Good morning. I want to tell you a story. Maybe I’ve told it before, but it’s incredibly germane.
I don’t come from any kind of fancy background. I grew up in a nowhere place that didn’t even appear on most maps until years later. We were only 25 miles from a major city, but culturally and politically and sometimes literally we were a world apart. It tended to be that your interests were limited to some element of rural life, something that reflected the reality of limited resources (“I like to fix cars because I’ve had to fix this ’72 Chevelle so many times that I may as well be a mechanic!”) or the one thing that tied our whole region together, which was sports. I was a bookish kid who didn’t take to handiwork well, and while fishing and hunting and the like were a good way to spend time, my brain tended to get too bored to do them well.
Enter sports! I played enough because I was good at them, and my parents were both supporters of Local Teams, so that became a thing for us. And when I was 13, my grandfather and uncle decided that they didn’t want the financial obligation of continuing to pay for their highly coveted season tickets for Local Team, did we want them, and my father, who needed to find a way to better connect with the burgeoning, gloomy adolescent who he barely understood, snatched them up.
We didn’t miss a game, preseason or regular season or playoffs, for five straight seasons, and then I still made regular trips home to go despite moving out of the area (my brother came of age at just the right time to take my place). We got our quality time in, did me and the old man, on those long drives from home to the city, then waiting (so much waiting!), then driving back. He tried to impart words of wisdom, as I imagine all parents do with their kids, though I, being a willful youth who was desperately pulling away from the constraints of what little I knew in the world, didn’t pay it too much heed. Yeah, I shouldn’t let a girl come between me and my best friend, I get it; actually I think the military is a pretty good idea; why can’t I just get a summer job on the loading dock? it pays so much better than McDonald’s. Etc.
What I was really into was the team. Oh my goodness. To this day, literal decades after all of this started, I’m still an obsessed idiot. I play it cool in my Big City Livin’ and Big City Day Job and Fancy Consulting Side Gig and Super Awesome Idol Website, but the reality is that I’m still that kid from nowhere who liked a sport but loved a team. Every win was exhilarating (and there were a lot of them then!); every loss demanded revenge. I hungered like all other fans in the area, which was most of us, for an elusive Championship, which was elusive because it was hard to achieve and so tantalizing because it had been a long time since the last one despite lots of close calls. It was a tradition in most area households to complain endlessly about the lack of another Championship.
Finally, just before my moment to move on and do other things with my life, a truly great season with a truly great team. They weren’t just good — they were great. Everybody, even the talking heads on ESPN (we did have cable, gods be praised), had Local Team figured as Championship favorites. It was awesome. And then the playoffs — teams that dominate get to play at home, and “we” had dominated like heck, so all the games would be at home!
And so, on a grey, cold, winter afternoon, I rode with my father into the city for the game. It was the biggest one we’d go to, for the chance to go play for the Championship, and the first of that type in my time to be so pregnant with potential. It was huge. I was excited. We listened to the local pre-game show on the radio, which was way more exciting than fatherly wisdom, which was almost trite at that point, as I had grown so far beyond my father’s comprehension that he could have read me a cookbook in Klingon and it would have had the same level of meaning to both of us.
Was it a great game? It was! If I had been older at the time, or maybe a different kind of young, I’d probably still talk about it for its incredible emotional flow, its big moments, the gut-wrenching feeling of helplessness that would be completely spun around by cresting waves of joy … all to cycle back, and cycle back, and cycle back.
We didn’t win that day. “We.” But also we, my old man and me, and especially me. We very literally trudged back to the car and fought through traffic to escape, as snow had fallen during the intervening hours, mostly to rub salt in our wounds, I think. I was crestfallen. More, for the first time really, I let myself cry a little bit at the loss. This sounds stupid, but put yourself in the shoes of a teen who has so little going for him in the first place but for the pleasures of viewing these occasional spectacles, who’s champing at the bit to do almost anything else than live in this nowhere dot of a place, who hinges so much emotional investment on the outcomes of these spectacles because there’s almost nothing else to invest in, anyway … and who just went through a meat grinder of highs and lows to get to this specific point.
Now, my old man, it must be said, for all of his foibles and ways, has always been a fairly sensitive fellow. I think that he wanted to share wisdom so often because he didn’t want his sons to follow in his footsteps at all, so if we could make better decisions and get little opportunistic legs up, all the better, and he became attuned to emotional complexes different from his own, which defaulted to taciturn, which was usually the only way that he could express himself, matter-of-fact over sympathetic performance. And so, while I fought red-eyed through a complicated feels morass, he patted my leg and said:
“It’s okay, bud. I get it. But the sun’ll come out tomorrow.”
It didn’t really help, but I loved my father and didn’t want the effort to be wasted, so I gave a wan smile and nodded and leaned against the cold car window and let the vibrations of the highway lull me to sleep. Back home, Mom had cooked up a roast and some of her patented apple dessert, originally as a celebration feast but now clearly as a palliative. I ate, did not enjoy, went to my room to read and play my ancient NES, and fell asleep early.
The sun, suffice it to say, did not come out the next morning.
I’ve been in a weird mood since the Announcement. One of my warm-weather projects was the construction of a large garden in my yard; in my brief window between getting home from work and moving on to the next thing, I hate-planted some things in it that really didn’t need to be planted in it at all, but I didn’t know what else to do. I drank a 4 Loko because I felt like it and then couldn’t sleep, either, so I watched horror movies on Netflix for a while. I found this genuinely strange article and read the whole thing twice not because it’s particularly good or interesting, but because it was cool to see references to bands that I’d forgotten existed.
Listen. Idol is idol. If Pour Lui’s experience has taught us anything, it’s that idol is too powerful a metacultural force to ever be anything other than what it is. Of course your favorites will graduate. That’s part of what makes this all worthwhile, the experience that you get together in the time you have. It’s the same for anything else and any other person in your life, except those experiences are usually way more real.
Anyway. Play the Fun, which took on a completely different kind of macabre feel the second it was published on the heels of the Announcement. Watch a few live videos of your favorites. Go read the old Oshi Digest. Enjoy yourselves.
Life Is Stupid
If you do nothing else with today, spend the few minutes necessary to have your life transformed by Yanakoto Sotto Mute recording from their god-damn gorgeous new EP:
Whatever Aina has cooking, I feel like I need it:
💣 2018.10.29 coming 💣 pic.twitter.com/Q6RIXbNjX3
— アイナ・ジ・エンド (@aina_BiSH) October 26, 2018
Just when I think Poppy has gone full-on naw-this-is-just-pop-now, she releases a track that I’d crown if it were from an actual idol:
Pikarin can get into some weird stuff, you guys:
— ✟椎名ひかり✟ぴ様 (@Pikarin_shiina) October 22, 2018
Doubting that I’ll ever get to really highlight POMERO, but they got some nice tunes:
Here we go with the full-on revamp of Hakuchumu:
— 白昼夢project【公式】 (@hakuchumu_idol) October 26, 2018
Plot twist! Not even a month after going to a new brand in Harami no Jan, the ex-sugartrap is calling it quits:
— ハラミのジャン-公式- (@haraminojan) October 26, 2018
Okaki had a pretty all right-looking birthday:
— 柿崎李咲 ネクロ魔 (@kakizaki_risaki) October 23, 2018
Leave it to SAKA-SAMA to release the best adult contemporary song of 2018:
Idol in Focus
This week’s Idol in Focus is A.N.otheЯ, because apparently doing two things in one week makes you the most interesting thing in that week. They have, for instance, added another new member,
Hiyori from Kimi to Boku, Tokidoki Melancholic, who I guess is just going to pull chika double duty for a while:
11月3日からA.N.otheЯ『 @A_N_othe_R 』を兼任することになりました。
— ひより🦇 (@kimiboku_hiyori) October 22, 2018
Despite this, and despite having several members now, it seems like every live clip is just Luna doing her thing, like in this new song:
【A.N.otheЯ / STAR BUG (Live clip)】
先日のA.N.otheЯ、Luna生誕ライブ［ NEVER ］より最近お披露目した新曲STAR BUG のライブクリップです！
— A.N.otheЯ(アナザー) 公式 (@A_N_othe_R) October 25, 2018
Don’t ask me, man. I thought, you get bitten by the zombie girl and turned into a zombie girl too, you start to do stage work with the zombie girl. I’m minding my own business. I just work here.
Blazing hot take that may or may not be directly influenced by a screenplay that I may or may not have once written: The whole Yuimetal thing was a smokescreen to make it easy for Muto to come back, but what Amuse doesn’t realize is that she’s still secretly the agent of the Great Idol, and Yuimetal’s “illness” is her diabolical plot to destroy metal forever!
14:00〜 18:00〜 2公演します🎤
— 武藤彩未 (@_mutoayami_) October 25, 2018
There are a lot of familiar people in this commercial you guys:
— KRY 3/2 SHOPopen (@KRY_official_) October 24, 2018
Here’s REGiNA KiSS live:
I’m probably going to die before Minna no Kodomo-chan releases a video for “cancer”, so:
— みんなのこどもちゃん👁 👁 (@kodomocafeid) October 23, 2018
You’d think by now that Iso-Ska would figure out how to make it work, but this is the definition of a rough cut:
Good lord, senanan:
Now this is a next-gen gig:
shinjuku ANTIKNOCK 33rd Anniversary
【Variant Survivors Ⅳ】
前2000 yen/当2500 yen(+1D)
— de'Barrier【公式】 (@de_barrier) October 22, 2018
【Broken By The Scream 海外遠征決定!!】
2019.01.20(日) 韓国West Bridge Live hallにてライブ決定!!
10/29 18時 〜11/11 23時
— Broken By The Scream (@BBTS_koushiki) October 24, 2018
Another nice new one from QUEENS:
Idols and Halloween, man:
— ❤︎ゆぅちゃろ❤︎@smashcake!!!🐰🎀 (@_yuki_tyaro) October 23, 2018
Broken By The Scream and BRATS are heading for Korea:
What a Halloween costume:
— blondebabymetal (@spotthedog1962) October 23, 2018
Have the best weekend that you can!