminated every week. OK, it’s fun watchin’ the finely toned and hot dancin’ chicks flailin’ away on stage, but that ain’t nothin’ I don’t already see every evenin’ in Kyoto (with the added bonus that most of them start sheddin’ clothes after a few drinks). The at home audience for this has got to be comprised of women and gay men. The show don’t even feature quality dances for the most part, instead trottin’ out tired oldies that you’d have to sign up for 10 years at Arthur Murray to get around to learnin’. Where’s the cuttin’ edge stylish dancin’ that the Brickster launches into at the slightest provocation? Check out this recent clip of me and Koyori breakin’ it down on a recent airin’ of ‘Oharuchan GOGOGO!’ to see what I mean:

You won’t see that on Dancing With The Stars. I’ve noticed they haven’t contacted me about joinin’ their little production. I guess they’re scared of me makin’ their hand-picked home grown celebs look bad, or that after gettin’ a load of me in high-def their viewers will desert American TV en masse in order to check out my appearances on Japanese TV via satellite. Even Ko agrees that they’d be switchin’ off their sets after seein’ me in action.

November 17, 2008-I’m happy to report that after last week’s Presidential concession speech by the Brickster, there’s been a groundswell of support (most of it in the pants of our male readers) for the two gals (Qi Shu and Wei Zhao-yeah, I know, they ain’t Japanese, but so what?) featured in the video accompanyin’ it. That bein’ the case, we’re makin’ arrangements for the two to be featured as my runnin’ mates in 2012. Sure, there ain’t no precedent for havin’ two Vice-Presidents, but what red blooded American male would bitch about this? After President-elect Bin Laden has his four years to screw things up royally and pull even with Dubbya in the ‘worst President in US History’ sweepstakes, I figure the American public will finally be ready to accept a no nonsense candidate that truly reflects their values and viewpoints. One thing’s for sure-based on the video, we’ll be runnin’ the cleanest Presidential campaign ever seen.

On another note, here’s an ad Kitsuno found on the net and posted over on the Samurai Archives:

You’re probably thinkin’ the same thing I did when I first saw it-namely, WTF is this? But if you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense. Durin’ his time spent in the States, the Brickster saw all kinds of guys with impressive (if that’s the right word) man-boobs. Many of ‘em are even bigger than the racks on some really busty women. One of the Brickster’s American friends, Jin, complains that most of the men she meets have bigger boobs than hers (and she’s pretty well endowed in that department). I even heard a gay guy tell some poor sap that he “looked just like Connie Stevens!” So what could be more natural than marketin’ the man-bra to westerners? You’ll notice that even though this is a Japanese ad, they show a picture of a westerner gazin’ lovin’ly at the goods. Those crafty marketers even gave him the look of a pretty boy metrosexual type, another promisin’ niche.

It does seem strange that the ad’s runnin’ in a Japanese market. Sure, there are sumo wrestlers and a goodly amount of female impersonators in Japan who might be able to use it, but it would seem this little number arrived at least 150 years too late. I think it’d been popular amongst the membership of the Shinsengumi. I can also see Oda Nobunaga usin’ it too, in his later years when he was gettin’ a bit flabby. A disturbin’ image comes to mind of Tenma Maou snugglin’ into his man-bra and keepin’ his vassals under firm control, so to speak. The Brickster’s read that Takeda Katsuyori referred to Oda as ‘The Jiggler’ after observin’ him ridin’ his horse behind the barricades at Nagashino. Even Ieyasu was sniggerin’ at him behind his back. Maybe if Oda woulda had a man-bra, he wouldn’t have been ashamed to go out in public. This caused him to be cooped up inside Honno-ji on that fateful night in 1582. Course, he’d probably been just as likely to still be inside, prancin’ around in it and showin’ off for Ranmaru (ala Tom Cruise in ‘Risky Business’). As we’ve learned in Abarenbo Gaijin, history has a way of seein’ itself through.

November 10, 2008-Well, the Brickster was gonna run his concession speech here after last weeks Presidential election win by the empty shirt candidate, evangelistic snake oil salesman Obama Bin Laden. But I couldn't get the flv file for my offical video to work, so instead we're bringin' you the Hot Asian Girl Bathtub Fight. I'm sure you'd rather see this anyway-I know I would.

Thank you, my fellow Americans. I'm Brick McBurly, and I approved this message.

November 3, 2008-Last Friday was Halloween, and even though it's not somethin' that is celebrated much in Japan, the Brickster and several of his cronies got together to get into the spirit of the season anyway. We had the spooky jack-o-lantern with the flickerin' light inside, the fog machine, candy corn imported straight from an American Wal-Mart, and a buncha scary set dressin' and props we 'borrowed' from the effects department at the studio. Everyone was in costume, and all the chicks looked smokin' as anime characters, shrine maidens, French maids, or schoolgirls. After a few drinks, the guys in the group even decided to engage in a round of door to door trick'r'treatin'. Now, the Brickster was dressed as himself, and got lots of offers of treats from the local hausfraus-of course, I'm gonna have to visit them at a later time in order to collect. Obenjo was dressed as a Jesuit priest/flasher, and did his best to convert the masses-but I think his disguise was too good, since he ended up runnin' from the cops most of the night. The crafty Lord Baka Tono escaped capture by hidin' under the habit of some woman dressed as a nun, but didn't even come out for about an hour after the cops left.

Anyway, the eeriest moment of the evenin' came when the house lights were dimmed and most everyone was smashed enough to believe pretty much anythin'. That's when Obenjo had us gather around the grinnin' jack-o-lantern for a Halloween tradition-Obenjo Kusanosuke's famous "Tales By Midnight".

"The vassals of the Samurai Archives lived in constant dread of the gibbering serial poster, the loathsome and shadowy Kato Kiyomasa. The drooling Kiyomasa spread his terror across the land, leaving no household free from his madness. Formerly brave retainers quaked in fear and burrowed under the futon when they heard the words "bushido" or "house codes" drift in upon an evil wind. These harbingers of doom were such that even the mighty Ashigaru was known to remain behind closed doors on naughty manga day at Book-Off.

Presently, the evil threatened to engulf the loved ones of the vassals. Realizing that all that he treasured was at stake, the warrior Tatsunoshi shook himself from his state of fugue. He ventured forth, keyboard in hand, to engage in a battle from which he expected he would not return. Drawing power from the very kami of the land, with a Herculean effort he managed to drag the hellish fiend Kiyomasa into the light, forcing the creature to drop his masquerade and expose the ugliness that lay beneath the veneer. Kiyomasa screeched, "You think that you've won-but I'm posting everything that I have on you morons! You'll be discredited academically and you won't be able to sell any books after I'm through with you! I'm posting copies of this crap all over the internet and..."

Tatsunoshi steadfastly closed his ears to the curses of his unholy advesary. He called upon the kami to lend him their strength, and as if in answer to his plea, the skies were ripped asunder by a bolt of lightning so powerful it seemed as if it came from the Shogun himself. Tatsunoshi was momentarily blinded, and when his eyes readjusted he saw that Kato Kiyomasa still stood-but that where his head had been now lay only a smoldering stump. Kiyomasa crumpled to the ground, and the malaise that had gripped the land lifted as if it had all been a dream.

But evil never rests. It bides its time, patiently waiting for an opportunity to ingratiate itself with the fringes of humanity where it might live again.

Kato's chance manifested itself in Dr. Christopher West, a western scientist who was rumored to be the grandson of the architect of the 'Miskatonic Massacre', Dr. Herbert West. West was known among his peers to be willing to attempt anything to achieve his ultimate goal-reanimating meaningful historical discussion among the vassals of the very same Samurai Archives Kato had vexed. When West was deep in his cups, the spirit of Kiyomasa whispered grandiose promises of riches and heretofore unknown historical tidbits into his ear. Finally, West could resist the hypnotic pull of Kato's allure no longer. Duped into believing that the historical Kiyomasa wished to be born again into this world, West used the arcane and esoteric techniques handed down by his grandfather to manifest Kato in the form of his disembodied head. Wasting no time, Kato began to unleash a stream of invective against Japanese historians who blasphemed against the holy writs of bushido. "Frrrriiddddaayyyy.....Connnnnnnnlan....Chammmmmmmmberlain...."

At this point, Obenjo paused dramatically and began to look about, surveyin' the crowd.

"Whose name will be the next to be cursed? Who next will taste the lash of the madman's tongue and live out his life an outcast, forever barred from the History Channel? Will it be...Tony? Nagaeyari? Heron? Perhaps he's already gotten Domer. Or maybe it will be.....YOU!!!!!!!!!"

At this, a large pan with a severed head came flyin' into the center of our little assemblege. After the initial shock had worn off and things had calmed down, the head blinked, opened its eyes, and began to moan. What followed can only be described as utter chaos, as Obenjo's audience let out a collective scream and scattered to the four winds-at least savin' the local cops the trouble of breakin' the party up. The Brickster was so stricken with fear he passed out, or at least that's the excuse I'm givin' this time.

The next day, Obenjo was nowhere to be found. An effort was made to find him, but few had any hopes that it would achieve results. Some say he went to China to escape the unspeakable curses of the undead Kato. Others say he went to Soapland. And no one speaks of the reborn fiend that claimed him. Well, ceptin' I'm doin' it here, but it ain't really speakin' and the Brickster's never been afraid of a little head.

October 27, 2008-In the world of low budget film makin', there ain't no such thing as doin' rewrites of scripts or havin' rehearsals once the script has been green lighted. So we've already started shootin' Shogun Sexecutioner 3: The 69th Ronin, the end of the Shogun Sexecutioner trilogy that we wrote about a couple of weeks back.

This way, we're able to use all the standin'sets for part 2, the same crew, and most of the same actors. Here's an early publicity still taken on the shoot. It's kinda nice reprisin' a role so quickly, since it allows you to slip into character that much easier-not to mention slip into certain other friendly characters from the previous shoot, if ya catch my drift.

And since Halloween's comin' up in a couple of days, the Brickster was happy to see a teaser trailer for the relaunch of his all time fav'rit video game series, Splatterhouse. Looks like it's goin' to be hyper-violent, full 'o buckets of blood and gore, and get me into all sorts of trouble with Ko. She hates that kind of stuff and tells me that it takes me off the path to enlightenment and back to pointless violence that is not beneficial to a balanced and compassionate mind. But whackin' big shoed rotted clown zombies under the big top at a deserted carnival with a nail spiked two-by-four is just too irresistable to miss out on, so I'll be bravin' her wrath yet again.

And because it's Halloween, here's the scariest damn picture I ever saw. It chills my blood just thinkin' about it!