Nearly every list that I’ve seen thus far has sucked.

Credit: Warner Bros.

A buddy of mine at work and I were discussing martial arts movies one peaceful afternoon (he brought up the subject, by the way). The talk quickly devolved into a dick measuring contest to see who between the two of us had watched the greatest number of ‘kung fu flicks.’

But three or so minutes into our conversation, my work bud would arrive at the ego cracking conclusion that he really wasn’t even qualified to shine my nunchucks.

In fact, although he (Dennis) had indeed seen a fair number of martial arts movies, he had somehow only seen one Bruce…

Read everything from Paco Taylor — and more.

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Composite Illustration by Paco Taylor (STP Design)

Nearly everything I wanted to learn about anthropology was influenced by the giant monster movies of Japan.

Why do giant monsters in the 1960s special effects films of Japan nearly always seem to come from make-believe islands situated in the South Pacific? From the time of my childhood in the 1970s, this connecting thread was something of a puzzle to me. But I wasn’t the only inquisitive daikaiju (“giant monster”) geek to ever get his brow furrowed over this oft’ recycled motif.

In a 1992 essay that begins his own inquiry into the matter, Japanese cultural critic Nagayama Yasuo also pondered the significance of this recurring theme in the motion pictures of his homeland when he asked…

Credit: Soul Hug | Facebook

The deeply embracing piano music of Soul Hug

The nine original songs on Soul Hug’s little-known 2010 Elepianote EP (which I myself only just discovered) are mellow and sweetly melodic. If you’re not in the right mindset for that today –– or even tonight –– it’s okay. Save it for when you do need something in that vein and nothing else in your playlist is doing it. And when that time does come, do what I did: Press play, lower your eyelids, and see where this music takes you.

As for yours truly, I’m finding myself wandering into a hotel lobby in some foreign burg found in the…

Credit: Funimation

A sad but true Hollywood story.

In Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Ogin is the alluring Afro-coiffed woman seen maneuvering deftly through rounds of Chō-Han, a traditional dice game in Japan. She makes her surprising on-screen appearance during the rowdy gambling house sequence in the jointly-produced 2009 animated film by Gonzo and the US-based Funimation.

‘Resurrection’ is a sequel to Funimation’s hit 2007 TV mini-series, Afro Samurai. Both adaptations were based on the comic series written and drawn by manga artist Takashi Okazaki. Actor Samuel L. Jackson lends his voice to both the stoic titular bladesman and his unruly sidekick Ninja Ninja.

Credit: ウィキ太郎 (Wiki Taro) • Wikimedia Commons

Although I’ve never been a big whiskey drinker (or a big drinker at all, really), I’ve decided that if I’m gonna own a bottle of whiskey –– and I am gonna — then it’ll have to be an $80 dollar bottle of imported whiskey.

Because…why the heck not?

Suntory, which has a few different whiskeys for varying price points ($40 to $6,000 — yup, six grand, kiddies) was made famous outside the Land of the Rising Sun back in 2003. This occurred with the brand’s very meaningful placement in Sofia Coppola’s Academy Award-winning film, Lost in Translation. …

The super cool history class is now in session.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Good morning, class.

“Good MORNING, Mr. Taylor!”

Settle down quickly, please. I have a special treat for you today…

Hey, this is the first and last time I’m going to ask you to put that comic book away, Mr. Darrell. If I see it poking out from behind your history book again, it’s going right into my personal comic book collection––even though I already have that one; Batman beats Superman down wearing a pair of Kryptonite gloves.

[Youthful laughter]

Now, put it away until recess. Thank you.

All right, class. Today we have a very special treat. As you know…

This legendary reggae icon is the proud sum of his influences.

Credit: Primary Talent International

Sent to Earth from a doomed planet far, far away (no, not really), Lee “Scratch” Perry came to our world in 1936, as a babe swaddling space clothes. The tiny rocket ship in which the toddler came crash-landed near his adopted home of Kendal, Jamaica.

Named Rainford Hugh Perry by the Earthling mother and dad who’d found and raised him, this strange being from another world grow up like all the other kids in the postcolonial slums of Jamaica: He went to school, played kids games, and prayed to ‘Jah’ regularly for the way out of abject poverty.

In the…

Your pretty looks is deceiving, girl.

Reggae records from the 1970s show how the kung-fu flicks of that era had made as big an impression on brothers and sisters in the slums of Jamaica as they had on their counterparts in the ghettos of America.

Songs like “Iron Fist” by The Upsetters, “Hap ki do” by Augustus Pablo, “Natty Kung Fu” by Dillinger, and “Fist of Fury” by Prince Jammy are but a few shining examples of the martial arts movie-inspired music of the islands.

But maybe the best of all the kung-fu inspired jams is “Shaolin Temple,” a brooding early dancehall riddem by producer Henry…

Paco Taylor

Writes about Eastern and Western pop culture, history and art | Bylines @ Nextshark, G-Fan Magazine, The Beat & CBR (Comic Book Resources) |

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