A happy end of the world to you

happy end of the world by pizzicato five

Happy End of the World is the Pizzicato 5 album, above all others. Yeah, the five by five ep is of course excellent, but this record is among the definitive late-90s shibuya-kei records from the definitive shibuya-kei act. It’s chock full of that uptempo cheerfulness that one would expect to come from the bright lights of Tokyo, but it’s tempered with just the right amount of lounge-cool to keep it grounded. Enthusiastically detached is one way of thinking about it.

But most of all, this album is fun, especially It’s a Beautiful Day P-I-Z-Z-I-C-A-T-O-FIVE!. And the best part is that you don’t have to know a word of Japanese to enjoy this album. I barely know how to say “hello” and yet, when I finish listening, I want to hear the whole thing again.

It was on the strength of this record, which I picked up over the summer of ’99, that Istarted exploring the music that was coming out of Japan at the time. That was a journey that led to some innovative places, such as Cornelius and Nobukazu Takemura. However, my post-college years have left little time for further treks into j-music, but that’s ok. I’ll always have the end of the world.

happy end of the world at itunes

happy seis de mayo

cinco de mayo was a bit of a bust in my neighborhood, despite the rampant multi-culturalism. i've got a lot of mexican neighbors and was expecting a more raucous celebration or even some kind of block party with fireworks, maybe a pinata, or if i was lucky, some mariachi music.

granted the weather was iffy for most of the day, but it had cleared up by evening. all i really got was the carrying bass and echos of some bad mexican pop music (and trust me, most of it is bad. from my observations, it's basically polka beats with trumpets and no "opa!").

so, a day late, i pulled out some of the mexican music in my library, which for the aforementioned reasons, is admittedly limited. besides, it would be an affront to my heritage to do too much celebrating the mexican victory over the french.

basically, "the mexican music in my library" amounts to the soundtrack to y tu mama tambian, the compelling "coming of age" film directed by Alfonso Cuarón (who also directed the prisoner of azkaban). much like the film itself, the soundtrack is very worthwhile, featuring an eclectic mix of genres and styles that perfectly capture the many themes of the movie.

from the hard-driving (and most definitely explicit) rap of molotov vs dub pistols ('here comes the mayo' ranks as #11 of my all-time most played songs) to the mellow samba of smokey and miho (yes, that miho. she gets around). and of course, there's the bran van 3000.

this movie and soundtrack have come to have special meaning for me. my girlfriend (now wife) and i managed to see a special screening of the film at USC during the brief period i lived in los angeles. it was a time of separation and angst for us and she was visiting from florida. we both found the film so captivating that we couldn't stop talking about it and recommending it. and to this day we still love it.

Shatner Rapping: No Tears for Caesar

Part of the Musical Star Trek Actors Series

  1. Shatner Rapping: No Tears for Caesar
  2. Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space

Below is the music video for No Tears For Caesar, available on the bonus materials DVD for Free Enterprise.

William Shatner raps some Shakespeare, Marc Anthony’s speech from Julius Caesar specifically. And true to form, the good Cap’n Kirk doesn’t disappoint; he’s always entertaining when he’s got a microphone. That’s the theory behind those old priceline.com ads anyway.

The song and video No Tears For Caesar from the 1998 movie Free Enterprise (a film tailor-made for the post-modern Star Trek fan) are, as Spock would say, fascinating little productions. Shatner rapping… well not rapping so much as doing his trademark spoken word routine, a kind of precursor to 2004’s Has Been.

In any event, I whole-heartedly recommend the film. It’s worth it for Shatner alone, but has lots of other trek-related gems, like Jerry Goldsmith references! and yes, i’m genuinely excited by those.

Oh. this isn’t Shatner’s only Shakespeare recording; his 1968 record The Transformed Man contains some much-exaggerated spoken word from Hamlet, Henry V and Romeo & Juliet.