Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, December 12, 2011

Catching Up a Bit

Good grief (if there is such a thing) has been more than a month since I've updated this blog. I guess the Okinawa posts wore me out. Either that or I'm spending wayyyyyy too much time on Facebook. Actually, it's probably both. For now, at least, I'll just try to catch up on recent events for the sake of my readers here who DON'T use Facebook.

Part One: Kashima Jazz vol. 8
They stopped calling it the Kashima Seaside Jazz Festival last year; now it's simply "Kashima Jazz". This year's installment happened on November 19th. As usual, it was a six-hour marathon of music combining pro and amateur acts. As usual, I gave the DJ-style opening greeting. As usual, my school jazz band, the Flying Eggheads, made an appearance. As usual, by sheer dumb luck (though it seems to happen every year), the event coincided with an important event at Ye Olde Academy, making our participation a complicated, migraine-inducing mess.

There was one important difference this year. Although I've always participated in the Festival as director of the Flying Eggheads, and have done various things in support of the event and its staff, this was the first time that I was actually a member of the staff. I was asked to join after last year's event, and though I told them my participation would be limited at best, I've still appeared with them in a number of small concerts over the past year. I also took the stage with KSJ Special Project, the staff band, as the opening act. We had a professional rhythm section, and I stood in the front row together with our band captain (a saxophone teacher and quite a talented player) and a pro tenor sax player. I suppose I had cause to be a little intimidated, and I can't really say it was my best performance, but I had a very good time.

The other acts included a couple of combos, some of whose members were part of the KSJ SP performance, a rather avantgarde ensemble that included violin, accordion, hand percussion, piano and poetry, among other things, and a civic youth band from Shizuoka. The headlining act (which wasn't last) was a well-known pro pianist who graduated from the Berklee College of Music. Backed by an excellent trio with an American drummer, she played long, complicated arrangements of well-known tunes that often included several pieces stacked together if not mixed. The concert bill was finalized by my own Flying Eggheads who, though they are rather weak and inexperienced now, turned in by far their best performance of the year; they were clearly excited and in the groove, and I could tell they were thrilled when it was done.

Part Two: Speaking of Music...
I've been putting as much time into my home studio as I can, and all the new gear I've bought is getting used quite a bit. I'm still not satisfied with it, and will probably get a few more items in the near future, but I'm still able to do a lot more now than I used to be. Even so, I have yet to come up with anything that I'd consider suitable for next year's Torycon (All Japan Amateur Recording Contest). After having been selected as a Judge's Pick this year, I'm giving it a lot more thought...though that might end up working against me. Maybe I'll try remaking some older stuff.

Part Three: Down in the Old Homestead
Frankly speaking, I'm fed up with being an education family, which was never my idea to begin with. All those trips hauling the kids back and forth between home and their cram school lessons are eating up a helluva lot of time, not to mention gasoline. Those still earthquake-damaged roads in the Hinode area near the cram school haven't exactly been good for my BLUE RAV4, either. I've already had to have bent stabilizer rods for the steering system replaced. Five months after my mandatory vehicle inspection, my alignment is clearly off, there are friction noises coming from one of the wheels, and the brakes are being goofy. The cram school headmaster says that both my kids will have no problem getting into Ye Olde Academy, but I have to say I hope it'll be worth even have the cost.

There has also been a price in terms of family stability. My wife in particular is very stubborn about my kids' study habits (read "She won't let them have lives until the tests are done"). The kids, on the other hand, are clearly fed up. We basically can't do anything. We can't even watch videos. My "to be watched" pile is still piled high and will probably only get higher until the entrance exams are done with. It has been kind of frustrating, and there has been a lot of tension.

Meanwhile, my wife's stress over her job has been mounting, while my own job situation has also been very tense. She keeps having other teachers' work dumped on her, for which she rarely gets any credit, and the products of those efforts quite often wind up being ignored. In my case, all the reasons for which I was initially hired by Ye Olde Academy, my main reasons for being there in the first place, are slowly and quietly being taken away. Right now I have no idea at all what I'm going to be doing next year, and I don't like the way things are shaping up. The work atmosphere at the school has been sucking, too, and the tension is seriously starting to get to me. I can't really imagine doing anything else at this point, but to be honest I'm not sure how much of this I can take.

Don't even get me started about my father-in-law...

Anyway, if something post-worthy comes up, I'll put something more substantial on here. For the time being, however, this will have to do.


  • Hi MM, thanks for the update. As for Part 3, if it's any consolation, this too shall pass. Hang in there!

    How time flies, it is the end of the year again. Let me take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 1:19 PM  

  • Yes, it's amazing how quickly the months go by...faster and faster the older one gets.

    (Did I say that?)

    Merry Christmas to you, too, Happy!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:18 AM  

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