Master Blaster

Writer / Translator

Master Blaster is the two-man translating team of Canada’s Steven Le Blanc and Japan’s Masami M, a pair who in addition to writing work are in English education and created the StudyNow app for Japanese students of English.

Together they have written somewhere around 1,500 articles for RocketNews24 covering such diverse topics as Chinese men selling sanitary napkins to each other and a Japanese guy dragging an ear of corn around the Tokyo train system. A few of these were actually good, but don’t take our word for it! Here’s what our beloved readers had to say:

“One isn't always in the mood for bold tastes. But when I'm in the mood for bold flavor I turn to you.”
“Stupid article. Who cares what the Japanese think it's cool. You don't call a monkey, "gorilla".”
“You know, this is about the most cogent explanation of how a turbocharger works that I have ever seen in the non-motorsports world.”
“Thanks for the article peter!”
“It's people like you who make exploitation possible.”
“It looks yummy and the story was great. Thank you for the smile.”

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All Stories by Master Blaster

Wait… Did Someone Just Sell a Human Skull on Yahoo Auction?!

A pretty rare item popped up on Yahoo Japan’s auction page recently seemingly just in time for the Halloween season.  From 26 September to 3 October, users were able to place their bid on a real human skull – at least I think it’s real according to the eerily vague product description.

At the closing, the winning bid was for 104,000 yen (US$1,300) which may or may not be a bargain. I haven’t been following the human bone index recently.

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Japanese Thieves Steal Thousands of Lottery Tickets, “Hardly Won a Damn Thing”

For those of you who enjoy playing the lottery, here’s a story that should help put your odds of winning in perspective.

Last December, painter Shigeru Aikoh was arrested from robbing a Kushikatsu (deep fried snacks) restaurant in Settsu, Osaka.  However, prefectural police later discovered he was a part of a four man group responsible for a year-long crime spree around the prefecture totaling 4.5 million yen (US$572,000).

However, much to Aikoh’s dismay a fair chunk of that loot had turned out to be totally worthless.

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Rural Rest Stop Aims to be the Premier Location for Jet Black Food

Rest stops in Japan tend to be a little different from their western counterparts.  Aside from offering drivers a chance to stretch their legs and powder their noses, they often offer unique goods characteristic of the area.  Sometimes the rest stops are even the final destinations for summer road trips.

A perfect example of a unique rest stop is the Ranzan Parking Area (RPA) in Saitama prefecture along the Kanetsu Expressway.  Here you can get your hands on two specialty dishes, ice cream and curry, both black as midnight.

And before you say it: no, neither dishes use squid ink.

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New iPhone Amp Needs No Wires, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth, Just the Gentle Touch of Your Device

Century’s new TouchAMP went on sale from 4 October.  This little box can boost your iPhone’s music player without cumbersome cables or attachments.  It also doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which can be a drag on your device’s battery life.

All you have to do is gently lay the iPhone across the top of the box and let it do the rest while you enjoy a deeper, louder sound.

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Extremely Rare Hermaphrodite Stag Beetle on Display in Chiba Prefecture

Stag beetles have a special place in Japan. Looking like little monsters, children love to collect, raise, and maybe even battle them with other bugs.  An entire industry is built around these little critters in the country.

An incredibly rare stag beetle will be put on display in Chiba starting 6 October.  This beetle has the head of a male and the body of a female and may be the first ever of its kind discovered.

According to teacher Toshio Shimizu who works on the exhibit, stag beetles that are sexually divided from left to right are common, but a cleanly separated head and body hermaphrodite is a once in a lifetime find.

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Viral Video Worlds Collide: Hitler Raps to Gangnam Style

Hey! You got your Hitler videos in my K-Pop! You got your K-Pop in my Hitler videos!  Who would have thought that these two viral video titans would blend together so well?

The Chinese genius who created Dictator Rap: Gangnam Style from Hitler, that’s who.

The maker goes by the name Fei Yu from Luoyang, China, who posted the video on Chinese video site, bilibili.tv. From there it spread to YouTube and infamy.

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Manhole Flips Its Lid Seven Meters in the Air Through Gas Station Roof

In Koga city, Shiga prefecture on October 3 at 9am a manhole cover unexpectedly shot seven meters into the air penetrating the roof over a gas station’s pumps.  The 36kg lid measuring 65cm in diameter returned to the ground luckily without hitting anyone.

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Lotteria’s Tower Cheeseburger Returns and It Brought Friends: Value, Shrimp, and Puns

Japanese fast food chain Lotteria is celebrating its 40th anniversary by bringing back the Tower Cheeseburger!  Yes, the Tower Cheeseburger is nothing new: RocketNews24 has reported on it before and, of course, made an ungodly sized burger out of it (pictured above).

Worry not though, as Lotteria has a lot more in store for its big 4-0.  For starters, the price of their 5-storey (five beef patties and five cheese slices) Tower Cheeseburger this year will cost a measly 500 yen! (US$6)

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Chinese Man’s Bladder Explodes after Drinking Game Turns Deadly

It’s a typical drinking challenge that many guys have gotten into at one point or another.  The first person to “break the seal,” or use the bathroom first, is the sucker who picks up the check.

Good times are had watching guys squirm it out and race to the urinal before wetting themselves, and all the funnier if they don’t make it in time.

However, for one group of friends in China, their friendly wager turned tragic leading to the near death of one man.

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Hitachi’s New Quartz Storage Technology Lets You Keep Your Data Safe for a Long, Long Time

At the recent International Symposium on Optical Memory in Tokyo, Hitachi, working with Kyoto University, presented their new type of digital storage.  It works on a principle similar to CDs but with a few added benefits like withstanding over 1000℃ temperatures.

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China’s Superpower Status Upgraded from “Potential” to “Beginning” by Own Media

Despite China’s booming development in recent years, their media has been reluctant to toot their own patriotic horn and limited themselves to phrases like “potential superpower”.

It looks like the kid gloves are off now though, as South China Post kicked off the newest nickname for the PRC, “beginning superpower” last week.  This follows a busy summer of superpower-like imposition and disregard for neighboring countries all along the nation’s coasts.

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Chinese Traffic Jams are Surprisingly Delightful Recreational Activities

Earlier this summer we brought news of the hellish conditions of a day at China’s public pools. Well, it seems that China may officially be the Bizzaro World as their traffic jams conversely provide a pleasant opportunity for rest and exercise – even tennis!

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Kiss Scarecrow Found In Japan, Next Step for the Kings of Merchanidse?

Legendary rock band Kiss has been enjoying decades of success both with their infamous live shows and their unbelievably prolific line of merchandise.  Sure you have your Kiss Army badge and Love Gun belt buckle (for the ladies *wink*), but where’s your Kiss Mini Cooper?

If you’re a true Kiss fan do you only play bingo using the official Kiss Bingo set? When you go to Sotheby’s do you take your Kiss auction paddle?  Is your last will and testament set up to have you spend eternity in your very own Kiss coffin or urn?

At this point a Kiss scarecrow doesn’t seem so wild an idea does it?

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Office Meeting Room Desk that Charges Mobile Devices Developed

With all the constant updates to smartphones and other portable devices, you would think it would be easy to maintain decent battery power by now. But no matter how smart Siri seems to get, most people still have to charge her up on a daily basis.

Some companies have decided to tackle this problem by making charging more accessible, which is where the desk above comes in:  this unassuming piece of office furniture also has a built in wireless battery charger.

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Breakthrough in Plastic Bag Technology Promises a More Stable Future

Plastic shopping bags are one of those things that haven’t been improved on since… ever?  Sure there have been attempts to improve their biodegradability, but that’s hardly the limit to their inherent weaknesses.

This is especially well-known in Japan where premade soups and bentos fly off the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores like premade hotcakes.  Using a traditional plastic bag to carry a curry rice bento always gets tilted onto its side so that it ends up looking like a crime scene when you get it home.  You’re luck if the curry actually stays inside the container.

Lunch Vehicle may be the answer to this problem, taking plastic bags to the next level with its innovative design which has been influenced by tried and tested heavy industry techniques.

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Fans Rank the 10 Animes to Watch Out for this Fall!

October marks the beginning of the 2012 Fall kūru, or TV programming season, in Japan.  In Japan, TV scheduling is divided into four three-month blocks called kūru rather than the yearly seasons of American television.

But like America’s seasons, the beginning is a chance for new shows to make it or break it with the viewers.  In the case of anime, an online survey was held to ask “What new show are you most excited about this kūru?”

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Recent Survey Reveals Over 60% of Japanese Elementary Students Hate Japanese Style Toilets, Who Can Blame Them?

No doubt, by now Japan’s super toilets (known as washlets) have become a well-known symbol this country. Their bevy of features like heating and cleaning add an unprecedented level of comfort to our porcelain thrones.

However, there’s a dark side to Japan’s restrooms: what’s known as the “Japanese Style Toilet.” For those lucky enough to have never encountered one, it’s a throwback to the olden days of going in a hole in the ground.  Only this time the hole is covered in porcelain and has flushing capabilities. Beyond that it’s not much different than camping or surviving a plane crash in the mountains.

Thankfully some special interest groups are working towards wiping this scourge from the nation, and they’re starting with the children.

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Second Milky White River Discovered in China, No Signs of Life in Water

Water pollution is quickly becoming the most pressing concern for Chinese citizens.  Stories have been flowing in about all sorts of things from sex dolls to OD victims have been found floating around in China’s rivers.

The previous incidences have all had relatively happy endings. This time however, a milky white river in Jiangsu city may hold more chilling implications for the local residents.

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Rocksmith’s Japanese Commercial Seems to Defy You to Buy It, Employs Aki Toyosaki

After mastering Guitar Hero years back, I was left with an empty feeling.  I had taken my plastic 4-button guitar controller out on the street to perform One by Metallica but no one paid any attention to me.  In fact, passersby seemed to be intentionally avoiding eye contact.

This is why I was excited to find Rocksmith would be released in Japan on October 11.  The game that actually lets you practice a real guitar in a fun way so you can walk away from it a better person with an entertaining skill!

However, my excitement took a bit of a hit when I saw the first Japanese commercial for it.

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Miscommunication at Cake Shop Leads to One Fugly Birthday Cake

We here at RocketNews24 have been delighted to share some of Japan’s finest cake creations representing either cute birds or your favorite anime characters.

So when one Japanese woman requested a “character cake” for her child’s birthday she felt assured she would end up with a nice, pretty Mickey Mouse or Pokemon design.

What she got was this big-nosed beady-eyed mouth breathing character you see before you.  I guess she should have been more specific.

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