Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

What Really Happened With The Enron Scandal

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE ENRON SCANDAL

The Shocking Truth Behind The Scandal At Enron And The Possible Cause of Kenneth Lay’s Retirement and Early Death.

It seems the whole thing was a cover-up to avoid the embarrasment of saying what really happened to the investment money and employee pension fund that was presumed to have been stolen by crooked Enron execs.

Even the California Energy Crisis which Enron was blamed for profitting off of by manufacturing black-outs was a result of the subject of this documentary.

The Truth may shock you and scare you! Your financial savings are never completely safe from these masked rogue traders of death and dismemberment!

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April 18, 2007 Posted by | 1980s, Blogroll, california energy crisis, enron, enron scandal, humor, japan, karate, kenneth lay, Lee Van Cleef, life, martial arts, Master Ninja, MST3K, Mystery Science Theater 3000, ninja, sho kosugi, TV, video | 2 Comments

Madonna Wraps Up Controversial Confessions Tour in Tokyo

Madonna Ends Tour in Tokyo without Fuss
The controversial crucifixion scene

Madonna wrapped up her controversial yet highly successful Confessions Tour on Thursday September 21 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. Madonna’s Confession tour has been dogged by outrage and protest from religious groups throughout the world for her crucifixion performance.

Many have felt the act blasphemous and disrespectful to Christianity. Madonna countered this by saying the performance was designed to highlight the suffering of AIDS orphans in Africa.

The tour started on May 21 in Los Angeles and went through several major U.S. cities gaining notoriety as it went before leaping over to Europe and into another hotbed of controversy. Even the Pope got involved. From Russia, her tour flew to Japan where she performed without much fuss two nights each in Osaka and Tokyo. Originally she had planned to finish the tour in Australia but was unable to do so for logistical reasons.

By the time, the Confessions tour ended, Madonna had performed 60 shows in front of over a million people on three continents. The Confessions Tour grossed $193.7 million, the highest ever for a female artist.


The huge Tokyo Dome — taken from the nosebleed section

What shocked and angered religious groups was not the belly dancing, the male-slave horseback riding, nor the hedonistic glam rock-n-roll roller-skating. It was the crucifixion scene that sent them into catatonic fits of religious fervor. During one of her sets, Madonna was slowly raised up on a mirrored cross while wearing a crown of thorns. She sang “Live to Tell” while images were shown of the African AIDS crisis and its orphans.

Religious groups comprising Jews, Christians, and Muslims voiced outrage at what they saw as sacrilegious.

Madonna recently issued a public defense of her crucifixion scene:

“I am very grateful that my show was so well received all over the world. But there seems to be many misinterpretations about my appearance on the cross and I wanted to explain it myself once and for all.“There is a segment in my show where three of my dancers ‘confess’ or share harrowing experiences from their childhood that they ultimately overcame. My ‘confession’ follows and takes place on a Crucifix that I ultimately come down from. This is not a mocking of the church. It is no different than a person wearing a Cross or ‘Taking Up the Cross’ as it says in the Bible. My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole. I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing.

“My specific intent is to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day, and are living without care, without medicine and without hope. I am asking people to open their hearts and minds to get involved in whatever way they can. The song ends with a quote from the Bible’s Book of Matthew:

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me and God replied, “Whatever you did for the least of my brothers… you did it to me.”‘

“Please do not pass judgment without seeing my show.”


Madonna tries to bring peace to the Middle East via modern interpretive dancing.

Madonna even invited the Pope to attend her show.


Madonna complete with riding crop and hat to go slaveback riding.

There was little fuss made in predominately non-Christian Japan. When the mirrored cross was raised there was little in the way of excessive cheers or jeers in Tokyo. For most of the Japanese audience, it was just part of the show.


Madonna with a T-shirt endorsement of Japanese sexual prowess

With the exception of the crucifixion scene, the Confessions Tour seemed far milder than earlier tours. In the early 1990s Madonna garnered notoriety with sex-laiden acts that included topless dancers, S&M outfits, simulated masturbation, and so forth. She particularly prickled Puerto Rico by rubbing their flag in her crotch.


Madonna as a re-imagined John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever

As for moi, I was way up in the stratosphere of the Tokyo Dome somewhere in the vicinity of the orbit of the planet Venus. The ticket still cost me a whopping $90! I only went because a Japanese girl wanted to go. I was more taken by the beer girls before the show. Truly working class heroes/heroines for the common man!


My heroine!

Still it was a fun concert. And whether I like her music or not is immaterial. As with any Gen Xer, Madonna is an intricate part of my pop-culture universe. Her songs ebbied and flowed in the background of my growing up experience influencing the style and thinking of my peers. We were either consciously or sub-consciously voguing, expressing ourselves, living to tell the secret to preaching papa’s, praying to Black Jesuses on our own private Isla Bonita while justifying our love to our virginal-like lucky stars. Personally, I think she was a far sight better than those god-awful hairbands of the late 80s.


One more for the liver, baby, onegaishimasu!

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 20 years since Madonna made her debut during the baby years of MTV. Her original teenage audience are now in their late 30s to early 40s with young teenagers many of whom listen to Madonna today. One of my students told me that she saw Madonna in concert 18 years ago in Tokyo.

The amazing thing about Madonna has been her ability to re-invent herself. And she knows how to work the media to her benefit by shocking the hell out of conservative types. Despite calls for boycotting the concert, Madonna made more money than any female artist in concert ever has before. She should send donations to the religious groups who kicked up such a fuss that created all the free publicity.

September 30, 2006 Posted by | 1980s, 1990s, Blogroll, confessions, japan, madonna, media, music concert, tokyo, TV | 1 Comment

Where Have the Ninja Gone?

The Enigmatic Japanese Ninja

Cheap fuel-efficient cars, VCRs, and stereos weren’t the only Japanese exports that flooded into America during the 70s and 80s. The plucky indigenous ninja cleverly smuggled themselves over the sea to dazzle American audiences with their seemingly magical martial arts abilities. They were soon to find fertile ground in American pop-culture and almost immediately a Ninja Boom was born.

There was a time when ninja were as abundant as the stars in the skies. They were everywhere in America. They were in movies, on TV programs, in comic books, in newspaper personals, on street corners.

Masterpiece Ninja Theater: “Who’s Afraid of Hattori Hanzo?”

Just opening the pages of any comic book back then you could find throngs of ninja taking on small bands of heroes. On TV you could watch ninja fight each other, the A-team, greying old ex-pats, G.I. Joe, and so on. Less respectable movie theaters showed Ninja movies every other week. In bookstores, you had your pick of ninja books that detailed every aspect about these secret warriors from their skills, their weapons, to their breakfast cereals.

Master Ninja Lee Van Cleef with Big-Ass Funky Disco Medallion

Everybody wanted to be a ninja or at least own their weapons. Nun-chunks were once as plentiful as handguns in American households. No impressionable 13-year old boy could hold his head up high amongst his peers if he did not own at least half a dozen shurikens (“throwing stars”). That these JC Penny shurikens failed to stick in anything did not deter their popularity one bit.

For those who aspired to be ninja through mail-order training books, there was always the feeling that one day, they might be called upon to use their ninja skills and weaponry to take on bullies, bank robbers, Russian spies, space aliens, or chemistry teachers. And when that day arrived, the suburban ninja disguised as a mild-mannered pimply-faced gawky teenager would save the day and win the heart of the head cheerleader.

Look at me! I’m a Ninja Bird!

As for the real Ninja, they served as the perfect martial arts foil for any aspiring hero whether they were samurai, shaolin monks, police officers, superheroes, or redneck truck drivers. Ninja were readily available for heroes to test their mettle against. It didn’t take much to find a few ninja back then as they were just about everywhere. A hero could hardly go for a leak without bumping into a pack of them along the way.

Then the butt-kicking would begin.

Despite their years of intensive training and strict discipline, ninja never won a single fight they were in even if they outnumbered their opponents 100 to 1. They appeared to be particularly vulnerable to an old-fashion left hook. The only time ninja were successful in actually killing someone with their skills or their myriad of pointy weapons was when they could manage to kill off the hero’s buddy, girlfriend, or dog. This minor victory was often short-lived and generally backfired on them as the hero would become enraged to the point of slaughtering ninja by the bushel. This would go on until the hero finally tracked down the Head Ninja and in an epic fight-to-the-death match, killed him. The few surviving ninja of the hero’s rampage would find themselves suddenly unemployed while many of them would have to apply for handicap parking decals.

Ouch! That’s got to sting a bit.

The fact that ninja were repeatedly beaten, pummeled, crippled, maimed, set on fire, and killed in their relentless encounters never bothered people. It was thought ninja would last forever. But like the mighty buffalo, even ninja had to succumb to the ravages of time and attrition to their ranks. With their secret training camps being infiltrated and blown up all the time, it was becoming harder to recruit and train new ninja.

One of their main problems was that they were victims of their own defeat. Everybody wanted to fight them. You weren’t considered a hero in those days if you couldn’t single-handily beat a dozen ninja.

Gay Ninja always had to strive harder to win acceptance from their peers

One has to admire their pluck in the face of adversity, though. A hero could slaughter 99 ninja and the 100th ninja — instead of doing the sensible thing like running away as most of us would do if we were in his slippers or just shooting the guy from a safe distance — attacks all out with his ninja skills no doubt thinking optimistically the hero must be finally worn out from killing all of the ninja’s colleagues. Sure the ninja gets brutally killed like all the rest but at least he tried and therein lies the difference between him and the rest of us. Of course, this spirit hasn’t helped the declining ninja population in the slightest.

Shameless self-promotion also played a hand in their demise. In the back of comics and magazines, you could find book ads promising to teach you the “Deadly Ninja Touch” and “12 Steps to Killing: the Ninja Way.” With their secrets up for sale by mail order and their weapons on sale at any department store, it got to the point where even housewives or girl scouts could defeat a herd of ninja by themselves. As a general rule of thumb, if you belong to a secret society of martial artists, you should never make your secret death touches available to the general public via mail order catalogs. Ninja never seemed to grasp this simple concept.

Let’s See: One “Secret Ninja Death Touch Scroll” for a Mildred Parkins of Kansas City…

Now Ninja are a vanishing breed — rarely sighted or fought. Even suburban ninja have disappeared and their shurikens put up for sale at flea markets. Grungy street thugs fill the void left by the ninja in the comics and movies but they sorely lack the style and panache their predecessors had. Gone are the nun-chunks that never hit anyone, the novelty smoke bombs, the throwing stars, the nasty foot pricks, the trendy black robes.

Me and the Ninja: ready to kick butt

Is it too late to save the majestic Ninja? Should limits be established on the number of Ninja that can be beaten up in a year’s time? Surely, if the world can come together to stop the hunting of whales, we can stop the noble Ninja from being beaten into oblivion.

Save the Ninja!

July 23, 2006 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, A-Team, american pop culture, Blogroll, chuck norris, GI Joe, japan, karate, Master Ninja, ninja, Ninja movies, pop culture, TV | 2 Comments