Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beef Purple Budgie

Went to the Crawdaddy Club last night for the first time in a while but sadly too late to catch local cover band BEEF PURPLE.


Ended up chatting to a local whose top 70's band was Budgie. He had all their albums, had been playing them before he came out and to prove it he launched into Breadfan at 100mph. 

I changed the subject since he obviously knew more about the Cardiff rockers than I did. 






...made my night.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Socially-Acceptable Karaoke?

Karaoke in Japan doesn't inflict pain on the innocent like it can do in other countries. Local pubs don't have a karaoke-night with some 18-stone wanna-be (or wanted-to-be) belting out old Bon Jovi tunes for the "benefit" of all. Instead, a bunch of mates will sometimes go to a private karaoke box just for a laugh and some more drinks.

This 8-story building is one of 30 or more of these places alone  in Kabukicho and thousands more in Tokyo. There are over 40 private karaoke and party rooms for anything between two and twenty or more people.

With 2-hour all-you-can-drink deals they're popular with mates just looking for a laugh, company after-parties, the 5-a-side blind-date goukon crowd and I've even heard about folks who are starting a new business but don't have an office yet holding business meetings here. If the meetings go well and they close the deal, they just bust out the microphones and the drinks, and get straight into it.

Foreigners are notorious for not wanting to sing for the first 30 mins, then after being bullied into their first song, you can't get the mic off them. It's not high on my list of things to do on a night out, but there's an incredible number of songs to choose from. Depending on the company I'll either go for Delilah, or You Spin Me Round. If I just want to drink, I'll do Anarchy In The UK... I'm not usually bothered for another one after that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jigokudani

The snow monkeys from the opening scene of Baraka were filmed in Japan in Jigokudani (Hell's Valley).  Went up there last weekend and they're all still there.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kamakura

Jizō statues at Hasedera temple in Kamakura.
In Japanese mythology, the souls of children who die before their parents are unable to cross the mythical Sanzu River on their way to the afterlife because they have not had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because they have made the parents suffer. Jizō saves these souls from having to pile stones eternally on the bank of the river as penance, by hiding them from demons in his robe.

Nice one!


We came across this character at the Hachimangu shrine. He was feeding the carp when this little girl seemed to have spotted something hanging round his neck.
Some sort of cage.

Give us a look mate...


Yup, his pet hamster.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Family

It's always good to get visitors and this weekend's looking pretty good.
The folks have arrived, sun's out, next week off work... and they brought some new stock for Club 51: five green fairies and a red devil.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zoom

Always liked the idea of looking down on clouds. Had the chance to take these recently with a mate's real camera. Amazing what a bit of zoom can do.





Thursday, March 18, 2010

George

Years ago I was in a busy book shop run by a chatty old lady. I took a while to pick out a book by which time a bit of a queue had formed. I waited while she chatted to the first guy about an upcoming book tour by his author, she chatted to the next woman about a recent change in direction for her author, chatted to the next about his book’s literary themes… and then it was my turn.

When she looked down to see which one of her treasures I'd plumped and saw George Carlin's "When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops", she couldn't get rid of me quick enough!


Her loss!! The guy was a classic; fearless and truly original. Loved language, hated bullshit. I was lucky enough to see him live in April 2008 just before he died a couple of months later, unrepentant at the age of 71.

"People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point"

Generally, he's not in the safe-for-work category, but these are the comparatively gentle opening pages of the offending book, also home to lines like, "The wrong two Beatles died first."


 MODERN MAN


I'm a modern man,
digital and smoke-free;
a man for the millennium.

A diversified, multicultural,
postmodern deconstructionist;
politically, anatomically and ecologically incorrect.
I've been uplinked and downloaded,
I've been inputted and outsourced,
I know the upside of downsizing,
I know the downside of upgrading.

I'm a high-tech lowlife.
A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art,
bicoastal multitasker
and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.

I'm new wave, but I'm old school;
and my inner child is outward bound.

I'm a hot-wired, heat-seeking,
warm-hearted cool customer,
voice-activated and biodegradable.

I interface with my database,
and my database is in cyberspace,
so I'm interactive, I'm hyperactive,
and from time to time I'm radioactive.

Behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve,
ridin' the wave, dodgin' the bullet,
pushing the envelope.

I'm on point, on task, on message,
and off drugs.

I got no need for coke and speed;
I got no urge to binge and purge.

I'm in the moment, on the edge,
over the top, but under the radar.

A high-concept, low-profile,
medium-range ballistic missionary.

A street-wise smart bomb.
A top-gun bottom feeder.

I wear power ties, I tell power lies,
I take power naps, I run victory laps.

I'm a totally ongoing, bigfoot slam-dunk
rainmaker with a proactive outreach.

A raging workaholic, a working rageaholic;
out of rehab and in denial.

I've got a personal trainer,
a personal shopper,
a personal assistant,
and a personal agenda.

You can't shut me up;
you can't dumb me down.

'Cause I'm tireless, and I'm wireless.
I'm an alpha male on beta blockers.

I'm a non-believer,
I'm an over-achiever;
Laid-back and fashion forward.
Up front, down home;
low-rent, high-maintenance.

I'm super-sized, long-lasting,
high-definition, fast-acting,
oven-ready, and built to last.

A hands-on, foot-loose, knee-jerk, headcase;
prematurely post-traumatic,
and I have a love child who sends me hate mail.

But I'm feeling, I'm caring,
I'm healing, I'm sharing.
A supportive bonding nurturing
primary caregiver.

My output is down, but my income is up.
I take a short position on the long bond,
and my revenue stream has its own cash flow.

I read junk mail, I eat junk food,
I buy junk bonds, I watch trash sports.

I'm gender-specific, capital-intensive,
user-friendly and lactose-intolerant.

I like rough sex; I like tough love.
I use the F-word in my E-Mail.
And the software on my hard drive
is hardcore - no soft porn.

I bought a microwave at a mini mall.
I bought a mini van in a mega store.
I eat fast food in the slow lane.

I'm toll-free, bite-sized, ready-to-wear,
and I come in all sizes.

A fully-equipped, factory-authorized,
hospital-tested, clinically-proven,
scientifically formulated medical miracle.

I've been pre-washed, pre-cooked, pre-heated,
pre-screened, pre-approved, pre-packaged,
post-dated, freeze-dried, double-wrapped
and vacuum-packed,

And... I have an unlimited broadband capacity.

I'm a rude dude, but I'm the real deal.
Lean and mean.
Cocked, locked and ready to rock;
rough tough and hard to bluff.

I take it slow, I go with the flow;
I ride with the tide, I've got glide in my stride.

Drivin' and movin', sailin' and spinnin';
jivin' and groovin', wailin' and whinin'.

I don't snooze, so I don't lose.
I keep the pedal to the metal
and the rubber on the road.
I party hearty, and lunch time is crunch time.
I'm hangin' in, there ain't no doubt,
and I'm hanging tough.
Over and out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nipple Test

Happy St Patrick's Breakfast!

Sadly this pint failed the nipple test.
All traces of the finger-bumps were gone after only 3 minutes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thirsty


The official name of this apartment block is Motoazabu Hills Forest Tower, also known as the Mushroom Tower.

Apartments here go from up to 1.2 million yen per month which is more than US$13,000, A$15,000 or nearly £9,000.

To me though, it just looks like a pint of beer!
and even in Tokyo you could buy 100 beers a day with that sort of rent.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beer Pub

Not the most happening chain of bars around: pretty standard grub, different office-type punters every time so no locals to get to know, more efficient than homely atmosphere… but they keep a good drop, and who can argue with a slogan like Kirin City’s “BEER COMMUNICATION”?
Clarity on a beer mat!

Eatin's cheatin' but leave some room for the special.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Early St Paddy's Day

Every year on the nearest Sunday to March 17th Irish Network Japan hold a St Patrick's Day parade down Omotesando, a main shopping street in Tokyo, home to all the glitzy designer label shops like Gucci, Chanel and Armani. For one Sunday a year though traffic stops and things look a little different.


It always seems to be just after the Wales vs. Ireland Six Nations games. In 2008, when Wales beat Ireland for the Grand Slam the game finished around 4am here so after a few (more) celebratory ales I pretty much went straight there and was almost part of the parade. Same in 2009 when there was an Irish Grand Slam to help celebrate but yesterday was a sadly different story and I've only just got up... looks like I'll have to drown my sorrows later in O'Carolan's instead



Saturday, March 13, 2010

Focus!

Sometimes you get the good gigs. He'll probably remember this one.

Tokyo Bellys Circus: on the coldest day of the year so far (nearly)
Well I had fun...


Thanks to Vincent for the pics, Miwa-san for organising the event and Dragon for providing the warming Absinthe!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Angus

AC/DC are up here playing here on Friday night so I wonder if that means we’ll also be seeing ANGUS again, the Japanese cover band.

Get on that Highway to He-e-a-a-a-l-th…

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tax

Tax returns are enough of a chore when you can actually read the forms, but the pages and pages of Kanji characters can make it all get a bit stressful if you let it. This crazy-paving next to the tax office came to the rescue and made me feel sane again, or crazy-paved enough not to care.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Standing Bar

Shinbashi on Friday night. I walked past this standing-bar and it struck me that the downside of being able to read some Japanese is that views like this might start to lose their appeal.


It might not have so much olde-worlde charm when you realise the old wooden signs say things like "Cocktails", "Moscow Mule", "Soft Drinks" and "Orange Juice", with the prices.



Ignorance might be bliss I reckon...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Last Train

Trains are a way of life here. The morning train to work's as quiet as the grave; crowded as hell, but no-one says a word and everyone goes to great pains to avoid eye-contact. At night though, things are more lively after a few sherberts.

The trains stop around midnight and don't start again till 5am or 6am, so if you miss the last train you have a few choices; drink till morning, crash in a capsule or other cheap hotel/sauna, go to an internet cafe and sleep in the cubicle, go to a karaoke room till the trains start again, or get an expensive-as-hell taxi home.

The last option being the least preferred, if you decide to rush for the last train home, you'll often see guys like this who really should have taking one of the other options.