Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, November 28, 2008

In Lieu of Thursday Thanksgiving...

...which I was totally unable to recognize in any substantial form here in the Land of the Rising Yen...

Allow me to give you Five Friday Faves (with a tip of the hat and best holiday wishes to Nikkipolani)(and this time it'll be the real thing, not a sarcastic alter-ego). Actually, what I'll do is combine the two; it'll be Five Friday Faves in the the flesh, but Thanksgiving in heart and spirit. I guess you could call it a Friday Counting of Blessings, or maybe even a "Day-After Thanksgiving". Yeah, that's the ticket.

(Excuse me, what was that? Eh? "Get on with it?" Right, gotcha. Anyway...)

1. Atarimae Blessings. The word "atarimae" in Japanese is normally interpreted as "obvious" or "it goes without saying", but a more direct translation of the words would be "right there in front of your face" [atari - hit/strike, the very front edge of something][mae - before, in front of]. Yes, the most obvious blessings are generally what's right there in front of you, i.e. life, love, people close to you, the fact that you have a far better time of things than the majority of people on this planet, etc.. Those of us that have homes that aren't being flooded, burned, shot at, blown up, or yanked out from under us, that have stable jobs and therefore more or less stable lifestyles, that live together with families that aren't broken or sadly disfunctional, that aren't suffering from hideous diseases, that aren't risking their lives every time they go out the front door, should stop and think just how fortunate we really are. No matter how stressed out with things we can tend to get (and complain about it all at length on blogs), there are many, many people out there that would give almost anything to be in our shoes.

2. The Human Touch. In the modern, high-tech, corporate-run world, it's always refreshing to see things done in a very human and personal way, even if it seems totally insignificant. I mean things like being able to pull off do-it-yourself repairs at home in a society that firmly believes in leaving everything to (obscenely overpriced) "experts". Or a clerk at the customer service counter at a large and very busy store who still not only goes out of his way to help you out but treats you almost like an old friend as he does so. (I suppose it's possible he was a former student. I don't know.) Or a nice double cappuccino bought from a guy who makes and sells them in a van parked in front of said store. (Espresso wagons are very rare here.) Or postal workers that can laugh along with your linguistic bloopers instead of laughing at them...or turning into a mass of jitters at the slightest breach of protocol (or sight of a foreigner, for that matter). Yes, humanity is still alive and well, and I can be thankful for it.

3. Exceeded Expectations. It's always nice when you don't really expect someone to be able to do something, but they do it anyway. It's even better if someone you've dismissed as hopeless proves you totally wrong. Teachers and parents alike want those in their charge to do well. I'm sure most business and political leaders hope for something roughly similar. It's easy to expect too much from someone believed to be a "wunderkind"...and to be disappointed when they don't, can't, or won't deliver. However, I'd say it's far, far better to see the underdog win. It's amazing to sit and read a clever, engaging, multi-page composition written by a kid who whined if he had to write two sentences only a few years before. Or to see youth musicians dismissed as "unmotivated, untalented, and unreliable" suddenly rising to a seemingly impossible task and pulling it off with smiles on their faces. Or to have one of your children suddenly given a special award by the city government for a "brilliant composition" that both you and the child had thought to be a routine (and half-assed) assignment. I'm not gonna take any bows. I'll let the kids do that. I'll just stand in the corner and be proud.

4. The Simple Pleasures that Make It Worthwhile. Good music. Good beer. A nice, warm snuggle on a cold evening. Good wine. Good music. Good cheese. A cat purring in your lap. Good chocolate. Good music. A nice backrub on a rainy night. Good music. Finding a new road with interesting scenery as the result of a wrong turn. Driving over water on your way to work. Seeing beautiful sunsets over faraway mountains on your way back home. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Coke & Myers Rum. Good music. Being able to forget everything on a lazy afternoon. Picking up a nearby musical instrument and suddenly having a new tune come to mind. Seeing people enjoy something you've made. BLUE. Green. Good music.

5. The Technology That Makes This Possible. And why not? Living as I am, still something of a stranger in a persistently strange land, it's good to have the magic of the internet to help me both to forget my state of "exile" and to join something even bigger. That fact that people are even reading this is testament to that. Those that actually comment or e-mail me make it even better. Isolated, perhaps, but never alone. I guess I owe Yahoo!, Google, Apple, Mozilla, and (I'm now even more willing to admit) Microsoft a round of thanks. Oh, and Sun. And Grisoft, I suppose. And Lavasoft. And Edirol/Roland. And Midisoft. And Finale. And Sibelius. And Yamaha. And Line6. And Fender. And...oh, fuggidalreddy.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

And now, just for fun, here's my latest tune, a fun, experimental (and kind of tweaked) instrumental called "Not Baroquen In". More info is available on my Minstrel's Muse site.

More to come soon!


  • I love your five faves, MM! You are so right about #2 -- friendliness and helpfulness go a long way in the retail experience. And especially when you need tech support! Sorry you couldn't participate in anything particularly turkey/pumpkin-like, but I had two Thanksgiving dinners so I've made up for it for you :-D

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:46 AM  

  • That is as fine a list of items as I've seen. Wunderbars all around!

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 10:30 AM  

  • I nominate "Not Baroquen In" for the new Disney Lights Parade theme music. (They need a fresh tune).

    And your 5 faves are indeed worthy of thanks.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:05 PM  

  • Happy Thanksgiving! :D

    By Blogger Selba, at 9:55 AM  

  • So the Atari computer.....was sort of on the cutting edge, the forefront of technology when it came out?

    That "Not Baroquen In" has flashes of Cirque du Soleil in it!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 4:08 PM  

  • Nikkipolani
    Does that mean I owe you a refund if I wind up having a late Thanksgiving feast? ;-)

    Vielen Dank! (And pass the cranberry sauce!)

    I recently looked at the comment thread of a post on in which people were seriously ripping on Mannheim Steamroller, a musical group I count among my many and varied favorites (though they are admittedly a lot more commercial now than they were in the beginning). Someone said their Christmas music was "less soulful than Disney's Electrical Parade".

    Hey, if your recommendation means I'm on par with M.S., then I take it as a compliment!

    Thanks, Selba! Same to you!

    Atari has put out a number of products over the years, all of which were considered cutting edge at the time. Yes, that's very much what the name means.

    The music they have on that promo video for Cirque du Soleil is sure cool! I'll take that as a compliment, too!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:47 PM  

  • A nice lists of blessings, Moody. Thank you for the gratitude reminders. In particular I'm glad to know the term to apply to what's in front of my face. Atarimae!

    And "Not Baroquen In" captures for me the essence of the joyful rushing around of this season. It's feverish and happy. You are talented, man!

    And over at my place, you are tagged.

    By Blogger San, at 9:09 AM  

  • Nice Five Faves!

    My personal favourites?
    Lets see..
    I'll pick 2.. 4.. 1.. 3.. and 5 then. Oh wait is that all?

    About the song.. I loved it :D, the beat seemed sooo cheeky-like, lol. Another masterpiece of yours!

    And oh, i forgot to introduce myself..

    Well, i'm YD's lil' brother, aged 15 - wonder if you still remember YD? *wink wink*

    By Blogger ❤ IceGlacial™ ❤, at 11:37 PM  

  • San
    Welcome back, and thanks!

    The image of running around like a chicken with its head cut off (i.e. my normal state for at least the past three months) was precisely what inspired the piece.

    Welcome! Glad you could join us! (Though it sounds like you've been here before a time or two or six.)

    Yes, I remember YD very well. I also know I'm not the only one who has been wondering what happened to her. Just busy, I guess. Anyway, I'm happy to "meet" you!

    Hmm...aged so many of my students... ;-)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 4:10 PM  

  • Definitely meant as a compliment.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:45 PM  

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