Tag Archive | local

Never apologize

A rather harsh title some might think. Of course I think you should apologize if you’ve done something demonstrably wrong or misguided.

“Oh, seems you’ve set my house on fire.”

“Yeah, sorry about that but there was a sale on kerosene at the hardware store…”

“Well, as long as you’re sorry….”

Now that situation is a time when you should apologize. Lord knows I learned that the hard way.

No what I’m talking about is something I’m starting to see more and more as I try to focus my efforts away from boozing and snoozing to creative creation. This is the idea that “the artist” shouldn’t apologize for his or her work. That’s not to say that should the work be crap it’s OK to accept that and not want to improve. You should apologize only to yourself, the audience doesn’t want to hear that junk.

It’s like dogs and fear. The audience can smell fear in the artist. Apologizing is like kicking the chum bucket over the side of the boat then diving in after it. You’ve just got to push forward. I’ve picked this idea up from spending a lot of time with musicians lately. In music you can’t stop when there’s a live audience staring at you looking for a good time. I’m sort of a writer and I’m lucky in that I have things like spell checker that keep my outrageous mistakes to a hopeful minimum.

The average person is more skilled at picking out spelling mistakes, however, than out of key notes. At least, I can’t, but that has more to do with my complete lack of musical talent and taste. Though if you stop the show to apologize for the wrong key on the downbeat (I’m just making shit up here) then I think you’ll have bigger problems on your hands. Like refund hungry drunk people with glass bottles in ready supply.

It’s good to hate your mistakes and want to improve. Heck I think everything I make is garbage but that’s because I have self-esteem issues stemming from my lack of reptilian pets in my younger days.

Still reading? Good. Strive to improve in all you do but as long as you’re creating, never apologize.

I went for a walk and took some pictures! Camera deets: Nikon d5100, 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G lens (yes it’s a kit but it’s the good kit). Coloring and effects done in Lightroom 3 & Photoshop CS5.5 (Legal copies to boot! Shocker!)

Sorry about the watermark but you can’t trust the internet these days.

*looks at the post title*

Shit….

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Chinese New Year 2012, Year of the Dragon

Well it’s that time of year again. The beginning of the new Lunar calendar and the only time of the year that I take a interest passing interest in horoscopy (horoscopoppy?). Yep, I love following the new Chinese Astrology/Zodiac readings. Hopefully if I say Chinese Horoscope Zodiac enough times it’ll drag some of those delicious hits off of the googles into the space here instead of one of those “well designed” sites that are chock full of astro-magical goodness.

Anyway to bring it back on track, I guess I like the Chinese zodiac better than the boring Western style (I’m a Virgo by the way) for a few reasons.

1: The horoscopes are only given once a year, at the start. I guess this gives the people coming up with these things more time to make up some more interesting assumptions. The old western style horoscopes need to be cranked out every week or month or day in some cases. Seems needy to me. Nope, once a year is good enough for me. Month to month? Week to week? Don’t have time for that much bullshit in my life thank you kindly.

2: The actual Zodiac is much cooler. For example in the western Zodiac I’m a Virgo, the virgin. Lame. In the Chinese zodiac I’m a Dog. A Water Dog in fact. So the best damn kind of dog in all of the Dog Space-Time Continuum. (Golden Retriever is on that list. Thesis proved.) And don’t get me started on other combinations.

Fire Monkey. Boom! Metal Dragon. Double Boom! Need I go on?

3: Because it’s based on year and not month it’s a good way to figure out someone’s age. I’ve actually seen bouncers use it at clubs as a test when people try to pull the “I left my ID card at home” excuse. Really sneaky and would never work with the other zodiac.

So I’m a Dog and apparently Dogs and Dragons don’t get along very well. Too much awesome I guess. But fortunately the more you look around eventually you’ll come across a prediction for the year that isn’t so bad. The majority seems to think that it’s a bad year for my money and my health, but a decent year for my job and my social relationships. So….cool? Money I can see, been spending a lot. Hopefully my health will get better though, I’ve stuck to working out and gave up the other bad things in life so should be ok. We’ll see. Going to try and expand the job thing as well. So bring it on Dragon. Bitch.

Well the other thing about Chinese New Year is it’s kind of a big party. I went down on Monday to Yokohama’s Chinatown to catch some of the festivities. I’ve been to the area before but didn’t really explore very much. The weather was pretty bad for enjoying time outside and taking pictures but I think I managed to come away with a few decent shots. Also I stitched together a pretty crude first video from my new camera. HD capability but it sucks down battery power like a Roppongi bar fly does drinks.

Here’s to the new lunar year. Kung Hei Fat Choi!

New Year’s 2012

So thing’s been pretty heavy around here recently. Back to our regular programing!

So I went out to Yokohama for New Year’s to see some fireworks. Now, I was expecting some fireworks on the same level as the last time I went to Yokohama. These were nothing quite the same but still pretty. Anyway here’s what I got.

Kinda lame wasn’t it? Yeah. I saw a video of the show down at the countdown party and to be fair it was pretty cool. A lot of the fireworks were small bursts in time with the music. It looked much cooler up close. Also, if you watched it all you might have heard me narf to myself about if a certain song was Nine Inch Nails or Led Zeppelin. Apparently it was the new cover version of a Led Zeppelin song done by Trent Reznor, frontman of NIN.

So my confusion was justified and I felt compelled to clear that up for some reason. Moving on.

After that we went from Yokohama to Tokyo to visit a shrine. For the uninitiated it is a Japanese custom for people to visit a Shinto shrine sometime in the first few days of the new year. You chuck some money into a bin, usually one of the lucky though near worthless 5 yen coins, clap your hands twice and make your wish/prayer for the new year. (I bet you can guess what mine was)

You can go anytime in the first three days or so, however, since most people are out and about that night, or just awake when they usually aren’t, many people go to shrines shortly after midnight. We went to Meiji Jingu, which is the shrine dedicated to the Meiji Emperor who ruled during the Meiji Reformation during the Meiji period. So pretty important dude. (Even though I misspelled his name throughout the entire video I made (>_<) )

Isn’t iMovie neat? So this shrine happens to be one of the most popular shrines to visit in the largest city in the country so…it’s crowded. We had to wait at least an hour and a half just for our one minute prayer ritual. But like climbing Mt. Fuji, a wise person does it once and only a fool does it twice. (Unless you’re into the exercise when it comes to Fuji, I know some people like that.) It was an experience let’s just say.

You can also buy all kinds of charms, knick knacks, fortunes, etc. after you make your prayer. I bought a Hamaya which literally means “demon-breaking arrow”. Which sounds pretty cool when you think about it.

Pretty wicked no? Apparently I’m supposed to return it to the shrine for burning next year or all it’s luck protection powers will be for nothing. I’d like to think that it stores up the bad luck and if you don’t burn that shit it’ll all come back to you at once. A whole year’s worth of bad luck? No thank you.

Anyway it was a fun time and certainly something I’m glad I got to experience. As far as starts to a new year, this one wasn’t so bad. Questions, comments? Leave them after the pictures and debut of my terrible movie. (^_^)

Warning: some NSFW language.

Flash Fiction Challenge: Alliteration

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge. This time was to come up with a title that has alliteration in it and then write out about 1000 words from that. I pulled “Jimmy’s Job” out of thin air while taking a shower. The story below took a little longer than that, but not by much. Enjoy and comment if it so pleases you.

Jimmy’s Job

Jim pressed down on his truck’s loose brakes and screeched it to a halt. He’d let the pads wear down well past the warning sliver of metal that scraped against his wheels like fingernails on chalkboard mixed with a touch of reverb. Jim had gotten used to the sound over the weeks. Money was tight these days and he had better things to spend a hundred dollars or so on than a new set of brakes. The old truck still stopped when he needed it and that was good enough for him.

Jim popped open the door and gave it a shove. The heavy steel door swung open, locking its hinge with a well made ‘clunk’. Dust and the stale smell of old foam padding rushed up through Jim’s nose as he climbed out of the seat into the hot summer sun. He slammed the door shut before moving around to the bed of the truck. His mud-flecked boots crunched over the dry patches of grass that clung to life amidst the rock-choked clay dust this field called soil.
In the back of his rusted yet dependable pick-up were all the tools and self respecting man of the South needed and kept. Two shovels both long and short handled, caked in dried mud and clay. A length of sturdy rope and a coil of wire. A battered toolbox. Two car batteries that were dead and one that still worked, probably. Last but not least, a plastic cooler full of beer. Jim grabbed the handle of the cooler and slid it towards him from the center of the truck bed. He popped open the top and fished around in the icy stew inside until he came up with a can of booze.

Jim walked over to the back of his truck and then leaned against the tailgate. He snapped the beer open. The foam boiled up from the mouth of the can as Jim stood there for a moment, looking out across the field. The rough land stretched out for at least a mile, in Jim’s estimation, before it was swallowed up by a pine forest at the edge of the property line.
Jim drank his beer as he listened to the cicadas kick up a strong whine against the breeze that blew in from God knows where. Once he finished he grabbed the long handled shovel from the back of his truck and set about digging the hole.

Jim was about half way done with the ditch and close to two beers further along when he saw the dust cloud rising up from the old access road that led into the field. He glanced at his watch, a beat up plastic digital number that wasn’t fancy but did the job of telling time pretty well. According to it, Jim’s appointment was two hours early.

He kept digging as the cloud drew closer, but Jim didn’t stress himself. Another pair of hands had almost arrived after all. After about two or three more bites at the rough dirt with his spade, Jim’s appointment rolled into the field on a pick-up with a slight bend to its axel. The front left corner lifted up and down as it came to a slow stop near the back of Jim’s truck. After it came to a rest in the hot dust and the crackle of the emergency brake split the air, the driver shoved open his door then stepped out.

The man was too fat for pleasant euphemisms and wore a pair of mud splattered overalls that strained against his bulk.
“Ain’t it finished yet?” the overalled man said, punctuating his displeasure with a healthy spit of tobacco juice.
“You’re early,” Jim said, not taking his eye off the widening pit or his shovel. “Cooler of beers in the back there.” Jim jerked his head in the direction of the cheap plastic container.
“You’re welcome to one if you like,” he said, “Might take me another hour or two to finish here. ‘Course there’s another shovel back there if you’re in a hurry.”
The heavy man waddled over to the edge of the pick-up bed and peered over.
“Reckon I’ll have a beer first then help you with the pit.”
Jim just nodded and wiped the sweat off his brow before turning back to the work.

An hour later the fat man and Jim had made a decent pit. Six feet deep as is standard.
“Help me out with him,” the fat man said, “Starting to turn in this heat.”
They swatted at the flies, thick as quarters they were, that swarmed around the burden sitting heavy in the back of the fat man’s truck.
“Where’d you find this one?” Jim asked.
“Down near the river,” the fat man said as he and Jim grabbed the dingy cloth that wrapped the bundle and slid it across the rusty truck bed.
The two men grabbed each end of the load and crab-walked it over to the lip of the pit they’d dug. On a three count they pitched it into the depths. Some of the canvas tarp came loose, exposing a patch of dark skin here, blood-matted hair there. The fat man spat a final disgrace on the bundle as it sank into the cool sandy clay at the bottom of the hole. The thick glob of nicotine laced phlegm splattered against the shroud.

The fat man in the overalls patted Jim on the back before returning to his rusty vehicle. As his client drove away down the dusty road, Jim went to his cooler to get the last beer. He stood there as he drank it, looking down into another unfortunate ending to a day’s work. When he was finished, he chucked the crumpled can into the pit and slowly set about filling it in once more.

Tokyo Live Showcase: Blue Line Redux

You might remember this band from the last time I talked about them. Everybody’s first time at anything is usually a rough experience. I mentioned what I felt was a lack, or let’s say a lower than expected level. These are my good friends though, I don’t want to be mean. But yeah, felt a little flat.

Of course, two people were having serious colds and it was the first time in front of a live audience. Also, earlier in the week I had gone to a crazy wild 80s fueled jump fest. Different vibe for sure.

That’s why I was happy to see them pull it off so well this outing. The band seemed far more settled and energetic. I’m not good at understanding or talking about music. It’s like art, I may not know it but I know what I like. Or something along those lines. I think what I mean is, it doesn’t matter what level of energy that you’re going for, it matters if you get there. Punk rock to classical the audience is going to notice if you’re off and things aren’t clicking. A lot of people I know that play will sometimes complain about levels being off or missing a beat on the upturn with a half step. Or I could be just making those words up.

Point is, it’s good that artists focus on the little things. I like to write, sometimes people tell me I’m good. I think everything I do is garbage that I smear on the page with hands covered in matters unspeakable. More to the point, if I use the same word in two separate sentences in the same paragraph I freak and have to change it. I’d compare this to missing a note in a song even though I don’t know anything about making music. The energy of the group is more akin to the mood of a piece of writing. An out of place note or word can startle the viewer but as long as they’re enjoying the work as a whole then it’s easy to forgive. But when everything is off it’s harder to get into something.

I’ll let you make your own decisions on that part from the media below but I thought this show did a lot better capturing the “mood” than the first one. Good job guys. You can like their facebook page over here.

I haven’t been updating near as much as I used to or wanted to. Gonna try and fix that tonight by using the delayed publish gizmo WordPress has. Since it’s an experiment you might see nothing, or an extra bonus post or two depending on how inept I am at the process.

-Jimbo

A night in Yokohama

I am way behind in my word count so I’ll just leave you with a few pictures and about 10 minutes worth of fireworks. Enjoy.

12/30

Halloween 2011: Shibuya Style

It’s that time again. Strap on a costume and get read to ride out into the cold night and conquer the land. It’s Halloween and that can only mean one thing for anyone above the age where trick or treating becomes embarrassing.

Alcohol. In great quantities. Except I pledged to stay sober this month. Damn. Well the antics should be fun to watch.

My night started in Roppongi, a den of iniquity that I know far too well. There was a period in my life that would find me down in the dark trenches of that town where the concrete oozed the stench of vomit and broken dreams. Money flows like polluted water out of the hands of the too drunk to know any better and into the pockets of those that are clever enough to extract it. Time better spent in another post.

My trip to Roppongi this time was for a gathering of like-minded grilled meat enthusiasts. Nearly fifty people packed into one room with the smoke of a dozen flames charring the flesh of animals it was a PeTA members night terror come to life. The food was delicious though delivery of everything from beer to rice was slow and ponderous. I stuck to ginger ale, true to my word, and though I know that the all you can drink special is slim on the profit margins when heavy drinking foreigners are involved, even my tee-totalling was impeded by the same mediocre delivery service.

I should apologize to my friends from that party again. I left after the meal not because I did not enjoy your company but because of my history with the place I was worried I would succumb to temptation out on those streets as I had done so often in the past.

The evening carried me eventually to Shibuya where I met up with some fellow travelers of the Hallow’s Eve and went to a new club that had opened that very night. They had booked some talented and famous acts though I regret that club music to me is like comic books. It is something I enjoy when given the chance but can not be bothered to remember the names of the artists involved. A friend of mine is far more into these things than I am and I can not help but glaze over and stare into the middle distance behind his shoulder whenever the names of people involved come up. I know this is a shitty thing to do as someone who aspires to be a paid writer as well someday. If my friend tells me it’s good, however, I will take interest as I trust his opinion in these matters and he has rarely let me down.

The music was quite awesome. Except for this one quirk of one of the DJs. He had the habit of muffling the sound and then instantly switching back to full blast. It seemed as simple as turning off whole sets of speakers and then switching them back on again. It wasn’t the volume that annoyed me as my favorite room in the club (of which there were several) was one where the music was so loud you could feel the air move around you if you drifted closer than a few feet from any speaker. No, it was the shock and suddenness of the changeovers from quiet to loud. The human ear takes time to adjust, that’s why gun fire is so painful to the unprotected ear. I digress, the audience seemed to like it and for all I know this is some real pioneer shit in the world of club music. You can see what I’m talking about in the first club scene during the video below.

All in all it was a very good night. I stayed true to my vow and came out feeling very good about myself. Perhaps the dark demons at the edges of my soul are not vanquished entirely but I feel like the tide might be turning in my favor. I’ll leave that to another post. In the meantime, please enjoy the pictures and video. Feel free to leave any comments of course, good or bad but no spam. That shit gets thrown in a fire.

7/30