Rain, rain

So I thought I brought an adapter for my laptop's power supply, but I was mistaken apparently. The power supply has three prongs and every outlet in Japan has two. So, this will most likely be a quick update.

It rained for a majority of the day yesterday. We were lucky enough to get through the East Garden of the Imperial Palace in the morning before it started raining too much. We also toured the Museum of Modern Art and the Craft Gallery. All of which were fascinating. Unfortunately, as with most museums, photography is strictly forbidden. We've been taking the subway, which has been surprisingly easy to navigate. The travel guides that Becky brought all seemed to indicate that transferring between lines was difficult or confusing, but we haven't had any trouble whatsoever.

Today looks like more rain so we're going to try finding a department store in Shibuya that's connected to the largest cultural center in Japan. This should be interesting. Hopefully I'll be able to find an adapter for the power supply so I can write more and post some of the photos I've taken so far.


A Quick Walk Around The Block

From last night, yes Nathan, they do have 7-11's in Tokyo. It's really interesting to see the American chains that have been imported to Japan. McDonald's is of course everywhere, the biggest difference being that they're open 24-hours a day.

Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi Annex

Okay, we just got to our hotel in Roppongi, the Villa Fontaine Roppongi Annex. It's pretty nice and seems to be in a good location. The train stop is about a block away. It's a little odd that when I do a Google search my browser is redirected to google.co.jp. I would have thought I would still be able to access the english version of the site, but apparently not without some work on my part.

Once we got off the bus from Narita it didn't take us more than five minutes before a gentleman and his family approached us asking where we were from and wishing us a wonderful experience in Japan. You couldn't have scripted the encounter more perfectly.

For those of you involved in the discussion of just how long the flight is from Chicago to Narita, it's exactly twelve hours in the air. We actually arrived a little earlier than projected. The weather is nice and mild, in fact it doesn't feel like the projected 80 degrees and 90% humidity. Customs and immigration were a breeze. The food on the airplane wasn't too bad, but it's definitely too much once you've eaten it three times in one flight.

I was going to start shooting pictures at Narita, but I felt too tired and didn't want to fall into the stupid tourist role right away. I think the biggest difference between Japan (or at least Metro Tokyo) and South Korea is that there seems to be a higher ratio of English to non-English signage. It almost makes it feel even weirder.

Anyway, I'm going to get cleaned up and I think we're going to go out and find a ramen shop or something. I don't think we're going to get too far today, it's after 6pm and Becky and I are both pretty beat from the trip. More later!


Tropical Storm Sinlaku

I just double checked our departure and arrival times for tomorrow and discovered that Tokyo will be getting hit by tropical storm Sinlaku when we arrive at 1:45 am! It just goes to figure. I can't imagine why I have visions of the city being destroyed as I arrive. Maybe I've watched too many anime and Gojira movies.

Update: Apparently I am unable to tell the difference between AM and PM as we landed just before 2PM local time.

T-minus Ten Hours Thirty Minutes

So I'm leaving for Tokyo in less than eleven hours! I'm planning on keeping a log of my trip here so check back in the next couple of days for stories and pictures. It's been a dream of mine to travel to Japan since I was very young. I grew up watching Hong Kong kung fu and Japanese monster movies with my father. This was a great source of inspiration for me and one of my fondest memories. My father would comment about martial arts demonstrations he'd seen in his travels in the Navy. Stories of 90 year old men disabling ten attackers and breaking cinderblocks with the tips of their fingers. You can imagine what an impression this would have made on me!

Enough of the trip down memory lane. It's time for new memories to be made!


A great weekend for music

I think that I saw the most incredible band this weekend. Nick and I were watching Austin City Limits and the artist was Femi Kuti. <...dramatic pause...> <...wait for it...> WOW! I can't remember seeing a tighter band of that size. There must have been at least fifteen people playing on stage. Fast tempos and complex melodies without a note missed, all while dancing on one foot! Absolutely amazing stuff!

On top of this, Nick went to Mad City Music Exchange for Record Store Day and came home with a bunch of CD samplers, a Ventures LP and a Toots & The Maytalls anthology. So Sunday I went music shopping. I'd hoped to find albums by Femi Kuti, his father Fela, and the new Marc Ribot album. I only found one Femi Kuti disc, but by luck I also found the first albums by Suicide and Gang of Four. Two albums I've always known I should have in my collection but never found when I was looking. All three albums are fantastic.

I also picked up tickets for the Tegan & Sarah show here in Madison on May 6th. Oh yeah, and next Monday I'm going to go see the band Prog. Man, music really is the best!


Last chance to dance

Had a mostly productive weekend. Aside from the Attack of the Drunken Roommate on Saturday night, everything pretty much went down as expected.

The Dorothies are going into the studio again tomorrow. We're going to try to track two new songs. I'm looking forward to getting them behind us. We also have some studio time booked in another two weeks. Hopefully we'll be able to get another song completed by then. If nothing else we should have five new songs for our trip out east next month.

I have to finish up my taxes tonight. Everything is going pretty well there. It looks like I'm going to owe less than last year, which makes me want to file an amended return as I think I may have missed some things.

I've also discovered, just this weekend, one of the best albums I may have ever heard. The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I'm really surprised that I hadn't heard this until now. But, more on that later...

To be thankful

It's Saturday night, 9pm and I'm working right now on the Good-N-Loud website. I don't know if any of you have heard Arvo Part. He's a composer from Estonia. I'm listening to his music right now and I'm finding it hard to concentrate on the work I'm doing. I know, you're probably saying "Well, turn it off then! Why complain about it to me?". Well, I'm not complaining. The music is just so incredibly moving. Simple sounding in the way Erik Satie's music sounds simple.

I watched the German film, "The Lives of Others", last night and I'm reminded of a scene. The protagonist, who is a "borderline subversive" playwright living in early-80's East Berlin, is seen sitting at the piano. He's just discovered that a dear friend and collaborator has just hanged himself after being blacklisted by the GDR. A few nights previous this friend had given him the score to a piece of music entitled "Sonate vom Guten Mensch" as a gift on his birthday. The protagonist is playing the piece and speaks. "Do you know what Lenin said about hearing Beethoven's 'Apassionata'. He said that if he continued to listen to the music he would never be able to complete work on the revolution. Can a man hear this music and be entirely 'Evil'"? Much of the impact of this scene comes from the music, which was written for the film. However, what our protagonist doesn't realize is that he's under full surveillance by the Stasi. In the scene we see the officer listening to this event. This typically 'Evil' man is awestruck by what he hears and begins to weep. He weeps for his own life which has become that of a marionette, hollow and directed. He has bartered away his own humanity.

Arvo Part's music is like this. So achingly beautiful, so direct in it's connection to the 'soul'. An entire piece is derived from perhaps a single, simple major triad, the foundation of Western music. Simply arpeggiated by a piano, or sung in wordless harmony. All melody, motion and decoration is assembled from the overtones of these three notes. As if trying to reach the ear of God in a whisper. The cold, frightened, tired whispered prayer of a man lost in the darkness of his own life. An action, painfully sacred. I can hear my own self reflected in this pool of sound.

I am inspired by the lack of selfish ideas vying for attention. I am delivered to the place I imagine and hope someday will be my life . The delight of these dreams gilded with the heartache of wavering commitment. Why is the glorious simplicity I hear so heart-rendingingly difficult to achieve. This is why I will always choose art over religion, psychoanalysis, patriotism, sex, money, politics, meditation or any of these things humans trust to lend meaning to their lives. Art is all and none of these things.


The Search continues...

So I've spent most of the day thus far sending out resumes and responding to want ads for wedding musicians and freelance web developers. It certainly gets a bit tedious at times.

I've started working out this week. Just doing 20 minutes of standard calisthenics in the morning before biking into work. I need to drop some of the winter insulation. And despite having to browbeat myself into doing it I very much enjoy the feeling I get afterwards.

I've also started to recover the music I've lost in the Great Laptop Debacle of 2007 (GLD07). Not music I've purchased, but the music I had written. So far I've got two pieces mostly recovered. One nice thing about this process is that I have a clean slate to work out these older ideas. I'd definitely written myself into a few corners. I also didn't realize how many waltzes I'd started writing over the past few years.

I've also taken responsibility for generating content for the Dorothy Heralds' site. This means I'm now blogging in two places. We'll see how long I can keep that up! I'd like to see us get a media player, a gallery and a few other things going. But I think I'm going to have to wait.

Anyway, hope all three of you are well (Hi, Mom!). More to come later!


Giving Ceaser His Due

Yep, started my taxes last night. Thankfully I haven't gotten to the part where they tell me that I've got too many deductions and that I run the risk of being audited. I'm always amazed this time of year that I've made enough money to actually owe the government money. I remember when I was making three or four times as much as I am now and I would always get back everything I'd paid in over the year. And I won't go into my problems with the way my money is being spent by our government. I don't have time and I don't want to wind up on some FBI list.

So, more rehearsal tonight, and more recording next week Tuesday. I started working on the Good-N-Loud website again. I have to thank Rebecca for the use of her old laptop. Without which I wouldn't have the pleasure of harassing Steve (GNL owner) to get me a copy of the shopping cart software he wants me to use.


Ack, yet another year has past!

Well, almost a year. It's ridiculous that I haven't posted here in almost a year.

Anyway, what's new? A whole lot I guess. The Dorothy Heralds are up for "Best Electronic Song" at this year's MAMA's. Please stop by and vote. Remember, the sign-up fee goes straight to the Madison school district and is earmarked for music related education. If you want to contribute to this great charity AND vote for us, you can hear the nominated song on our MySpace site (and hopefully on our website by the end of today). Oh, it's the one called "What Goes Up". It's somewhat representative of our more "dance" oriented direction.

We'll also be traveling to the east coast again in May. I'll post dates here later. I guess I'll leave this at that for toady. I've got to keep something for the next post...