Monday, August 21, 2017

Packed Tokyo Trains and Subways Used to be the Best... Now? Air Conditioning Has Ruined Everything.


In the late 70s and early 80s, before the Yamate Line and most of the Tokyo subway platforms and subway trains were air conditioned, they were the best.

Now, it's not so good. 


"Get yo ass in there!"


I mean, look at this video. What a ripoff! This train is half-empty. It needs many more people. This is nuttin.'


This ain't nuttin'! What a bunch of woosies!


Back in the old days, when Japan's economy was booming and the the trains were REALLY PACKED (not like today) riding the trains and subways was great exercise. As well as great practice in being a Zen Buddhist.

Ommmm....Ommmm....Ommm..... 

Especially back in the late 70s and early 80s when the subway wasn't air conditioned. I'd get on the Tozai line in the early mornings and get a full body massage and get in some gymnastics and ring work in while I made my way to the office. 

Not only did I get some great stretching in I could get a great workout on the rings (like an Olympic athlete). The full body rub down every morning was definitely a plus. I could tell the people giving me the rubdown were experts at that and had lots of experience. Real professionals. Top quality.

And, right after the workout, a sauna? Not necessary. It was August and hotter and more humid than a sumo wrestlers arm pit after an 8-hour-workout (and it smelled like one too!) by the time I got to Iidabashi station, I was completely soaking wet and ready for a great day at the office. 

Now, you tell me, could there possibly be a better sports club than the Yamate Line or the Tokyo subways back in the days before the air conditioning? I doubt it (and the price was amazing!).... 

Oh, and back in those days, after a hard work out, we could all enjoy a cigarette on the platform too like real gentlemen. Not like the uncouth crap savagery we suffer from today with "Smoking Areas" outside the stations!

Oh! Those were the days!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Professionalism is Craftsmanship: Years of Effort, Dedication and Experience


Professionalism is the same as craftsmanship: work on it and strive for it everyday and, one day, those specialized skills will reward you handsomely. 

As we get older, we must strive for perfection in particular skills as we will never be able to beat mass production like McDonald's. 

I remember when I was a junior high school student. I loved wood shop class and would later go on, with the help of great teachers in high school, to build furniture that won awards at the State Fair (twice in fact! - yes, I was a geek, why do you ask?) 


In 1973, when other kids were making napkin holders in wood shop class, I was making stuff like this French Provincial end table. I won a Blue Ribbon (whatever that means!) at the State fair for this one when I was a sophomore in high school. This table still sits in my living room as sturdy as the day it was built (plus a few nicks and scratches). I'm expecting that this will be an antique in my son's living room someday.


One day, when I was in seventh grade, I asked my wood shop teacher (forget his name) how to make a brace for a table leg that had a dovetail. 

The instructor grabbed the piece of wood I had and said, "You make a 3/8 inch cut along this line." He took a pencil and instantly drew a straight line along the piece of wood, without a ruler or without checking size, or anything; he just scratched it off, just like that, in the blink of an eye, with the pencil right then and there. Then he handed the piece of wood back to me. 

I looked at the wood in confusion. I wondered why he drew a pencil line on my piece of wood? I said, 

"Why did you draw this line?" 

He replied, "I said, 3/8 of an inch." 

"How do you know this is straight and it is 3/8 of an inch?" I asked incredulously. 

He looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Years of experience, young man." Then he walked away. 

I went to my workspace and used a ruler to check the line he had drawn: I was awestruck! It was perfectly straight and 3/8 of an inch all along the breadth of the piece of wood in which he shot off that line seemingly without a thought. 

I was astounded!

Truly, professionalism comes with years of dedication, effort and experience. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Japan's Summer Holidays, Japanese Department Stores, Cute Stuff, Donald Duck's Ass and Me


Yesterday was August 15 in Japan. It was the end of  Japanese summer holidays and "Obon." 

Wikipedia explains Obon as: "Obon (お盆) or just Bon (盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori."

Every year, at this time, like clockwork as has been the case for the last twenty some years, my family returns to my wife's hometown to stay with her parents and welcome back the spirits of loved ones past. 

My wife's parents live in the country. There's not much to do here except relax...

Also, every year, at this time, I accompany my wife to the local big Japanese department store. Like I said, there's nothing much else to do. Japanese department stores sell the usual stuff, but they also sell some really cute stuff. I took some photos for you of the cute stuff they sell.


 

It's a Japanese department store so they sell stuff like these "Yukata." Yukata is a sort of "Summer Kimono" the Japanese like to wear these things to go to festivals and get into the spirit of the season. Of course, they have many different kinds and styles. The ones above seem sort of traditional (maybe for folks a bit older and more conservative.)


Ah? These seem like they'd be good for a younger couple... That one for the male of the species looks like it could also double as a table cloth.


This yukata is for the ladies. Smart design! It's suitable for the younger ladies and the older ladies could turn heads with this one too!


These are Japanese ladies accessories. At the top are "Tabi" socks (for wearing "Zori" - those wooden sandals.) In the middle are little handbags (my daughter says she thinks those small purses are called, "Kinchaku.") and, at the bottom, are ladies purses.


More ladies purses and little bears (made of kimono cloth)... Not sure what the little bears are for besides being "Cute" (Japan likes cute!)


Not into bears? OK. Here's some ladies' purses with a cat design. The cat is called, "Maneki-Neko" Wikipedia says, "The maneki-neko (Japanese: 招き猫, literally "beckoning cat") is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner." 

Are all these things super-cute or what? They are sure to bring a smile to anyone who shops at this store.

But, what's this? An unhappy customer? Look at this guy! He doesn't look like a happy shopper! But wait! That's not just any unhappy shopper! That's me!

"What's this? I want to see the manager!"

Heavens! This is Japan! This is a Japanese department store! There's so much cute shit here that one can't help but become enthralled with the "cute-ness!" People are supposed to be happy here! But I am not happy at what I have seen! Call the manager! I want to complain! I've never been so insulted in my entire life!

Is he saying, "Kish my ash"????

Is that Donald Duck flashing his ass at me? It is!!!! Well, I never!!!!!

I'm deeply offended! I'm not coming back to this department store ever again!.... Ever!

Well,..... At least not until next year's summer Obon vacation! 




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

レインダンス映画祭にゴーストロード出品決定! 25th Raindance Selects Ghostroads - a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story!


The 25th Raindance Film Festival has selected Ghostroads - a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story as one of its feature films for this year's 2017 festival! The staff at Ghostroads and myself thank the good folks at Raindance for choosing us and a great "thank you and much appreciation to the team and everyone" who has helped and supported us so far. 

2017年開催第25回レインダンス映画祭の長編映画コンペティション部門に ゴートロード - 日本のロックンロールゴーストストーリーが出品されることが決定しました。 ゴートロード を支えてくださったみなさん、ゴーストロード制作スタッフのみなさん、ありがとうございます!心から感謝いたします。



Raindance Film Festival in London is one of the most famous Film Festivals in the entire world. Wonderslist gave Raindance the honor of being named one of the 10 Most Prestigious Film Festivals Around The World: http://www.wonderslist.com/10-prestigious-film-festivals/

ロンドンで行われるレインダンス映画祭は、世界で最も有名な映画祭の一つ。 Wonderslist 誌が選ぶ「世界のトップ10権威ある有名な映画祭」にもレインダンス映画祭はランクインしています。http://www.wonderslist.com/10-prestigious-film-festivals/

The world famous Variety Magazine, the bible of Hollywood, listed Raindance as one of the world’s top 50 ‘unmissable film festivals.' Variety writes: "Early-autumn Raindance, the love child of provocateur Elliot Grove, caters to the grittier, weirder end of indiedom and has a particular penchant for rock ‘n’ roll-themed pics. Despite its Cinderella status, it attracts an unusually large share of industry support."  variety.com/2007/film/markets-festivals/50-unmissable-film-festivals-1117971644/

ハリウッドの聖書と呼ばれる世界的に有名なバラエティ誌には、世界のトップ50の「逃げられない映画祭」の一つとして、レインダンスが掲載されています。 variety.com/2007/film/markets-festivals/50-unmissable-film-festivals-1117971644/


This year's Raindance festival takes place in London, England from Sept. 20 until Oct. 1, 2017. For more information see the Raindance webpage. (https://www.raindance.org/festival/)
Tickets are now on sale! https://www.raindance.org/festival/

今年のレインダンスフェスティバルは、2017年9月20日から10月1日までイギリスのロンドンで開催されます。詳しくは、Raindanceのウェブページをご覧ください。 (https://www.raindance.org/festival/
チケットは現在販売中です! https://www.raindance.org/festival/

------------------------
Ghostroads Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Japaneserocknrollghost 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ghostroadsjapan

Here is the trailer (if link doesn't work, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxwJ4AfzOwM)




For more information & publicity in English contact: 
Susie Tullett
TullettPR
 0044 (0) 7775 657733

詳しく:
マイク・ロジャース mikeintokyo2004@gmail.com
西川ケン   "ken@robot55.jp" <ken@robot55.jp>



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Glen Campbell Lives in a Japanese Grocery Store Near My House


The sad news is that Glen Campbell has passed away. I really liked Glen Campbell when I was a kid. He was on TV and had lots of nice songs that a ten-year-old like me would like... And I did.

Glen Campbell is gone and all that are now left are his songs and his legend... 

But, in Japan, in at least one store, the legend of Glen Campbell lives on and, judging from past history, it will continue to live on for a very long time to come. 




At OK Store in Yoga (Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan), there's a daily tribute of sorts to Glen Campbell and it's been going to for at least the last fifteen years since the store first opened. 

"OK Store" is a well-known grocery store chain in Tokyo. It is a "No "frills operation and boasts "Everyday Low Price" (sic).... 


OK store is similar to your huge grocery store chains you have in the west. I wrote about OK Store before here: The Sexy Japanese Movie/TV Starlet and Me (Also Known As: The Formerly Famous TV Star-Lady at the Discount Grocery Store) 

OK Store opens at 8:30 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends... I go there, like clockwork, almost every Monday, Thursday (and sometimes on Saturday). 

Since I can remember, at this particular OK Store, before they open for business, one can hear the easy-listening "elevator-lounge version" of Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy playing on the store's BGM (Background music) every morning at precisely 8:27 am. 

In the beginning, when I first heard it, I thought it was an amusing and pleasant coincidence to hear that song. Many times, I've thought they'd change the background music. You know, change the music every once in a while, or every season... But, no. Glen is still there everyday, every morning; just like the sun rises in the East. 

Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" comes on, plays for a few minutes, then the song fades out and a woman's pleasant voice comes over the loud speakers welcoming customers to the store... and letting everyone know the day has begun.

This cycle has been going on since I can remember. 

I have been shopping at this particular OK store, as a regular, two or three times a week since it opened (at least fifteen years).... Because it's on the store's piped in music, I have been humming Rhinestone Cowboy in my head every time I go there during that entire period... (I always go just before opening time - I hate crowds). 

And whenever I go there and hear Rhinestone Cowboy, I am reminded of fond times in my childhood and my wonderful parents - especially my mom who was a really big fan of Glen Campbell.

Glen Campbell was so important to me and my very happy childhood. 

Thanks, Glen Campbell for some of my favorite songs in my youth... And thanks over these recent years for often reminding me of good times I had with my mom and dad.

Glen Campbell has many great songs.... Like I said, I have been humming his songs since I was a little boy - and I have been humming Rhinestone Cowboy 2 or 3 times a week over these same last fifteen years.... 

I imagine, if I am lucky, I will be humming it for at least the next fifteen years.

Rest in peace, Glen Campbell. 


Oh, and, whenever I hear Rhinestone Cowboy, I also immediately am reminded of Glen Campbell's - "Where's The Playground, Susie" from 1969. 
(If video doesn't play, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua_8LP802xY)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cool & Strange Music Countdown July 27, 2017! Harp Twins, Tearaways, Blaas of Glory, Jive Bunny!


Welcome back to another episode of Cool & Strange Music for July 27, 2017!



Once again, it's time for our monthly dose of Cool & Strange Music.

Today I have some more wild music, this time from the more "funny" side of things. If you like life's finer things: Cute dogs and cats, summertime and doing the twist; The Rolling Stones and Heavy Metal Marching Music - featuring one the world's greatest heavy metal marching bands - then you, my friend and friendette, are in the right place!

First up is said Heavy Metal Marching band. These chaps are from the Netherlands and have taken "turning the amplifier up to 11" to a whole new level; twelve or even thirteen! Their name is Blaas of Glory and they are hot. All across Europe, they've been selling out stadiums, arenas, er, hotel Starlight ballrooms, uh, shopping streets to wild and enthusiastic head-banging audiences. 

Seriously folks, I love Blaas of Glory. See?

Blaas of Glory

This definitely has to be one of my favorite heavy metal acts in the entire history of rock! These guys are fab and they have a great sense of humor and they are awesome musicians. Oh, and their webpage is hilarious! Go there a scroll your mouse over the band member's photos: http://www.blaasofglory.nl/

They've just released their album, "10 Years of Heavy Metal Marching" and it is one of the hottest albums of the year! Today's video is a special treat as it just came out a few days ago! Oh, and of course, they have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/blaasofglory/

#3) Blaas of Glory - Ace of Spades https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmrCx_CA5tc 


Sticking with acts from Europe, next up is a cool remix just in time for summer. They go by the name of Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers. They were introduced to us by alert reader, Koichi Hamada (AKA: Brazzil san). Below is a photo of Jive Bunny.... For what it's worth.

Jive Bunny

Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers throw together a fun mash-up of a bunch of songs that bring the summer and the ocean and dancing outta your speakers. Their bio says, "In 1989, Jive Bunny arrived on the music scene. From their humble surroundings in Rotherham to a global platform, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers achieved 3 UK number one hit singles and have sold over 15 million records worldwide!"

Wow! OK? Get ready for the Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers and get ready to "Name That Tune!" 

Oh and here's their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJiveBunny/

#2) Jive Bunny And The Mastermixers - That's What I Like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiwGQGIix7U 


Speaking of summer and surfing and Hawaii Five-O.... (Hey! Whatever happened to Jack Lord?) Let's go across the USA to the west coast of California! Today's #1 is a band that brings everything together. Now, if you want a hit on Facebook or the internet, what s the one ingredient that every photo or video must have? That's RIGHT! A cat or a dog licking its balls! This video has them all. These dogs are so cute that they are cuter than a hello kitty lunchbox with a Snoopy and Woodstock thermos in it! 

Oh, the Tearaways also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheTearawaysUSA/

#1) Tearaways - Naughty Dog….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOHeBrzW-lQ

BONUS TRACK! And today we have a special present for you! Since our first track today was Heavy Metal marching music, I have another surprise for you! It's called "Harp Rock." Rock music done on a harp! This track features Camille and Kennerly, two identical twins who are awesome goddesses of rock, er, harp. 

Their Facebook bio says: "Young harpists Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known as the HARP TWINS, have achieved extraordinary success by taking Electric Harps and acoustic Concert Grand Harps to unprecedented levels and smashing boundaries between different genres of music. The duo has amassed over 1 million fans across their social media sites and over 58 million views on their YouTube music videos, easily making Camille and Kennerly the most followed and recognizable harp duo in the world. As actors, The Kitt Twins have appeared in commercials, TV shows, and three feature films - two of which also feature the twins performing on their harps."

Is this cool and strange, or what? And their Facebook page has over 600,000 Likes! Holy shit! https://www.facebook.com/CamilleandKennerly/

BONUS TRACK! Harp Twins - Camille and Kennerly - Paint It Black


Wow! I'm in love for the first time this week!

Well, that’s it for today! Hope you have a great rest of the week and hope you stay Cool and Strange! 

See more Cool & Strange Music countdowns here: http://robot55.jp/?s=cool+%26+strange+music 

Last week's Cool & Strange Music: Cool & Strange Music Countdown June 20, 2017! Pinksideofthemoon, Japanese Led Zeppelin, Miami Dade County Police! https://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2017/06/cool-strange-music-countdown-june-20.html

And if you like new music and alternative artists check out the weekly Top 3 here: http://robot55.jp/?s=Top+3+videos

—————————– 
About Mike in Tokyo Rogers: 

Mike has been a professional music/TV/radio/anime-related program producer in Japan since the eighties. He began in the music business in 1977 as lead vocalist with the legendary Los Angeles Punk Band, “The Rotters” (Sit on My Face Stevie Nix.). As a university student, he was assistant to the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney on the ROQ – KROQ Los Angeles from 1980 ~ 1981.) 

Mike was the first and only foreigner in Japanese history to become the General Manager of a major Japanese broadcasting station (TV Tokyo owned InterFM). Has produced a few smash hit programs (some real losers, too!) and several of Tokyo’s highest rated and most famous radio programs. A recent hit program was “The TV Show” (Set Program with “Ninja Slayer”) which, between April – Oct. 2015, garnered over 10 million viewers. He is currently producing and hosting “WTF?” the hugely popular Sunday live show on InterFM 89.7. 

And his life’s dream is his just completed full-length motion picture, “Ghostroads – A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story”which will be released by a major Japanese motion picture company and in theaters all across Japan in Autumn 2017. (See trailer here: https://vimeo.com/210533272) … Oh, and he likes to write about himself in the third person!)

Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story Trailer... Coming to a theater near you soon! HP: http://ghostroads.jp/








Saturday, July 22, 2017

"I'm sorry. I made a mistake."


"I'm sorry. I made a mistake." Or;

"I'm sorry. I forgot."

Why is this so difficult for some people to say? 

In recent days, I've had two examples where grown adults have blatantly lied about some (actually unimportant) situation and instead of saying, 

"I'm sorry. I made a mistake." Or;

"I'm sorry. I forgot."

They made up a lie and tried to blame someone else or they committed the lie of omission.

In one case, the perpetrator of this unimportant incident (and it was really unimportant in the wider scheme of things) instead of saying, "Oops. I totally forgot," they went and lied and claimed "I didn't know anything about it. This is the first I've heard of it."

This, after two direct phone calls and a few emails (as well as a history of being, well, not entirely honest, late and blaming others for their mistakes)...

Odd this person claims they didn't know. Seems everyone else knew about it. 

Perhaps the others learned by osmosis? Osmosis is an excellent skill practiced by amoebas and other higher class organisms... Try it sometimes!

In another case, the perpetrator of the lie failed, repeatedly, to give credit for work where credit is due. Actually, it seems this sort of thing happens all the time at the work environment; people not giving others credit for the effort they gave and taking all the credit for themselves. (I suspect that always blaming others for mistakes, yet always taking the credit when things go well isn't a really good way to earn respect and admiration. It most certainly is not the sign of a well-adjusted person or a leader.)

Seriously, why do people do this? 

I learned when I was 10-years-old that people respect you more (and like you more) when you publicly give credit where credit is due and don't lie (especially about stupid stuff that doesn't matter). 

Showing humility, being honest and publicly giving people the accolades they deserve is greatly valued by adults in an adult society (Key word: "adults"). Life is difficult enough as it is without us not recognizing - and acknowledging people for their efforts.

A great leader (and good person) always gives credit where credit is due. People will follow a great leader to the ends of the earth. They won't follow people who lie or vainly try to take all the credit for the work of others.

Also, when someone continually lies or blames others for shortcomings and mistakes (and they happen repeatedly), people get disappointed and lose respect for the perpetrator.

In both cases, people lose respect for the perpetrator of the lie.

I must admit that, while I do like these people and respect what they do, I have lost much respect for their actions.

I'm not mad... 

It's just disappointing.

---------------

NOTES: I pretty much can predict that if the people I refer to in the above scribble did read this, they would fail to recognize themselves. I don't dislike these people. I like them... I do, though, feel despair and a sort of pity for them. But, then again, no one is perfect. As the great writer C.S. Lewis once wrote: "Life is difficult, so let's be good to each other."


NOTE TWO: May I recommend a book that changed my life?

F. Scott Peck: The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (http://amzn.to/2uj5nRm)

Amazon writes: "Perhaps no book in this generation has had a more profound impact on our intellectual and spiritual lives than The Road Less Traveled. With sales of more than seven million copies in the United States and Canada, and translations into more than twenty-three languages, it has made publishing history, with more than ten years on the New York Times bestseller list. Written in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the very nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life. It helps us learn how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self. Recognizing that, as in the famous opening line of his book, “Life is difficult” and that the journey to spiritual growth is a long one, Dr. Peck never bullies his readers, but rather guides them gently through the hard and often painful process of change toward a higher level of self-understanding."





Packed Tokyo Trains and Subways Used to be the Best... Now? Air Conditioning Has Ruined Everything.

In the late 70s and early 80s, before the Yamate Line and most of the Tokyo subway platforms and subway trains were air conditioned, they w...