Well, it's a day late. But, yesterday was the 16th anniversary of This is NOT Greatest Site. We know, we've been AWOL for quite a while, and we are sorry. There have been some black days and some black dogs. First and foremost, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you readers who kept supporting us on Ko-Fi and such while we were pulling our vanishing act. You were a light to us in dark places, when all other lights looked like they would go out (yes, that's a paraphrased quote from Lord of the Rings, yes we are nerds.)
What happened to us...? A LOT of stuff. Jesus / Allah / Buddha / Shiva / Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy on our souls. This is a long post. We've been away for a long time, so we wanted to catch y'all up. Bear with us. But hey, if you didn't like reading long rambling screeds of crap, y'all wouldn't still be here, eh? P.S., Happy New Year to y'all, let's hope it's better than the last one...
First... what happened in Buck-Tickistan...? Well, y'all probably know by now. The band played what may be their best show to date "Misemono Goya ga Kurete Kara..." or "The Freak Show After Dark", to an empty hall filled with camera and sound techs, and streamed it on July 17th, 2021. As we'd been begging them to do for many years, they finally played a full acoustic set, including a re-arranged acoustic version of "Uta" that Mr. Sakurai said he had persuaded Imai to create because he was so inspired by Shiina Ringo's acoustic version of "Uta" on the 30th anniversary tribute album. There was also a re-arranged acoustic version of "Just One More Kiss," inspired by Fujimaki Ryota's cover of the same song, also on the 30th anniversary tribute album. When we originally listened to this tribute album, we felt that Shiina Ringo's and Fujimaki Ryota's tracks were by far the best of the bunch, so it certainly tickled our pickle that the Buck-Tick members thought the same. Plus, self-covers of covers... how meta is that? The band continue to outdo themselves. Not only that, but "Misemono Goya" also featured a preposterously large number of songs composed by Hoshino Hidehiko. A whole three, count'em, THREE songs: "Yuuwaku," "Satan," and "Gensou no Hana." Furthermore, Mr. Sakurai stated in FT that it was Mr. Hoshino himself who had requested that "Satan" and "Yuuwaku" be in the set list. He further quipped that, "Out of all the songs Hide's written, why did he chose 'Satan'?" Oh man, Mr. Sakurai, listen to yourself! You LOVED that song. Everyone LOVED that song. That song was like having sex in a rainstorm while drinking wine, eating chocolate and peaking on molly! (Wait, that was literally actually what the song was about, right!?) Oh, wait... the need to roast Hide goes above and beyond any other mandate in Buck-Tickistan. Hoshino Hidehiko: the poor handsome jock who can't catch a break. But, for ourselves, we're gonna say, good on you Hide, for standing up for yourself, finally, after all this time! Listen, kids: even if you're 55, it's never too late to decide to grow into a man and start to wear the pants for a change, even if you still prefer to wear sloppy glittery skirts on stage.
The Old-Man Debacle
Then, of course, the old-man debacle: Mr. Imai fell off his boots and broke his hip. At the Budoukan on December 29th, 2021, we spoke to a long-time Japanese Buck-Tick fan acquaintance, but when we suggested that it was Imai's boots and his dancing on them that had done him in, she pooh-poohed us, saying, "if Imai had fallen off his boots, everyone would know about it." Excuse us, but... what? How much do you really know about Imai Hisashi? How much does anyone really know about Imai Hisashi?? I know, you know, I know, it's not just the QAnon people who have been promulgating the theory that he is, in fact, the earthly incarnation of a several-billion-year-old 2.5-meter-tall hyperintelligent anthropoid praying mantis from an ancient and infinitely wise interplanetary empire in the Galaxy of Andromeda... for fuck's sake, he's all but outed himself several times, including in the lyrics to "Alice in Wonder Underground" ("Adromeda's tambourine is an upside-down clown") and "Bolero" ("Before you and I were born/We must have both been stars above/Yes, I think it’s true/Just look up right there/Near Andromeda"), and also, what about his penchant for that bug helmet and all those buggy-eyed glasses? He's trying to tell us something, folks. Doesn't take a brilliant conspiracy theorist to figure that out. Those boots were just the next phase of it. He misses having those mantis legs and he needs them back! (He also needs to be taller than both Mr. Sakurai and Mr. Hoshino, and since Mr. Hoshino is already tall as a beanpole and Mr. Sakurai is in super-chunky heels to beat Mr. Hoshino, but Mr. Imai's a mere 175 cm ((which is actually pretty tall for a Japanese guy!!!)) it takes some doing.) In any case... how did Buck-Tick become such a success? Imai channeled his otherworldly Andromeda powers to, in the words of Captain Picard, "make it so." How is it that Imai always seems to know in advance what's coming next, from next year's hot fashions to the title of the reign of new Emperor Naruhito (for those of you who just came in, "Reiwa," the title of the reign of the current Japanese emperor, Naruhito, which began on May 1st, 2019, can be translated via kanji wordplay to mean "Number Zero." Buck-Tick's album No. 0 came out in 2018. The title "Reiwa" was not decided until March of 2019.)
Anyhow, what we really mean to say here is... did y'all see Imai dancing around in those boots? If you did, I think you'll agree, kids, that that dance, plus those boots, is the most precarious hip fracture waiting to happen that the Milky Way Galaxy (bless its little heart) has ever seen. It unreels like a film in your mind, when you open yourself to see it. Buck-Tick were in rehearsal for the Go-Go B-T Train tour. The Andromeda Galaxy was all like, "Imai, if you're going to do stupid shit, we won't stop you. But don't say we didn't warn you." Imai was all like "I miss my days as a mantis, goddammit." Next thing, he'd spaced out in the middle of rehearsal and... ooops! Over go the boots. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. Wipeout, Imai. And he's no spring chicken (excuse us, spring mantis) anymore, so off he goes to the hospital with a hip fracture and next thing we know he's "Living on the Bed." (See Instagram @imai_bt for more details #LivingOnTheBed #Abracadabra #Peace). But it's not like he's going to tell his fanbase why it happened. Would you, if you were him? If you were a zillion-year-old slightly omniscient being who had managed to do something as embarrassing as break your hip falling off a pair of boots, would you want the world to know? Not if you're planning on getting back on those boots at the Budoukan, you wouldn't. No sir, no ma'am. And that's exactly what he did. Get back on the boots at the Budoukan, that is. And he used his Andromeda Mantis powers to hush up his mishap, so no one ever knew. Except us. And now y'all. Whoops, the cat's out of the bag, now. It's okay, Imai. We all do stupid shit. Don't sweat it. Just make sure your wife doesn't eat you after your fervid exchanges of intimacy, okay?
According to Cosmos Costume, the blog of Buck-Tick's long-time costume designer Yagi Tomoharu, he (Yagi) modded these boots (above) especially for Imai to wear at the Budoukan. Hand-studded the rhinestones and everything (or rather, that's what you hire interns for). "Imai said he wanted to 'level up' his boots for this show, so I added rhinestones. I was surprised that Imai wanted to wear high-heeled boots after his bone fracture," Yagi wrote. "I made him a new cane to match the height of the boots." (To view the rest of the pictures, check the link).
Gentle Director Starts Directing
So, that was that. The Go-Go Buck-Tick Train tour was cancelled. "One of the wheels on the Buck-Tick Train broke, so we had to stop for repairs," Mr. Sakurai quipped to numerous media outlets. But, while Mr. Imai was in seclusion healing his upper femur, Mr. Sakurai was steaming at full throttle, chugging and choo-chooing the rounds of the media circuit.
"Maybe this sounds strange, but it seems that you've become the wholesale promoter of Buck-Tick these days," journalist Ishii Eriko remarked in her interview with Mr. Sakurai in the October 2021 issue of Ongaku to Hito.
"Who... me?" Mr. Sakurai replied. "Was I not... promoting us before?"
"No, I'm sorry, that's not what I meant," said Ms. Ishii.
Sakurai: "But, I know what you mean. I felt a little like I was one step below the idea that Buck-Tick=Imai Hisashi. But, from long before now, I've been coming to understand that Imai does Imai, and I do me. In that sense, I feel I'm much more instrumental in promoting the band than I was in the early days."
Ishii: "I see. If Imai had put the words 'Go-Go' or 'Train' in the working title of the new single, we could interpret the new song as being a collaboration between the two of you that developed from those keywords. But, you created this title all on your own, which makes me feel that you have much more confidence in leading and affirming Buck-Tick as a band."
Sakurai: "Oh, I see. Yes, yes. I'm promoting Buck-Tick as hard as I can! People will probably say I'm lame!" (Lol, 'lame,' lol, Imai, lol, no pun intended, actually pun intended, lol. Laughing at injury and illness isn't funny, we know, sry, kthxbai.)
Ishii: "That's why I didn't say it (laughs)." (Buuuuuurn! Sick buuurn on Mr. Sakurai, Ms. Ishii! Cayce approves.)
Sakurai: "But, I know that's what you're thinking! No, I'm joking (laughs)."
Ishii: "Hee hee. Well, with this title, and the first line where you write, 'Oh so here the dream continues, I'll show you pomp and circumstance,' it feels like you have a very strong will to continue with the band to the very end."
Sakurai: "That's right. This is all I've got. I said it earlier but, all we can do is keep running till we fall apart into a jumble of junk and flakes of scrap iron... but, saying it like that makes it sound like I'm trying to be cool. But, I think that we [the band members] all want to maintain that kind of strong fighting spirit."
So... in case you didn't catch that... "Go-Go Buck-Tick Train," a title which, like "Inter Raptor," y'all probably pegged on Imai, was in fact entirely Mr. Sakurai's idea. In interview after interview, he re-affirmed his commitment to continuing with the band as far as they can possibly go. He further stated that he chose the word "train" instead of "express" because he wanted to evoke the clunk and clatter of old-fashioned local railways, to evoke that wherever the band are going, even if they can't get there fast or smoothly, they will go, and that he, Mr. Sakurai, eschews slickness in favor of character. These men and this band age like wine.
We dunno about y'all, but we've been waiting for this day a long time. There are many different kanji you can use to spell the name "Atsushi" in Japanese, but contrary to popular fangirl belief that "Atsushi" means "hot death," Mr. Sakurai's kanji actually mean something like "The Gentle Director." Every time he has stepped up and asserted greater creative control of the band, it has resulted in a quantum leap in their creative output - Kurutta Taiyou, Juusankai wa Gekkou, and his return from The Mortal with Atom Miraiha No. 9 are the biggest three examples (though I'd argue that his return from his near-death experience to Sexy Stream Liner was almost as big a leap.) Imai had to be put in the shop for repairs, and Mr. Gentle Director started directing. Keep directing, Mr. Director! Or should we say Mr. Conductor? We can't wait to see where you take the train to next!
No One Ever, Ever Feeds Sugar
Of course, what you really want to know is... what about that third cat??? Yes, it's true. Mr. Sakurai posted pictures in FT, which we're not sharing, not because we're scared of incurring Fish Tank's ire, but because we don't currently own a scanner. But we daresay those photos are probably on social media somewhere, pissing off aging Japanese fangirls who have nothing better to care about than unauthorized gaijin fans posting unauthorized Fish-Tank-only photos without full authorization from the Fish Tank KGB... in any case, yes, Mr. Sakurai has adopted a third cat, another (brown) female Bengal, whom he has christened "Sugar" and nicknamed "Gacchan," because she's one of those cats who just won't stop whining that you never, never, never feed her, she is starving, staaaaarving...! ("Gatsu-gatsu" is Japanese onomatopoeia for "eating with gusto." "Gacchan," like "Acchan," is a contraction of the Japanese "tsu" character into a geminate consonant ((like a double consonant)) glottal stop ((stopping the air in your glottis, at the back of your throat, before it reaches your mouth and can become a sound)). Bet you're sorry you asked a cunning linguist. Lol. Moving on.) In any case, a quiz appeared in FT, in which Mr. Sakurai was pictured holding both Bengals, Kurumi and Sugar, one in each hand. The challenge: guess who is who? But, frankly, it really wasn't much of a challenge. Sugar has the giant round eyes of a dog sitting by the dinner table, waiting, waiting for a bite (pleeeeze, you neeever feeeed meeee!!! I'm sooo cuuuute! pleeeezzzzz). Kurumi has the slit eyes of a shrewd Queen Consort who won't let anyone within spitting distance of her precious Demon King. If Kurumi is the lover, Sugar is the spoiled daughter. And Maru, as always, is a cute as hell lazy ball of fluff who sleeps all day and holds the entire universe in his perpetually dilated pupils (Imai can relate, we daresay). All hail Cat-Tickistan!
Mr. Sakurai discussed the cats at length on Chiwaki Mayumi's radio show, The Majestic Saturday Night, on which he has been making regular appearances. It's almost like Ms. Chiwaki knows he's lonely and wants to give him something to do... ? In the latest radio installment, the theme was "the album that inspired you as an artist." What album did Mr. Sakurai pick? Was it Bauhaus? Nope. Was it Siouxsie and the Banshees? Nope. Was it The Sisters of Mercy? Nope. Was it Yamamoto Linda...!? Nope!!! It was David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Did y'all see that coming? We did, but we didn't. In the interview, Mr. Sakurai said that his favorite song on the album is "Starman" (he particularly likes the intro) and that he was incredibly impressed that the album told a story which ends in the death of the protagonist (yeah a part of him is for sure still a teenage theater goth writing angst poems...). He said that the reason the album inspired him as an artist was because it taught him that albums could be like novels, and tell stories. And boom, the Buck-Tick concept album was born! God (Allah, Buddha, Shiva, Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc.) bless David Bowie, we know he's having a grand old time up there in space while we toil through capitalism and terms of service updates down here on Earth. Those of you who understand Japanese can enjoy listening to Chiwaki and Sakurai fangasming over 80's rock here.
As for the much-discussed "Mr. Sakurai's hot bath selfie." Kids, that is not a bath, okay? 1) A bath has smooth tiles, not rough bricks. Moisture, and mold, and all that jazz. 2) If it's anywhere indoors, it's a gym. Hubba Hubba. Pump that iron! (omg, omg, omg, fangirlz, fantasize yourself silly over those armpronz even though we all know he's skinny as hell now because no one ever, ever, ever feeds him.) 3) You can't take photos in Japanese public baths, for obvious reasons. 4) Did you ever imagine that someone like Mr. Sakurai would be able to go to a public bath without being eaten slowly and delicately like an ice cream cone by a horde of gay (and straight but gay once they saw Mr. Sakurai) men? For those of you who just came in, public bath=gay (and thought they were straight till they came to the public baths) guys checking you out. You have now been edumucated (but seriously guys well I guess we mean gals we know you read yaoi manga you are supposed to know all this already). And anyway, Mr. Sakurai has no time for that shit, he has to work his ass off to feed his starving cat because no one ever, ever, ever feeds her. 6) You know he's trolling you, right? 4) Did nobody notice the beard? What color is the beard? We're not going to say. That's for you to find out. 6) What exactly made y'all think he was nekkid when you could only see him from the neck up? Oh, oh, "neck," "nekkid," we get it. Fine. 5) Mr. Sakurai is a troll, I repeat, a troll (is this news?!?). 11) Wait, did we mess up the numbers somewhere in there?
Buck-Tickets? More Like Buck-No-Tickets.
Yeah, now that we mention capitalism and terms of service updates... what's the bad news?
Well, for starters, Buck-Tick's management have implemented a new ticket system whereby all tickets are smartphone-only, can only be opened in a dedicated app which includes facial recognition software, and are, in principle, non-transferrable... so, buying tickets for someone else? Those days are gone. Giving a ticket to a friend because it turned out you couldn't make it to the show? Nope. Caught The Omicron and can't make it to the show? Shove it up your ass. The app is buggy, and it only works on certain kinds of phones. The customer support is atrocious. The facial recognition software doesn't work. The terms of service (which we read in full, and which amount to approximately five whole pages and if you don't read Japanese just go and hang yourself, you pathetic gaijin devil with hairy palms because translator? what translator? foreigners aren't even allowed in this country anymore) basically reserve the rights of the management to just say "fuck you" and walk away with your money. If you lose the phone onto which you download your ticket, you're fucked. If they don't get around to answering your customer support query in time, well, then, fuck you very much. And there's no phone number to call, only an email system, and do they get back to you? Yeah, of course... at noon on the day of the show itself, when you're ready to fly out the door to go and check at their in-person tech support counter at the venue as soon as it opens, because they haven't gotten back to you, and then what does that customer service email reply say? It says "go talk to the in-person tech support counter at the venue." To top it all off, the price for the tickets for The Day in Question 2021 (technically, "Misemono Goya ga Kurete Kara... Live in Nippon Budoukan") was doubled from the previous price of 8500 yen to 17500 yen. Only 17500 for a week of hell that will ruin your Christmas and give you the distinct impression that, like Gregor Samsa, you've turned into a hideous insect. For this level of intense virtual reality escape room game, it's a steal!!!
At first we figured the upped price was because they sold the venue at half capacity due to virus restrictions, but nope. Budoukan packed to the gills. We ended up in the literal back row, approximately 376 light years away from the band members. The plus side: being able to put your stuff on the empty floor behind you. Also, not being hassled by security guards. The minus side: not being able to see the stage, because it's 376 light years away (we think we caught a glimpse of Mr. Sakurai's beautiful red furisode swirling around on "Koi" somewhere in there. Have you guys ever seen a UFO? It was something like that. We could hear Buck-Tick, playing from Outer Space, but where were they...?) When we watched the WOWOW broadcast, how amazed were we to find out that Imai had been rolling around in his accident-waiting-to-happen boots on the very same red velvet divan that Mr. Sakurai had pleasured himself on during the 13th Floor With Diana tour? Spoiler alert: we were very amazed. (Also, where is Buck-Tick's secret warehouse of ex-stage sets and costumes? Someone with a security key, we will bribe you a big bribe to let us in there. We promise we won't write
PENIS in Sharpie on any of the set pieces. No siree, we would never do that, never...)
But, we've been in the back of the Budoukan before. That's really not the point. With Japan's borders closed to all foreigners except residents, and this being the first live Buck-Tick show we were able to attend in two whole years, we felt extremely blessed just to be there... and see Mr. Imai actually walking and dancing while playing guitar, despite his injury, despite his accident-waiting-to-happen boots. The B-T Train Go-Gos on! That's not nothing. They wouldn't let us cheer, of course. Cheering kills! But we cheered in our hearts. We cheered on behalf of y'all.
However, it's got to have been the single worst concert experience we've ever had, from a customer service point of view. Bug after bug in the goddamn app, and no one to answer our questions. Till the day of the show we sincerely doubted whether we'd be able to enter the venue or whether they'd just blow a raspberry in our faces and tell us to go home, pocketing our 17500 yen. The Buck-Tick management say they introduced this system to stop ticket resales... but really, (and we should know) ticket resales were never a huge problem in Buck-Tickistan. They happened a bit, but not enough to make any sort of major problem. Ticket resales is how we got a lot of y'all your tickets (and ours). The management say they instituted the facial recognition system "because corona." I'm sorry, what? No other bands are doing this. Our former webmistress Kame reports that the band Plastic Tree are still issuing paper tickets and doing old-fashioned data entry contact tracing. Facial recognition? Seriously? Is this Buck-Tickistan, Dystopia Edition (tm). The software didn't even work for us anyway. We took about eight selfies before we gave up and had the tech support guy bail us out. We're just lucky he was there to bail us out.
A week earlier, when we had a problem with the ticketing app, we called Ticket Pia (the only place that had a phone number to call). They said, contact Fish Tank. Fish Tank said, contact TixPlus, one of the Hydra heads of the shady, shady, shitty company that runs Fish Tank and all of Buck-Tick's ticketing operations now, plus the ticketing site eplus, plus... who else knows? Those Satanic tunnels under the Atlantic through which Oprah is smuggling small children? Maybe TixPlus is the independent AI operating Elon Musk's brain? It's impossible to tell anymore. The only thing that can be said for sure is, "You, I mean you, peon. Fuck you! Fuck you very much!" It's Kafkaesque shit like this that makes people believe (admittedly hilarious) ideas like QAnon. TixPlus had no phone number. We spent hours and hours wading through nested FAQ menus and terms of service documents (and if you don't speak Japanese, just go die, you inferior slug-like mis-evolved waste of carbon). The top item on the terms of service: "please understand that we may not be able to answer all queries." Translation (for those of you who don't speak Japanese and are therefore advised to go die): "We reserve any and all rights to fuck you up, down, and sideways, whenever we want to, for all time. Signed, The Entire World We Live in Today. You're welcome, and have a nice day :) We value your comments and are committed to endeavoring to initiate new innovations to leverage our experience to generate positive-feedback-loops of continuous improvement in consumer support for a global era. We are also definitely not funding The Taliban or Libyan pirates who are killing Syrian refugees on behalf of the EU. (smile emoji) (globe emoji showing America, not Asia) (rainbow emoji)"
In the end, y'all want to know what the problem was? Why couldn't we download the ticket onto the godforsaken BUY OR DIE ticket app? Because we had the language of the operating system on our phone set to English, instead of Japanese. How idiotic is that? How xenophobic is that? Not to be too negative, there are still angels in heaven - there was that handsome, capable tech support angel who fixed the problem for us, and *angelic fanfare Hallelujah* we got to go see the show (cue "Angelic Conversation"!). But... it was only four hours before the doors opened that we finally got the problem resolved. This, after a week of trying to get through and waiting for a response from these miserable, incompetent stooges. And then there we were, waiting in the cold for four hours for the doors to open, so we thought we'd take a walk along Chidorigafuchi, the Imperial Palace Moat, known for its picturesque old cherry trees, which lies just a hip skip and a jump behind the Budoukan... but it was all blocked off due to sinkholes. "No entry" signs everywhere, ropes, barriers, and police patrols (actual policemen on motorbikes riding around the place, stinkeyeing everyone. We shit you not.) This is the world we live in now, apparently.
Still, just a thought... if the Buck-Tick management really wanted to keep people from reselling tickets, couldn't they just have done like they used to do for the Fish Tank only tours, and checked people's ID at the door? New tech is not necessarily better tech. You know what tool does best to hammer in a nail? A fucking hammer.
And, much as it pains us to say so, it doesn't escape us that it may very well be in part our fault that this "smartphone ticket surrender your firstborn child at the door" policy happened. The shopping services we provided y'all with over the years, to those of you who came here in the Before Time... along with certain other circumstances (we can't discuss it, but suffice to say, we got framed for something we didn't do.) Remember when Buck-Tick Zone got a cease and desist letter and got kicked out of Fish Tank? Well, that's something like the position we're in now (not as bad, but... not the greatest, haha.) If these management people knew what was good for them, they would have hired us and Buck-Tick Zone as international promoters, or team up with us as influencers, but instead, they slam the door. It really breaks our (my) heart. There's nothing to be done, now. This is the "new normal." These corporate people won't listen. They never have. They never do. They just keep updating and updating the apps till you can't use them anymore, and doubling and doubling and toiling and troubling the price, and closing and closing the borders.
All we (I) want to say for posterity is this: us helping y'all get tickets to those shows was a completely victimless crime. Wait, was it a crime? How the fuck was it a crime? The band got money, and international fame they never had before. You guys got to enjoy seeing the shows. Nobody lost anything. Everybody won. Everyone was happy, except for a handful of bitter, racist, jealous fangirls, some of whom are management, apparently. This is the end of an era. The final stanza from "Boukyaku," one of the songs which we haven't translated yet, quite frankly because every time we listen to it, we can't stop crying (it is trendy in the 2020's to be vulnerable about mental health issues but tbh we aren't exaggerating and maybe this kind of issue is a little tiny bit related to our AWOL, though there was a lot more there as well.) Anyhow, "Kakegai no nai hibi/Dare mo toorisugiteyuku." What does it mean? It means, "All those irreplaceable days/Everyone, everybody lives them through."
"Kakegai no nai" is something you get once. It never comes back. One day you wake up and you're old and your hip is broken and you're living on the bed and the country's in lockdown. One day you wake up and you've spent the past 3+ years recovering from a horrible illness and you're living in a smartphone surveillance state with closed borders and just... where did the time go? Happy birthday, NGS. It's your Sweet Sixteen. Have you ever been kissed? Let me tell you a story about when you were young, and there was a thing called "international travel," and there was a thing called "The Parade," and you bought these slips made of a thing called "Paper" and you handed in the slips at the gates and went into this crazy circus place with other people who had traveled from around the world to see the amazing band, Buck-Tick, and you pressed against each other and coughed in each other's faces and sweated on each other and screamed and yelled and sometimes people beat the crap out of you but even with the bruises, you were happy, you were carefree, you were a depressed cynical theater goth writing angst poetry about how it all ends like dry leaves sometime sooner rather than later, and yet somehow, some sweet, childlike part of you was chomping on caramel apples and running through the halls of mirrors and riding the carousel, thinking it would all last forever... never been kissed? Kiss my ass. So said Time. Guess he/she/it says that to all of us eventually, but God / Allah / Shiva / Buddha / Flying Spaghetti Monster etc. etc. damn it. (Dude, Buddha definitely never said "damn." Except when he stubbed his toe). Anyhoo, all we ever tried was to do right by y'all and spread the Buck-Tick love around the world. Let no good deed go unpunished. Words to live by. Never fucking forget that.
But, please, you, my readers, do not give up hope. The power of collective consciousness is very strong. Send your prayers for a better future for Buck-Tickistan. An end to the pandemic. An end to the curtailing of personal freedoms and Orwellian surveillance. An opening of the borders. A day when once again, the Buck-Tickistani diaspora can come here and board the Buck-Tick Train. With paper tickets.
The (Dead) Pony Express
In other, similarly depressing news, which our customers know already: Japan Post is also fucked up down and sideways over a barrel. They are (and have been for some time) refusing to ship packages to most of the countries where you folks live. They also keep changing the policies. It's nonsensical. For example, you can send a letter to Canada, but not a parcel. You can send a parcel to the USA, but you can't send it with a tracking number. What!? All international parcels now require printed shipping labels, printed off a dedicated (buggy as a wasp's nest inside an anthill) app, that doesn't allow diacritic marks or special characters. Developing an app specifically for international shipping labels that doesn't allow diacritic marks? Real good job there, dudes! France and all of Central and Eastern Europe, not to mention Vietnam, are giving you the finger and farting in your general direction! Oh, wait, you probably don't ship to Vietnam anymore, because they're "Jung13 Azns" and whoever is making these shipping policies is a racist, xenophobic, idiotic fuck.
But here's the thing... if you send a *letter*, rather than a parcel, you don't need that printed shipping label. You can still use a good old-fashioned pen to address a letter. What!? Japan Post claims that the whole reason for the printed labels is that the USA won't accept any packages with handwritten labels anymore, and therefore, soon the rest of the world will follow suit (Americuh, Fuck Yah!), so if you don't use printed labels, "they cannot guarantee" that your package will be delivered. We asked them what "cannot guarantee" meant. They gave us no straight answer. We have our sincere doubts that this has anything to do with the virus, or America. We're betting that it's more like, in this age of digital everything, people have lost the ability to read handwriting. That's a real shame. Handwriting is an art, folks. Take it back. The pen is mightier than the sword. Pick up a pen and take it back!
Anyhow, for most countries, the only parcel post shipping option currently available is by sea. Sea mail means that your package goes in a shipping container to be shipped on a shipping ship. The downside: it takes three months. The upside: it's cheaper, and we haven't had a sea mail parcel lost in the post yet (yet... fingers crossed.) Though the policies for individual countries have changed erratically, this general issue has not changed since 2020, and we don't expect it to change anytime soon. This is all by way of saying that This is NOT Greatest Shopping Service is still open for business, but we're beholden to the whims of the nonsensical International Shipperies Ministry of Silly Walks, so it's a little bit "buy at your own risk." We are sincerely sorry. They claim all of this is because of the virus, but how, why? Why can you send a package without tracking, but not with tracking? Why can you send a package from Canada to Japan, but not from Japan to Canada? The plane has to go and come back. The virus doesn't live in cardboard boxes. To quote Buck-Tick's "The World is Yours"...
"CRAZY NIGHT CRAZY MAN CRAZY MOON You are crazy
CRAZY LOVE CRAZY EYES CRAZY DREAM I’m a crazy"
Oh wait... we're the sane ones, it's the world that's gone crazy! Keep your eyes and ears open, kids. Think for yourselves. Don't just blindly believe what anyone tells you, whether they are established authority figures or conspiracy theorists or both. Take in as much information as you can, observe the world, analyze, process, draw your own conclusions. We're globally off the deep end. We (I) can't tell you "what's really going on," because we (I) don't know. But what I can say for sure is that things are much more than they seem, and different than they seem, and nobody's got all the pieces of the puzzle, and there is a LOT of suspect and/or misinformation being spread around, and in some, perhaps many cases, the people spreading it believe it, and they don't mean ill, but it's still not true. So, all you can do is trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. Follow the money and the vested interests and ask yourself, who stands to gain, and what do they stand to gain, from telling me (whatever story they're telling me)? What am I being asked to give up, and in service of what gain, to whom? What's in this for me and my family and the future of the world I want to live in? And most importantly, ask yourself, what is worth most to you? How much is freedom worth, to you? How much is love worth? What's worth more to you, love or fear? If you knew you'd die tomorrow, what do you wish you would have done, or said?
I am not, I repeat, I am not, promoting any one philosophy or ideology here. I just want to say that the human race has lived through a zillion pandemics (smallpox, Black Death, cholera, syphilis, Spanish flu, AIDS, etc.) and survived. Life expectancy for most of recorded human history on this planet was decades shorter than it is today. I probably mentioned this before, but the number of people who died of suicide in Japan in 2020 exceeded the number of people who died of Covid-19, and the suicide rate skyrocketed (because of Covid-19). Would you rather live fast knowing that you may die young, or never live at all knowing that you may die young anyway? Free will is a fundamental law of the universe. This is your choice. With great freedom comes great responsibility, but you've got this. Choose what your heart tells you, not what someone else tells you to choose.
NOT Greatest Site is Truly Not Greatest
Sorry we veered into some off-topic negative territory there. But... this is life, now.
Anyway, we wanted to welcome this birthday by posting some new translations of the remaining songs on Abracadabra, and "Go-Go B-T Train." But... Google has us fucked up down and sideways over a barrel in that regard. In September 2021, Google Classic Sites, the platform we have been using to create NGS since 2012, was retired. And, the new Google Sites is... to put it delicately, dog barf. All in the name of "innovation," they've made the editing interface a wash of impenetrable cryptoglyphs (oh-ho, Silicon Valley, excuse me, "intuitive innovative icons") and pre-selected "themes." We were never web designers, kids. That's why we used Google Sites. But in the old Google Sites, we made our way. In the new Google Sites, we can't even figure out how to change the fucking font or the text color. So our dear old site is now like a beached whale, slowly turning to fossilized bones, because in order to update, we'll have to remake the whole thing by re-publishing it in the new Google Sites, and that is, as far as we can tell at this moment, utterly unacceptable. The new interface is ugly as a strip mall on top of a strip mall, edited Vaporwave-style in Microsoft paint by a colorblind kid who never used a computer before (oh wait, "kid who never used a computer before" doesn't exist anymore. Shoot us, put us out of our misery. This is Gray Goo. The machines own us.) But yeah. We can't figure out how to edit the text colors back to what they were (do you know how many fucking hours we spent on those text colors? It's better off if y'all didn't know. We ourselves don't know. If we had a five-yen coin for every hour we spent on those text colors...). But yeah. We can't even figure out how to get our lovely galaxy background back in there. Bye-bye, Milky Way. It was really, really nice knowing you. Say hi to Andromeda, from us.
I supposed I should really stop using this "we" by now. I, Cayce, am a translator and a writer, but I am not technologically savvy. I've been rendered obsolete. I was decently good at computer-ing, at one point. But the march of Big Tech, the constant updating, every day another social network, every day another interface, every day new Terms of Service with a new "fuck you very much" clause, has me so worn down that these days, I haven't been able to even look at it without wanting to throw up. The Blogger interface has also been updated, I might add. Our good old Trebuchet MS font that we've been using since 2009 is gone, even. So, kids, welcome to Verdana.
Anyhow, I am hereby welcoming suggestions from y'all as to how to proceed. I will, as my time and physical strength permit, post updates on here, including (I hope) some new translations. If any of you have tech expertise and would be interested in helping with the site, please contact me directly at the mad aristocrat [at] gmail [dot] com. I want to continue with this project, but I am out of my depth and at the end of my rope. My goal is to maintain the site in an aesthetically beautiful, easily navigable fashion, such as I endeavored to create in the Before Time (who knows if I succeeded, y'all can be the judge of that, but I spent oh God / Allah / Buddha / Shiva / Flying Spaghetti Monster forgive me my sins numbers of hours trying).
Anyway, in honor of our new machine overlords, I bring you, Google's translation of Buck-Tick's "Boukyaku." Because I'm obsolete. Nobody needs translators anymore. There's an app for that.
Lyrics: Atsushi Sakurai
Composer: Hisashi Imai
Waiting for a nightmare alone
Fresh blood bleeds
Hurt you deeply very deeply
And this me deeply and deeply
Breathing is quiet and disturbed
Tears fall straight
The pain that you are holding is disappearing
Wrapped in you, it will disappear
It should be forgotten, like rain
A casual sunny day, the wind passes by
The pain that melts into you disappears
Wrapped in you, it will disappear
It should be forgotten, like rain
A casual sunny day, the wind passes by
It should be forgotten, like today's rainbow
Nothing, a sunny day, irreplaceable days
Everyone passes by
- Translated by Google Translate's AI. Cayce was not involved. But, you know, "Fresh blood bleeds, and this me deeply and deeply." Might as well Cayce not to be, because this is the next "To Be, or Not To Be."