Saturday, December 27, 2008

JACK IN THE BOX 2008

It was worth every penny. Or yen, but 'penny' sounds better.

This is the concert report: http://www.jack-itb.com/2008/report/report.html

It started out by waiting in line for about three hours just to buy stuff. The line was crazy long. As a result, I missed the introduction for Session A, but hardly anyone was recognizable on stage anyway. The concert overall was about 7 hours long, as expected when there are so many performances.

For anyone who doesn't know, JACK IN THE BOX (formerly called 'DANGER') is a concert held annually around the end of December featuring various artists from the MAVERICK DC GROUP, one of Japan's music production companies. Their recording company is called DANGER CRUE RECORDS, which you could call a type of indie J-Rock label. This is where L'Arc~en~Ciel, MUCC, and other popular bands have gotten their start.

I had a particularly...okay seat. It wasn't a seat at all, I was in the stands all the way in the back. But the good thing was that I was on the South side, facing the stage directly.

I was surprised at how well I could identify certain small things throughout the concert. As I said, I missed the intro for Session A, but from watching them perform I knew yukihiro (Laruku) was the featured drummer, because I recognized the way he moves when he plays drums.

I was also able to recognize when MUCC was about to perform. They changed the drumset to one that has two bass drums, and from the way the bass was being tuned I knew that it was Yukke that would be playing. (a lot of MUCC's music is very heavy and bass-driven.)

Anyway, I'll try to say something short about each performance.

After Session A was girugamesh. I was really pleased that all three songs they played were songs that I knew (I don't listen to them all the time). They were really great, and if I ever felt like headbanging I would surely go to one of their lives.

Session B was pretty cool, mainly because they covered two NANA themes--'rose' (1st opening theme for the anime) by Anna Tsuchiya and GLAMOROUS SKY (theme for the first NANA film) by Mika Nakashima. My favorite featured member from that group was Miya (guitarist from MUCC), of course. I don't recognize giru's members by name yet, and I don't even know Zoro. (Can someone tell me if Zoro's bassist Tatsuhi is a guy or a girl? Normally I can tell, but...)

Speaking of Zoro, they were the next act. I liked their music, so I'll probably go look them up a little later. They're a really colorful band. At first I thought Tatsuhi was a girl because of the skirt and leggings, but after a while I wasn't so sure. He/she was awfully cute on stage, though. And Zoro's drummer is pretty good-looking, I must say.

I don't know too much about SID other than a few songs here and there, but I was surprised to see that their drummer Yuuya was playing guitar for Session C. Also performing was Yukke (MUCC), Mao (vocalist for SID) the drummer from Zoro, and one of SID's support members on keyboard. I absolutely love Mao's voice, and Yukke is one of my absolute favorite bassists, so I was happy to see them on stage together.

Session D was a big surprise. Normally the vocalist is introduced last, but this time he was introduced first, and for a reason. The vocalist featured was Tatsurou from MUCC. A lot of people in the crowd screamed for joy. And then came the surprise: He was performing with jealkb, a popular and up-and-coming visual kei band. The most unique thing about jealkb is that they have seven members, and they are all comedians. Everyone started clapping along when the group opened with Laruku's 'Link'.

SID was up next. I admire them a lot for what they've managed to accomplish so far throughout their career from 2003. They started out in the visual kei scene, but they cover a wide range of music genres, with pop and jazz-inspired sound. They dropped the VK image around 2006, and now they're extremely popular in Japan. Their performance definitely stood out from other bands, especially with Mao's powerful vocals.

Ken (guitarist from Laruku) was also really great. He opened up with a cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Rock and Roll' (I played bass for that song in the CP Scholars Arts Fair earlier this year, so I should know it). Of course his Japanese accent is so heavy that I could barely make out the words, but I didn't care. After performing his first solo single 'Speed,' he told the crowd that he was in the middle of recording, and then performed two new songs. After his performance it was announced that he's releasing his second single in March and an album in April, as well as doing a live tour during the summer.

Session E...Oh, Session E. The first two introductions were puzzling to me, one of whom I didn't know at all. The other is a support musician for L'Arc~en~Ciel, but I don't know how to read his name. Miya made another appearance, and then Aki was introduced as the bassist. The excitement just kept building up, and then the vocalist was introduced: hyde!!! So he was performing, after all! Hearing him sing 'All Dead' made me so happy, especially with Aki and Miya. hyde even had this little moment on stage with Miya, it was so great.

So with that, I've covered about half the concert. I'll continue the other half later.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Things/People I Miss.

1. My family. I talked with them on Skype this morning (Christmas Evening their time). It was really nice.

2. My friends. I think my American cell phone is depressed because she can't get any calls, haha.

3. CHICKEN WINGS AND MUMBO SAUCE. This came to my attention when one of my friends on Facebook brought it up. I can almost taste it even now...I love the fries too. *sniffle* In general, I miss the Chinese sub place by my house.

4. Red Robin. Or Fuddruckers. I want a real hamburger. Real American hamburger > Mos Burger.

5. Bath & Body Works. I'm running out of Dancing Waters body cream. And I miss the big sales they have several times a year.

6. Cosplay. Sure, Japan is the land of anime/VG cosplay, but I like doing it in America--it's less serious.

7. Pizza Hut. My family always wanted hand-tossed, but I always wanted the buttery, crunchy-outside and fluffy-inside pan pizza, which contradicted my semi-health nut eating habits. (You'd think that I eat healthy for the sole reason of indulging in PH's pan pizza.)

8. Decent chewing gum. I've had colder-than-ice gum that feels like the Ice Age is blowing up my nose (good for a cold remedy and nothing else). Then I had some "Freesia Mint" gum which tastes like mint and flowers. Finally a friend in class gave me some strawberry-flavored gum, which was decent. I miss my 'Extra' green apple and cool watermelon flavors.

9. The Stamp Student Union. Sure, a lot of the building blocks cell phone signals, but there are couches. Couches in Rikkyo? Only in Tachikawa Hall, but the area doesn't have that serene and secluded feeling like the second floor of the Stamp.

10. Bubble smoothies and shrimp tempura rolls from Wasabi. Probably my favorite part (if not the only part I liked) about College Park.

11. Real bacon.

12. Affordable cheese and butter.

13. Miracle Whip. Kewpie mayonnaise isn't cutting it for me. Even Masha-nii can't convince me to switch.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I made a really quick video after I got one from my dad :)


video

Winter Break! Thank Goodness.

I started my first day of break yesterday. I did a four-stop tour on the Yamanote Line for some shopping. Akiba being the farthest, I started there. I didn't think I'd be there for very long since I've been there three times before, but I actually ended up staying for about three hours and discovered a lot of shops behind Akiba's main street. I ended up buying a 2GB microSD card for 480yen, a spare Nintendo DS battery and charger, and my favorite bargain...an Apple Remote. I've wanted a remote for my MacBook for a while, and decided not to buy one before I left the U.S.

So I went to Sofmap to look around for some used Mac items, and there I see a stash of brand new remotes. 498 yen each. Unbelieveable, because the retail price of a remote is around $20 (overpriced as always...shame on you, Apple). I was a bit skeptical that it wouldn't be compatible, but I bought it and tried it out with my MacBook, and it works flawlessly. I'm very pleased.

My next stop was Harajuku. On the way to Takeshita Street, I passed a group of Versailles cosplayers. At first all I saw was some girl in a red dress (Hizaki) and didn't think much of it, and then when I saw Jasmine You (the one in purple) I realized what had just happened. I only saw them for a split second but I knew it was really good cosplay.

I should've stopped by Watanabe hair salon to try and set up a consultation for the ionic straightening system, but decided to wait until I had more money. There was a specific bag I wanted to look at, which I ended up not buying. I went to Daiso and bought some things, and then got a Mixed Berry Mille-feuille crepe.

Then after debating for a bit, I decided to stop in Shinjuku just to look around Kabukicho for a bit. Hosts are so intimidating...so I stopped in a few arcades to play some UFO Catcher. I finally won something for myself! It took a few tries, but I got the MOST ADORABLE Chopper Man plushie:



Winning it was somewhat easy after I got used to it. This UFO Catcher was easier, because instead of getting just two chances to move the claw (once horizontally and once vertically) I could use a joystick to move however long I wanted, and then use a button to rotate the claw. After jiggling the joystick a bit the first time, I discovered that the right claw was very loose, but the left one was very tight. Thus I depended on the left claw to push Chopper Man down the hatch.

I also visited a pet store. It wasn't to see the cute puppies and kittens though. On my last visit, there was a black Lab, pretty grown, sitting sadly in a small case. Compared to the puppies that cost anywhere between 500 to 3000 dollars, this poor thing had been discounted to 100 dollars. It made me so depressed that I couldn't take that dog in. But fortunately, posted on that very case yesterday, there was a sign that said "A family had been chosen." I was very relieved.

Last, I decided to stop by Sunshine City on the way home...to play UFO Catcher. I didn't win anything except for a bit of candy. I could've knocked that tower down in just a few more tries if I was willing to spend more money. I figured out the timing of the machine and the best way to scoop up the most candy, so I'll definitely play it again in the future.

On the way back to the station, I saw a circle of people gathered around this street performer. He was pretty funny. I only caught the end of his performance, but he made a Mario balloon figure and then did an amazing balancing act. It was really awesome. The first two times he couldn't find his balance and fell, but he took it well and said he'd try one more time. Everyone was so nervous, as well as myself. But he finally got his balance and juggled three knives at the same time. It was amazing and a great way to end my day.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thanks.

I feel a lot better.

No need to explain what made me so angry, but instead of staying in my room all mad, I decided to go out to Ikebukuro with Kenisha. She invited me to go get crepes (before I was mad).

We went to the 100 yen shop, and then to Sunshine City. After getting crepes, we went to the arcades.

I'm sure you know about crane games. Those glass boxes with the stuffed animals, and that one claw hanging over them, which you have to use to grab something.

In Japan, those game machines are extremely popular, and better known as "UFO Catchers." Rather than three prongs, many of the crane games here only have two. And no, it's not impossible to win.

Kenisha has a friend who loves playing UFO Catcher and is pretty good at it. He won two prizes on my birthday and gave them to me. Ever since then, I've been visiting the arcades in Sunshine City, observing all of the machines for "winnable" prizes.

I'm not very good at any of these games. So this time, Kenisha and I worked together to win some things, with Kenisha actually making the winning moves and me spending all the money. Together we managed to get two "Kutsushitanyanko"* plush charms (one black and one grey) and a lot of candy. I gave one of the charms to Kenisha and I'm going to split the candy later.

I spent a good amount of money playing those games, but I don't regret it because it was with Kenisha and we actually got stuff. Afterwards we went grocery shopping and came home.

So, Kenisha, thanks for cheering me up. And winning stuff for me, because you're better at UFO Catchers than I am ^_^

*Kutsushita is Japanese for "socks," and nyanko means "kitty cat."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alright, show's over, nothing to see here, move along =P

I had fun. I didn't get to do karaoke like I wanted to. I didn't even do purikura to commemorate my 20th birthday.

I went to an English pub with some friends, and we just sat there laughing and talking about stuff. Afterwards, Kenisha, her classmates and I went to Sunshine City. Apparently Andrew is especially good at these crane games at the game center. He got two prizes, both of which he gave to me as gifts.

After that we went home. I got home about 20 or 30 minutes ago, about 10:30 p.m.

On a Tuesday night.
I've got homework to turn in tomorrow morning.

So, no...it wasn't a huge special day being treated like a princess, or getting a confession like in the movies where the guy you're crushing on shows up for your birthday with a gift, or meeting your long lost father who walked out on your mom 15 years ago and wants to make amends.

It was just another night, but a little more fun than usual.

I drank alcohol. I forgot what the drink was called...or what was in it. But it was yummy. The glass was filled with ice, so there really wasn't much to it anyway. Yet my cheeks still felt flushed after I finished. It might have been the cold weather?

Anyway, as silly or stupid as it might sound to some of you (and I know who some of you are), I really wanted to honor my parents on my birthday. As for the person I have become, it's thanks to my parents, who raised me during these past 20 years. Compared to what they have done for me, I have done nothing. If you are reading this: Mom and Dad, I miss you so much and I'm so blessed to have you as such wonderful parents. I'm doing my absolute best so that you can continue to be proud of me. I love you!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hisashiburi.

It's been awhile.

Nothing's been going on. Nothing important, at least.

My birthday is today/tomorrow. Yay. If I actually do something special, I'll blog about it.

In a few hours, I won't be a teenager anymore. But I'm going by Eastern Standard Time, so I'll be offically 20 at around 5:00 p.m. Japan time on the 16th.

Okay, it's late, I gotta do my homework and go to sleep. I've been super lazy this week. I think it's because I just had all of my midterms and winter break is coming up.