I take too many photos for there to be just one. Unfortunately, the computer with the hard drive with my main library is busted, so I don’t have access to my good stuff. Plus, I still have boxes of photo negatives and slides that I haven’t had digitized.
Living in Japan there is no shortage of opportunity — so much neat stuff — but the photos I like best are just the simple details. There’s a lot there if you just look and think.
Water undulates, flows beneath my back lifting me up — Beep! Beep! Beep!, the alarm clock rang, plunging him from his dream into cold reality under warm covers. He quickly turned off his his alarm to keep from waking his newly wed wife and thought about his next move, wide awake now from curiosity. Did it happen again?
He’d been married just under two weeks and they moved into their new duplex, a rental in the Fairfax District (in LA) last week and almost immediately strange things started, mostly with things disappearing. He didn’t want to alarm his wife so he kept these things hidden from her. And so it was with both dread and curiosity that he crept out from the bedroom.
Though he’d braced himself, he was still startled when he walked into the living room. The dishes — gone. Where there should have been a carefully laid out spread of snacks, beer, and remotes was empty space. That accent of red and orange he put in the arm chair — his shirt — was gone. The trash, gone. The laundry, gone. The collage of magazines he left out, gone. The living room, in fact the whole apartment, was eerily stark. He shuddered.
Could the apartment be haunted, he half-heartedly wondered? Whatever this paranormal activity was, he didn’t want to upset his new wife so he went about the apartment hurriedly putting back those masculine touches the daemon was erasing.
I plan to read the sequel to this riveting page turner, The Color Correction Handbook. This first volume has been a bit short on character development, but overflowing with tension.
When I do read, I tend to use either my Kindle or Kobo but I do have something in — shudders — paper on my desk: The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese (translations, right?). I don’t like manga. Let me say that again, I love comic books but, I. Do. Not. Like. Manga. But this is a manga. It’s been on my reading list for over a year.
Last year the film version of this manga was released in Japan, and it’s a BL movie (it means ‘boys love‘, think gay love story written by women for women — a topic for another day) with a super famous singer. The movie and the singer didn’t seem like a fit, so I went to watch the film and the ending was devastating. According to reviews, the movie stops short of the manga — which has a happy ending — and so I bought the manga to fix the movie in my mind. Did I mention I dislike reading manga?
The pic is a link the commercial, if you’re interested.
Since I’m talking BL, I should introduce a good one. This is ‘Cherry Maho’ from the (strange) translation of “Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!” in which the guy who’s sitting turns 30 and is still a virgin. This ends up giving him the magic power to read the inner thoughts of anyone who touches him and so he finds out his co-worker, the guy standing, is in love with him.
Cherry Maho is so wholesome in the best possible way. The TV series is like someone synthesized the good feelings you get from the whole of Frank Kappa’s filmography and put them into 20 minutes (commercial free) programing. It’s what BL usually is, lighthearted and happy. Anyway, the manga (which I didn’t read) became a hit TV show (which I loved) and now it will become a movie. I’m really looking forward to it. Click on the picture to see the trailer for the TV series.
Since I’m feeling chatty, I might as well introduce you to another love comedy that was a huge hit last year, “Marry Me“. In this world, the declining birth/marriage rate is such a problem that the government sets up a program where (single) government employees marry single people who sign up for the service (your tax dollars at work!). It’s the story of one such couple who starts off married and ends up falling in love with each other. And speaking of wholesome, the female lead makes Gidget look like a gang banger.
Any TV shows that you recommend? Let me know in the comments.
THIS is the first question in Bloganuary that I’m excited about: I love superhero movies, TV shows, (and though I rarely read them anymore — too busy) comic books. I will tell you at the outset that I have thought about this countless times — and what is it they say, “know thyself”? — if I had a super power I would be a top tier Super Villain.
My power would be Speed, a la Barry or Bart Allen (the Flash) but with Eobard’s sensibilies and cunning.
North Korea bothering you? Enter Flashtime (speed so fast time stops) and take out the whole of their army with a sword. Evil CEO got you down? A vibrating hand through the chest will stop that. Say goodbye to Twitter, Facebook, and Google, because I’d run straight through their entire network (and then their creators as well). My version of Flash would only run at top speed so as to be invisible and I would cast myself as the Hand of God come to Earth to pass judgment.
Splat! Splat! Splat! Go most leaders of the governments of the world.
The Flash can also run so fast that he can run through time, so I’d run back in time to the same time and take out multiple targets at the exact same time across the planet.
Barry Allen might be the avatar of Love but I’d be the avatar of Wrath.
Those of you who have been following my posts in Bloganuary might be surprised. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense — give me Speed, please!
Comic books (and the whole genre of film and TV) are modern myths, our time’s Zeus and Hera, if you will. What are your favorite myths or super hero’s/villains? Tell me in the comments.
When Dante passed under the famous inscription, before the first circle and before the ferry, he passed through an outer lying circle of those unwanted by either Heaven or Hell: The Uncommitted, the souls and angels who chose no side.
Living in Japan, you rarely see homelessness. The few I’ve seen were either alcoholic or mentally ill. Poverty exists but almost always in the context of having a smart phone in pocket. And I can and should not apply anuy -isms to a culture that is not mine. This all said, there is no cause to fight for and so no passionate cause for me to write about.
I do listen to podcasts — I love politics! — and when I’m mid run or mid set what I hear discussed (created to cause outrage) can stir up in me muh passions, but not really. It’s just a moment. A moment untethered to a cause…
Might I become one of Dante’s souls forever chasing after a banner in the afterlife? As Heaven and Hell are within — and I feel no guilt — I suspect not.
(The Featured Image is of the moat at the Imperial Palace. Millions of Japanese followed the Imperial cause into war. A cautionary tale for what to be passionate about.)
Have you read Dante’s great work? Thoughts on it — or this prompt? Leave them in the comments.
What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?
Saturday just ended. Yesterday, I got up at 5am to work on a video for YouTube; had to go to work; talked my friend out of a bad mood; and just finished shooting and laying in the video track for that YouTube video. It’s just past midnight and I’m here at WordPress because I said I would participate in ‘Bloganuary’ for a month. Life Lesson:
Keep your word.
When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. When you make a promise, you honor it. When you have an obligation, you fulfil it. And neither whine nor grimace about it.
Doing what you believe is right can be hard when you feel like you’re going it alone. Regarding your life lesson, what is it and are you able to abide by it?
In the mid 1990’s I backpacked around South East Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos) for three months. This was back when French archeologists were still excavating and preserving Angkor Wat, before Siem Riep became a tourist boom town and so Phnom Penn hadn’t started to clean itself up for the tourist trade. In the middle of the city was a kind of shelter where I saw real hunger — emaciated mothers holding up children with bloated bellies — and true poverty for the first and only time.
In Vietnam I went on one of the many available tours to experience what it would have been like to have lived through the Vietnam war (essentially museums of gruesome ways to die). I visited several places that had on display the corpses of severely deformed people or jars of foetus’s deformed from the chemicals used during the Vietnam war. I accidentally happened upon a corpse in an abandoned cave.
In Laos I traded being guided through Vientiane by Buddhist monks for teaching orphans English at a local temple in the evenings. The children were super enthusiastic little boys from 3 – 16 being cared for by the monks in the temple, the boys learning how to become monks themselves because, without a family, they had no other options. Their life’s path was firmly set for them.
I have overcome no real obstacles. I have had a few inconveniences along the established path from school to work — and now on the way to retirement (though I never want to retire). I have been blessed. I grew up neglected and bullied and I tell you I am blessed. I am fortunate to have been able to see hardship as a tourist — I could leave — and I am grateful that whatever has been in my way on the path to becoming the man I am today, it has been, by comparison, minor.
May we all be able to put what we see as our problems and obstacles into a larger perspective.
Have you traveled? Did traveling change your relationship to the world? Tell me in the comments.
(This is an improvement to yesterdays discussion on emojis, don’t ya think?)
One of my earliest memories as a (very) small child is of color: the vivid green of grass that stretches uninterruptedly over low hills and that particular blue of a summer sky on a not too hot summer’s day. I have in mind an image but of no particular place — real, imagined, or on TV I do not know, maybe it’s the stillness and ease in that image that I’m responding to. As an adult, I’ve seen these colors oh so very rarely. My ideal day would be to stay in that place. I’ve done so only twice in recent memory:
The first was during siesta in Seville, Spain. It was midsummer and the thermometers read 48℃ /118℉. The shops were all closed. There were no cars on the road. And I was on a rental bike riding ’round the city. I brought a packed a lunch, stopped at a pocket park and sat under the shade of an olive tree on a long wooden bench and I saw those colors. Thinking on that day now, it’s really an inner feeling that the outside world seems to share, something like a synchronicity more than the colors.
The other time was shortly after the first lockdown was announced in Japan. It was March, I believe. I had decided to to take up jogging and on the first day of the lockdown started my run early, maybe about seven and everything was still. Not a single person. Not a single car on the road. Perfect stillness with a crisp blue sky and new green from leaves just starting to bud. The was bliss (all the photos on this page are from my iPhone on that morning).
Reflecting on what I’ve written, my ideal day is a day without people and all the noise of modern life while in the city with all it’s architecture and convenience. I do not get the same feeling hiking, even on the best day.
What was the world around you like after the first lockdown? Did you enjoy anything about it? Let me know in the comments.
I committed to writing a blog post in ‘Bloganuary’ everyday for a month. But some of these prompts…
I only recently started using emoji’s, like maybe two weeks ago (true story). They are not readily available on my computer keyboard without hand acrobatics and changing menus on my smart phone is too troublesome. And finding the right one — it was only yesterday that I figured out there’s a search bar!
Well, because I write so many comments on YouTube this little guy is, maybe, my favorite. 🤤You get it by typing 美味しそう (and as I just found out “delicious” brings it up, too).
I’m really unclear what these various smiling emojis represent, only that I do feel a tonal difference I can’t justify. ☺️😄😁😊😀😃
I really have no idea what what this guy means. 😅 I kinda think he’s breaking a sweat and the description reads “grinning face with sweat” as if smiling makes you sweat? Like the peach 🍑I don’t really get it — and on this topic, it took me way too long to figure out 🍆. And how do you use 🍆 in a sentence? Is it the adjective, subject or predicate? I really don’t know.
On YouTube people leave sentences composed only of emojis and I’ve no idea if it’s a complement or an insult. Google Translate is no help and if Google can’t translate it, does it really have a meaning (philosophical question for you). BTW, if I don’t have my glasses on, any effort one takes in adding emojis is just wasted: I just see blobs of color.
So emojis 🤷♂️.
What’s a better prompt than this or one that you would have rather seen? Tell me in the comments.
This question is meaningless. There is no such thing as ‘living boldly’. The idea that one can is coded into the algorithms that drive Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: It presupposes that a series of composed and curated snapshots is real life. It is not. And so this question is meaningless.
If you want to live a good-life, then find the qualities that you want to be defined by and strive towards being that person.
Do you agree or disagree with me — you’re safe, I only bite on weekends — let me know in the comments.
I use the OmniFocus planner on my computer and iPhone and everyday, without fail, I am reminded to do the following three things:
Gratitude is important to me. I grew up with nothing and now I might shoot around Tokyo with 20,000USD’s worth of equipment in my backpack and an iPhone in my pocket. Plus I live in the safest, cleanest place in the (so called) developed world — as a guest, a fact I’m very aware of, and grateful for.
Today is Adults Day in Japan, a national holiday, so I had the day off. The weather was a veritable balmy 8 degrees (C) today, but I chose to stay in to work on my YouTube channel and reddit’s Photoclass 2020.
Because of the Christmas/New Year holidays, I needed to stay away from my channel to stay centered in the real world with my family and friends, yet when I went back this morning, I had hundreds of messages from my subscribes asking where I was and wishing me a good year.
My apartment is clean, my mind is quiet, and though I’m avoiding doing yoga (which I really need to do because I’m tight) I have had a wonderfully peaceful day. I was even able to listen to my new favorite artist, Fuji Kaze, while I worked.
I am very lucky and I know it. I make it point to wake up and think of all the reasons I have to be thankful, then I run over all the problems that might arise so I am prepared, then I think on people to inspire me — and then I get up. So I am very grateful that today’s topic was very easy for me. 😄
Post a link to you blog page so I can visit to see what you’re grateful for. You can also just tell me here. Also, do you have any ‘morning rituals’? What are they? Tell me in the comments.
It’s not that I’m a kid at heart (I’m really not). I have my likes and they don’t often fit the tone and tenor of my voice (you can check out my Gravitar photo in the upper right hand corner to see get an idea of what I mean).
Yesterday I saw Spiderman and loved it — my face still hurts from smiling so much during the movie — but not a one of my friends is interested in a “child’s” movie, so who do I chat up on Instagram? My best friends 17 year old daughter. 😆That might be sad but it is definitely true.
While I very much enjoy talking politics, visiting museums, and playing sports I live in a place where having a cooking YouTube Channel raises a few eyebrows. Men can and do cook here (in Japan) but…
So people mistakingly assume my likes and interests based on my physical appearance. It is what it is and I’m neither mad nor annoyed by it.
Have you seen the new Spiderman? Tell me in the comments!
My other favorite movie this past year was Malignant — it was just a joy to watch! I saw it three times in the theater, and had a blast each time. Make me happy and tell me you loved it. 😁
Of all the topics, I like this least, which is strange as I can tell you clearly what I like about my photography and videography. I have to accept that I do not like my writing because I recognize that its quality has sharply declined.
I’ve lived in Japan for more than 20. I’ve also lived in France and India, which is to say that I’ve been outside the English speaking world longer that I’ve been a part of it. That fact, combined with the simple mindedness in social media communications means what was once my strongest attribute is now my weakest. I had honestly not thought about that reality until thinking on this topic.
My reading of good books and poetry — in English — is also in an inverse relationship with all the social media I consume, so my exposure to clear and concise expression is limited.
What do I like about my writing at present? Not much. About my Japanese writing, I love that I can write kanji (the complex Chinese characters). It makes traveling in China and communicating with Chinese people (outside of Western counties) possible — and fun. It also has deepened my understanding of Japanese.
Can you speak — and write — in a foreign language? Which ones? If not, what would you most like to learn? Let me know in the comments.
This is a tough question because I always laugh. Not one hour ago I slipped and fell on the ice at the station — Thud! 6’4″ me on my back in the snow — and I laughed. Loudly. The passing Japanese people just glanced and walked on. But what’s a man to do? Falling is a silly thing to be embarrassed about. I could imagine what I looked like, so laughing was natural. Funny how everyone walking by looked so serious.
I can choose to enjoy most anything. This is to say that laughter is a choice, at least for me:
As I’m moving through life with my mind super focused on the task at hand and I make a mistake, I can feel the choice: get angry, don’t react, laugh. I laugh (most times).
So I have to approach this question in a different way, as what makes me laugh is my disposition: My reactions are a choice and I (mostly) choose to be stress free and at ease.
Tell me in the comments, do you think you have control over your emotions or do you think your emotions have their own mind? I’m genuinely curious how other people deal with bad situations.
I am not musical. I did not grow up longing to play an instrument. And to be honest, I don’t have a particular fondness for piano music — I do sometimes covet the ability though.
On new year’s eve in Japan the national past time is to watch a musical show called Kohaku. Japan’s top musical artists are separated by sex — the women are team Red and the men team White (a call back to The Tale of Genji) — and they alternate extravagant performances in a variety of musical styles to win (now chosen by the audience at home through votes made on our remotes).
This year they introduced the pianist/singer/songwriter Fuji Kaze. He’s from a remote village in the north and as a child he wanted to learn piano. He took lessons once a week and filled in the gaps with YouTube videos. When he was in 6th grade, his parents let him start his own channel and by 22 he had a nation wide hit, Nan Nan (see below). Now, an established pianist, he’s started working with major artists in Japan.
You can still watch his older videos on his channel — and I have been, he is extremely charming and earnest. What I want to stress is he is self-made. He didn’t just wish, he did.
Fuji Kaze does sing in English — he taught himself English — and has a very nice cover of Close To You (which you can find on Apple Music). Here is a Japanese song with some English mixed it, I especially like the way he sings this lyric.
“My heart is saying I’m not caring no more Somebody slap my ass and let me go I used to dance but I ‘m losing my beat And now I lost my feet Somebody bring back to me That love and just let me be”
Tokuninai, Fuji Kaze
Watching Fuji perform on New Year’s eve made me wish I could express myself through music — It made me, once again, wish I could play the piano! — but more importantly, he reminds me that we have the ability to learn anything we want, whenever we want.
Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
I grew up dirt poor, so (library) books and later TV were how I entertained myself.
I do recall my father coming home one Christmas. He, that is we, had no money but there was pressure to produce “toys” for “the boy”. He came home and tossed a hastily wrapped box on the floor opposite the tree.
I knew he was ashamed.
On cue, I tore into the wrapping with as much excitement and gratitude as I could to make him feel good. I only recall a jump rope in that box, the kind from a dollar store, and I doubt I ever used it. What I do remember is even at a young age I understood consideration.
Perhaps a better question would be: What’s my favorite quality that I gained from toys? To that, gratitude and consideration.
(The photo above is of an maneki neko, a cat that welcomes people or fortune. It is the size of my pinky nail. Toy or decoration, look closely and appreciate it.)
Write about the last time you left your comfort zone.
Maybe I’m overthinking, but to me “comfort zone” and risks are linked and so I’m coming to a realization that I’m in a bubble of my own making.
Due to the pandemic, I lost my main job in April and chose to learn some new skills to go into something different. I don’t think of it as discomfort, rather a different way of living for now — I’m aware it’s just a step towards something different — so I’m not out of my comfort zone.
I started a YouTube channel — and spent a lot of money on equipment. While I was uncomfortable spending, is it really out of my comfort zone? I’m not in debt. I have the money. I see the long-term benefits. And I’m enjoying my purchases. I don’t see myself as having stepped out of my comfort zone.
Mentally stepping backwards in time, I can’t recall doing anything that makes me uncomfortable. If someone asks me to do something I disagree with or don’t want to do, I don’t — I have no problem saying no — so where is this comfort zone?
I think my life is incredibly blessed and maybe I need to take a risk that makes me feel fear. Then again, maybe my mindset is just flexible and there is no ‘comfort zone’ for me to step out of. Thoughts?
What does ‘stepping out of your comfort zone’ mean to you? Let me know in the comments below, I’m genuinely interested.
(I took the photo at the Narita Shrine. For many, being different is stepping out of their comfort zone and this little Kanon is totally loving nonconformity.)
‘Road Trip’ has a distinctly American vibe to it, or is that just me?
I picture open stretches of unpopulated country, a large car, and a family passing through it. I don’t see a Portuguese family in an SUV driving from Lisboa to Milan, or a Chinese family driving from Xian to Beijing. I can picture Chevy Chase in a station wagon going across Europe though (a reference to an old movie).
Living in Japan for as long as I have — I can no longer drive, and trust me, you don’t want me to — traveling by train feels right and, outside Japan, feels like nostalgia which might be why I’ve long wanted to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Dalian (China), through Mongolia to Moscow (Russia) with a stop over in Kazakistan. Depending on how you pace yourself, the trip usually takes between seven and fourteen days, or up to a fortnight for you Commonwealth folk.
I’d like to know what that phrase “Road Trip” means to you, dear reader. Does if feel archaic? What kind of spaces do you imagine passing through and with mode of transportation?
(Note: I did not take either of these two photos.)
Assignment one: A picture you like and a picture of a car
To better get a handle on how to use the blog, I’ve added a new category for a photoclass I’m taking over on Reddit — if you’re interested in photography, you might enjoy it, look for photoclass_2022. The pics are supposed to be criticized, so feel free to write what could be improved and what you like.
First off, I was very angsty as a teen, so even if I could go back in time to have a heart to heart, that me wouldn’t be having any advice from a middle-aged man. 😄
Picture it: pale young me sits next to pale but colorfully dressed older me and tells him straight up, “buy Apple stock. When you get money — and you will — buy Apple stock. Buy, buy, buy”. That kind advice is just strange enough to make younger me pay attention. Assuming he’s going to remember and trust the great boon I gave him I’m hoping the real advice comes rushing back:
“One day you’re going to meet a man named ###. You’ll meet him at work. Punch him in the face straight away. Trust me, you will not his drama.”
I had a blog way, way back in 2014 that I kept going for a couple of years when a squirrel caught my attention and it was game over. I used the pandemic to reinvent myself. I’ve changed jobs, tried some new hats on, and started a YouTube channel. This blog will eventually be a companion to my YouTube channel.
I’m going to use the month of “Bloguary” to re-learn how to use WordPress and hopefully by February I’ll be ready to combine my blog and channel. Be patient with me. I have a feeling this is going to be a bumpy ride.
I warned you in the superpower post that I am a super villain at heart. If our world has the technology to send me back in time, then I’m going locked and loaded with laser weapons, a force shield, a universal (language) translator, projection mapping technology (and toilet paper): Send me to Ancient Rome because I aim to be worshiped as a Pagan God!
I’m already taller and fairer than most people. In Ancient Rome, as I tower over the little people, with some zipity-zaps from whatever doodads I have on hand, I will have the their compliance — and an audience with the Emperor Caligula. If the Emperor doesn’t agree to my requests, zippity-zap-zap zap.
I want to experience an extravagant Roman feast. True excess!
I want to see the brutality in the Coliseum.
I want to be bathed in the Roman bathes (so I’m bringing Penicillin).
And I want him to hire a battalion to tour me round the Ancient Wonders of the World and pick a fight or two.
If you’re going to dream, dream big. Tell me something about excess in the comments!
This is the easiest of all the prompts, Ernestine Shepherd, the 85 year old female body builder.
Ernestine started weightlifting at 56 and began to compete a few years later. Being a reformed gym bunny, I know how hard she physically andmentallyhad to train to get to where she was and is. The majority of people did not believe in her when she began — They actively discouraged her because of her age! — but she had the mental fortitude, paid no attention, and achieved besting people a quarter her age.
What she has done with her body is no small feet, even for a young person (much less and 80 year old), but she goes on: Ernestine has also become a published author and a personal trainer, showing us all that age is not an excuse.
I admire Ernestine’s dedication, commitment, fortitude, and outlook. I follow her on Instagram and her posts always get my butt to the gym. When I think I’m too old or too tired, I remember Ernestine. Long live the queen!
Be sure to tell me who inspires youand if you’re participating in Bloganuary, post a link to your blog post in the comments below so I can check it out! Thank you.