Tag Archives: Geisai

Kathy’s Song

I have one day until Geisai. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life, I just know it. I’ve worked so hard these four months to prepare for this, devoting my heart, my resources, and virtually all the non-working time I’ve had for this one event. Ten hours, ninety minutes of music, five pages of poetry, four dozen photographs, one heart dreaming of humble reflections and another to truly understand them.

It’s just coming up on midnight, and I am about to start on translations of my poetry. I’ll do all I can with my limited vocabulary, and when that’s done, with what energy I have left I’ll mix my music for the show. In the morning I have a few things left to buy, and then a sample layout on the display. After that, it’s just break down, packing, and waiting. Tomorrow night I’m going to see Hamada Mariko, one final muse before my christening sunrise, a last sympathetic heart to push me on my way. Then on Sunday, it’s just me; just a fool with crude inventions, with his heart pinned to the collar of a torn jeans jacket. This is my exhale of unrequited passion. Thank you, Lord, for giving me these gifts of self-realization.

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls

And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies

My mind’s distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you’re asleep
And kiss you when you start your day

And a song I was writing is left undone
I don’t know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can’t believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I

Inching, crawling, turning over

Last night I finished preparing my postcard shots for sale at Geisai. This morning I handed them off to Kinko’s to print and cut, in the end I’ll have about two hundred with me for sale. Initially I was thinking three hundred, but after seeing the color quality of the laser jet printer, I revised my estimates. The sad irony of my preparations is centered around this key principle of media transmission. The quality of printing from film clearly manifests the errors in preparing my shots, whereas the lack of quality in consumer printing to paper obscures the true beauty of my digital camera images. In the end, I feel lacking on both sides of the medium, and I’ll have to rethink the entire process with which I approach photography and publishing. At least now I know firsthand that there is a process.

All these late night art sessions after twelve-hour workdays are starting to wear me down. I know I said I’d stop watching TNG this week, but to “blow off [just] a little steam” (as Barclay says), I’ve been giving myself those forty-two minutes.

However, now that I’ve finished photography, the only major things left are translating my poetry, arranging it nicely, and editing my music. I think this will end up with an all nighter Friday, leaving the zombified me to trivial shopping and assembling tasks on Saturday, then I may fall dead asleep for a good six hours before the show. If the good Lord smiles on me, it won’t rain on Sunday.

Shambling, shuffling, now is the time when it all comes together…

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A Walk in Andante

After my industrious session of shopping and preparing, my fatigue got the better of me, and I ended up spending the middle of Saturday afternoon in a half-conscious daze on the sofa. However, I did manage to get some good source material from the microKORG before heading out for dinner in Kagurazaka. This week I don’t think I can afford myself any relaxation (TNG) given the amount of time remaining, so I’ll be spending my nights this week in the cycle of producing and processing audio data between Sound it! and Cakewalk (yes, I’m a ghetto rookie). The thing is, since I doubt any one person is going to be staying around my booth for more than fifteen minutes, I actually don’t need any more music than that for my audience. However, I have no doubt that I will loathe my own compositions enough to want to quit music forever if I have to listen to a twenty-minute loop for nine hours.

Thanks to some Illustrator tips I got from Risako, I managed to put together a personal business card that I don’t hate completely. Of course, after uploading it to the print shop online, I’ve already come up with a number of shortcomings (e.g. I don’t list the fact that I’m an engineer anywhere on the card). [This in itself is interesting in that I spend over seventy percent of my life being one.] Still, it really improved during last night’s power session after watching X-Men 2 on Asahi TV’s Sunday night movie.

I’m beginning to notice patterns in design that are pleasing to me. Everything seems to start out big and complicated, and I iteratively whittle away at what I want to convey until in the end I just have a condensed, subdued morsel left over from my initial delusions of grandeur. One of the key points to creation (at least for me), is to be acutely aware of my resources and limitations (time, technical skill, ability to focus), and do the best I can with that. Stretching myself to accomplish more than what is feasible is what results in half-finished and flat looking material. After flipping through the couple hundred business cards I have piled up on my corner shelf, I realized that the ones that appealed to me most were the ones that didn’t have bitmapped backgrounds, tons of text, or bold marks. To me, professional is subtle curves, thin lines, and a conservative use of space. Everyone has their own sense I suppose, but I think it’s more than chance that I embrace this kind of philosophy now after growing continually disenchanted with inefficiency, hype, and gluttonous amounts of shellac on a dearth of substance. At last, I am learning to accept this is part of a process for continual improvement, and not push myself beyond what I can adeptly accomplish. I must be content and proud of what is achievable now. To illustrate remedial concepts with prowess and exhibit the glistening promise of future potential will serve me well, I believe.

I also had several depressing reminders that Japan is small and you always have to be thinking of other people before you do something. Putting nails into pine is a very noisy process, and can’t be done in my home, in front of my house in the alley, or in fact anywhere near any number of tightly clustered buildings. I went to the park to assemble the base of my display, but ultimately succeeded only in learning that there are way too many biting insects in late summer, and nails are good for little more than hanging pictures. I have since upgraded my philosophy to screws, which, by the way, quickly show just how overpriced the low-grade lumber at Tokyu Hands really is.

CodeWarrior Error

Second nature

Yesterday I did, in fact, accomplish a lot at work again. So much, [in fact] that I have the luxury of spending today and tomorrow doing what humans were intended to do– living practically. I often exhibit some sort of snowballing momentum when it comes to mindless chores. After getting home slightly past one, I read some email and got some disconcerting news, which came quite close to throwing a wet blanket over the wonderful feeling of satisfaction that had developed from my accomplishments. However, a little bit of luck kept me from getting out of control, and I started with what I do best, cleaning. The humidity in my apartment gets incredibly high towards the end of summer, so the bathroom quickly slides into a state of unnerving disarray and filth. I knew action had to be taken before things got any worse, so I spent a couple minutes working strong chemical cleaner into the synthetic tub walls with a brush. This of course led to more scrubbing, and more polishing and a rinsing of the floor, trash being collected, clothes picked up, etc. In the end despite the fact I “stopped” to watch another episode of Next Gen, I put away all the laundry, straightened the bed, and put away my camera supplies. Then it’s just after three and only lack of sleep could wrest me from the unrelenting single-mindedness with which I dispatched all of the minor details I can control in my life.

The point of all this mundanity, if you’ve bothered to read this far, is that you must understand that I’m really quite methodical when it comes to domestic affairs. I really can’t be stopped once I get started, and even intense physical seduction would at best have only an even money chance of getting me to stop. Things being orderly for me has become, like many other ticks in my life, something that both agitates and calms me. I cannot stand to have it undone, but the completion is a soothing font of absolution from which I draw a few precious drops of solace. In general, as people get older they tend to collect more and more things; things that are only partially, seldom, or never used at all. Having these things around, around contributing to the eternally degrading condition of my domicile’s cleanliness, is a constant and ever-widening needle in the back of my head. And so to futilely (but nobly) combat this unwinnable war of decaying consumer goods, I more and more often participate in free markets, yard sales, or what have you. I don’t even need money for these things, for if it was truly of any value than I’d be using it frequently, because that’s how I purchase things. Nothing of any consequence is bought on a whim or without deep deliberation as to how much it truly will be used in my life. I am my father, only twenty years ahead of schedule in all areas except marriage, parenting, and financial stability, the later of which is of very little importance to me until the other two come into play, which don’t seem to be for some time, judging by the incredible resonating growth of my ambitions.

The real purpose behind this blog was to talk about how I’ve woken up this week to realize that living in Japan has become trivial (in terms of effort, a la Dave Luebke) to me. I can read, speak, listen, and survive with a minimal amount of effort. I know where to buy what for how much, and all the important ratios and benchmarks of my tiny, insignificant life (like calories to yen, adjusted for vitamin content). Today, in three hours, I went to Office Max, Kinko’s, Horiuchi, Seikaido, lunch, and lastly the drug and liquor stores, procuring a wide range of information and consumer goods for an affordable price. Postcards may be printed at Kinko’s for about 63 yen a piece, from which I will sell them for 150-200. The color most certainly will not match exactly, since this isn’t Horiuchi, but these are acceptable discrepancies in light of how simple and cheap it will be to have them fabricated. Accordingly, I will select images which do not rely on shadow or subtle color differences, as translation of the gamma of my monitor to the tone of their laser printer is sure to be quite incongruous. Horiuchi has almost all of the prints prepared to my satisfaction. A large shot of west Shinjuku must once more be redone as a direct, manual enlargement, and dust spots need to be removed from the corner of an image of an apartment building in Nakano Shimbashi.

I bought a carrying case for my humble products, but was dismayed to find that the classic brown cardboard-style portfolio, which I toted in and out of Brooks Hall so frequently at Virginia, is no longer vogue. Now I have a more durable, less campy, black plastic B3 wallet to take my shots to and from the printer. Drafting tape was also procured, at the advice of Mari-san, for attaching my delicate gems to the fiberboard walls. I realize now that I forgot screw-in hooks to mount the walls with, but I’ll look at plain old nails tonight and see if that will suffice.

I made off with a bevy of household cleaners, toiletries, and paper products for about the price of three days’ food, and since these will all last at least two months, I am pleased. So pleased, in fact, that I treated myself to a bottle of (marked) organic Chateau La Mau Bastit Bordeaux, with which to inspire me throughout this writing, and the music experimentation with which I will soon follow.

Life is my ocean, and how I cross it reflects the tension and slack I fumble through each day, like the sails on an old, wooden ship– with the rise and fall of the sea I flutter and fall empty, then billow in the wind and cut through sweat-moistened evenings of salt and contentment by the eternal arc of the sun.

Getting there

Today was the first day in a long time that I left work with a truly clear conscience. My performance lately has been abysmal, and it’s most certainly an attitude thing, where difficulty hamstrings confidence which drives me in to a downward spiral of being able to think clearly, rest, etc. But, in any case I woke up fairly early today, and had time to prepare breakfast and lunch, in addition to getting a shave and the trash out. That and the cold front that swept in last night put me in a good mood, and it went up from there. Of course I’m never ecstatic to get home from work after midnight, but with a couple more days like today, I may actually have a day off before the show next weekend.

My bullet list is down to the finer points, and though there are question marks still hanging around for some things (like how I’m going to get all this oversized lumber to Odaiba without it getting destroyed), all of the difficult things should be taken care of in the next seventy-two hours. It’s hard work, and there are as many mundane steps as there are inspiring ones. The crux of this weekend is securing printers for the more professional bits, and doing in theatre what we call a “technical rehearsal” with props, before going off-book next Saturday. I suppose what I’m looking forward to most is building the “set”. There’s something very satisfying about assembling something out of wood and metal. I only hope I can match a fraction of the quality my father would produce if he were handling the affair.

I checked the prints at Horiuchi yesterday, for the most part they looked pretty good. It’s going to cost me an arm and a leg, but this is my first show, and all things considered I think it’s going pretty well. Although I maintain a subdued appearance now (I’m almost 27), I have no doubt that come next weekend, I won’t be able to sleep from all the energy streaming out of my pores. They’ll have to peel me off the rafters before striking the set. It won’t take much of an effort for me to generate the effervescent caricature of myself I’m thinking of playing at the show. I wonder kind of advice Roger De Bris would give me in preparing my repertoire.

Holding My Thoughts in My Heart

Tonight, after much effort and a little luck, I at last took a great step forward into my little personal renaissance. I finally got the Edirol, Cakewalk, Sound Canvas, and microKORG to all work together. What this means is I can bask in eighteen voice MIDI polyphony to my heart’s content, or have percussion back my performance on the synth and record all of the sound to digital audio.

Unsurprisingly, as a helpful poster noted in a reply to my post on Usenet, I have “experienced serious ‘lost time’ episodes.” However, despite his concerns, I believe that I can generate enough music for the show in time, as now that I have the Edirol working, I plan on trying to get in a little playing time each night. The other thing my astute colleague noted was that hobbyists often end up spending thousands of dollars before they know it. I must not be a serious hobbyist yet because I can only count about four hundred. I have a monitor, mixer, and synth all donated to my collection. [Don’t ask me how much I’ve put into photography this year, though.]

Of course, true to my introverted, sentimental gamer roots, the first thing I did to test the KORG and Roland working together was play a selection of the more touching ballads from Final Fantasy VII. But enough of that…I have to spend just a few minutes with the Edirol and the KORG, to make sure we’re all on the same page.

This is definitely a very exciting time indeed. I don’t want to sleep, but I know I have to if I’m going to make it through the next few weeks.

Like my boss always reminds us, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” If only I could come up with something that didn’t look totally tasteless for my personal business cards, though.

Searching for beauty in my own flawed eyes

I think that is going to be the title of my piece next month. It’s quite fitting, for it encapsulates so much of what has gone into this production, as well as the underlying mission I so often instinctively charge myself with. My photography is flawed and the disparate mess of a novice. But I have already learned more in the last two months than I have in the last three years in terms of what it’s going to take to get better. So, this art show is already a success. No one has to come and see it, no one has to buy a single piece of photography. I am already proud of myself– an increasingly rare occurrence.

Recently, I’ve somehow managed to find time to cook lunch for myself, four days a week. However, my mother’s spaghetti sauce is still nearly intolerable due to the only ground meat available being composed of a pork and beef “mix”.

I have the materials for my photographic display. I spent over two hours at a home improvement center in Tachikawa last Saturday. I made the potentially fatal mistake of not leaving leeway, hopefully I won’t hang for it. I started tonight’s two-plus hour session by laying out the proofs I have right now to get an idea of how many photographs I can display. It seems we’re looking at 18-28, depending on print size, poetry usage, and any other decorations I end up adding to the facade. Unfortunately a mediocre pass on my print stock right now leaves me with just under two dozen shots, so I’ll cram another two rolls if possible this weekend before turning it all over to iterative printing at Horiuchi.

Per the always spot-on advice of Rodney, I got an Edirol UA-1EX last weekend after scouring all of Akihabara. Now I can record the music from the synth with a lot more fidelity (24-bit 96Khz). Now if I can only get a power supply for the Sound Canvas, and figure out how to use the damn thing without a manual, I may just generate the minimum one hour of music I need for the show. This will probably happen mostly in the next two weeks because of the scant amount of time I have to work with the printer on color matching.

I have more words that I’m satisfied with than I do digital camera pictures, which means that if I thought about it, I may very well try to look for some common threads and patch together a boring and fragmented manuscript of my thoughts. For this time, though, I’ll print out some torn, faded tidbits of verve to caulk around my pictures. I’m worried all of the flavor will be lost in translation though; I could never do my feelings justice in another language. But, such is life. I am young, I am learning. I will build greater halls in the future.

After the show is over and I decompress from the ridiculous amounts of frothing stress, I’ll put together something nice on the main site so you can see what you missed. And who knows, maybe you’ll want to put a little brown bread into my burbling stomach, and buy a print.

I haven’t been this focused and excited about anything in ages. I am slicing into this project with a deadly, single-minded efficiency that is startling even me. Thank God.