Category Archives: bloganuary

Bloganuary: The Final!

How do you feel when you look at the stars?

I live in Tokyo. I don’t see many celebrities. When I lived in Hollywood, however…

This challenge has finally ended. I really enjoyed the beginning but some prompts? Still, I’m glad I did it because I met some really nice people, finding blogs, and the people attached to those blogs, that wouldn’t have come onto my radar otherwise.

Bloganuary was a chance for me to learn how to use WordPress to build up my YouTube Channel, which is food based. The next posts you see from me will be about food and cooking — and I do hope to meet you all again. ☺️

Miso Butter Pasta — with hand made pasta.

Here is a still with a link to my latest video: Miso Butter Pasta, which is an American dish, not Japanese — and it’s really good. My next post will be on this. In the meantime, please click on the photo or link to take a look at the video.

Have a great February, everyone!

Tell me in the comments one thing you liked about taking part in Bloganuary. 🙂

Bloganuary: Change the World?

How are you changing the world?

(Old person lecture coming up.)

One of the annoying tropes in comic books is the solitary person who can, with whatever power s/he has, can destroy/change the world. No. The concept is dumb: one itty bitty little human can not change the world.

Bloganuary has shown me how much we speak in cliches. The Internet is filled with ’em and I think we take them to heart and believe life is simple, our problems complex, and our impact oversized and so let me tell you quite clearly: You and I can not change change the world — and that is a good thing.

Do you remember that feeling in high school when you left the house with a new hairstyle, a new kind of fashion, or new make-up and you felt that everyone’s eyes were on you? No one paid any mind. If people noticed, they quickly forgot. The same is true when we clean up trash on the beach, post a hashtag, or engage in the UN. It is human nature to overestimate our effect on the world and from what I’ve seen, overestimating is biggest reason people don’t take chances with the little to large things in their lives.

This Miso Butter Pasta (and the other three courses) sure rocked my world.

I have not changed the world and neither have you. At best, I’ve been a good person and have impacted the lives of the people I work for and with in positive ways. I’ve added value to conversations. I’ve participated in community events. And I’ve touched individual lives, such as the injured pigeon I cared for, the kittens I adopted, the friends I stayed up late with and the homeless people I make eye contact with.

Before you pat yourself on the back — or chide yourself — for whatever you have or haven’t done to change the world, take a close look around you and work on that.

Tell me in the comments what you had for dinner today? 😁

Bloganuary: Solitude Standing

Where do you go when you need solitude?

I don’t need solitude. I need stimulation!

You might think in one of the world’s most crowded and busiest cities I’d be screaming for solitude and quiet but, no. My mind is naturally quiet and people rarely impose on me.

Stimulation, that I could use.

Solitude Standing by Suzan Vega — great lyrics!

Where do I go when I need stimulation? Well, going out with a camera in hand gives me an excuse to talk to (literally) anyone. From “could you take my picture” or “I love what you’re wearing, can I?” to “I’m looking fox X…”. It’s easy to meet people. Sometimes it can be tough to engage people in conversation but people are generally amicable wherever I go.

For mental stimulation I like learning. I have tons of recordings from The Great Course Plus (formerly The Teaching Company), my Kindle and Kobo, and access to museums and exhibits all across the city.

How about you, Solitude or Stimulation, which would do you better?

Bloganuary: Dissecting Me

What is your favorite part about yourself?

This question is kinda easy but I’m not sure how to phrase it succinctly. What I like about best about me is that I have a firm sense of self: I know what is right and wrong for me and I will not bend. This can and does cause friction with other people, but I will not say the Emperor is nicely dressed when he’s naked — you can read into that what you like. I also don’t shy away from questions. My feeling is that if someone is bold enough to ask the question, I can answer it.

There’s a lot about me that I like. 😎😁 I could go on…

To balance this out, my least favorite thing about myself is my ability to procrastinate. Man, if I don’t want to do something, unless I’m really firm with myself, I will find a way to put it off. Case in point, I have to go to the tax office tomorrow and I have to return something to Amazon. One will make me poorer the other is just troublesome. I’ve managed to put both off til the last minute.

What’s your favorite part of your favorite movie/tv show?

Bloganuary: Strength!

Write about something that makes you feel strong.

Squats and deadlift and pretty easy for me. Chest presses a little less so because my arms are weak, so when I can belt out a full arm day I feel pretty strong — and buff.

Bicep curls are the best and worst for me. There’s a kind of pain/exhaustion that is really uncomfortable but when I push past it, not only do I get the physical response of visible swelling (and a tighter shirt) but the emotional feeling that I ‘did it’.

Henry Cavil, the perfect male.

Generally, I enjoy working out. I mentioned in one of the earlier prompts that I admire Earnestine Shepard and it’s to be healthy and strong in my old age — I plan to live into my 150’s — that I work out, generally four days a week. I try to mix yoga and running in on the days I don’t go to keep my metabolism up and my body flexible.

You can’t have a conversation about strength and not talk about Superman.

Bloganurary: Dreams

Write about a dream you remember.

(whew) I’m beginning to feel the tug and pull of too many projects — but just a few more days of Bloganuary. I can not give up!

Dreams. When I read the prompts a dream that I had half a year ago came to mind. I don’t have nightmares. My dreams all seem to be wish fulfilments, but this one was surreal:

I was in the middle of an American suburb high in hills that overlooked the an urban center at night — lights everywhere, it was night at it was very beautiful. Godzilla was after me. Not the whole body, just the head. And not one, but like six. So in my dream I could see myself from an overhead position running down a cul-de-sac and there were these six giant, glowing pink Godzilla head going down the street in unison blowing up houses with their breath.

That’s it. The dream wasn’t short. It felt like it went on for hours.

The Buddha in repose. This is an old film photo from Kumamoto. The temple I took this in was destroyed several years ago in a earthquake.

I remember waking up in the morning with the dream in mind and I just turned it ’round and ’round in my head trying to puzzle out a meaning (which is why I remember it so clearly).

My best guess is my subconscious is telling me that my life in Japan is supplanting my former life in the US.

Here’s a question I’d like to know: In my dreams I seem to visit the same places over many years. I don’t know if this is usual or not, but in the dream world I can visit dreamscapes I visited weeks or months before, and these are not repeating dreams but dreams where I have long-lived relationships with the characters in these dreams spaces. There’s a sense of seeing an old friend after a long absence sometimes.

Does this ever happen to any of you?

Bloganuary: Let’s Do the Timewarp!

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.

My requests:

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!

Bloganuary: Photos

What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

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.

The important things are our relationships, the promises we make, and the self-control we cultivate to keep both.
Asakusa Park in Spring.

Bloganuary: Mystery

Write about something mysterious.

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?

Mysterious image: Tokyo Imperial Park, spring.

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.

Mysterious image: Park in Tokyo.

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.

Mysterious image: Castle ruins near my home.

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.

Bloganuary: Reading

What book is next on your reading list?

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.

Click on the picture to see the trailer on YouTube.

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.

Click on the picture to see the trailer for the TV show.

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.

I love happily ever after!

Any TV shows that you recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Superpowers

What is a superpower you’d love to have?

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.

Eobard Thawn and Barry Allen.

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.

Innocent until proven guilty? Not if I had Speed.

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.

Death for a Speedster– I would totally take out Barry Allen if I had speed.

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.

Bloganuary: Cause?

What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

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…

Speaking of Dante, this is Virgil and he in the 9th Circle of Hell — not my photo of the engraving by Gustave Dore

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.

Bloganuary: Life Lessons

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.

Curry Pan. I’m still learning how to take decent food pics, but this is really delicious.

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?

Bloganuary: We Shall Overcome!

Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

Cambodia

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.

Not my photo, but I have rolls of film from here in my archives. After the war, the people assembled the skulls of 5000 people and made them into several artworks, like this one, a map of Cambodia. The government has since removed the artwork (for the tourist trade) and interred the bones more respectfully in a pagoda. 

Vietnam

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.

Not my image, but I have them on film. Hundreds of jars of the babies that were NOT born.I met countess people deformed by war or born with deformities

Laos

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. 

Again, not my photo. Mine are still all on film.

On Obstacles

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.

Bloganuary: Ideal Days

What does your ideal day look like?

(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 corner of where I live on day one of the first lockdown. Mind you, I live two minutes from a major train station. This is peak time.

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 opposite side of where I live.

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).

This is the jogging path near my home. It should be filled with people, this is Tokyo after all!

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.

The other side of the station, again, peak time.

What was the world around you like after the first lockdown? Did you enjoy anything about it? Let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Emoji’s

What emoji(s) do you like to use?

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!

Favorite emoji’s?

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 🤷‍♂️.

None of the images on this page are mine.

What’s a better prompt than this or one that you would have rather seen? Tell me in the comments.

Bloganuary: Boldly Go!

What does it mean to live boldly?

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.

Change your perspective — look UP.

Do you agree or disagree with me — you’re safe, I only bite on weekends — let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Gratitude

What are you grateful for today?

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.

Not too far from where I live, the Dior building on Aoyama Street.

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.

Thumbnail from my latest video, Tofu Teriyaki.

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. 😄

Going through the gates is good for luck.

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.

Bloganuary: Assumptions

What do people mistakingly assume about you?

I’m a 6’4″ (192cm) American man living in Japan, my whole blog could be about this! 😆

I love the record breaking rollercoasters at FujiQ, like DoDonPa, Takabisha, and Fuji Yama, but take me to Tokyo Disneyland and I’m headed straight for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (Space Mountain can wait).

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).

Go your own way.

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…

Teriyaki Tofu over rice: Teriyaki Tofu Donburi, click the picture to see the video.

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. 😁