Friday, December 31, 2010

Year of the Bunny!!

Happy New Year to all!

I have to say that I am having a low-key, not quite, but almost, boring New Year's Eve here in Tokyo! My friend-boy felt he needed to use his days off to "do" some freelance projects he has been putting off, and work on some musical things as well. Certainly he could be "doing" me, but I suppose, I will still be around on Jan. 3rd or 15th, or February...and these other projects have some sort of deadline...(Actually February 3rd is Chinese New Year, so he is NOT getting out of that one! If I have to beg, yell, cry, or drag...I WILL get a New Years date somehow!)

I have managed to clean and organize my closest, throw out an ever-growing collection of magazines, and pare down my English teaching textbooks a bit. In an apartment the size of a shoebox, this helps quite a bit! I've also organized the bathroom linen shelf, washed dishes, and sent holiday greetings to a variety of people.

I have many hours left of 2010 - so I am trying to "clean up" many things before the new year. (Of course, the first day of 2011 is still useful for this...) I'm about to organize my next month's appointments, balance my budget/make a budget, and start "grooming" a previously published article for submission elsewhere.

Also, I am going to spend time looking at flights, hotels in Beijing. Yep, the friend-boy - and I are going to his hometown of Beijing for a few days in March. Partly to meet some Chinese business acquaintances I am working with online. Partly to visit a friend. I asked him to suggest a decent hotel...his suggestion? "I'll call my mom. We can just stay in my home with my parents."

Hm....all articles I have read say that the Chinese mother is rather difficult to impress. I need to start worrying about this now. Or not...

Friday, December 17, 2010


Last night, the friend-boy's band had a show. As the thoughtful girl I am, I sent him a message prior:

"Have a good show! Be careful of flying drumsticks!"

His band has a new drummer, but the previous drummer once threw her drumsticks at him during a show when his PC had a glitch and caused a pause in a song during a show.

He really did not find any humor in that at the time. I'm not so sure he finds it funny now. She did hit him in the head with one...

He responds:

"haha thank you! and maybe not this time. maybe next time you should come."

At this point, I faint! In all the time I have known him, he has NEVER asked me to come see his band live. He even told me once, he hates to invite friends because he just doesn't like playing live that much.

Still, I'm more important than a "friend-friend." I'm a "friend-girl!" And FINALLY he invites me to a live show.

I better not need to "bitch slap" any fangirls or groupies he might have!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trouble Ahead!

My day job consists of many tasks, including: conducting telephone-based English conversation practice, managing the receipt and review of corporate student evaluations, reporting student attendance and reading/proofing/correcting/grading student essays. The corporate business English students are all University seniors or salaried employees with prominent firms in Japan.

Students have certain topics to write about based on their course level and unit within the text. Sometimes topics are basic picture description, giving written directions, or writing a short "introduction" role-play. Higher levels write about the changing employment system, issues with working overseas, and gender roles. The gender role essay always provides me hours of amusement. Or bemusement. Or confusion. Sometimes irritation. And...I see trouble ahead with Japanese couples....

Following is an example of an essay on gender roles in Japan I have received. This essay is pretty representative of 90% of the essays I receive from the MALE students! (Their ages are 24-35)

In Japan, men should work in the offices and women take care of the house. It is okay for women to work when they are single. But when they get married they should think about quitting. It is because they need to keep the houseworks and house for their family. This is because Japanese care about family so women must take care of the house because men have to work long hours and sometimes can only have time at home on weekends.

Also, women are not really suited for working out of the home. They are not strong physically and get sickness when they have to work long hours. It is also to hard for them to work as managers because if they have to tell someone something strongly, they can get mental problems.

What kind of essay do I get from women? About 90% of the WOMEN say something like this...

I think it is important for women to have work outside the home. It gives them more life satisfaction with themselves and even their families. I am working hard on my career and want to be successful.

I am not married right now but hope to find my life mate someday. I hope he will support that I want to work. When we have children I hope that after I take a short leave he will support me going back to work and help with the children. Some companies now even offer a child care leave for men so maybe he can take a leave.

I think it is good for parents to be with their children and I hope companies will make changes so people do not have to stay so late at work and both parents have more family time. I hope my husband will help with the houseworks too. It is not fair for only woman to do the work if they both work. Many men can do houseworks and take care of children. I think that the choice of working or staying home should be made by each couple to their own choice and not only by a tradition.


So, here are some statistics....give or take a few points...

Just going on my students:
90% of the men want traditional roles to stand
90% of the women want newer roles and freedom of choice

"Professionally" obtained, and published statistics in Japan:
45% of women want to be housewives
71% of women become full-time housewives after they have a child

Doing a little math here....
29% of the women maintain their goal of working outside the home
26% of the women feel obligated/forced to give up their goal of working

I can see trouble ahead...will some of these men relent in their hardline traditional approach? Will some women be forced to give up their goals? Will some of these men and women stay single as they can not find a partner who accepts their viewpoint? Will there be brawls in the street between couples?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I was already on my knees...

I have voice lessons on Mondays...just a little something so should I ever accept an invitation to go "to karaoke," I will not be mortally embarrassed.

I trotted up the stairs to my instructors studio and was about to knock on the door, but dropped my backpack. It plopped on to the floor and a pen and some coins rolled out of the front pocket. I kneeled down to pick them up, and at the moment the studio door opened and Tachibana Keita of j-pop boy song/dance band was standing RIGHT THERE!

And I'm unattractively crawling on the floor for 10yen coins!

What I can say, that even through my rouge tinted embarrassment, is that he needs NO airbrushing or photoshopping. He has skin so smooth and perfect, it is amazing! And he wears nice cologne. And he's tall and lovely. And he's like...24 or 25....I need to cougar down!

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Kiss

I just got off the telephone with my daughter. As some of you may know, she now spends school terms with her father (in Texas, USA) and summers with me (in beautiful Tokyo). I also go to see her for a short visit during the winter holidays, or shortly after.

This evening, she gave me her big news.....she had her first kiss! This boy she has liked for the past 2 months, kissed her after school!

My baby is growing up! I might as well start knitting, grandmother-hood is approaching....

I asked her if it was gross. 'Cause she used to always say kissing looked gross. She said it wasn't too gross.

Then I told her, "Be Careful! You don't want people seeing you kissing boys at school. They will talk."

She sighed. "Mom, I really thought you'd be cooler about this. Maybe more excited or something?"

I said, "Yes, yes. I'm happy for you!"

What can you really say to a daughter after her first kiss?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learning Japanese

I am very lazy! Why do I say this? Because I have lived in Japan for 16 months and my Japanese skills get me only as far as a brief self-introduction and a mental "bowl of words" that I can pull out as needed and combine with gestures, props, and facial expressions to get some point across.

An example - when I need to buy my monthly train commuter pass: I put the old pass on the counter. With my hand swirling over it in a sort of "shopping channel" gesture, I stammer out..."ano...shin...passo...ogikubo/kayabacho...ichi tsuki...kudasai" A new commuter pass is promptly obtained.

Or I go to the au store. Flipping out my cell phone: again, I use a swirly hand gesture over my phone. "uh...keitai...shiharai" They pull up my number, show write down the amount owed, I pay, and mission accomplished.

My friend-boy says "You don't wanted to learn." I feel it is more, "It was not my first priority."
My excuses: the first 7 months living here, I was working long hours at eikaiwa hell/GABA, and had my daughter living here - so free time was spent going to her school her activities, and general mom/daughter/life items.

After she left, my first priority was to find better paying job - which meant hours on interviews, commuting. One of my jobs including a one-way commute of 1 hour, 45 minutes. My days were blown between work and commute time!

Now I have the following to do: full-time job (40 hours per week), private lessons (8 hours per week), my new self run business (8 hours per week). Friends...and friend-boy. Going to the gym. I refuse to give any of it up!

I do welcome ideas on better efficiency, time-management...but as you can see, taking actual sit-down lessons with a teacher - no time! I finish my day job at 7pm, that puts me getting to a lesson around 7:45pm anyway...too late!

I have decided to actually organize my "work" day to allow for study time. Each work day gives me a one hour lunch break, mandatory lunch break!

I want to break up my lunch as follows:

20-30 minutes - Japanese study
15 minutes - update my twitter (business account) and facebook statuses (for family/friend account and business account
15 minutes - an invigorating walk up the stairs to the top of my work building, and back down to ground floor. Get the brain working. Probably should move this to the first activity during lunch!

Here are the sources for my self-study material.

NHK Let's Learn Japanese
- This series has two seasons. First season was made in 1984 and has 26 lessons/episodes. Second season was made in 1995 and has 26 lessons also. All the video lessons can be found on VEOH and YouTube. The textbook can be found on a variety of bittorrent places - although, I now have them downloaded, and can send it to you as an email attachment, should you, the gentle reader, want a copy.

Textfugu - This is a site written by Koichi of Tofugu fame. The site has lessons, videos, cheat sheets. Basically, the first few lessons are free for all, then you can convert to paid subscription to continue to higher levels. With my current level, it will be quite a while before I need the paid levels.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Gates of Hell - Jigokudani Yaen-koen

This post has nothing to do with Roppongi. Although, with a title such as "The Gates of Hell," it certainly could be!

Actually, Jigokudani Yaen-koen (eng: The Gates of Hell) is a small valley with onsen, near the site of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. It is famous for Snow Monkeys! These small macaque monkeys spend most of the year in the forest, but during winter, about 250 monkeys take over the outdoor onsen. Apparently for warmth, as well as for nearby food supply.

Warnings given prior to visiting include: do not eat near the monkeys, and do not even have food on your person! The monkeys can sniff it out and will attack! Uhm, I'm not sure if I am scared of monkey attack...these guys are not too big. Although, I'd like to avoid a nasty infection.

Another warning, do not make direct eye contact. WTH? Do not make direct eye contact with the monkeys?! Are they the Queen?! It is mentioned, "if a monkey makes eye contact with you, look away quickly."

Regardless of the potential of monkey attack, I hope to go on an excursion to see them on 12/23. (A holiday dontcha know! Emperor's Birthday.) I must scurry over to the bank to make my payment before all the spots are gone...

Upon consideration, the above warnings are also appropriate for the other "Gates of Hell" i.e. Roppongi. Do not carry food on your person or it will be sniffed out. Do not make eye contact with the minions loitering along the street. If you notice one of them has engaged in eye contact with you, look away quickly!

Unfortunately, looking away quickly does not work well in Roppongi. They will follow you anyway. All you can hope to do is quickly find a refuge to duck in to, hide out a moment, and hope their short attention span puts them on anothers trail.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Musical mayhem?!

On Sundays, I spend several hours in Shibuya. I teach one or two private lessons at the Tokyu Plaza Tully's that day, and then either meet a friend, wander, or shop. Or some combination of all.

Yesterday was a wander/shop day. I bought a few books and then headed for the Starbucks inside the flagship Tsutaya location - ideal for a cup of acceptable coffee and very acceptable people watching.

The interesting happenings of the day:

At the table next to me, three people were chatting. The two guys were American; one slumped down in a gray hoodie, the other tatted up and in his cuffed jeans, short-sleeved shirt with rolled up short sleeves, and mini-pompadour. Yep, a new style rockabilly boy!

Here is the jist of their conversation:

Rockabilly Boy (RB): So, are you from Japan?
(note: Before she answered, I could have told you no; she was dressed far too colorfully, and with brighter makeup...I'm guessing Korean.)
Hot Girl (HG): No, I'm from Seoul. I'm just visiting here.
RB: Wow, your English is really good.
(note: her English IS very good!)
RB: Don't you think so? (pokes Hoodie Boy/HB)
HB: Uh, yeah.
RB: So, your eyelashes are really long. Do they push your sunglasses off cause they're so big?
(note: what the? is he making general conversation or trying to pick her up? 'Cause massive fail on both counts)
HG: Ha, ha. No, I wouldn't wear sunglasses with this style lash on.
RB: Oh! Well, they are pretty. So why are you in Japan?
HG: I'm visiting some friends before I go to Australia.
RB: Why Australia?
HG: I have a job there. I'm going to live there for a while.
RB: Really? Cool. Cool, huh? (nudges HB)
HB: Uh, yeah.
RB: So, you plan to stay in Australia or go back to Korea later?
HG: Hm, stay in Australia for a while, but Korea will always be home. Maybe work part of the year in one place, and part in the other.
RB: That's cool. I wish I had enough money to live in both the US and China, 'cause you know, I love this whole Asia thing.

note: I am so not sure how "this whole Asia thing" gesture, while sitting in a modern Starbucks, in Tokyo, gets him to wanting to live in China?

To make this whole experience even more unique, were the musical selections being played. When I sat down, the new song by Rihanna, "Only Girl," was on. As it finished, then came Ce-Lo Greens "Fuck You." No editing, just straight up "Fuck you" every other line. Next...and here is the clincher...Nat King Cole "Silent Night!"

If I had been an avatar, I would have been ROFLMAO!

On a Japanese current culture point - Sunday was the second day of the Shibu-on Music Festival. One of the streets leading up to Dogenzaka Hill was blocked off for some fantastic modern takes on Taiko drumming, accompanied by break-dancing, and guitar. Good crowd, good music!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Conversation, Part II

So, to tie up the varied loose ends of the conversation with the friend-boy…

We meet and went to an izakaya for beer and food.

He apologized for me getting my feelings hurt.

I sulked.

I said that even if him saying “fat, American girl” is some sort of reality, why wouldn’t he just keep his description as “oh, yeah, she’s nice.”

He said he was just giving a short answer to the girl.

I sulked more.

I said the nuance of fat and overweight is very different. Overweight is fact, fat is insult.

He said fat and overweight mean the same.

Then yelled at him in the izakaya; saying he just said that because he wouldn’t want her to think he has any other female of importance, since he spends all his time dreaming of the day she will f**k him.

I almost start crying, but stop in time to avoid meltdown.

Silence from his side of the table, coupled with a shocked look.

Summary of his response: doesn’t think of her as girlfriend, doesn’t have desire to talk to and share important thoughts with her like would with a girlfriend. Does have thoughts and desires to share thoughts with me. Does think we could “be something, make something.” Said just because he did not discuss me with her, he does talk about me with a good friend of his and his mother. Did bring up side point that I had told him before I would lose weight, but have barely done so.

I accepted his apology, views, and point on the weight.

He said this situation was actually good so that it forced us to have a more in-depth conversation.

Acceptable.Situation green.

follow-up note: He then went out of town for a few days. Upon returning, we were talking about a music promotion project. He was saying he doesn't send mp3s of his music, prefers just streaming availability, but as the project is mine and "we're dating" he agreed to release mp3s.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Now for a commercial message...

First; check out my lovely gadget to the right...

I would tell you what it is, but the originators do it quite well:

"Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty."

As this is something I feel strongly about, I will be making commentary and submissions regularly. On this same topic, take a look at Dove:Campaign for Real Beauty.

Second; I have been cast out from my gym for possible "anti-social" activity. This means...ack! I have a tattoo and some old man became frightened! Damn those shaky old people!

(note: for those readers here from the West...Many Japanese establishments are not tattoo friendly!! They are associated with gangs/yakuza. Public pools and many water parks will not allow you on the premises with a tattoo. Most onsen and sento (public bathes) won't allow you to use their facilities. I'm not saying that all the people in the train faint at the glimpse of the ankle tattoo, but I have had people move away. Or give me a stern look. Not always. More people under the age of 35 are getting, as a foreigner, I get some "forgiveness"...cause ya know, I'm not Japanese, so I don't know any better!)

So...I sort of told a fib. I told them "Oh! It is just temporary. I'm so very sorry! It will have faded in a week."

I had to do a walk of shame and turn in my membership card. I go back in a couple days to ask forgiveness again and show them that my temporary tattoo is gone. (This means, I use some thick concealer and hide the very permanent tattoo. And henceforth wear knee high socks and long frickin' workout pants!)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Conversation, Part I

So...the friend-boy and I had an in-depth discussion this past Tuesday. Not really my original intention. I was planning on letting things glide for a handful more months; until I had stuffed so much irritation and frustration and sadness down until I would literally explode.

Okay, I'm not really that irritated. I'm just mildly jealous of his possible obsession with the singer in his band, and vaguely confused as to the status of what we the scheme of relationship "being." As for him, about 98% of our face to face interaction is great. He talks a lot. I listen a lot.

The recent sitch was thus: as before mentioned, I put together a stop-motion video for the friend-boys band. We don't need to go in to how their promotional strategy seems non-existent. Live shows are barely promoted. Website messy. Videos fuzzy with poor sound quality. Anyway...FB had seen my original rough draft, and did not like it. I had some additional images input and he is opposed to too much "visual" when it's a "music" video.

On a side note, I have had a few email and chat interactions with the bands singer. I had gotten the lyrics from her so I could coordinate additional images. I also am the coordinator of the GoGirls Tokyo branch - an organization which helps female musical people network, coordinate performances, etc. She contacted me about some other performance opportunities. Anyway...she seems pleasant and we do a bit of online conversing.

When the video was completed, I posted it to youtube and on the band members facebook walls. FB made no mention of the video to me. Even though he spent 15 hours with me a day after I posted it to him.

That evening happened to be his band practice. Singer asks FB if he saw the video and if he is friends with me. Apparently something ugly occurred...seems he said something that came across to her as: "Apryl? She is nothing. A Nobody. Just some stupid fat American girl, playing around. She doesn't know what she's doing." As a concerned citizen, she emailed me with this info - sort of a word to the wise; this guy isn't such a good friend!

I did nothing with this info for a couple days. Just fumed about it. WTF? Even if he doesn't have some grand romantic illusion, how about treating a friend with respect? More fuming. Time for a "WTF?" email to be sent.

Hm, immediate reply. Says that wasn't "exactly" what he said and he will email again after work. After work, he emails again. Says he did say I was fat - 'cause its reality. But never said I was stupid or nobody. And just said video was "normal," but didn't say he didn't like it. Then says he wants to come over the next night to see me before he goes out of town. Uh...okay...

We arrange that he will come over for dinner the next night which is Monday. Monday comes - he has been asked to work a late shift and they "really really" need him. Fine. He wants to meet Tuesday night. Sure, meet near the station next to my work. Almost time to meet, he emails to say he's running late...can we meet in Shibuya instead. Fine. I'm getting more irritated by the second. I'm pissed that he has nothing to say about me but an insult, and he's going to be late and change locations for his...his what? Apology? Explanation? What?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: b Roppongi Hotel

Hm...what can I say on this hotel...the bRoppongi...

  • Comfy beds
  • trendy interior design
  • modern architectural exterior
  • pleasant service
  • easy to locate
  • close to bars/restaurants/clubs
  • those bars/restaurants/clubs you are close to - IN Roppongi!
  • Overpriced - cause it's IN Roppongi
  • You have to walk past rows of loud, forward non-Japanese guys trying to pick up any lady that passes by to get to the hotel
Oh, have to do that to get ANYWHERE in's like a m****r-f*****g walk of shame just to get to the corner!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Roppongi Kaguwa

For those readers who stumble to this blog by way of a search engine when they type in “Japan” or “teach Japan” or “visit Japan” or some numerous other terms…I am going to start tossing in mini-reviews of places I visit that I have found interesting or pleasant – or if they were exceptionally NOT pleasant.

Back in September, I went to a pre-wedding party for Deanne and Maseo, both very nice people, who I previously only knew through their blogs and my comment/email correspondence with them. The party was held in Roppongi – an area of Tokyo known for being infested with, or rather “designed for,” foreigners in Tokyo. (The apartments are bigger – more Western style and crazy expensive. Many Western restaurants have a location there, and many MANY lame nightclubs with ad slogans of “where the celebrities go/See and be seen!” litter the buildings. Really, I see Roppongi, in general, as “Japan-lite” or some sort of zoo…Westerners can go and see “real Japanese” in their “natural habitats” without the dangers of actually going in to the Savannah. Anyway…I digress.)

By the sheer fact that Japan and Tokyo has hundreds of years of history, it goes without saying, that even in Roppongi, there are pockets of interesting Japanese restaurants, clubs, and drinking establishments. One of these interesting places is Roppongi Kaguwa.

The idea of the design of exterior, interior, the show, and food – is to give an impression of Edo-era “red-light” entertainment. Sexy, sensual, but not over-sexed or vulgar. The food is high quality Japanese style, drinks are well balanced. The prices are not excessively high – and when you order a set party type meal plan, you can for only about 1000 yen more, make it “all you can drink.”

The show is a one-hour show – which is composed of about 8 short sketches or scenes. Some scenes are traditional fight or love scenes with performers in kimono. Others are lighthearted “Benny Hill” type skits. And some are sassy burlesque. What is interesting is that out of 30 or so performers; maybe 3 are women, 4 are men, and the rest are “new-half’s” or transvestite/transsexual. And it’s okay to mention that – it is advertised as such! That makes those burlesque routines all the sassier considering that most of those sexy girls…aren’t girls.
Unfortunately photo taking by patrons is not allowed, but they do allow an “after-show” photo of the cast with any special event patrons: birthday, wedding, etc. also, after the show, the performers come visit the audience, and are happy to sit, converse, and have a drink with you – assuming you pay for the drink!

When I went, I enjoyed the group seating, ease of conversing with fellow quests, and the plentiful alcohol. I spent three hours drinking at the pre-wedding party prior to my guest arriving. (His band (?) / the band he’s in (?) – had a live show, so he could not come earlier) He and I proceeded to stay for another performance of the show, and an additional three hours of drinking. This, of course, created in me the need to make some overly effusive claim of undying affection to my date later on…

Highly recommended!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just What Every Mother Wants to Hear

And no, I do not mean "I got accepted in to law school!" (Although, with my daughter, I will take "I got accepted in to Dental School!" She likes an excuse to wear latex not ask, do not ask!)

This past week-end the friend-boy came over. Upon occasion, he and I watch some educational videos. VERY educational. Language instruction, mayhaps? I like to call them instructional videos, but you can just call them: porn, AV, smut, etc.

It's fun to peruse the categories. What shall we watch today? Amateur? FB: Nah, lighting is never good. Asian? Me: No, no. I don't like the squeaking noises the girls make. Group? FB: We watched that last week. Lesbian: FB: Great!

To my first video selection: FB: She looks too aggressive. No, change.
My second selection: FB: Bad sound quality. Change, please
My third selection: Me: Uh, no. Those outfits are too cheesy.

As you can see, we are connoisseurs - we look long and hard, pun intended, for the best video.

My third selection:

Me: Oh look! It's...
FB: No! Change it! They look too young!
Me: Ee-eh? This is professional porn, these girls are over 18.
FB: Don't care. They are dressed to look young. And they have stuff animal toys in the setting. And themselves look only 19 or 20.
Me: So...they are over 18...
FB: I don't like too young. I don't like if they look any younger than 21. I prefer they look in the middle 20s or something even older is good. So you can change it.
Me: Okay, changed. So, you don't like really young looking girls?
FB: Did not like high school girls when I was high school student. I'm not going to start liking them now.

Wow! As a parent of a pre-teen girl, I can only be extra pleased at such sentiment!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finished the "draft" of music video

Recently I have been working on a music video for the friend-boys band. Sort of a stop-motion feel. I used 600 separate photos, and timed it to the music, etc. Gonna give this project a days rest...then work on some refining!

Anyway, my goal is a Lo-
Fi style video. Recently, Lo-Fi has been used in terms of music production to describe a specific method to make the music sound of slightly lower quality than the usual standard. This is achieved through degrading the finished audio or using special equipment. Some listeners argue that Lo-Fi is NOT of lower quality, but merely sounds more analog and warmer – much like a vinyl record, rather than the precision of digitally recorded masters and CDs. Lo-Fi is NOT an excuse for the music itself to be of lower quality i.e. bad musicians, horrible vocals.

Regarding Lo-Fi video production, Lo-Fi favors consumer recording devices and a reduced pixel amount than a HD recording. Film and actual video recording may be used rather than a digital image. Very few high-tech effects are used, if at all. Additional imagery is that found naturally occurring, or produced similar to previous years. Some times Lo-Fi productions might be considered “retro” or low tech.

I'd enjoy getting feedback from you!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My articles!

"A group blog bringing together key thinkers in the realm of online music business."

AND I have two articles published there so far. Am I a "key thinker?" Well, I do think a lot...or am I just daydreaming?

If you have time, please click on my articles and skim them, scan them, digest them, or just use them as background...I'd be delighted with some kindly comments on the musicthinktank site as well!


The Virtual Tour - A way for musicians and other artists to "tour" without actual travel time and expense!

City Tours
- How to plan and carry out a multiple venue music tour in your own geographic region.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time to Get to Work!

For those who read me, you probably know my daughter was visiting for the summer. She left, and returned to Dallas, on August 23rd.

So, what have I been doing for the past month? I'd like to regal all with my tales of great activities...but truth to tell...I think I have been out most nights - drinking with friends. Some nights, I don't even go home...Could be catching up on drinking, and other things (*wink*), as those are not appropriate activities during my child's visit.

I have many things to post about, and I hope to get these written and posted within the week...but the upcoming, oh so exciting!, topics are:

* my review of Roppongi Kaguwa show
* my opinion of b Roppongi, the hotel
* my experience at the Kansai Music Conference in Osaka, where I was a presentation panel member on the topic of music promotion
* some self-promotion on a couple articles I have had published
* my review of Il Monte Hotel in Osaka
* my review of The Penguin Bar, also in Osaka
* I might have some additional things to say about lovely Asian boys/men
* how hard it is to make a frickin' stop action style music video
* and some other general drabble...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why are some men so clueless?

This post has nothing / little to do with Japan specifically...just a comment on men and to say this politely...cluelessly rude they are?!

We all know that men (straight) men like to meet women. They watch them, they think about them, they fantasize about them, they approach them...

We also know that men, just like women, find a variety of things attractive. Some men like blonds. Some men like brunettes. Some like large breasts. Some like an athletic type body.

When a man tries the ol' pick-up lines, of which there are many - the lines often include some deviation of the girl being pretty, angelic, or the guy just tells her she is hot!

Now, rarely will you hear this:

"Hi, I wanted to get to know you because your height / weight proportionate body is very nice."
" Hey, can I buy you a drink - cause your nicely styled blond hair really turns me on. "

Instead the guy says:
"Hi, I wanted to get to know you because you seem nice and are pretty."
"Hey, can I buy you a drink - you look great tonight."

But, why do the men that find larger women appealing, think these lines work:

"Mmmm, baby. That big ol' thick body turns me on!"
" You know, I really dig fat girls."

Are these men serious? Are they clueless? Are they rude on purpose because they have some sort of big girl / humiliation fetish?

Do they think a larger girl does not want to hear "you are pretty" without the qualifier of "you are a big fat pretty girl."

Look men! If you like a girl - and some part of her appeals to your secret "turn on factor" such as: the blonde hair, the full hips, the tiny breasts, the big nose, the missing limb, whatever the fuck turns you on - the "I think you are pretty / I find you attractive" line works A LOT better without the additional qualifiers!

ps: the next time some one gives me some stupid backhanded compliment / pick up line - I might respond with "Wow! Really, cause I love a man with a short dick! I can't get enough tiny penis! And your super tiny rod is doing it for me right now!"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Excuse For False Eyelashes!

In about two weeks, I am going to an acquaintances pre-wedding party. Groovy couple that they are, rather than the traditional bachelor/bachelorhood party of bridal shower, they are hosting a party for friends at Kaguwa Roppongi!

Kaguwa Roppongi is apparently styled after the Edo era "red light" entertainment district - drag shows, acrobatics, great food. I'm always a fan of the drag show - men, who as women, look better in a dress than I do...the general erotic confusion of "hot" guy dressed as woman...and the fantastic makeup and costumes. Really - I want a drag stylist of my own!

So, once again, I must must aside my dislike of the Roppongi area...but for an excuse for myself to wear FAB-ulous false eyelashes - I am sooooo there!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On a Lighter Note...

I did go see this free show on July 30th. I fought my mid-level aversion to Roppongi and went.

Show was good, music pretty decent, audience energetic.

Some people have posted camcorder recordings of the show on dailymotion and youtube. Check it out, check it outers!

But you don't like sex...

The previous discussion with Baby Daddy brings up a lovely point he would bring up...because apparently his being unfaithful or rude to me was my fault...because I don't like sex!

Hm....I just don't like it with you!

When you come home and tell me all about how some other woman was coming on to you and how you thought about going with her - I don't want to have sex with you.

When you come home and complain that I did not cook the food you wanted or how you wanted it - I don't want to have sex with you.

When you take private information I told you about my past / childhood / or some random situation, and throw it at me like an insult - I don't want to have sex with you.

When you tell me (if I'm wearing make-up and a cute outfit) that I look like a whore - I don't want to have sex with you.

When you tell me (when I'm not wearing make-up and am wearing jogging pants because I've been scrubbing the freakin toilet and tub YOU use) that I look like an old woman - I don't want to have sex with you.

When you get home from work at 4am, and your idea of inspiring intimacy is not darkened touches and rubbing...but a nudge and the words "get up, I need to use that..." with a point of your finger - I don't want to have sex with you.

When we do have sex, and I sigh / moan or otherwise attempt to join in the fun, you ask why I am acting like a porn slut - I don't want to have sex with you.

When you think you are proving your prowess by rutting away for 20 minutes when I am not enjoying it - I don't want to have sex with you.

And when, after we separate, you threaten me that if I do not continue to have sex with you, you will file for sole custody of our daughter, take her to Mexico, and I will never see her again - I sure as HELL do not want to have sex with you.

I hate him...

I am so very NOT happy right now.

Last night, I was "required" to speak with the Dark Overlord AKA Baby Daddy. Any interaction with him leaves me a mix of disgusted, angry, and besieged. He is a person who can not just hold a civil conversation with me - but feels he must lecture me, scold me, or otherwise insert his opinions regarding my person, into the mix.

Of course, it began with his complaining that I have not called often enough - my (our) daughter is visiting me currently, and he wanted regular calls.

I don't call regularly because 1) the time difference 2) for the past one week (the one week he received no calls) there has been some sort of glitch with my LD calling code and I was not inspired to delve in to the problem 3) he will give me the same freakin grief no matter how often I call.

Then he tells me how he will "get revenge on Luna" for not calling, when she returns - by leaving her home alone one week-end afternoon while he and the family go to a party. Little does he know she hates those family/friend gatherings. In his community, every gathering is the same: loud salsa/cumbia/nortena music, lots of beer and orange soda, fathers getting drunk, and the bilingual tweens of Spanish speaking only parents spouting off.

It pisses me off that he phrases it as "get revenge on..."

Then he tells me I need to contact Luna's school. School started august 23rd, but Luna will return to school on August 30th. Rather than giving them the simple, no-frills explanation of "Luna is visiting her mother out of town and will start school late," he felt he needed to make up some story of "family beeznis." (Spelling meant to capture his accented English.)

Since he made up this story of family business, they want verification. From ME!

Then he goes on to tell me what a super parent he is because the kids go to school, come home to clean and do homework - and he does not need to do anything at home, because he has the kids trained. And they can't play outside or go to a friends because 1) they have chores to do 2) they don't need to do stupid stuff.

He makes some crap comment "so, Luna is just locked up in your apartment while you work isn't she." That ass....she is locked up in his house when not in school in Texas. No extra curriculars - "they don't need that," no fun extra classes cause hes too tired after work to take them.

Lead in to his telling me that he won't share cost of plane tickets for Luna to visit since I have a "good deal" of not paying child support. Hm....he has had her for 4.5 whole months. And no, I did not pay him child support. How about the 7 years, after we separated, that she was with me full-time and he paid no or little or less than required child support? How about him not calling, not visiting, not keeping his promises to her?

So, he is too tired to take her to a singling lesson - but when she lived with me, I was the sole parent, worked full-time, picked up side jobs to fund her activities, and dealt with picking up the sorrows of his broken words.

I took unmentionable not fit for "gentle" consumption - to keep us/her in an apartment, with food and clothes, when he could not be bothered to pay his child support.

Esh, then he goes on his tangent about how I'm so "lucky and have the good deal" that she is staying with him now because I can do all my "nasty things" without her. and I can be "the looser" I am without her.

My nasty things? Bwa ha ha! He has said this crap since before we divorced. When we were married, he loved to throw it in my face that when I was younger, I *gasp* tried a variety of illegal substances! And he will not let it die...apparently I'm chomping at the bit to dive in to a mountain of cocaine!

Oh, and right at the tail end of us being married, I was flirting with / exchanging sexy letters with a male friend. Perhaps not my finest move.

My daughters father however, had not been "faithful" to me for any time frame greater than...oh...10 days. And he would always come home and tell me how he had this side girl or how some woman wanted him.

Then after said conversation, I get to hear Luna cry and tell me she hates living with him. He is too strict, too mean, never takes them places or lets them do things - she says. BUT she doesn't want to live in Tokyo. I'm supposed to leave my job and friends here, move back to the US, and then she will live with me.

His interesting end to hos conversation - he wants me to buy 6 shirts and send them back with Luna. He and his friends want "something Japan." He also wants the shirts to be silk and a polo style.

Do you want them "Japan" or do you want them freakin polo shirt style?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Black Van is So Slimming Too!

Yesterday I watched a short procession of vehicles zip by while I was in Shinjuku. The tiny parade of three vehicles was made of two black vans, one khaki van – all with large Japanese flags displayed, large kanji characters on the side, and blasting out some sort of patriotic music. I assume it is patriotic, but it is “scary” patriotic music – it sounds like the Wagner pieces Hitler chose for his themed assemblies.

Of course, it is only fitting the music be a bit Hitler-esque. Apparently these are the vans of the extreme right-wing groups found in Japan. In truth, passing these fans makes me feel like the one black person shopping in town when the KKK holds a rally.

Prior to moving to Japan, I had read a tiny blurb about these vans – it pretty much said something like “this right-wing group hates foreigners.” If that is not enough to conjure images of myself being snatched off the streets by masked, angry, Nihon-go, and sold in to the white slave trade, I do not know what is. But it is a minimal threat – I have only seen these vans twice in the one year I have been in Japan.

Later that day, I sat down with a Japanese friend and asked, “So, today I saw these black vans with big flags…” She immediately hung her head. Sighing, she said, “Ah, I know exactly who you mean.” She told me that yes; they are the extreme right wing. But the “extreme right-wing” is not really one group – it is many groups. Yes, some of them dislike foreigners and would prefer all non-Japanese be deported. But other groups actually have foreign members, usually Zainichii Korean; they are just VERY pro-Emperor and would like Japan to go back to having Emperor rule, more nationalistic pride, and for Japan to take back any apologies they might or might not have given for WW II actions. Other right-wing groups are just very anti-Bush style US government, and feel Japan plays too much the part of US puppet government. They want Japan to become more independent and restart maintaining a strong military.Other groups seem to be places where Yakuza can act tough.

Not knowing Japanese, when I see a festooned black van, I have no idea which ideology of the “right-wing” those particular members hold. My friend just said, “I suggest you just stay back from them. You don’t want to ask them for directions.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My daughter has arrived in Tokyo for her summer vacation. In truth, I do not know how much “vacation” it is, as she seems to find nothing here amusing!

Perhaps it is her age (just turned 12), or her general personality – but she finds none of the charm in Tokyo that I do. For her, it is too hot, too crowded, too far to walk, too boring, too bright, too expensive, too…too!

I have already received the lecture from her that I should move back to the States. I know she misses her friends in Bellingham WA, as do I, but it is difficult to get across to her that I like this foreign country, I am better employed here, and feel all manner of electronic means are great for staying in contact with friends? On her side, she hates sending emails, IM chats, or even the phone – so if she cannot “see” her friends, she dislikes the effort.

Regardless of her complaining – I think she has had SOME fun. She went to Kidzania Tokyo recently. If you are not familiar with Kidzania, it was a company started in Monterrey Mexico. Basically it is an employment city, built to kid size. Children up to age 15 can enter Kidzania and try working at various kid-sized jobs; dentist, designer, pizza maker, etc. They learn background information about the job, and then get to perform some easy tasks related to the job. They also get PAID in Kidzania money – which they can use in the gift shop before they leave. My daughter tried jobs of: scientist, dentist, fashion designer, ice cream shop worker, and Coca Cola bottler. She said she actually got to make a soda!

We have also eaten at the restaurant she enjoys best here: Saizeriya. Decent, inexpensive Italian style food. You really cannot go wrong with spaghetti and meat sauce. We went to a friend’s home for Korean BBQ – food was great AND they had a small cake for her birthday.

Some nights we go outside and light sparklers. Other nights she treks along with me to a private English lesson. My students seem amazed that she is only 12 as she could pass for Japanese age 15!

This coming weekend, we will go to Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea. She seems more excited about the hotel stay with big bathtub and soft bed – than the rides and amusements. Truthfully, I am pretty eager for the big relaxing bath myself!

Future plans for her visit include trips to a Science Museum and Shinagawa Aquarium – she loves penguins. She has also requested shopping for M.A.C cosmetics. Just what all 12 year olds need – expensive make-up! (I grumble because I am willing to pay the money for M.A.C for her…but always feel guilty spending that much money on myself. No, no – Maybelline is fine for me!)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bakery Items

One of my friends and I refer to some relationship ingredients in bakery terms. Her live-in boyfriend is her "cake" and her extra curricular boys are "cupcakes." (See, the "open" relationship thing...have your cake and eat it too? Bwa ha ha!)

Sex is "cookies." Get cookies, bake cookies, want the cookies. (You can see how far this could go....tasty cream filling, warm and chewy, want chocolate or lemon?)

For me, I am not in a live-in situation, or even a "steady beau" situation....but I suppose I might consider that I do have a regular bakery I go to for cookies.

I wonder though - would it make since to still visit other bakeries and try the cookies? Maybe I am not a VIP customer at the first bakery? Or maybe the cookies aren't the best? (For the record - the cookies are quite tasty...they are Chinese Fortune Cookies, baby! Crisp and fresh, always with a favorable fortune inside!....I'm just sayin' that there are other bakeries near by...) Or maybe even, by eating other cookies - I will not get addicted to the cookies at the first bakery. Bakeries hate it when you're needy! (And you know the rumor about Chinese food - eat, then an hour later, you are hungry again!)

Of course, the truly odd snack time was when I WAS at another bakery for cookies, but kept emailing the first bakery while shopping.

The end note is - there are a lot of open bakeries here in Japan! When I lived in the USA, I rarely saw such available baked goods!

If you want something done... it yourself.

The summer vacation is upon us, and my daughter is to visit me here in Tokyo. The problem is...each day is one less day of her summer break, and she is not here yet.

Going back a few steps in this tale - let me state - that on a good day, I merely feel a sense of abject apathy towards the D.O.L (Dark Over Lord AKA Baby-Daddy AKA Ex-husband). On a blissful day, I can almost forget his existence. But on any day in which I must actually interact with him, my capacity to feel hatred and disgust shocks me!

A brief overview of our relationship: girl meets boy, boy is an "undocumented alien" in the USA, girl and boy date, girl falls in love, boy and girl get married, boy informs girl (on wedding night!) he only married her to get a Green Card, girl spends next 2.5 years trying to "make" boy love her, girl then spends next .5 year seething and plotting her exit, girl dumps boy.

There are side tales of boys verbally abusive nature, overly traditional view of how women should behave, his demand for ironed t-shirts, his insistence upon tortillas at E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E meal! But that is not important for now...

My real irritation at this point is with myself. I should have remembered that he procrastinates doing anything that might be convenient for me. I should remember that he seems not to understand how frickin' internet searches work. Or airline reservations. Or that the closer it gets to your desire "leave" date, the more expensive tickets are....

The problem results because I do not have a credit card. I am in Japan - and have not applied for a card here. All my USA accounts are closed. I thought (foolishly) that I could send the DOL the actual cash money for the price of half the ticket - he could have bought ticket on his credit card - and used the money I sent to immediately pay down half the balance.

He would not actually buy the ticket until he got the money...okay, fine. But then he got the money. Then, he was too busy to call - apparently not realizing ticket reservation numbers are open 24/7! Then he spent the money on something else. But said will still buy the ticket. After all this jacking around - the desired leave date is approaching (has past!) and the ticket price has gone up by $300.

But even though he is the one procrastinating, guess who he thinks should pay the extra $300? And he wants the money BEFORE he buys the ticket. Which means more time passing and possibly higher price ticket...

Obviously, the solution to this fiasco for future situations is that once I obtain my credit card through my bank here in Tokyo - I buy the entire ticket myself - and then I set the leave/return dates.

Anyway...she should arrive on July 11th. Or that is the leave date he SAID he will arrange. This all remains to be seen.

As for exciting summer plans for my daughter - we will probably spend a 3-day mini-holiday at Tokyo Disney Sea/Land, a lot of Daiso shopping (as she loves that store!), and perhaps one week-end in Seoul Korea (her request for out of town trip).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Every job is prostitution

In my years, I have worked many jobs...many companies, many fields. Sometimes I would work one full-time job in the day - with a part-time at night, and a spare on the week-end. I have woken early, stayed up late, slept in the cafeteria, and had uniforms stashed in various cabinets.

In my time, I have worked as/in:

Food service: fast food, casual dining, fine dining, server, greeter, bar assistant, trainer, kitchen manager, prep work

Recreation: parks assistant with clean up and activity planning, lifeguard, camp counselor

Retail: beauty supplies, jewelry, clothing, sales, stocking, merchandising

Salon: reception and product sales

Customer Service: call center, customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups, contract negotiation

Banking and Financial Services: consumer banking, teller, retail loans, real estate lending, deposits, private banking, business banking, mortgage collections, investments, mutual fund sales, portfolio advisement, assistant manager, vault inventory

Music: radio DJ, sound engineer (live and studio), artist promotion, music promotion, event planning

Education: private kindergarten, preschool, high school, private lessons, teaching assistant, teacher

Adult: phone sex operator, gentleman's club cocktail waitress, escort appointments, and actual escort

So....maybe it is my overly expansive experience ("I'm a mercenary for experience." Diane Sawyer) - but it irks me to listen to some early 20s whiner girl, who in all likelihood had her university education paid for by mommy and daddy, and has happy happy holidays, whine because "one time, when I worked in a bar, a guy tried to touch me!" or "I walked in on another waitress giving head to a customer." On my friggin' G-d! Grow up!

This coming from the same girls, who proudly proclaim they know how to flirt to get guys in "regular" bars to buy them drinks, or take them for dinner, or pay their nightclub cover.

I have found that every money making job entails some sale of a part of yourself for the pay. Every job requires some kissing of the ass. The problem is - whose ass? and when has it been kissed enough? I appreciate the job where, to put it bluntly, you know what to touch and you know when you have touched it enough to get your money! Sure...your hand is left sticky - but it's nothing a hot shower won't take care of.

Just plain pissed off!

Generally I am a very laid-back individual. Nothing bothers me. It all rolls like water off a ducks back...things that irritate others, nothing. Things that anger others, nah.

I don't like wasting my time with being stressed, irritated, angry, or even to sit around blabbing about "can you believe he/she it bla bla bla?"

But I admit that once every four months, every single flippin' thing pisses me off!!

This being the time, here are some events that grate on my nerves:

the cat constantly being under my feet.
the AC not being as cold as I want. Is it wrong to want 17 degrees Celsius?
the rainy season - cause I friggin' hate carrying umbrellas
the humidity. cause my greasy ass hair can't make it an hour before it falls flat.
overly late trains. cause then I have to wait on a crowded platform between other sweaty cranky people...
the coworker who is some friggin' gaijin who can't bother learning the Japanese language even though she/he has lived her for over a decade - so she/he speaks super slow English to her/his Japanese coworkers - in this condescending tone - like it's their fault for not knowing English
the same coworker who had no work experience prior to moving here, but talks all big like she/he is some G-D expert on her/his position, when any other woman knows she/he isn't

and recently, and while I try not to complain about the train commute...

these friggin' guys who position their body to take up two peoples spots even though we are all crammed in like sardines and then, even though I am not touching them in their precious personal space bubble, they need to constantly fidget so their body parts are constantly pushing against me...and even as I inch (or centimeter) away, they angle out even more to continue the pushing.

these people will rue the day I know more Japanese...'cause while I am not going to say anything in English...once I know the language, I am going to hiss through my teeth something along the lines of "What in the f**k is your problem?! Back it up before I kendo your ass!"