blacklilly: (Default)


Last night, my friend and co-worker, Mike, held the opening night of his art exhibition at a bar in Asagaya. He's been going over the various preparations for this with me during the past few months, particularly bouncing off ideas for the book which accompanied the exhibition. So, I was quite chuffed last night to find he'd credited myself and another friend as "layout consultants". This is the first time my name has been on anything printed since...2006, I think.

At a Thanksgiving party last weekend I was talking to one of my fellow Englishmen about the preconcieved ideas you have of anywhere in Tokyo before you get there. At the time we were in Minami Rinkan, which I'd actually spent little time trying to imagine in my head. It's just a commuter town conveniently linked up with Yokohama and Tokyo through the train system. Oddly, walking along tight little roads lined with compact walled gardens and occasionally punctuated by small vegetable fields, our host pointed out to us a stable in which he said were cows. I could certainly smell cow, which was quite pleasantly nostalgic, though I was unable to see them in the dusk.

Perhaps the biggest oddity in this rather unremarkable place was what we found in the supermarket: Tesco brand wine and food. I walked into the supermarket to find Tesco brand muesli and "maple pecan crunch" sitting on the shelves. Tesco brand wine priced remarkably cheaply. Tesco milk. Tesco bourbon creams and chocolate chip cookies. Despite my not having been much of a Tesco shopper in England (I preferred Sainsbury's) I found this all quite exciting because Tesco labels their food as vegetarian friendly or not - so I could actually buy something without worrying about what was in it. Though to be fair, I bought muesli and a bottle of wine, so one can't go too far wrong with those.

Anyway, I was talking about preconceived images of places. Last night was the first time I had been to Asagaya, so the picture of it in my head was entirely formed by what other people had told me. Mike is the second person I've known to speak fondly of Asagaya - from the atmosphere to the nightlife etc - so I had this rather Shibuya-like, neon party town in my head. So, I was, as usual impressed to find it to be not like that at all. Radiating off of the train station is a warren of small streets lined with shops, bars and restaurants, which can be a little confusing. I particularly liked how small the streets were. As we walked back to the station this morning, we had to take a detour down a side street because the rubbish lorry took up the entire street ahead of us.

The party itself was in a second floor bar (that's 1st floor to the English readers), and yet again was not what I expected, yet met every criteria of a Tokyo bar (small, cramped, dark, cute bar-tender) and then proceeded to better that by having rooms upstairs for DJs and crashing out in (as one reader of this blog did).

It was a great night, mostly because it was a pleasing mix of familiar and new faces. Some Yokohama students made the trek out to see the show, though all went home before last train, leaving us plenty of opportunity to mingle with all the new faces there. I chatted to a DJ dressed as Julius Ceasar who comes from Bath but has lived in Japan for 25 years; a guy called Hide who seemed to be wearing leather, though I'm sure that was probably the lighting; then a DJ called Satoru who was trying to convince me to like his plinky-plonky techno music (on the basis that we both love Aphex Twin), before Google-Earthing my parents house on his iPhone. I compared tattoos with the bar owner, who told me the rather gruesome details of tattooing himself (20 years ago) with a pot of Japanese shodo (calligraphy) ink and an adapted electric toothbrush prong. My other coworker brought along his cute housemate and his cute friend, so I chatted to them about Supernatural and heavy metal. A really drunk guy showed me the 3 LPs he'd bought that day - Depeche Mode, Debbie Harry, and Japan, and then wouldn't let me go home but insisted on slurring into my ear until one of the aforementioned cuties distracted him for me.

It's such a relief to get away from having the common ground of working for the same company as everyone else. Conversation has a tendency to whirlpool around the same miserable work plughole, so not having that is quite liberating. I took my Holga with me and was messing about with multiple exposures and multi-coloured flashes, so we'll have to see how that all turns out...

I got home at 8am after a miserably long train ride home (I took 4 different train lines) and then had weird repetitive dreams until about 1pm.

Now, I should do a but more studying. My Japanese exam is next Sunday, but I think I've hit burnout. My Japanese class on Friday morning was terrible, as what I was thinking bore little relation to what came out of my mouth. At one point I tried to talk about my favourite something-or-other but ended up saying the word for "birthday" instead.

Gambatte me.
blacklilly: (Angsty)
Curses!!!  I just wrote a veritable missive about my day today and then I hit delete to correct a typo and the whole bloody thing disappears.  Shit!!!!!!  Bloody hell, that just took me 15 minutes to write.  Can I be bothered to re-write it all again?  Probably.

So last night, craving not the company of my students, who had invited me out for a drink (for which read copious amounts of money spent), I went to my local and sat drinking beer and sake.  I taught everyone how to swear properly, which is another sign, in addition to this morning's sore head, that drinking sake should only be done in moderation.  My friend Gen-chan came up to me just before he left the bar and blurted out "Son of a bitch!" I hasten to add that I didn't teach him that one.

This morning's hangover was miraculously cured by scrambled egg burritos and cups of tea, so I was ready for action by 11am.  In the bar, I had been told about Gen-chan carrying a portable shrine through Umeyashiki, the next train station down from mine.  Given how tiny he is, I was rather concerned that he might end up getting squished, and thus decided that photographic evidence was needed.  So I jumped on my bicycle and took my Holga and Canon EOS out for some exercise.  I haven't used my SLR since January, so it was nice to use it again.  Having the Holga has made me appreciate what my SLR is good, and made me a little more confident in taking more "from the hip" candid shots of things.  We'll see how they turn out.

Tonight I met up with one of the guys from school and we went to see "Star Trek".  We had been listening to the two other guys ar work having a long debate about "Transformers", and turned to each other.  "Geeks," I muttered. 

"So are you coming to see Star Trek?" he asked.

"Of course," I replied.  "We're geeks of a different kind."  I should have offered the Vulcan salute, but I may have been eating at the time.

I honour of how much I liked the movie, I decided to use my icon with the lense flare, which was grossly overused in the film, though I must admit to rather liking it.  It reminded me of "Firefly" in that it was trying to capture a feeling of nostalgia about early Star Trek.

Hmm, surely it must be time for bed now.  My brain thinks otherwise, it seems...

I'll post my first Twonnet tomorrow.
blacklilly: (Shibuya)

Apologies for it being a photo of a photo.  I have yet to locate a scanner.

blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
This is the first image from my stash of Holga shots, since I got my camera in January.  I took it using my mobile phone camera, so it's not great.  I'll get the rest scanned when I can find somewhere or someone with a scanner.




 
Holga 120CFN
Kodak Ektachrome

blacklilly: (Default)
...this week has involved:

Vegan lunch (yes, I could eat everything on the menu!)

Lunch on the 68th floor of the Landmark Tower, Yokohama. A FREE lunch too.  With sake.

Another Holga roll finished and ready to develop.
Losing my last nose-ring, breaking my only pair of work-friendly shoes, and losing 100yen to the vending machine at work.
An Alice in Chains album for 200yen, plus 5 hours spent trawling music and books shops around Shibuya.
Discovering that I've been bellydancing to the Venetian Snares this term, which in my book ranks highly on the "frickin' cool" factor.
Wondering if I should attempt to write diaries in the style of Anais Nin.

blacklilly: (Default)
I think I quite like being stoned on prescriptions.  It makes the working week that bit much faster, even if I am very grumpy.

Well, I did have plans to go out today, but they fell through at the last minute (and after I'd made the effort to get out of bed early on a Sunday too), so I grabbed my Holga, jumped on my bicycle and went for a meander about the local warren of streets, narrowly avoiding death on one occasion.  I took a few photos - one of an egg factory with some huge cute chicks painted on the side of it, some other brightly painted housing blocks, the "river", and I should have got a snap of the whole 8 year old baseball team cycling along the river either going to or coming back from a game, but I was too intent on getting out of their way.

This afternoon three of the local kids came knocking on my door looking for their baseball, which is somewhere on one of the balconies up here (not mine).  They got a bit of a fright when I opened the door, but quickly rallied themselves to thank me in English for looking for the ball.  I wish I'd taken a photo of them too.

Having a new camera is good fun.  I've been thinking of all sorts of stuff I could be doing with it, and the fact that it's so easy to customize and mess around with presents limitless possiiblities.  I have, however, not yet taken photos of my feet (which is good).  I'm always painfully reminded of my younger self during a scene in "Lost in Translation" where Charlotte is talking about all the things she tried to do when she was unsuccessfully figuring out what to do with her life: writing, but her writing sucked; photography, but all she did was take photos of her feet.  Are we all just cliches?  Are we the same narrative repeating itself over and over again? 

My plan tonight is to make Laura's magic toaster oven aubergine parmegiana.

Where has the afternoon gone?
blacklilly: (Default)
I have a very clear memory of having a pot of Vick's Vapour Rub with me in Japan.  However, searching in the only places it could possibly be have turned up a goose egg.  I can even see the bloody pot sitting on my sink shelf in my old apartment.  Perhaps it was one of the sacrifices to the gods of house-moving.  Anyway, it turns out that Vicks is sold in pharmacies here, so we all know where I'm heading tomorrow, and it won't just be to the clinic to complain about my lack of voice.  By 10pm tonight I was barely able to open my mouth for the sad little sound that came out of it.  And all this when I finally have enough money to get a social life back on the go.  Well, I will be demanding strong drugs tomorrow in order to get me out of the house on Sunday!!

For no particular reason, here's a list of books I've read since December, the ones I remember anyway:

Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
E M Forster - Howard's End
Jonathan Carroll - Sleeping in Flame
David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
Haruki Murakami - Dance, Dance, Dance
Susan Hill - Strange Meeting
Mark Gatiss - The Devil in Amber
David Crystal - By Hook or By Crook

I've decided that EM Forster is possibly one of the best writers ever.  Not my favourite, but really good.  I always remember Mrs Moore's compassion towards the wasp in "A Passage to India".  Every time I see a wasp I think of her, which is why, despite their inherent lack of purpose, I cannot hate them.  That and the comment from Gloucester in "King Lear" about a broken crown, of which I am always reminded when I first crack into a boiled egg.  Associations, associations.  David Crystal's books is a fascinating read, and will come in useful on Saturday, should I have functioning vocal chords.  Thanks v. much to Lou, who always select a good Xmas present.

Oh, and I had the perfect "from the hip" Holga shot this morning at the station.  Four people all neatly seated on the platform opposite, but just when I summoned the courage to take my camera from my bag, the bloody train pulled in and they all dispersed.  Curses.  Maybe tomorrow. Right.  Book and bedtime.
blacklilly: (Default)
The cold has progressed from sinus torture to a nice cough.  I suspect that huge toad/frog from "Pan's Labyrinth" has set up camp in my lungs.
On the good side, my hypocondriac students (for which read "all of them") keep giving me cough sweets and anti-fever pills.  I don't have a fever, but when woozy from lack of sleep take anything given to you.

I took my Holga to work yesterday, and discovered when I arrived that the batteries had fallen out.  In any other camera this wouldn't be such a problem, but in order to get them back in I had to sit in a dark room, untape the back, mess about with film, and apply sellotape to the offenders in order to keep them in place.  I suspect my first roll of filmn is going to be a complete disaster...or a triumph.  I'm erring on the side of disaster. 

A quickie

Feb. 2nd, 2009 10:51 am
blacklilly: (Default)
Yesterday I finally bought the Holga I've been craving for the past month.  It's all loaded and sealed up with electrical tape, so I'm taking it out for a trial run.  I'm sure I've done something wrong - put the film in the wrong way, forgotten to something.  Anyway, we'll see what happens when I get the photos back.  Now all I need is to find somewhere that processes 120mm film.  I went to the Lomo store in Omotesando, which involved walking past the very swanky and unusual architecture of the Cartier, Chloe and Prada stores.  I took some pics on my SLR, but you'll have to wait a while for those...

I think I may have a cold. The sinus on the left side of my face hurts and I have that rather swollen-eyed sleepy feeling you get when you have the lurgy.  I refuse to be beaten by a cold so I'm still going to today's bellydancing class, and my private English lesson.  I suspect I will regret it later.  However, it's a damned good excuse to eat as much chilli as possible.  I'm going to make one when I get home tonight!!
blacklilly: (Default)
Owing to the fact that I have 13000yen to play with until the end of the month, I'm staying at home again.

I plan to not do as little as I did last week.  So far that means I will actually have to get out from underneath the kotatsu (which I stupidly forgot to turn off last night) to wash myself, and wash my clothes, and wash some plates.  Then I plan to cook up some beans so I can have Mexican for dinner tomorrow night. And I'll make a curry, and some other stuff as part of my grand plan not to have to buy lunch all week.  Not having money to play with is good as it forces to me to think about what to do with the random stuff in my fridge.

I'm still dead excited about getting my Holga, and I'm dead excited about getting a social life back next month.  I'll be heading to Omotesando on February 1st to get the camera, then heading to a nearby store which sells European designer glasses (I need a new pair, and most Japanese frames are far too small for my massive Western skull).  Afterwards, I'm meeting a few people for lunch in "Korean-town", Shin-Okubo, for lunch, where I plan on testing out the camera by  photographing Korean BBQ and other spicy (vegetarian) delights.

Last night I watched Coppola's "The Conversation" and "Shikoku", neither of which particularly impressed me.  "The Conversation" was an interesting film, but I didn't have the patience for it.  Meanwhile, "Shikoku", which was recommended to me as being a horror movie, turned out not to be a horror movie at all.  Next time I'm watching "Tokyo Gore Police", at least that's guaranteed to be grisly.

Anyway, more later, when I've stopped wearing my pyjamas.

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