Thursday, June 14, 2012

Laryngitis = no fun at all!

I miss talking.

I was in the middle of a conversation on Saturday night when suddenly my voice just stopped coming out. Seriously. One word was totally fine and the next was all "squeak squeak scratch scratch, huh!"

Saturday night. Then on Sunday I decided to keep talking all day anyway, but it was just weird sounds coming out of my mouth, and it was painful. Then Monday was even WORSE. I had to go teach after school, and it took such effort to get words out of my mouth that I almost threw up.

Then Tuesday I woke up and called Kristen to tell her Happy Birthday (have you voted for her yet? You have one day left, and it's super easy, so DO IT NOW: VOTE FOR THE AWESOMENESS OF KRISTEN BAKER!!!!), and we could only talk for about 5 minutes because it was so painful. And then when I got to school and tried to speak, nothing came out. I literally couldn't speak a word for the entire day.

I even had to go to work and was all gestures and dancing and CD, because the words just weren't coming out of my mouth.

Today, THURSDAY, it is FINALLY starting to get a little bit better, but frankly, I still sound like I'm crying instead of speaking. And it hurts. And every time I say more than a sentence or two at a time, I start coughing like a psycho maniac.

I am sure this is very interesting to you all. It's just that I'm just so over it - I love to talk! I want to talk! Dear voice, PLEASE come back to me!

In other news, I bought my tickets to go see Ayabie, and I am more than excited beyond belief! I thus leave you with a song I've been totally digging lately:

It's only a short clip, but I am SO into the way 夢人(Yumehito, the singer) sort-of throws his voice around. The singer of Knock Out Monkey does the same thing, and I more than love it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

飲み会 and Black Fail

Apparently, I've gone blog updating crazy.  I mean, for serious - every day since June 4, minus yesterday.

Rachael came to Okazaki to spend the weekend with me, and on Saturday night, we met up with my old students from the office English class I used to teach for a 飲み会 (nomikai - drinking party). Madness ensued.

Apparently, I make Naoki crazy, because, according to the new guy in their class, he was totally normal until I got there, and then he went completely insane. I really missed him, though, and Ryouko and the whole class really, so it was great to see them again.

Then Megumi got drunk and told us all about how she is learning karate. I made the mistake of jokingly telling her that she should practice on Naoki, and:

She was definitely way more into it than the picture shows, by my picture taking skills are definitely not to be noted.

Anyone who knows my knows how much I absolutely LOVE making 変顔 (hengao - funny faces - Kristen and I and Martin and I have huge collections of them). Apparently, Naoki is also a fan of the hengao, so we must have spent a good half hour or more just making stupid faces.

Naoki and I were definitely the best at 変顔

It was seriously awesome to get to see them all again and see that they're doing well - WHY does their class have to be on Saturday? I got to speak Japanese the whole night, too, which was awesome (well, except at the end, when I lost my voice and then couldn't talk anymore).

After, Glen (also known as Takeru), who is the new teacher of their class, came over to my place after, and we had a pseudo dance party je sais meme pas quoi at my place, with just the three of us.

Glen somewhat fell in love with the posters I have on my wall of 三浦翔平 (Miura Shouhei) and 山本裕典 (Yamamoto Yuusuke) - I mean, naturally, who wouldn't?

Good times were had, and we danced and acted like weirdos until about 3 AM. I was naturally reminded of that song by the Unlovables "Dance party for two, me and you," except that we were three (on a side note, I miss the Unlovables - won't they put out a new album soon?)

Because no post would be complete without a music video of some sort attached.

Then today Rachael and I went and hung out at Aeon for a while, and we were talking about how I'm old and my hair is all grey, and she was all "Maybe you should die it," and I was all, "Yeah, maybe I could do black." So we bought some black hair dye and tried to dye my hair back, but unfortunately it was a mega fail (I really didn't know you could ever fail with black), and my hair pretty much didn't change colors at all. :-( (and by pretty much I mean it is still exactly the same color as it was before I started)

And I realize the complete pointlessness of this post but,. . .I believe in pointlessness. Yes.

and on that note, お休みなさい。

Friday, June 08, 2012

Sakae Spring 2012, サカスプ2012 DAY 2

Note: Those that get this by e-mail, go to the actual page if you want to see the youtube links.

So, after a late night out Saturday (I actually didn't finally go to sleep until around 3 in the morning), I woke up and Rachael and I headed to the onsen (good job, Saya, on picking a hotel with a 露天風呂- rotenburo, even if I am now even more broke than the already broke I was) (Saya and Mari had to get ready for their dates; they skipped out on day 2) for a relaxing soak to get us ready for a day of concert hopping.

Then we met up with Steven and Nate and headed over to Magic Theater for


I've been hearing about MILKBAR for ages (I guess their friends with some other bands I like) and listening to them on youtube. They're kinda slow, kinda folksy, kinda rock, and, in a perhaps weird way, they remind me somewhat of the Radwimps.
Nate thought they were kind of boring, but I thought they were an absolutely perfect start to a day of concert hopping. The singer was incredibly passionate about what he was singing, to the point that, with his last song, crying out "君に涙、僕に涙” I actually almost started crying myself. I definitely wanted to go home and listen to the song a thousand times over again.
They've also got a stand-up bass, which adds a a sort-of unexpected and extremely pleasant level to their sound. Totally into them!


So then we headed downstairs to Ozon (how convenient that Ozon and Magic Theater are in the same building) for a band that I love and had previously seen several times.
They did a song for an anime that both Rachael and Steven love (Dararara or something - I've never heard of it), so they got super into it. Naturally. They have a sort-of rock/hip-hop/pop sound that really appeals to me, and they even have a couple songs (i.e. Eggmate of the Year) that are super pop-punky. <3
I also saw them at Sakae Spring 2011, and it was sort-of amazing to realize how big they've gotten. The crowd was at least 3 times larger than it was last year when I saw them at R.A.D. Probably even more than three times larger. Apparently, they also did a song for Bleach - apparently, you do an anime song, you get big.
Anyhow, as expected, they totally totally ROCKED!

Flip played after ROOKIEZ is PUNK'D at Ozon, and I kind of wanted to stick around and see them. But Steven and Rachael were hungry, so we went down to get them pizza, and when I sat down, my feet said thank you, so we just chilled for a bit.


And I'm glad we did chill for a bit, because in the end we headed over to Tight Rope a bit early to see Real Reach, and as such, we got to see the last few songs of The ROOTLESS, a band I'd never heard of before, who was AMAZING.
Pure rock, at least the songs we saw. And with a huge crowd - there were seriously so many people in Tight Rope that I'm surprised they let us in. (I've just discovered that they have a song in One Piece, which would explain the crowd)
While they are totally not visual kei, I found that they kind of had a bit of a visual kei sound (though I'm sure they would NOT like to hear that), and I was thus totally into it.


I love Real Reach. Like seriously love them. Totally American 90's style punk rock, done to Japanese perfection. They're one of the first Japanese bands I ever got into (along with Special Thanks, Stompin' Bird, Shachi, and Saboten), and I have literally been trying to find a way to get to see them ever since getting to Japan.
As they seem to be 名古屋(Nagoya)based, this really shouldn't have been hard, and yet. . .somehow literally every time they've played, I've not been able to go.
So after two years of trying, Sakae Spring 2012 was my first time, and it was even more awesome than I possibly could have expected. I actually even accidentally moshed and had a great time doing it (I don't think I've enjoyed moshing since I was, like, 21ish).
And when they were doing their towel song (every Japanese band seems to have a neck towel song), one of the dudes threw his neck towel in my direction, and it landed on my head, but I was so busy jumping around like a crazy person that I didn't notice until the person beside me stole it off my head.
THEY WERE SO AWESOME! Definitely the highlight of my day!


The discovery of the day - The Clutch! (Guillaume says we should change their name to Les punks de la foret) Since on Saturday, all of the awesome bands seemed to be playing at X-Hall, after Real Reach we headed over there and managed to see a good bit of the Clutch's set.
And they totally rocked. For serious. There is something about Japanese rockers doing what I think of as epitaph-style punk that's just really perfect. They totally brought back memories of listening to Hi-Standard in high school, of road trips to Lake Charles on the weekend to see whatever band the L.A.D.S had planned (I realize that probably means next to nothing to everyone but me, but just - brought back some mega awesome memories).
It seems rare for me to hear new music like that nowadays that I actually WANT to keep listening to (am I getting old?), but I totally wanted to keep listening to them. More and more and more.


After so much awesome rock, it was time for a bit of a rest, so we headed over to Blue Note for suzumoko, a slower, more folksy singer that I totally love. It was nice to sit down for a bit. We met up with Nate and Joanna there, and they both thought he was boring. Rachael thought he lacked stage presence. Not me.
Sure, he didn't really move a lot around the stage, and he didn't really have much to say, he just stood there singing and singing and singing. And somehow that just felt really intense and powerful to me (I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I associate opening your mouth really big when you sing with passion - as both suzumoko and milkbar singer opened their mouths enormously wide).
Anyhow, it was beautiful.

Knock Out Monkey

Then back to X-Hall for Knock Out Monkey, the last band of the day. I have an album of theirs that I love, so I was totally looking forward to seeing them live, and. . .let's just say that they rocked so hard that they actually managed to beat out Real Reach for best band of the day.
Lots of skanking, moshing, and head-banging. I can't decide if I can call them punk or just rock or what. I guess it doesn't matter - what matters is that they are awesome. Pure awesome. And pure awesome times were had.

All in all, a totally awesome two days, and I'm sort-of sad when I think that this is probably my last Sakae Spring. (I just have to keep reminding myself that next year I will be going to Insubordination Fest).
Two bands of the day I'm sad I missed: BIGMAMA and Howl Actions. I'd actually never heard of BIGMAMA before, but the singer of Glory Jackpot System recommended them, so I listened when I got home, and I totally LOVE. THey were at Quattro, though, and I really didn't think it would be possible to get in.
I could be wrong, but I think Howl Actions is from 岡崎 (Okazaki). Anyhow, they're really good, but they were playing at the same time as Real Reach, so that was out before it was in.

And this is extraordinarily long (I can't help it - I love music!), and I doubt anyone will read it all the way through. Except maybe me in the me future.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Sakae Spring 2012、 サカスプ2012 DAY 1

So, last year, I went to Sakae Spring 2011 in 栄(Sakae) in 名古屋 (Nagoya), and it was so awesome and I discovered so many amazing bands that I of course had to return again this year.

I was originally planning to only go on Sunday, but in the end I was somehow talked into going both days (I assure you, it wasn't hard) and eventually found myself in possession of a 2-day pass. Frankly, I'm glad I decided to go for both!! :-) We'll start with day 1 and later move on to day 2.


After work in 三好 (Miyoshi), I headed straight over to 名古屋(Nagoya), where I met up with Rachael, Mari, and Saya to get boba on our way over to the first concert of the day.


Since I posted their video a few days ago, a picture.

I'd seen them several times before, and each time I liked them even more and more. I think this time was definitely their best, though. I don't know if it's because they sound better inside (previously, I'd only seen 野外ライブ-outdoor show) or if it's just because they're actually getting better or because I'm starting to know the songs, but, well, they were awesome.
The bassist is amazingly psycho crazy when he plays (really, just n'importe quoi), to the point in which it almost makes me wish I were learning to play the bass and not the guitar.
In any case, they all look like they're having so much fun, and it totally makes me want to have fun with them!
Just my opinion, but I think they totally have potential to go far.


Try as I might, I can't find a video.
They played at X-Hall right after alfabeto, and we stayed to watch them because I liked the look of them. I'm glad we did, because these guys were seriously awesome. Punk rock like I think it's supposed to be, with a sound I wouldn't even begin to know how to describe. They seemed like the could care less about the crowd, which somehow fit with the image I immediately formed of them.

They also seemed crazy. I felt like I wanted to be friends with the bassist with his bleached blonde hair and short shorts (what is it with me wanting to be friends with bassists?), and I was almost afraid of the keyboardist. He was wearing a pink sweater under overalls, and the way he played kind of reminded me of:
well, you know how sometimes in horror movies, people get lost in small towns full of crazy inbred people that want to either breed with them or eat them? He reminded me of one of the people you would run into in one of those villages who would then later chase you around with an axe.
It somehow made his keyboard playing more passionate.

And the singer. Definitely gay. Quite probably insane. For the last song, they had these red and blue strobe lights flashing all over them, and he had this look in his eyes like maybe he'd just escaped from a mental institute. I seriously felt frightened for a moment. He also seemed to be chewing gum the whole time.
In any case, whatever they were trying to do, they totally pulled it off, and if they ever get around to putting something out, I'll definitely be getting a copy.

Glory Jackpot System

The first time I saw them was at Sakae Spring 2011, and after that show, they seemed to have all these groupy girls around them squealing, and at the time, while I liked them, I didn't get it. The second time I saw them, once again the same thing, and while I didn't get the attraction to the band MEMBERS, I got the music.
They have this sort-of hip-hop, electro-pop rock maybe somehow mixed in with a little bit of punk sound that. . .how to describe it. It's like when you eat a new food for the first time, and it tastes like nothing you've ever tasted before but it's like this pleasant explosion of wonderful happiness on your tongue, even though you don't really understand it. That's what their music is like for the ears. Which is probably why I didn't get it the first time, because I couldn't fully wrap my mind around it.
Anyhow, they totally rocked, and the crowd was totally totally into it.
And I might have fallen just a little bit in love with the singer, Karo (I finally get the squealy girls), who jumped down into the middle of the audience and did the doofiest yet awesomest dance ever. Rock!

going out

After that, we tried to go see 黒猫チェルシー (Kuroneko chelsea), because Saya likes them, but unfortunately the line to get into the club was super long, and by the time we finally left, it was too late to have time to go see any other bands. So Saturday was, unfortunately, a 3 band day (there was a lot of walking around between bands, because everyone walks slower than I do and I had a ton of stuff I had to deposit at the hotel we were staying at, since we were planning to go out). Still, awesome times were had.

After, we met up with Miho and Will and some of Saya's friends and headed out to Club ID - I didn't take any pictures, and thus I give you: Saya's collage.

This is already super long, so. . .Sakae Spring Day 2 to come soon (maybe even today)!!!!

Monday, June 04, 2012

I'm sorry about the sun, how could I know that you would burn

I just realized that I totally forgot to write yesterday about the annular solar eclipse. Apparently, it was the first time you've been able to see it in Japan in hundreds of years.

The Sunday before, I went several places looking for solar eclipse glasses, but because I'd waited until the last minute, there of course were none. I decided to wake up early Monday morning to go check it out anyway.

Unfortunately, it was super cloudy in Okazaki in the morning, so when I got there, there was nothing to see anyway.

When I got there, I met up with some friends, and luckily one of them had bought a ton of solar eclipse glasses from amazon, a pair of which he was kind enough to let me borrow.

Us hanging out in our solar eclipse glasses. At that point, we actually couldn't see a single thing. The only thing you can see through those glasses is the sun, so wearing them was a little bit, in a way, like being blind. Anyhow, I was glad to have them, because when it did clear up, it meant I didn't have to look at everything through the pond.

To be honest, the brightness of the sun was so bright that it actually hurt my eyes a bit looking at it in the pond. When it finally did clear up enough for us to see it, it was actually towards the end, so we didn't get to see the "annular" part. Still, it was pretty cool. A picture taken through the glasses of the moon taking a bite out of the sun:

And I leave you with the song from the title of this post:

Bad Religion - yeah, totally one of the greatest punk rock bands. And The Gray Race - totally one of the greatest punk rock albums of all time. (Yes, I do realize that this song is from Stranger Than Fiction)


Iroiro iroiro iroiro


こんばんは。 And now the Japanese will stop, as no one that reads this can speak Japanese.

I love how every time I write I write about how I'm planning to start writing more often. I really really AM planning to start writing more often. . .but as well all know, plans don't always go. . .as planned.

First of all, before heading over to Tokyo, I went to Kasugai to meet up with my friend Yuuki, and we tried to go to a pottery museum (well, really it was the donburi kaikan), but it was unfortunately closed. Luckily, there was an awesome view!

And there were fun things outside.

And there was this really cool froggy thing that we tried to take a picture in front of, but unfortunately I just got us and not the frog.

Then Tokyo was AWESOME! It was so great to see Martin again and just get to hang out. The first morning we woke up and went to a Hawaiian festival.

There was this huge beautifully pink store at the metro stop where we arrived, and I got to ride on my very first unicorn.

It was awesome.

Then we watched muscular men with creepy smiles dancing around in grass skirts.

This also was sort-of awesome.

Then Martin and I went to go eat food at Hanada Rosso, and, though it was a little bit expensive, the veggie burgers were, as always DELICIOUS!!!!

Obviously, us being us, it wouldn't be an Audrey/Martin weekend together without a little bit of karaoke.

The next day Martin had to have lunch with some friends, so I headed on over to the Shibuya area for a delicious lunch at Pure Cafe. On my way, I saw this super cool flower thing.

And after lunch, since I was there, I of course had to go check out Shibuya 109.

It was Golden Week, so it was literally so packed that I could barely breathe. There was even a mega sale going on in one of my favorite stores, JSG, was even having a sale, and I didn't go. I just took a quick look around before being so overwhelmed by people that I just had to leave. On the way back to meet Martin, Kame-chan and Eita were next to each other in the subway. I was very happy. (Yes, I realize, I am a 12 your old girl in my head, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that this would make happy).

Oh, I also got to eat at Little Heaven while I was there, just one of the two best pizza places in the world (the other, was, oddly enough, in Budapest). Pure happiness. Other than that Martin and I just did a lot of being Martin and Audrey - talking, catching up, hanging out. It was so good to see him again. MARTIN, COME BACK TO OKAZAKI!!!! Back in Aichi, I got to hang out with Steven for the first time since being back.

We went to get his ears pierced. It was cool to get to hang out again. Other than that, I've just been hanging out with Rachael alot. Apparently that band Alfabeto plays at Sound Street ALL THE TIME (I asked the bassist, he said they play most Saturdays), because Rachael and I have managed to see them what seems like a bagazillion times now. The first time, as you'll recall, I liked the music, but I like it more and more every time I hear them. I don't know if it's because they're getting tighter as a group or because I'm getting more used to their songs, but I've been really into them.

Check em out:

I think I might have a friend crush on the bassist (you know, when you think someone seems cool and you feel like you want to be friends with them but you realize it will probably never happen). His name's Toshi, and he likes Hey Smith, and he's super funny and crazy and nice, and I feel like he could introduce me to lots of cool bands.

This past weekend, I went to Sakae Spring 2012, but it's past midnight, so that will be for next time (which will hopefully be SOON).

But, since I'm writing, two things: First, my sister was nominated for the AWESOME award at this Tread on Trafficking thing that she is doing. It's a super amazing cause working to help stop sex trafficking of girls, so click on the link and vote for her (it's super easy to do and will take two seconds of your time) and learn a little bit more about treading on trafficking. DO IT NOW! (and obviously you'll be voting for Kristen Baker, because she's the awesomest of the awesome)

Secondly, my friend Asha has been trying to gain money for a project she's working on using Kickstarter. So click this link and check out The Places We've Been, and if you think it's awesome, which you surely will, donate! Minimum pledge is $5 - you definitely won't regret it!

Oh, and one more thing. I am somewhat obsessed with this song:

I have listened to it about 20,000 times today. It is awesome. I can't get enough.

And until next time, which will hopefully be very soon.