Sunday, April 22, 2007

Vote For The Worst

I don't know if the website Vote For The Worst has any appreciable impact on the American Idol voting or not, but you gotta admit, they are having an awful lot of fun in the process.

Now that Sanjaya is gone (my bets are on him shilling for shampoo or toothpaste- and real soon), the VFTW people have focused thier sights on Phil Stacey or as the pictures will show- "Nosphilatu"

Talk about separated at birth!

Thing is though, Phil really can sing, unlike Sanjayayas.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"Hanami" or Cherry Blossom time

Today we rounded up all the kids at the middle school and headed off to the old Fukuoka castle grounds for a little time under the cherry blossoms.
The blossoms are past their peak of beauty, but not too far past it, and it is still quite beautiful. The weather was a perfect 65 degrees with a bright blue sky.
It was a lot better way to spend the afternoon than in a classroom~this was a unanimous decision!
This motley crew is the 6th grade class, most of which are in my ESL class, and all of which were in my charge today as John, their homeroom teacher had to stay behind at the school today.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My Mounties Won the NIT!

My alma mater, West Virginia University, won the NIT tonight in NYC at Madison Square Garden by defeating Clemson 78-73!
It is the first time in 65 years that WVU won the NIT and was particularly memorable for me, as I was in the WVU Pep Band that traveled to the NIT in 1981 when WVU made it to the Final Four of the NIT.

A memory of Madison Square Garden in the 1981 tournament:
The crowd that came to see the tourney was decidedly non-partisan. There were few fans from any of the universities playing, so the crowd was pretty much rooting for any university that picqued their interest.

It is with this in mind, that makes my memory more sweet.

At the halftime buzzer of our last game (the consolation game), many people in the Garden started to rise from their seats and head to the exits for a break or food, etc...

At that moment, we launched into playing an arrangement of Earth Wind and Fire's "In The Stone". I noticed that most of the crowd stopped moving toward the exits and turned around to listen. By the end of the song, there wasn't a single person in the arena sitting! They were all on their feet and in the aisles, shouting their approval and giving us a standing ovation!

Still gives me chills- 26 years later.

Ruffing it Japanese style

We packed up the micro van and headed for the mountains of Kumamto prefecture for 2 glorious nights and 3 days of camping.
We rented a cedar cabin that was spartan, but nice and clean and quite well sealed. This agreed with the 3 females of our group because it precluded bugs from entering into the equation.
They don't like bugs!

The campground was nice- even the tent spaces had running water, a sink and electrical outlet. The campground also had a coin operated hot water shower, washing machine and running water toilets.

Waka said she could see going back there again, which is good news for the financially challenged (ie: me!).
It was a good time, although the hard floor and sleeping bags did nothing for me except keep me rolling around all night to keep from hurting in one place only.

The drive around Mt Aso ( an active volcano) was spectacular and the grilled food wasn't bad either! It actually reminded me of West Virginia a lot.....ahh.....fresh air, few people,and no traffic jams.

The return to the traffic congestion and stale air of Fukuoka was really quite a spirit deflater....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Break is upon me....

My heartfelt thanks to blogger for making picture posting possible for compu-retards like me.

This picture is proof that there are somethings in Japan worth savoring. Natto is not one of them.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Switched over to the new blogger!

Been a long time since I posted..we are now well into February and my wifes birthday is quickly coming up.....ahh...what to buy?
Suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas 2006

Has this been a quick year or what? is hard to fathom that this year is nearly gone.
In many ways it feels as if only a couple of months have past. This is a sure sign of growing old, or so I hear.

This Christmas found my wife slaving away on Christmas day at her job, and me trying to recouperate from 3 fiendishly long days as Santa at a local hotel (read last years comments for the details of what it is like being Santa).
The girls were up before the chickens and tore into their booty like the little love pirates they are.

Grace got a classical guitar and Joy got her stuffed animals of characters from the Lilo and Stitch movie, Angel and Skrump.
If you ask me, Skrump looks like a voodoo doll, but hey, I am not going to ruin the moment for Joy!
They also got a lot of clothes and couple of DVDs, new boots, jump ropes, etc...
Santa was pretty generous this year.
Wifey got a Bree (German made) leather bag that cost a small fortune but made her happy, and that makes me happy! I got a MP3 recorder for recording live music and I am too a happy camper. Seems that we all had a good Christmas....and look forward to resting in the new year.

My wife will no doubt start her open the windows-toss out my stuff, stuff soon...but I am thankful that I got a headstart on it today AND that the weather is unusually mild.
She can't freeze me out this time!

Blessings abound and in the middle of it there is still hardship. W's mom was diagnosed with liver cancer 3 weeks ago and is going to have to get a kidney transplant early in January. W's sister is donating a portion of hers. This will extend mom's life by 15 years of more, if successful.
Both will need extensive rest time after the operation too.
Your prayers are needed.

What else? I look out at the world, I see the machinations of the Bush regime trying to find pretext for war with Iran, oil companies making record profits, and Christ being taken out of Christmas.

I think we all need to take a long vacation. We need to spend time with our loved ones. We need to stop thinking about what we want to get, and give of ourselves and love a lot more.

Take time to take time. Forgive your enemies and yourself.

Start fresh.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Billy Joel in Concert

Wifey and I finally got to see Billy Joel in concert at the Fukuoka Dome. We had been waiting for almost 9 years to see this show and we got pretty darned good seats considering we were in the largest barn in Fukuoka Japan- 8th row back from the front. Not as great as it sounds...we were about 50 or 60 yards from the stage, to the left.

We decided to go, no matter what the cost. The way I figure it, a guy who likes to drink and drive and also has a passion for motorcycles (as Billy does), and a history of might want to see him while you can!

What can you say about Billy that hasn't already been said? The concert was without a doubt one of the best I have ever been to in my life. He played almost every one of his major hits, but what really made me happiest was that he played a lot of the songs from his albums that I love-the ones that never had a chance on the charts but are etched in my mind as some of his very best. Songs like Billy the Kid, Vienna, Zanzibar....

Billy Joels concerts sound amazingly close to the studio recorded versions too, which in my mind is the hallmark of a true talent. I have only seen two other concerts like that in my life: one was Stevie Wonder, and the other was Joshua Redman.
For so many of todays pop stars, the artist is made in the studio. With Billy, you know the art was made in the studio by the artist.

My wife too seemed to be totally absorbed, enthralled, ecstatic. If you know her, these are not emotions she shows in public too much!

I came away thinking about the great talent that Billy joel is, how he has drawn so many fans from all ages into his often autobiographical tunes. He made us care about him and his trials, his loves, and we sang along all the way.

I came away thinking how odd it is that a man whom I have never met has touched my heart and made me care about everytown USA's Brenda and Eddie, or an Uptown Girl, or the eyes of his mother, Rosalinda.

How many people have actually done that in the history of American pop music? How many artists have you seen in concert that inspired you, moved you, to want to learn more about the person and where his music comes from?

Hats off to Bill.