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October 2004 - Typhoons, Concerts, and Ninjas

Typhooooon!
There have been some crazy typhoons this season.  I'm sure Japanese people are used to them; but being a novel experience for me, I'm certainly not accustomed to them yet.  My boss called me one morning and said, "You're fired!  Don't come to work today.  Just kidding.  All classes are canceled because of the typhoon, so don't come to work."  That was the first time in my life I got to stay home due to the weather conditions.  Thanks, Mama Nature!  The theme of typhoons seems to be WIND.  One storm was so cool I even filmed some of it from my balcony.  There is supposed to be another one on the way.  Fortunately, Tottori doesn't get hit too severely by typhoons.  Further south is a different story.

Earthquake!
There were some earthquakes here recently too.  I felt 4 in one day.  I woke up to one one morning and said, "Earth! ...would you 

cut it out already!?  I'm trying to sleep, dammit!"  I've got enough problems with the shrine drummer waking me up, and now earth herself is shaking me awake.  No worries.  I guess earth was just feeling kinda gassy that day or something.  Having grown up in LA, earthquakes are nothing new, but I'm wondering when Godzilla's coming.

First Live
I had my first live concert at a bar in Tottori.  It was a great learning experience for me cuz it was my first solo concert.  About 25 people came, and in Japan that almost means packing the place (cuz the bars are so tiny).  I botched up the lyrics on one newer song, but I think the concert went pretty well overall.

Cow Soap
I decided to try a different brand of soap affectionately known as "Cow Soap."  Each bar was shrink-wrapped, so I couldn't smell it in the store.  When I opened it at home, I realized that it kinda smells like Coca-Cola.  So now I have 6 bars of Coca-Cola soap to use up.  I think I'm gonna go back to my old brand (called "Face White").  Considering it's called "Cow Soap," I guess it could be worse.  Cow Soap even has a website.  Check it out at www.cow-soap.co.jp if you're interested.

Live in Osaka
I had another concert in Osaka (shortly after the Tottori concert).  I played to an audience of about 35 Japanese strangers, and I must say that it was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.  As I stepped on the stage, everyone was looking at each other with a facial expression that kinda said, "What the hell is this guy gonna do??"  Despite the rather broken-ness of my Japanese, people laughed and clapped as I sang, so it was such an uplifting feeling.  Thank God my songs are meant to be funny.

Everyone was surprisingly friendly to me.  The other bands playing that night all talked to me and wished me good luck.  Some of the audience members took pictures with me after the show, and the club manager said I am welcome to play again anytime.  It was such a refreshing feeling compared with doing concerts in LA.  The staff was extremely professional, so each band moved on and off like clockwork.  The mixing was solid, and they even allowed me to rehearse before the show.  I plan to do more concerts after my CD is finished being produced.  That way I can hopefully sell some CDs at the shows to help offset the travel expenses.  I finished all the recording, so my best friend Mike (a professional sound engineer and musician) is currently mixing and mastering it for me back in the States.  I really appreciate his help especially since I'd never be able to do a decent mix on my own.

Ninja Tour
One of our students Susumu heard that I'm a huge ninja fan, so he offered to take me to 2 famous ninja villages.  So Susumu, 2 other students (Yoko and Shinobu), and I road-tripped to Igamura in Mie-ken, followed by Kogamura in Shiga-ken.  It took about 4.5 hours to get to the first place, but it was so awesome.  We toured the ninja house, the ninja museum, and watched a ninja battle demonstration.  We even got to throw ninja stars.  Then we drove another hour to Kogamura and toured that ninja house.  Some comedians from Osaka were filming a TV show there that day, so that was an added bonus.

Ninjas and Nintendo were two very strong Japanese cultural influences early in my childhood, so the tour was a delightful flashback to childhood.  It not only made me feel young again, but some amount of closure was reached--like I had come full circle.  I know it sounds geeky, but I adored ninjas growing up because of their hidden power and secrecy.  I was a scrawny, late-blooming, often-teased child, and ninjas were my brawn-less heroes.  They taught me that looks can be deceiving and that brains far out-value muscle.  Damn, they're cool.

Remodeling
I did some minor remodeling on my room recently.  I bought a computer desk cuz I was kinda sick of using a low table and sitting on the floor.  I also bought some signs and put them up in my bathroom.  My bathroom door says "jimusho" (office) in kanji, and I put a sign next to the toilet paper that says, "Push button for service" (in both Japanese and English).  I laugh every time I take a poop.

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