Monday, December 31, 2018

Yamakataya ad - Shiny Pretty Things

It's a "thing," alright. It's definitely a "thing"...

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Google Doodles, 2018

I'm still collecting the links to the Google Doodle's that I find interesting, for science, math, Japan, animation, and game-related doodles. Nowher near as many doodles that I like as there had been in past years.

Sergei Eisenstein's 120th birthday (animated)

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss's 241st Birthday

Celebrating Georges Melies (animated)

Celebrating Abraham Ortelius (creator of the modern atlas)

Emil Berliner's 167th Birthday

Celebrating Garden Gnomes (game)

Octavia E. Butler's 71st Birthday (SF writer)

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's 372nd Birthday

Hubert Cecil Booth's 147th Birthday (inventor of the vacuum cleaner)

Georges Lemaitre's 124th Birthday (Predicted expansion of the universe)

Gino Bartali's 104th Birthday

Mary G. Ross' 110th Birthday (Native American aerospace engineer)

Celebrating Altamira Cave

44th Anniversary of the Arecibo Message

Valdemar Poulsen's 148th Birthday (Invented magnetic recording)

Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita's 132nd Birthday

Saturday, December 29, 2018

JBL Dare to Listen Truck

I saw this JBL truck on my way to the Maruya Gardens wine fest, and I didn't want to take a detour to see if they were doing live demos of headphones in the truck or not. The wine fest turned out to be a bust, and the truck was gone when I got back here about 15 minutes later. Maybe it's just a delivery truck with fancy artwork.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Bright Chalk - Flowers

More chalk art from the Bright used men's clothing shop.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Chiro Pikachu

(Ad for a chiropractor)

Even Pikachu feels better after visiting the bone cracker.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Amu Plaza Christmas Market, Dec. 24

I wasn't able to get to Amu Plaza on Monday until 4:30 PM. Nothing was going on then, so I read manga to kill time until Bon DX started their set at 5 PM. As they were finishing their set-up, I approached Bon to find out how much of the set was going to be different material from Sunday. My initial plan was to assume that it was going to be all repeats, and then just concentrate on taking lots of stills to cherry-pick from. But, he answered back that most of the set would be new songs, with only 2 or 3 repeats. So, I took my photos during the first 2 songs, and recorded the rest (see below).

After everything was over, I went home to process the shots and upload the videos to both Facebook and youtube. Oddly, when I was checking Facebook a little later, I got a notice that Bon was hosting a streaming video watching party. Clicking on the link, I discovered that it was one of my videos, and he'd added a note saying "Thank you, Mr. Curtis." That was cool. Only 11 people were watching it at the time, but it was still cool.

Overall, it was a great set. Not as energy-filled, or crowded as Sunday's, but it did have my favorite Bon DX song - Higashi-e, Nishi-e (To the East, To the West), so that was good.

Yoko was working the CD sales table, trying to get people to buy the Christmas Market compilation CD, "Gift." Bon DX had one or two songs on it, and I would have considered buying a copy if it wasn't going for 2,000 yen ($19 USD).

Another reason for not buying the CD when I had the chance was that the mime dance group that had performed before Bon's Sunday set suddenly started up a new performance as Bon was tearing down their gear on Monday. I recognized the woman on the right as the Charlie Chaplin-inspired mime, and ran to get the best seat in the house at the front of the tree. It was a different storyline and greatly scaled-down, with just the 5 dancers pictured here. Shoji, the guy, played a wind-up toy that suddenly gets a chance to move like a human, but when the music ends, he turns into the toy again. That was followed by the rest of the group doing a happier "let's give everyone presents" dance. At the end of that, they handed out candies to the children, and one woman in the audience got some kind of a gift certificate (although, she may have been a stooge). When everything was over, I tried talking to one of the female dancers, and it turns out that the group is made up of members of something like 3 different dance studios, and they regularly perform at various events like this. I talked to Shoji, too (he'd just come back from spending time in L.A.), and he commented along the lines of possibly contacting me if they decide to re-record the Nutcracker remake they'd performed the day before. Nothing may come from this offer, but who knows. Unfortunately, both Facebook and youtube flagged the copyrighted music in the video I uploaded, and the audio is muted in the third file below. Sigh.

Direct video link 1

Direct video link 2

Direct video link 3

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Leftovers

Photos I've picked up that are Christmas related.

Magical Christmas - 7-11 Catalog

Want to see something cynically commercial? Welcome to 7-11's Magical Christmas catalog. It's what you get if you cross Alice in Wonderland with retiring singer Namie Amuro. In fact, if you apply for their drawing, you can get one of 5 different Namie dolls, dressed up in outfits from her farewell concert.

I just scanned the front and back covers, and the front two inside pages. In Japan, Christmas is more of a romantic holiday for couples. The big family gatherings happen in the first 3-4 days of January. But, looking at this catalog, there's a perception that Christmas is all about making you (if "you" is a young female) feel like a princess, replete with several Japanese-only Christmas cakes. Unfortunately, Japanese cakes often take the form of layered sliced bread covered in whipped cream.

Our manufactured princess this year is "Emina," a spin-off of Namie Amuro.

And here are the Namie dolls. How magical.

Berg Christmas Village, Dec. 25

Tenmonkan's Christmas Market ended on the 24th, but Berg Plaza and Amu Plaza still had a bit going on for Christmas Day. First up, Yoko is back, singing carols and her regular CD karaoke at the Berg Village. I was out shopping for dinner, and caught the last 20 seconds of her set.

The reindeer are deflated now that Christmas is almost over.

But, the reindeer girls arrive to save the day with a bell chorus.

Ring, Christmas bells, ring.

Few restaurants had seasonal chalk art. This one did, though. It was a sushi restaurant.

Xmas Snoopy

This Santa Snoopy showed up as a promotion for boiled peanuts (get the joke?) just before Christmas 2017. Initially, I planned on not posting the photo until the grocery store took him down, but he remained there for an entire year. Finally, on Dec. 23, 2018, he disappeared. Only to reappear ten feet away at the bananas section.


Finally, Amu closed out its Christmas Market with the Songbirds of Gospel at 7 PM. Again, not my kind of music.

And to all, a good night.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Amu XMas Market Live - BON DX, 181223

As I've mentioned before, the live music events at the Amu Plaza Christmas Market this year have been scaled way back from what they were just last year. There's nothing during the week, and only a few performances on Saturdays and Sundays, each. I had to work pretty much all Saturday, but there wasn't really anything on the schedule that I had any interest in. I did want to visit Tenmonkan on Sunday, on my way up to Amu Plaza for the Bon DX live stage at 5 PM. So, I spent a couple hours in Tenmonkan, from 2 PM to a little before 4 PM. When I got to Amu, Bon was setting up, and then doing a bit of rehearsal before the main set.

I expected to record the entire main set, so I took a bunch of photos during the rehearsal to have something to use for the blog.

Sado, the sax player, was particularly campy at this point, which was unusual for him.

One thing worth commenting on was that the sound engineer had an eye patch. I'm hoping it's not for something more serious than just getting some ash in her eye.

After they finished rehearsing, the band disappeared somewhere. I was planning on staking out a spot and holding it until 5 PM, because people had kept getting between me and the band just now. To kill the time, I was leaning against the artifical "tree," reading the latest volume of Attack on Titan, when a guy with a webcam suddenly ran past me, followed by a woman in full mime makeup.

I moved to get out of the webcam guy's field of vision, then took a couple shots of the mime. She had the Charlie Chaplin walk down pat, and she'd go around, trying to mess with the shoppers (standing behind them and pretending to look at the goods in the carts). It was fun watching her, but she moved too fast for the camera.

A few minutes later, another 10 women came out in blond wigs and heavy makeup. They took up positions around the tree, and then put on a short musical play that was a twist on the Nutcracker Suite (a young boy living alone is visited by the spirit of Christmas - the mime - and he gets to watch a bunch of dolls wake up and dance for him). I did take video, but there were so many people between me and the dancers that most of the action was blocked off. I'm hoping that they might perform tomorrow, too.

The dancers were pretty good. Unfortunately, at least one of the key songs struck me as being something copyrighted from the U.S., and it'd probably get blocked if I uploaded the video to youtube or facebook.

It was one of the best sets I've seen Bon do so far. It was a bit unusual in that he mixed his "hobby" band members with his more "professional" backing guys from ARTS (the drummer, and the trumpet player). Sado, the sax man, plays in both groups. The place was packed, and I had a lot of fun recording it. Check out the videos below. After the set ended, I tried talking to the trumpet player to say that I liked seeing him in ARTS about a year ago, then I asked for a photo with him. I had to give the camera to a bystander, and she kind of messed up the shots. The two here are the best of when she took.

The next group up was the JSB orchestra again, at 6 PM. My original plan had been to have dinner at a restaurant, so I went home to prepare for that. We'd had heavy rain earlier in the afternoon, but that cleared off by 4 PM, helping make it look like we'd have dinner out. But, after I got home, my plans changed, and I had to have dinner inside. Instead, I spent the rest of the evening processing all the photos (120+) and video (30 minutes) I'd taken, and typing up these blog entries.

Bon has another live set at Amu on Monday at 5 PM, and I'm really hoping to be able to get to that. In general, Bon plays the same songs all the time, but he may change things up a little with one or two other songs that I like. I'll record those, but otherwise I'm just going to try taking lots of stills to see if I can get a couple I like.

Direct link 1

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