Thursday, January 31, 2008

My baby.

This is a shot taken by Ro of me with with my new baby girl. Isn't she beautiful?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm a Believer!

My mom used to poke fun at me for believing everything people told me. You could tell me something crazy like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were real, and sadly, I would have believed it. Eventually I outgrew my childish gullibility, but she continued to tell people how easily I could be deceived. Determined to prove her wrong, I became who I am today - Ryan the skeptic. The one who absolutely will not be convinced something is true, unless it is reported from the most reliable news source, but even after that I'm often still unable to swallow it.

Rolando and I shared the same house for 4 months I discovered he was a drummer/bass player for the band Project Analogue. He told me this only after I asked if he was a musician when seeing the practice drum kit in his room. He had set it up beside his bed, likely due to a lack of owning a proper stool. Now...this would be ideal for one who's first thought after waking is "I gotta play drums-IMMEDIATELY." But on one finger, I can count the number of times I actually heard those drums.

I never believed him when he'd tell me he had to go to band practice.

I thought perhaps his "band" was a codename for his group of friends who played first person shooter games online, like Counter Strike. Not wanting to sound like a complete dork, he masked his obsession over videogames with the identity of a cool rock band.

Other reasons for my skepticism:

-What kind of bass player doesn't actually own a bass guitar?

-He never left for these practices with an instrument in his hands.

-His band's Myspace site at that time, had ZERO photos of him, only of some random ninjas and pirates.

-The one video he showed me of "his" band was shot at a party in a room with just enough light to make out some dark shapes playing instruments.

Well, last night, at a seedy club in an equally seedy area, complete with creepy old homeless men carrying hockey sticks in dark alleys, I saw my old roommate on stage rocking the bass like I'd never seen before. Because really...I'd never seen him play before.

These two other guys and I were without a doubt, the loudest, most abnoxious people watching the show. But hey, we had to support our bro. Besides, no band wants to play for a dud audience.

I believe him now. But I'm pretty sure that wasn't his guitar.

While I certainly feel I have proved her wrong, to this day my mom still thinks I will fall for anything you say.

(All photos taken by someone else with a real camera)

Thursday, January 17, 2008


On, or for you noobs, there is a daily sketch group with a different topic for each day. If work wasn't killing me I'd love to do a sketch everyday, but I'll do it as often as I can. Today's topic was dreamer. I had already done a similar sketch but thought it fit in my strange mind.

Every kid LOVES letting a balloon fly off into the sky. We dream about where it might go, where it might land, if it will go into space...will the passengers of an airplane see it floating amongst the clouds? Well what if balloons really dreamed of nothing more than being set free? All those times my parents told me not to do it, the balloon was really insisting...I know I wouldn't want to be tied to a string and made to be held down by someone's hand my whole life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On the Road. Chapter 3

With the number of times I road on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), I still can't believe I don't have a picture inside one.

This is the last thing I saw leaving Osaka on my way to Kanazawa. After spending about 30 minutes walking up and down the train, I was finally able to figure out which seat I was in. Even got to walk through the glorious smoking car on my way to find it. That's right, there is a car on every Shinkansen in which every man and woman smokes like a chimney for the entire ride. Pray you don't ever get stuck in that car during rush hour. It is what I imagine hell to be like.

Kanazawa station. I thought this entry to the station was beautiful. You really feel the richness of this area. Its in the northwest of Japan, so it is FREEZING cold, and everything is of a very high quality. But that is of course why I came to Kanazawa. By the time I found my hostel and then walked all the way down to the park, it was dark, and closed, so I went to get a bowl of delicious ramen, rest up for the night, and head out early the next morning so I could take my time before nightfall.

Working my way up the giant stone steps leading to the castle, this "little" guy greeted me. I wish I had put my hand next to it. Pretend I put a quarter next to would be a little bit bigger than the head.

This is the gate leading to one of the most famous parks in all of Japan. I was so excited to get here, I wanted to save it for last so I spent as much time wandering the castle grounds as possible before going in.


My camera battery started to die. I HAD to find a convenience store and buy some more batteries before I went into the park. Anywhere you go in Japan, you can throw a rock and you will hit a convenience store. Stand outside an 7-11 (yeah they have them there), and you can usually see another one just down the street, with 2 different convenience store chains in between. Anywhere that is, except the vicinity of Kanzawa Park. After all that walking to find batteries, to no avail, in my cheap Converse shoes (i'll never do that again) I basically wanted to just die.

But I had come all this way. I had to see what was so wonderful about this park.

If it weren't filled to the brim with tourists, I could see how it could be called one of the most tranquil and beautiful gardens on earth. But dude...there were a grip of tourists.

This is it. The one picture I took right when I entered before my battery died.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

On the Road. chapter 2

After a good nights sleep on a futon in a room the size of a walk in closet, it was time to return to Nara in the early morning. Lucky for me there was a constant light mist of rain which kept most people at home. Once I passed thousands of stone lanterns, I came to a mountain path with many forks and twists to get lost in. For hours I enjoyed every peaceful moment of aimless wandering.

Once reaching the top, I found a large temple full of, not tourists, but monks! There wasn't another camera, or pair of jeans in sight. I felt like I had slipped back to a time long forgotten by today's society in Japan. There were no cell phones here, no vending machines or convenience stores. No sounds of Japanese pop music coming through speakers in the lamp posts. Most blonde Japanese.

I hung around until dark, hoping to see the stone lanterns lit in all their glory. When I realized they weren't going to be, I thought it best to get out of this place before night fell. There were no street lamps to guide my way, and those deer could make some pretty scary noises.

On my way down the mountain I came back to the temple with its doors now closed, but the warm light of the lanterns begged me to take a picture.

It was a great day of relaxed travelling.

Walking to the train station, I was hit with a hunger beyond measure. Under the cover of the shopping alley, searching for something cheap and big to eat, I heard a young guy singing his heart out and playing his acoustic like it was his last day on earth. I requested a few old Japanese 70s songs, which he suprisingly knew every word to, and chatted it up with him. Before I walked away, he asked a lady who was carrying atleast 15 shopping bags to take our picture, when his girlfriend was sitting right there the whole time like a lazy bum.

Can't remember his name anymore. But I'll never forget those teeth.

I made my way back to my hotel in the GHETTO of Japan, reading 星の王子様Hoshi no Oojisama (lit. Prince of the Stars or The Little Prince) on the way.

Friday, January 4, 2008

On the Road. chapter 1

My last class with Tetsuya Senei.

I had 2 weeks. 2 weeks before my flight left for America, and no more classes to attend. While I hadn't mastered Japanese just yet, there was still so much of the coutry I hadn't seen with my own eyes.

With a small backpack and nowhere in particular to go, I got on a night bus, which is designed to, in theory, allow one to sleep peacefully through the night, waking up at their destination refreshed and full of vigor to take on the day. I would wake up in Osaka, and take the short train trip to the beautiful city of Nara.

Well, I sat in front of a jerk.

The seats on these things rival a first class seat on an airplane. I could have been carrying a contra bass in front of me and still had room to spare. Because of this, everyone leans as far back as possible to allow for a comfortable and reclined night's rest. That is until the man behind me decided to lay with his back where his butt should have been, causing his knees to be blocking by seat from going back more than an inch or two. Of course, being the jerk that I am, when he started shaking my seat to wake me, I leaned back farther. He didn't appreciate this, and continued to shake my seat until I rose up for his wonderfully long legs.

What did I say to him?

Nothing. What could I say? You could hear a pin drop on this bus of sleeping people, so arguing was out of the question. Plus there's the nerve-wracking thought of "What if I say something stupid? What if he doesn't understand?" That would completely negate my authority. And so, like a pansy, I dealt with it.

I was not even slightly refreshed when I arrived.

But, I had a lot of exploring to do. And I was determined to do it, so after renting a bike for 500 yen, I pedaled my way around this ancient little town.

After riding up the street full of shops and restaurants, and eating a HUGE breakfast of eggs and rice I came to a park which I would find was bigger than I could have imagined.

The first thing I noticed was the abundance of deer running about. I had heard they were here but I figured there would be ten or so. No--They. Were. EVERYWHERE. Even without food you could get close enough with some stealthiness for some great pictures.

But put some food in your hand, and you don't even have to try. They will come to you, and attack you if necessary. I felt bad for this guy. Those deer were filthy.

I could not believe how empty this place was. Aside from the deer, it was extremely rare to see another sign of life. In a vast field of grass and a few scattered trees, I saw only this man, who wasn't having to compete with anyone for a picture of his tree.

This place was too big to explore in one day and I wanted to get back to my hotel to be well rested for the following day when I would explore on foot (those trails were almost ALL uphill. no fun on the rented one speed bike)