Nov…and the band played on

We have been fairly busy as a band this last week or so. I like it, gives me a sense of the old self back in the day, but a better me.

We had a real rehearsal finally. I pushed for that it was irksome not having some new songs and the mistakes in the current one. Even if not mistakes the looseness of it all. Anyway we had practice it was not as long as I planned as I had some issues finding the meetup spot, but we got there. Fairly nice place I have been in a lot worse. We did end up going into an escort type service place by mistake looking for the studio. We rode the elevator up, but they made us walk back down. I do not know why but I went along with it. I found out we were in the “red light zone” of Osaka.
 Rehearsal went well, we did learn one new song, and went over a couple of older ones to tighten them up. I was satisfied and now we know where the cheapest in our area rehersal studio is for the next time. We stopped for noodles afterward, hanging out like a real band, pretty cool I think.
Chicago Rock:
Our next gig there was a few days later.
This time on a Monday night, so I was not exspecting much in the way of a turn-out ($). I was surprised as the evening progressed more people came in. Also a couple of friends of the band lads. It was a pretty good evening overall. 
The sound setup is not good there, so sometimes I can not hear what I am playing on the harp or what #1 is singing. His voice is very soft and the music is loud. Other than the drummer saying just before playing one song , ” hope I do not forget the accents” then he does right after saying it. Sigh. Not a biggie, but irksome. It is one of our better songs I want to do it right.
Still, all in all things went well, we were asked for an extra song before we stopped for the evening.


Always fun to be at the Mosrite, even though it is not a paid gig, it is volunteer musicians raising money for some cause or another. It is nice to play with a larger group and more instruments. Also just doing a couple of songs and then watching or joining someone else is fun. It is to the point now that our group is established, we get to play a couple of songs with just us , then mix with others…or not. There is also the sense of comrades with the other local foreigners, locals and chats in English.
Mosrite is much much more an upscale venue, being in Kobe, a true night club. Where as Chicago Rock is a local bar. It is much more of a journey for me going to Kobe. It is a two-hour ride via train.
It is fortunate a friend lets me crash at his home, as there are no trains all the way home when we finish. He is also the organizer for the event so, the help goes both ways, when I come out. 
He also plays Bass and sits in with us on a couple of song, when that happens, I key to play keys, really more like I fake on the keys. This night, again we were asked to open, I said ok, well you play Bass I just order food, I am starving! So he had at it, I watched, until I finished then joined on the last song with vocals and harp.
Another friend had one of his two bands playing next. They were good, I enjoyed hearing them. Then the Jamming mixes started.
And later again we came up as a band and did a couple of songs. Thankfully it was not right after the hot group played. Even though it was not a competition.
I ended up after a while, toward the end of the evening, did some vocals and keyboard. I really need to work on them some more now if I am going to be playing regular. Problem at the moment is I am not sure what I am doing, and I can not hear what I am doing. So I keep my playing really simple…
…and kind of soft
…cause I need to focus
The keyboard is being run via the PA system. The speaker is set in a way up front at the keyboard. If I turn up loud enough to hear over the other stuff, I am way too loud, more so when I hit a wrong key/note…embrassing! Still it is all in fun for a good cause. A bit sad tonight had such a low turn out. Thursdays are hard to get folks to come out, unless it is something special. Last month the turn was good, this month not so much. Rumor has it that the belly dancers Were the big draw last time.

Zen’s excellent B/ W photo weekend. Prt II

Zen’s excellent Black and white weekend. Part II

Next up Kyudo. LZ finally had time to make the needed adjustments on my kimono and junban. So now I could do some real practice in full gear. Nice it was sort of on the cool side as it is fairly warm fully dressed.


It was not a full house as it is on some Sat. However still a fair amount of people even a couple in Kimono so I did not stand out as the only one dressed. I changed and got a few pointers from Yamashita Sensei and my Sempai. I found our there is a certain way one tucks the sleeve under the hakama tie. Also a certain way to pull the sleeve tight. One does not just grab and pull, everything is done with a certain elegance, I was told. I also was told how to get back into the kimono after shooting. However only I need to remove the sleeve proper for Shinsa not replace it. That was a relief! Big relief. However most likely something to look forward to for Go-dan.



I spent part of the day working on the kimono drill, the rest of the time just shooting with it on. That in itself is not really difficult however one does need to be aware of the arrows when in the ready position, hmm Really, going into the ready position. There is the long kimono sleeve to contend with now when placing the right hand on the hip.


My shooting I think is better, even though I do not hit as much as I would like I believe over all my form is improving. The Kaicho says I still need to open more in Kai and hanare. Yamashita Sensei says I am ok, but just need to keep my shoulders down and be aware of my wrist bend.



Either way, there is still a lot to do. Spring shinsa is not that far away my biggest challenge to date. A little over three months away. 


There is a big Tai Kai at the dojo this Sunday, I was supposed to be in it and again helping with the photos. However, i was asked to work, a sailing job. I can not turn down money and a sail, for just fun, so another time. There are a couple of big Tai Kai up coming end of the year and beginning of the year, or maybe it is just the beginning of the year. Hmmm well either way I am planing to attend.



As for the B/W photo challenge it was successful. I got some good shots, not so much from Kyudo but over all. I had planned on finshing up with some Kung Fu shots on the final day. “Man plans , heaven ordains” it rained, hard on Sunday, so that cancelled my Kung Fu photo shoot. However, I made up for it with another passion shot, musical.



I have found out that there are several people in the Kyudo Dojo who play Shakuhachi. There is I have been told a club. I will investigate this more later. 


I like this picture I think it turned out well. It took me some doing to get it setup the way I wanted.  Part of the Photo challenge was to nominate others to do the same. I nominated one guy, he did not comply, however he took this picture cropped it, made it much darker to the point the white Kimono does not look white and most of the other details I wanted shown where just shadow.. He showed it to me and said he could not help himself! Really!! I thought it was kind of insulting, but I am sensitive like that about my art. He could not do his own, but change mine to something he likes. Hmmm, I just said “different strokes for different folks”, as nothing was lost or gained. However what was the point? Showing me he could do better?



We have a saying in Kung Fu, there is always someone, faster, stronger, etc. 


However here, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.





Black -n- White weekend

Weekend in B/W

I have an acquaintance in France I met via Kyudo, in Tokyo. He sent me a challenge via FaceBook to do a B/W photo a day post for 5 days. I took oa few days thinking on it and figured it would be fun. I accepted the challenge. I had plans for the weekend so it would be a good time to get some shots. 
I ended up with more pictures which turned out pretty good, than I needed so I decided to do a blog post and a small photo album of the Black and White weekend.
I started the project at home, first with a couple of yard and hood shots.

The next day I am off to Tajiri Harbor. I have made arrangements to take advantage of my perk as an instructor for Aoki Yachts. I am taking a boat out for a solo day sail. I had wanted to on my birthday but the office was closed that day. Today ( at the time, on Friday) seemed prefect. I have figured out that most of the time the winds here are pretty weak, compared to the S.F. bay area. The three times I went racing here, 3-6 knots, the classes I taught , 4-8 knots. Only once was there some fairly strong wind. The it was called for 10-12 knit winds with 15-20 knot gust. Perfect!
I got my gear ready, hopped on the bike and pedaled over to the marina. It was a great day, mostly sunny, cool temps but not uncomfortable when dressed correctly. I got the boat ready is was a nice 22 ft. This is a good size it was light and agile enough to move yet heavy enough to be comfortable. This is the size. I am leaning to when I am ready to buy again. It took me about 45 to get all in order and checked. That is after finding the boat. It was not where I was told by the office. It was dock an easier location for me. I was quietly grateful for the much easier access, being side tied to the dock.

Once i was pleased with everything, I cast off. It was a historic event in my mind. My first solo single-handed sail on Japan and the day was perfect for it. Fair wind not much chop, only a few white caps. It was and easy sail put on to the bay. It is nice to be in a large open are to sail after only a short motor. In Alameda open water was about 45-60 min away. In Martinez it was closer but limited. It was nice to sit a tack here and just go. After an hour or so I hove-to for lunch.

It was a pleasant lunch. It was a light but tasty meal. Thoughts drifted back and forth across the ocean, past to present. Many were the thoughts of gratitude. After lunch and meditation I set-out following the basic route of the races. Just to go where i had not been before, enjoying the wind, movement and the sound of the boat cutting through the wetness of the Bay.
Ahhh, it was a pleasant journey, alas time to return. The sail back was comfortable, an easy close reach to the mouth of the harbor. I did run into a bit a challenge getting the hacked on Jib down and secured enough to go onto the port. It took longer than I thought , but I was being careful as I was alone. Rushing is when “things” happen.
Once the boat was put to bed and everything returned to the office I took a few around the dock shots. Interesting because this is not only a yacht harbor but, a working fishing port.
I start my fairly short ride home. However, with B/W photos and that eye and mindset, I got distracted for a few in route shots. Therefore making for a longer, but more interesting pedal home.
It was a pleasant restful evening that night. Heater on, I caught on the “Arrow” tv show and a couple of other, with several glasses of Chuhai, before hitting the blankets for a deep sleep. Tomorrow I am off to Kyudo.
To be cont…