I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another song and announcement of an album recording

In the 5th grade we began learning guitar at school with Beth, our music teacher (remember I went to a crazy 'hippie' school where the creativity flowed like wine and the wine flowed like spring Georgia pollen and insurrection was encouraged). Soon after I got my first guitar, and I've always enjoyed playing here and there, but I never tried seriously to pursue anything sort of path. Somehow or another, since coming to Japan I've written in the neighborhood of 20 songs.

Last week I played with a friend at his show in Kyoto (pictures to come). His name's Mike Bass and he's a crackerjack of a musician. He plays his guitar like a drum while he sings, somehow maintaining a pristine rhythm. Click on his name above for the link to his blog and info. We've been playing together for the last couple of months, and we're going to continuing doing shows together (more info to come).
And finally this winter (Jan-Feburary-ish) I'm going to go into a recording studio to lay down the tracks for my first demo. Mike of course will be joining me for a few numbers as well.

So take it from me: sometimes if you have enough heart and good intentions, you can do something wonderful without having amazing talent. Pay no mind to the mind-gobblers who say that you cannot be good enough unless you... or the voices inside that say it's to late to learn how to... I practiced sporadically for years where I never looked at a guitar, but this last year I have found a muse in that wooden box with 6 strings and I am going to pull the she-demon and and coax her with my resonating tones and sometimes sour melodies.

By the way, here's a new song I wrote about two Alexanders. 1) The Great of ancient Greece and 2) The Magnificent, Alexander Willard of Georgia (my cousin). It's a epic song, of which there are sadly not enough of these days. Because I'm telling a lyrical story this song lacks the rhyming and meter conventionalities.

Alexander’s Homecoming

Well Alexander never thought he’d find himself here again,
the place of too much sun and endless sand,
he took his army and won his women but not all went as planned,
although the flowers were nice, the flowers were nice.
Now a little voice, from a little man, in an unknown faraway land,
tells Alexander to go back there and fight,
the man puts a helmet on his head and a weapon in his hand,
but not like the glorious, heavy ones from millennia ago.
Alexander grabs the reigns of his modern steed,
a bulletproof humvee,
he tosses bombs on Babylon without seeing his enemy,
in olden days his nose would tingle at the smell of blood,
but burning oil and sulphur are nauseating.

Alexander knows the battlefield and has studied strategy,
but his new nation kills indifferently.
these hands were once a sculptor’s
and could halve a shielded man,
but now they only atrophy under mundane button pressing.

Where are you Zeus?
Why have you let mortals forget your brother Hades?
Their respect for the dead?
I need you Aristotle to guide me in truth,
where are you Hannibal, I crave a even match?

I hope that Harry Truman is weeping on his Promethian stone,
I hope our burning bush drowns in the rain,

I was lauded as a warrior,
I was crowned a Persian King,
and now I abjure the throne.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Good night moon, Apollo.

Due to my incompetent management of this blog, recent developments are running a few months behind when they actually occurred. This is our second kitten, Apollo. He arrived back in August to provide Sami, who was dreadfully homesick for his brothers and sisters, with a new family. Because Katie and I are at school half of the day, Sami was left alonely. It was clear that without another friend we would not be able to keep Sami. Neighbors would have surely complained to our landlord about the cat cries coming all day from the apartment next door, which isn't supposed to have cats, ironically. Luckily some nearby friends in Hikone introduced us to Apollo, who was also an only child, and thus we have two completely unrelated brothers.

(By the way, please check out the website of the friends who gave us Apollo, Susan and David. They started and manage an animal shelter out of their home in Shiga to vaccinate and neuter/spay stray cats they find around their area, and trust me, there are plenty. I really want to support these two much more in their efforts to provide treatment and care for halfway-domesticated animals that still roam the streets, because unfortunately there is no humane society in Japan for cats and dogs. If there is, I've never seen or heard of it. The most common way of dealing with animals that are a nuisance is to tie them up in a plastic bag and toss then in a nearby river.)

Apparently David found weekling Apollo hiding under a car in a parking lot from ravens who were trying to attack him. The poor little guy was quite timid and underweight, but Susan and David nursed him back to health. Some of Apollo's abnormal weaning behavior suggests that he lost his mother and family within the first week or so after being born. Even after months of training, every now and then Apollo tries to suckle on our fingers or neck as if they are nipples. He also does not have much awareness for other people's space, and repeatedly steps on us and Sami when he is passing through without noticing. I just think he's a dog. Apollo plays fetch very well, whereas Sami just looks a the toy disinterestedly like a true cat. Sami carries that feline indifference well, but both are incredibly affectionate. They both love to jump up and nuzzle against us at any time, Sami will even pout if we set him down when he wants attention. Any time we are sleeping they will find a nook in an armpit, or the back of a neck, or just curl up again a stomach or back.

Together they make a great team. Sami has settled down and this last two months with them has been wonderful. We call Sami our little butterball Prine because he curls up like a cheese wheel when he sleeps, and he we tell him no at any time he will sit across the room from us and glare like a little tyrant. He thinks he's being intimidating, but it's just so adorable that I go pick him up and give him big squeeze. It's hard to believe how quickly have adapted to one another. It's hard to believe they are related only through situation.

I think the discussion between Katie and I has concluded with me being the owner of the cats. She already has two in Athens waiting for her, so whatever else happens, after this year they are mine to look after. This will be interesting, because I never expected to be a papa so young, but this is a hypnotic land to say the least.


Friday, October 12, 2007


So two of my former college "roommates" came to visit me over here in Japan a few weeks ago. I say "roommates" because the situation would be more accurately described as, "crashing at their place two times a week or so because my dorm was far and I was constantly on the lam in my POS maroon 1993 Nissan Maxima from the campus parking police." (Those 12.5 are wastes of human resources, really. Can you imagine your job being to go around and make sure that the automobiles are stacked properly and conveniently? Don't people have enough dignity anymore to say no to jobs like that––so self-demeaning and remedial? Apparently not, because, without fail, every time I left my 1993 Maxi-Pad unattended on University property for more than 15 minutes I would get a ticket. $40 @&#*ing dollars that the University would then extort behind threats freezing my student account and prohibiting me from registering for classes until I paid. They stole about $200 from me over four years, the talentless excuses from walking tampons. But the joke's on them, because I somehow racked up another ticket from Japan––a long story involved car titles, lazy friends of friends, and so on––and they have no authority to coerce an alumnus into paying. I've got my diploma already, you heartless metermaids! What can you try and take from me now!!!!)

Now that's a tangent!

Any, so Sean and Sarah came to visit. Here is the rundown.

We look so innocent. And so tall. We stayed in an onsen (hot spring) town the first day, the best part being that you got to wear 下駄、geta=old-fashioned wooden shoes, and robes around the town like royalty. "Everybody is so much friendlier when they are on vacation and only wearing one thin layer in public." There's almost a catch line for nudist colony! There are better movies from later in the night (baring all in the robes) that we haven't figured out how to upload yet.

I don't think many people at 'Black Nikka" headquarters realized what would happen if one voiced the kk sound. This noxious concoction has been the butt of many jokes, "Since 1997."
***Update, the 'Black Nikka' name actually changed just about 2-3 weeks ago: Now they are calling is 'Black Clear Whiskey'. They're getting closer to PC but further from sense.

This scene is perfect for my second albums, entitled "Bears Singing on Bicycles". Honestly, I already had the title chosen months ago. This picture is serendipitously apt for the cover art.

This is after just one hour of karaoke. Somewhere between "Hey Ya" and "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" I ended up in this position. And don't jump to conclusions...it's wasn't the Nikka's fault. This was all due to his green Continental cousin––absinthe. It was a good nap.

I need more naps.