Sunday, June 23, 2013

Musicians! No Long Intros and Titles on Your Promotional Videos


"Brevity is the soul of wit" - William Shakespeare (From "Hamlet")

Just a short message for my musician friends: Please! Do not put long intros and text at the start of your videos on Youtube!

Why?

Think about it:

1) People clicked your video because they either searched for you or saw a short description and thumbnail image... They want to see your image and music immediately. They don't want to sit through introductions that are longer than a few seconds.

2) Youtube already makes people sit through a 5 to 20 second commercial as it is. Just that causes people to click off your video. Don't make us wait even longer.

3) This is the deal-breaker. Even if someone likes your video, do you think that viewers want to sit through another long introduction on their second, and subsequent views? No. They don't.

Think about it. Do you like long text intros on anything? If people want text intros, they'll read a book... 

So keep this in mind: "Brevity is the soul of wit." People do not need intros longer than 3 ~ 6 seconds on Youtube. For the reasons stated above AND it already says your band name under your video on the page!

You want lots of views? Cut those intros out!

Ahem... 

To give you guys and marketeers a good example, I recently found a band from Germany that I love and think might be going places. Their name is The Merrybeats. They only have a couple of videos so I want to use theirs as an example (and a good way to promote them at the same time).

I wrote to Don Cire, the vocalist of the band and told him the above. I expect he will take it to heart and make the intros shorter (3 seconds? None?) for the next videos! This band deserves lots of plays!

Here is one of their videos. This is a delightful song that, once you get to it, I'm sure you'll enjoy... The only problem is that the text credits at the start are 22 seconds long! Yikes!




Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pandora's Promise! Huge Buzz about New Film Concerning Nuclear Power!



This film was chosen for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Festival is, as you may know, famous for premiering films that have had a decidedly anti-establishment and left-leaning attitude so for this movie to be chosen is a real jaw-dropper.

Here's some quotes of reviews:

"When was the last time you saw a documentary that fundamentally changed the way you think?"

"The most important movie about the environment since 'An Inconvenient Truth'" 

There's a very interesting premise in this movie. I want to see it when it comes out and hope it is released on Youtube quickly...

The only thing I do want to say is that, I don't believe in the theory of AGW, and so, if that's the premise of needed nuclear power, then I think it might be wrong... I do, though, believe that we have a lot of people on this earth who need to eat, live and have security. Wars over oil and resources are occurring more and more often. I do believe that we need to think about finding a way to safely use nuclear power. Thorium perhaps? Please refer to: Japan (and America's) Nuclear Future in Thorium 





Skepticism and an open mind are very good and healthy things! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vegetable Stands - A Microcosm of Why Japan is Such a Great Place to Live


I'd like to show you a little something about Japan that is just a little slice of the entire picture of why Japan and Japanese society are much better off than the USA and other western nations.

This one little episode speaks volumes about the people in Japan. Of course, people in serious denial will take this as an attack on the USA. But no. I won't say anything about that. I will merely link to an article that was written by an American and posted at Zerohedge. Read this photo blog and then go read the Zerohedge article. Draw your own conclusions.

But first, some details. 

There is a small farm near my house in Setagaya. Setagaya is a ward of Tokyo. This particular farm isn't 15 minutes away from the world famous Shibuya station in Tokyo. Shibuya is the city that is famous for fashions, things to do and places to eat. It is also the home of the awesome Shibuya crossing that everyone who comes to Japan visits at least once.


More details and a little reference; Tokyo is the biggest city in the world. There are over 35 million people living in the Greater Tokyo Area. This is even more mind blowing when you realize that, according to Wikipedia: 

By the "One Metropolis 3 Prefectures" definition, Tokyo is smaller than Los Angeles County (pop 3.8 million), and almost a third smaller at 13,555.65 km² than the Combined Statistical Area of New York, at 30,671 km². and 21.9 million people.

OK. So this is a vegetable stand on the east end of Tokyo; the most densely populated and crowded city in the world.


The local farm is run by a kindly old woman (She wouldn't allow me to take her picture) who told me that her husband died ten years ago so she comes out everyday and tends the farm. She said she's up before 4 am and out on the farm by 5 am. 


By 8:30 am or so, she goes back home. Before she goes, she puts out some fresh vegetables on her stand by the street for the locals to buy.


I always buy this woman's produce. It is delicious and fresh and cheaper than the local supermarket. The quality is much better than the local supermarket too as the old woman told me she doesn't use any sorts of chemicals or insecticides.

Wait a minute!? Think about this: She goes home at about 8:30 but she puts the veggies out for people to buy before she leaves? Who runs the vegetable stand? 

...No one. She uses a honor system... People are to take the veggies they want and put the money in the box before they leave... 


There are these sorts of vegetable stands all over Japan. Oh, yes, I do know that they have these sorts of things still to this day in some places far out in the country in the United States (though few and far between)... But, this isn't somewhere out in the country. It's inside of the world's most crowded city.

I know exactly what would happen to a fruit or vegetable stand like this if it were in a suburb of Los Angeles or New York; not only would people be stealing the vegetables, they'd, of course, steal the cash box too.

This set up wouldn't last 10 minutes in Los Angeles. This woman says her family has had this for over 75 years.

That things like this are commonplace in Japan speaks volumes about the people and the country.

The sign says, "Please don't 'take' the vegetables. God is watching you. Please put the correct amount into the box."

What is her security system? Japanese people still have mutual respect for people and random crime is still not a constant and serious consideration in daily life in Japan like it is in the USA.

And that's just a fact.

Oh, and, call it what you want, "America Bashing," "Anti-Americanism?" whatever... here's what anotherAmerican wrote. Here's the article from Zerohedge. I highly recommend clicking all the links and watching the videos...

10 Disturbing Tales From The Side Streets And Dark Alleys Of America  (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-19/10-disturbing-tales-side-streets-and-dark-alleys-america)

Oh, and to see that these aren't unusual cases, ever been to a Chuck E. Cheese? 

Chuck E. Cheese: Hotspot of Fights? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9IIWDCQ_S8)

- OK. I can't resist....I will comment... I showed the videos from the above 2 articles to my Japanese wife (who has been to the USA many times). Her comment? "American people? Are they all on drugs? Or do they eat too much salt so their blood pressure is way to high?" I think it's both and more.... Much more! Folks, this sort of thing NEVER happens in Japan.

- For some reason, this article was written for my good friends, James, Mayumi and Enrico.

L-R: Enrico, Mayumi, James (of Jimbo's Japan)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cool Time Lapse Video of Osaka


This is excellent! Time Lapse Video of Osaka by Paul Hillier.



For more wild stuff from Osaka, please see: "Osaka Fruits! Wild Osaka Japanese Fashions!" http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/07/osaka-fruits-wild-osaka-japanese.html

Thanks for the tip to my friend in Osaka, Kevin Riley!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Folks! Your precious photos on Facebook are not safe! Social Media is a Loser for Storing Online Photos. Can't Beat Grandma's old-fashioned Photo Album.


Yep. Social Media platforms such as Myspace, Facebook, etc. are losers for storing your photos and precious memories. If you think those precious photos of your child's graduation or your vacation, or the party or the wedding are safe on a Social Media platform's photo album space are safe, well then, guess again!

Thank god I did move many photos to "Photo Dump of Rock Stars I've Met"... But still, there are a hundred more (at least) gone forever.... I'm kicking myself. Folks! Your precious photos on Facebook are not safe! (If the link above doesn't work: http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/04/photo-dump-of-rock-stars-ive-met-in.html)

I produced a very popular FM radio show in Tokyo called "Good Morning Garage" on 76.1 InterFM and we had many famous guests on the show over the years. The list is quite long. I had put p the photos of us and those guests on Myspace so that the fans could enjoy them too. Guess what? They're gone!

Myspace went and deleted all the photos we had on our Myspace Good Morning Garage Fanpage (photos since 2006).... Hundreds of photos of us and artists and fans etc.... All gone. They didn't even send us a notice warning us they were going to do that. 

I hate Myspace.

Check it out. Poof! And like the South Park episode at the bank, "...and it's gone!" 

Don't believe me. Check it yourself: https://myspace.com/goodmorninggarage/photos... 

We had hundreds of photos there. Many, now, are lost forever. 

The photo with Jean Jacques of the Stranglers (by the way), Jimmy Page, Joey Ramone are some of the many that are lost forever.... Seriously, hundreds of photos.... 

It's my fault though, I guess it'll be the same on Facebook later on when that crappy service goes bankrupt too. 

We need a better way to take care of our old photos. 

In a way, this kind of reminds me of owning paper gold versus physical gold; if it's not in your hands, then you don't own it....

I guess it's pretty darn hard to beat the old fashioned photo album (that grandma likes so much) for not losing photos. 



Monday, June 17, 2013

The Emotional Employee - Good and Bad


In today's work environment when so many people are just doing the minimum, it's refreshing to find people who are so involved that they get emotional about their work. Far too often people merely go through the motions. People who get emotional can be a treasure...

Lots of people need to read, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"...

But I think there are a good type of emotions and a bad type of emotions.

It is a curse of the corporate environment that involves far too much politicizing in the work place that often causes relations between co-workers to take priority and precedent over the success of the project. This is a bad situation that leads to the bad type of emotions at the work place.

While having dedicated people who do get emotionally attached to their work is great, it can also be a double edged sword when those emotions actually are obstructive and cause people to miss seeing the forest for the trees.

In my experience, actually and unfortunately, twice in the last year, I've seen grown Japanese men sob at business meetings when things didn't go the way they wanted. These were guys in their forties! 

First they folded their arms in front of their bodies. Then they pouted. Then they actually cried! 

I am a cold-hearted person and watched for a moment and allowed them to stop sobbing. I then remarked as if nothing unusual had occurred, "Are you finished?... Anyway..." And I continued with the business at hand. It would not be good to dwell on emotional outbursts or respond as that may lead to a sort of ping-pong effect and escalation which won't help anyone.

Being emotional about the job and the dedication to the success of the project is a wonderfully appreciated and oft rewarded trait... Becoming emotional about the people you work with is not.

The good type of emotions is a strong will towards the success of the project and doing whatever it takes to get the project done and successful for the company, no matter what. That's dedication. Those are good emotions. You don't need to like the people you work with to do great work. You just need to keep a professional attitude. 

I read where the world famous New York Yankees baseball team have often had teams whereby the members don't get along with each other. In fact, there are famous incidents where the team members have brawled with each other in the dugout! Nevertheless, the team that has won 27 of 40 World Series Championships.

Universities need to start courses that give MBAs in staying calm and cool....

The purpose of the exercise called "work" is to win, not make friends.

Emotional maturity is greatly under-rated in the corporate work environment. 

Keep focused on what your goals are, stay professional and remember what an advantage that can be. You are there to win and make money for your company and for yourself... Not make friends. If you do make friends, then that's icing on the cake.

Working with people you may not like yet still creating and doing great work is the height of professionalism and performance. It is the holy grail that all of us should strive for.

...Oh, and don't forget to smile!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Abenomics in BIG Trouble


From Zerohedge:

Up until now, Japan's six month experiment with Abenomics has resulted in consecutive months of record trade deficits, soaring energy costs, rising staples prices and a jump in bond volatility and yields so dramatic it led to consecutive halts in the Treasury market and the bond market window slamming shut for corporate credits. It has not resulted in a jump in economic output, in capital spending, and an increase in wages: the three key things needed for a sustainable and viable recovery (despite projections that 6-12 months in the future all shall be well, and the BOJ hiking its economic assessment almost on a daily basis).

Read the rest: Time For Abe To Start Worrying About His Approval Rating?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yen Has Biggest JUmp in Three Years - Dow Drops on BOJ Disappointment - Big Day Coming for The Nikkei and Japan


As famous baseball player Yogi Berra was once quoted as saying, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." So we all know that only fools make predictions.... So, I'm a fool.

I'm guessing that today will be a big day in the Nikkei 225 and a big day for JGBs and the entire Japanese economy. Why? Well, something will happen today!

Chuckle.

Please refer to my post of yesterday entitled: Japan's Pachinko-nomics - The Two "S-Moves" - Abenomics Roller-Coaster

...Further down in the same article, it does point out the 800-pound gorilla in the room: 

"Highlighting the volatility, the Nikkei has had 10 sessions where intraday swings exceeded 2.5 percent since May 23, compared with 16 such trading days for the year up to May 22 and four such days in the whole of 2012. The U.S. S&P 500 only has had one such trading day in 2013, and the Euro STOXX 50 index has 11."


Gorilla? Yes. Read that first sentence again with my notes:


"Highlighting the volatility, the Nikkei has had 10 sessions where intraday swings exceeded 2.5 percent since May 23 (folks, that's 10 out of a total of 12 trading days!) compared with 16 such trading days for the year up to May 22 and four such days in the whole of 2012."


Day before yesterday, the Nikkei had another massive swing and yesterday it was weak and hanging on until a huge drop off a cliff in the last 30 minutes.



Today, I predict that what will happen will not be so unusual (when one is considering the Nikkei has had 500 points swings (or just about) for 11 of the last 13 days). But I'm predicting a big movement today of 500 points again. 

Why? Look at today's Yen dollar exchange rate (courtesy of Bloomberg):


 Uh, folks, it was over ¥98 yen to the dollar about 12 hours ago. a 2.74% drop is massive! See: JPY Surges the most in over three years...

Let's look at the Dow over night:



Why does another 500 point swing in the Nikkei matter today?

Well, because last week, the word in the Lame Stream Media was that faith had been lost in Pachinko-nomics, er, I mean Abenomics. Then, after Monday's +600 point jump, the same media was claiming faith was restored. Even though, that same day, Japan's trade balance plunged to near-record deficit levels... No problem, right?

No, I predict that after yesterday's 150 point drop in the last 30 minutes; a nearly 3% increase in the yen overnight; coupled with a poor showing in New York (that's is being blamed on the Bank of Japan), that we are headed for another wild day in Japan...

Let me say that if that wild swing is to the upside (which, hell, it could be, like I said this is like pachinko) then I will be VERY surprised.

I'm looking for a very rough day on the Nikkei today... Like another massive bashing to be exact.

For you faithful bulls, be warmed that I am always wrong, right? And, as my wife would abscond me, "If you were so smart, then why ain't you rich?"

I plead the 5th!

I told people to get out of Japanese equities while they had the chance on Monday. Monday would have been great!   

I should have been in the popcorn selling business. This is going to be a good show! 

I don't think this is rocket science.... Folks, get your popcorn ready! If you took my advice and got out of Japan equities then it's going to be a great show... If you didn't, then not so much....)

(Thanks to my friend Dingbat and Martin King for the inspiration!)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tokyo in 1979, 1984 and Today

(This article is being rerun for Michael McThrow and all the other Michael McThrows out there...)

All my life I've thought that having a diary was a good thing. I never started writing one because I was; a) way too lazy. And, b) Never really thought what was going on was worth writing about...

Actually, that last part is not exactly true... I thought it was interesting enough, it's just that I was always too drunk/high or fatalistic and figured that I'd die before I finished the book about my life's story... So why bother? I wouldn't get the royalties for the movie rights anyway. 

I reckon that makes sense in a twisted sort of way.

One guy, though, that seems to have been keeping a diary for all these years is my friend Andrew Joseph. He writes a blog called, "It's a Wonderful Rife." "Wonderful Rife" is all about his escapades as an English teacher in Japan in the early 1990's. Sometimes he has some really steamy stories that are quite full of ribaldry and sex. One such story is a recent posting about a hot babe named Junko. I think Andrew is in that story too somewhere, but I can't remember...

Read more about Junko and her other "friends" at

Ahem... 

Well, as you can guess... I've never written a diary. That's why, sometimes, I use this blog for one. Recently, Andrew's postings have inspired me to tell a short story about what Tokyo was like when I first came to Japan in 1979... Then, in 1984, when I moved here for good.

Today, in 2011, Tokyo is full of foreigners. Foreigners are not unusual at all in today's Japan (excepting way out in the countryside I hear). But it wasn't that way not that long ago. It used to be that foreigners were like movie stars in Japan merely by the fact that they were foreigners. I know. I was here when that was the case.

I first came to Japan in December of 1979. I was a Southern California boy and a university student. The Socialists who were running the government in the California at the time had something they called, "Affirmative Action." What that meant was that they thought they could use your tax money to even things out for others. If the population of your town was, say, 50% Hispanic, or some other minority, then they did some social engineering and required that all schools, government positions, and scholarships had to be divvied up amongst the Hispanics and whites 50/50.

At that time, I was a half-Japanese American guy at university. Having a Japanese mom and American dad put me in the classification as a "Pacific Islander" (nonsense, sure, but I didn't make the laws). Most of the Japanese American kids I knew studied stuff like becoming a lawyer or doctor. I was studying television. I would find out later that, at my entire university, I was the only "Pacific Islander" studying television (those were the days way before Tricia Toyota and Connie Chung, and all these other beautiful Asian American women you see so often on TV nowadays). 

Since I was the only "Pacific Islander" and I had very good grades, that set me up for a scholarship... Are you sitting down?... That was in 1979 and the government of California gave me over $7,800 to go to university! It wasn't a loan. They just gave it to me!!! Can you believe it? I couldn't either.

Of course, I didn't waste that money on school or books or stuff like that! I wanted to use it to have fun! I found out how to go around the system (It's the government after all! Of course they were all messed up!) and I got the check cashed and immediately went and spent a large part of it on taking a one month vacation to Japan.

I stayed at some friend's house in Chiba but, most of the time, I stayed at my girlfriend's house in Kawasaki. I didn't have much of a clue as to what was going on the entire time I was in Japan because, even though I was half-Japanese, I was too stupid to bother learning any of the language before I got here. After all, the second language of the Japanese people is English right?... Wrong!

One day, my friend in Chiba decided to take me to a prostitution parlor... Er, I mean, a massage parlor, er, I mean a "health parlor" called, "Soapland." He  brought me inside and I sat in a waiting room. It soon became apparent to me what kind of establishment that place was and I got very frightened! I know! I know! I am a wimp, but I was only 19 at the time and had never, ever paid for sex and wasn't about to then.

I'm not that kind of guy!  

Yes. She could frighten me out of my pants!

Like an idiot, I ran out of the Soapland and into the "pink" area of town and was completely and totally lost. Like I said, I couldn't speak any Japanese so I was walking around trying to get someone to help me find my way back to where ever it was I was going to....

In Japanese, the word "lost" can be said a few ways. There is "makeru" which means like, "I lost the game" and there is "mayou" which means like "I am lost and can't find my way" (as well as a few others). I opened my Berlitz dictionary and looked up "lost." There I choose the first definition which was "makeru." Which means, "I lost (the game)"....

But, "Makeru" can also mean "discount" too! So here I was walking around the pink area of town and all these yakuza looking types were trying to get me to go into their parlors for some paid sex and I was looking for someone to help me get back to my friend's place. I kept mistakenly saying, "Makeru!" (I'm lost!) and they took that to mean, "Give me a discount!" They all smiled and nodded and welcomed me into their places.

I couldn't figure out why they didn't understand that I needed help. They probably couldn't understand why, when I asked for a discount, and they said, "Yes!" yet I kept walking on. Finally, after wandering around totally lost for over 2 hours, through a stroke of blind luck, I found a police box and the police helped me to find my way back. 

I knew that I had better not take a chance and get lost like that ever again!

A few days later, my same friends took me to Shibuya to drop me off so my girlfriend could pick me up and take me to stay for the remainder of my trip at her home. What a relief that was! At least her English was pretty good.

I was taken to a very famous landmark in Shibuya. It is known by all Tokyoites and visitors to Tokyo as 109 department store. It still stands today as an extremely well-known landmark and meeting place. When I was taken there to meet my girlfriend, 109 had just finished construction and it was the pride of Shibuya.

My friend dropped me off and told me to stand in front of 109 department store, but I was early by an hour or so. Even with that, I was quite leery of going off and adventuring by myself because of the recent experience in Chiba so I thought I'd better stay put and wait for my girlfriend.

So that's when it happened. And that's the first amazing part of this story. I told you that there were no foreigners here at all. There weren't. While I stood there waiting for my girlfriend, all sorts of people were walking by me and pointing and staring. Some people said, "Hi!" I said, "Hi!" back.

After about 10 minutes of waiting an extremely beautiful girl walked up to me and said in very good English, "Why don't you come and have a coffee or tea with me?" I thought, "WTF? I didn't know this girl. What was going on here?" Even though she was a babe, I declined because my girlfriend was a babe too and, after coffee, what was I going to do? Where would I stay?

I know what you are thinking: "Duh! This Rogers guy is a real moron!" And, yes, I would agree with you.

Well, I said, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the beautiful girl and just thought, "Wow! What an awesome babe!"

But it wasn't just that girl. After her, three different extremely gorgeous women walked up to me and, in very good English, basically asked me the same thing! The last two really blew my mind. One said,

"Oh, I'm sorry. She's not coming, you know. Why don't you just come along with me?"

The last one was even more brash and said, 

"She called me up and told me that she can't make it, so she wanted me to take you to dinner." 

I thought, "You know my girlfriend? Are you sure? Wait a minute!" 

Finally, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, it dawned on me what was going on. These girls were actually trying to pick up on me. I couldn't believe it!  In all the years I had lived in the USA not once did a girl ever ask me out for a date excepting Shanda Shinkaruk, my very first date which was a Sadie Hawkins "Backwards dance" when I was in ninth grade. Now, here I was in Japan, standing on the street corner and, all within an hour, four different girls... NO! Four different extremely awesome sexy Japanese girls who you'd die for were trying to pick me up!

It was like I'd died and gone to heaven!

"What a wonderful country Japan is!" I thought. "I want to live here!"

That was 1979. You may think I am totally stupid, but, my girlfriend, by the way, was a famous model at that time and was on the cover of magazines... That's why I thought twice about dumping her for these hussy women... Today? Absolutely not! I wouldn't think about it for 1/2 a second before I'd be massaging their toes and cooking dinner for them every night!

Anyway... Between 1979 and 1984, I came to Japan many times and, each time, I never wanted to return to the USA... Finally, in 1984 or so, I got fed up with the USA and my job and decided to move around the world. I wrote about that in Working With Thieves Liars and Crooks. But the first place I wanted to live was, of course, Japan.  

In 1984 foreigners were still rare in Japan - and popular with the women, and that led to my first divorce as I was unable to control my hormones.

I still feel sorry for my ex-wife and kids about that. Forgive me. The How to Survive Women Blog has an excellent article about that entitled: Cheated on - Now What? 

But I digress.

By 1984, when I moved to Japan, I had taken several courses in Japanese language at my university and was one of the top students in class (it didn't hurt that there were many Japanese exchange student women living in the dorms with which I could, er, "exchange" lessons with.)

I landed a job with an English school in Shinjuku, then Iidabashi. Since I could speak some Japanese, I was the liaison between the Japanese staff (managers) and the few foreigners on roster. 

Those, my friends, were the glory days of English teaching in Japan.

Yen to dollar rate from 1985 to 1989. From 1985 to 1989, the US dollar lost 1/2 its value against the Japanese yen. English teachers were being paid $50,000 a year - or more - working part time teaching English!

In those days, since I was in management, I know, there were English teachers at our company getting paid, I'd say, on average, ¥700,000 per month. Some were earning over ¥1,000,000 per month. ¥700,000 per month, in 1985, was "only" about $2,756 per month in USD. By 1989, that was about $5,512 per month... And that was for 20 hours a week of classroom time!

Think about that! English teachers were so rare in those days that they were earning, on average, more than $60,000 a year in 1989. People who couldn't get a job mowing lawns back home were pulling down $60 thusand dollars a year teaching part time and sleeping with their students! Since I was a measly liaison, I was only making $80,000 a year to babysit those dumb foreigners (maybe not so dumb, eh?) I even knew a few guys who were making twice that amount.

Like I said, those were the Golden Days of English teaching in Japan. No matter how much I warned other foreigners around me, people played and spent like the gravy train would never end. So don't tell me that teaching English in Japan is a crap job, I remember when it was an awesome job!

Like I said, English speaking people were a rarity and we were always short of them. My old boss, Mr. Hasegawa, and I would go to Shinjuku station and hang around looking for foreigners to teach classes for that evening. We were desperate! If the foreigner was walking and breathing, then they qualified for a teaching job.

We even hired white guys with the names of Ewvig and Euwie (from Austria and South Africa) and told them to say their names were Eric and Ernie, just to save, er, "confusion"... Oh, and don't forget to say that you are from "Canada" or "Nevada"... That's to "explain the accent."

I remember a guy named Arya who, during class, wowed the students with some great phrases like, "Someone explain me this!" or "How to someone say that?" Seriously, he really did say things like that. I cringed...

But it didn't matter...

Those were the days. Us foreigners were rare and oft sought after. We got paid gross amounts of money. Even if we were the dorkiest jerks in town, we got the hottest girls... And why? Not because of our training or education, but just because of our looks, even if they weren't good. Just because we didn't look Japanese. We had the place in the top of society just because of who our parents were and where we were born. Pure and simple and stupid blind luck.

Today, being a foreigner in Japan is no big deal... In fact, in many circles, it is now a detriment... It used to have style and pizzazz! Not anymore.

There is no real moral to this story excepting that I can say that Japan, up until the mid-nineteen nineties was pure men's heaven... I thank god to have been able to have lived through that, in the right place, and at the right time.

Seriously, she was one of my students... Well, at least several girls who look exactly like her were.

NOTE: Later on, I'm going to have to write about when I was a teacher at a girl's high school... Now THAT was a dangerous job. There were at least 9 awesome girls in my class. Or the time I was teaching another class and a girl that easily scored a 10+ wanted to talk to me after class and she started unbuckling my belt while we were discussing her score... Of course, I gave her a 100... Both jobs I quit immediately... Like I said, they were way too dangerous.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"Gin no Sara" - Super Popular Sushi Commercial in Japan


This internet commercial is a huge hit in Japan now. It's for a sushi delivery company and it talks about the secrets that go on behind the scene of commercial shoots.



Here's a quick translation that I've made for you:

At 0:14 the director yells, "Cut! She is sweating!" 

Narrator (The guy with the mustache and glasses): "In the heat of summer we shoot winter scenes! When we shoot TV commercials there are so many scenes that we hide. 

0:21 Narrator: "That extremely smart dog won't act unless we use bait to get him to do his part... When he gets tired, we have a bunch of replacements for him..."

0:28 Narrator: "Shsssh! Our main actress is treated like God...." 

0:30 (Guy has lines written on his shirt) Narrator: "...She doesn't need to remember her lines..."

0:35 Narrator: "In the world of commercials, she has no wrinkles or lines... And we make her taller and skinnier..."

0:40 (Cell rings on assistant's phone) Narrator: "There is nothing that interrupts her acting..."

0:44 (Samurai attacks narrator) Narrator: "Of course, I'm not cut! But the sound was pretty good, eh?... It's this.... (Narrator looks to guy cutting cabbage).

0:53 (People in suits sitting around monitor) Narrator (whispers): "Oh? The sponsors..."

0:55 (Assistant pouring whiskey into coffee cups) Narrator: "We pour whiskey into the coffee of these people who are always complaining....That way they don't care about 'strange things' or mistakes."

1:04 Narrator: "It's a secret but there are ghosts in the studio! One female ghost always tries to bother the female actresses because of rivalry.... There's also a ghost of a guy who wanted to become a director but failed... There's a samurai ghost too who is still trying to destroy his enemies!"

1:11 (Fat guy at computer monitor) Narrator: "For those times we have a guy who is a professional at editing out ghosts!"

1:17 (Narrator explodes) Narrator: "Commercial shoots are healthy and safe."

1:20 Narrator: "It's the age of computer graphics so nothing is impossible!"

1:23 (Dummy explodes in parking lot) Narrator: "If we didn't have computer graphics, this is what would happen..."

1:26 Narrator: "When you are talking about commercials, you are talking about the scenes with people smiling."

1:28 (Bored and sleepy kids) Narrator: "But it is here that the biggest secret is kept. This subject is a taboo amongst TV commercial staff."

1:31 Director: "Yoshida!... Bring that!"

1:33 (Yoshida (guy in red) runs onto the shoot with sushi) Yoshida: "Everyone! Here you go!"

1:38 (Kids start jumping up and down) Kids: "Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!"

1:45 (Director yells 'Action!') 

1:46 Narrator: "The perfect smile is 'Gin no Sara.' It is the hard and fast rule of this business! 

1:50 (Main actress crashes through wall) Narrator: "When the pissed off main actress won't come out of her dressing room! She'll come out with a great smile here!"

1:54 (Hollywood Actor retuning on Helicopter) Narrator: "When the Hollywood actor says he's going back to Hollywood and not coming back, he returns immediately with a big smile!"

1:59 Narrator: "Gin no Sara" (Gin no Sara is, of course, the name of the sushi delivery company that made this commercial).



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Abenomics Has Failed


Well folks, Elvis has left the building. Abe had a big announcement today and failed to jawbone the market back into line. As of 3:25 pm on June 5, 2013, the Nikkei Stock Market and the US dollar/yen rate have announced the market's verdict: Abenomics have failed.



The yen has cracked to under ¥100 to the US dollar. Look out below! See the spike? That's when Abe began to speak... Gee, what happened within an hour? Your guess is as good as mine.


Bloomberg reports:

The yen gained against most of its major counterparts after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy failed to boost domestic stocks. 

Japan’s currency rallied against the dollar and euro after the Topix index of shares extended losses to more than 3 percent. The dollar erased earlier gains driven by speculation the Federal Reserve will scale back stimulus measures. A volatility measure of Group-of-Seven currencies was near the highest in more than three months...  

“The yen is swayed by the movement in equity prices,” said Akira Moroga, manager of foreign-exchange products at Aozora Bank Ltd. (8304) in Tokyo. “Stocks which rose in anticipation of Abe’s growth strategy were sold off after the announcement lacked any concise measures.”

At the same time, while all this is going on, the JGB market is going berserk.

Zerohedge has a great article about the next chapter in this farce entitled "The Problems With Japan's "Plan (jg)B": The Government Pension Investment Fund's 'House Of Bonds'", the raiding of the $1.1 trillion dollars that are sitting ducks in the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) which is now in the sights of the Japanese government... But! That is the final gamble and it is a wild one!

Nobuyuki Hirano, chief executive of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, admitted that the bank’s Y40tn ($485bn) holdings of Japanese government bonds were a major risk but said he was powerless to do much about it....The risk facing Japanese banks from their vast holdings of government bonds has been underlined by the chief executive of the country’s largest bank who said it would struggle to reduce its exposure. 

Well that's not good: if the largest Japanese bank can't handle what may soon be concerted selling by one of the largest single holders of JGBs, who can? And what can be done then? Oh, that's right: this is where Kuroda's plea to please not sell bonds, just to buy stocks comes into play. The problem is only the BOJ can come up with money out of thin air, for everyone else buying something, means selling something else first. So unfortunately unless the BOJ wishes to further increase its QE, which will be needed to absorb all the selling without a surge in yields (something Kyle Bass warned about last week), a move which however would further break the connection between bonds and inflation expectations, and further destabilize the equity, FX and bond markets. 

So in short: Japan's Plan B is not only not a panacea, but it is a House of Bonds Cards that would not survive an even modest gust of wind, and an even more modest contemplation into its true internal dynamics. We would urge Messrs Abe and Kuroda to come up with a fall back plan to the fall back plan before it, once again, becomes too late.

I think it is already too late.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Smoke on the Water Japanese Traditional Instrument Style. 大江戸の火消し

This is awesome! A traditional style Japanese orchestra featuring tradition instruments and Japanese Traditional style Shamisen playing and "Naga-uta."

大江戸の火消し


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Keywords: Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water, Shamisen

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Survival Under Atomic Attack film (1951)

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers
This short movie was created by the US Office of Civil Defense. I think it goes a long way in showing just how nutty these people we have in government are. It is, in some parts funny, in others just plain astounding... The propaganda purposes are always in forefront.

Especially the part, when referring to what happened in Japan after the atomic bombing, where they say that "That a large majority of people exposed to nuclear radiation  recovered completely including those who suffered radiation sickness." For more on that, see "Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What People Experienced."

Wikipedia says abut the US Office of Civil Defense:

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) was an agency of the United States Department of Defense from 1961-64. It replaced the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. The organization was abolished on July 20, 1979, pursuant to Executive Order 12148. It was a predecessor to theFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Oh, great! They became FEMA. You know, that fine organization that handled the New Orleans area after hurricane Katrina...

This is a fascinating short film. All you have to do is hear the opening narration to know that you are in for a massive dose of 1960's US government propaganda.

"Let's us face, without panic, the reality of our time; the fact that atom bombs may soon be dropped on our cities. And let us prepare for survival by understand the weapon that threatens us..."


Think about this for a second and then you can understand why we should fear what our leaders are doing in our names: was there every anything so damned important that the Soviet Union did that would warrant us risking having our cities and citizens evaporated like the hundreds of thousands at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Film from Internet Archives
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Keywords: atom bomb, Marketing Japan, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Hiroshima, Nagasaki,  Office of Civil Defense, film, Mike Rogers

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Final Battle Scene of Orochi 1925 Japanese Samurai Silent Film

I have found a wonderful 8 minute film showing an example of a silent movie from Japan from 1925. The movie is called "Orochi." 


Japan has always had a rich cinema industry and it might surprise many that silent films were made in Japan before 1900.


I am a big fan of silent films and thought that you would enjoy this too.


Here's the description taken straight from the Youtube channel of Saturnome:


Here's the final sword fight of Orochi, a obscure 1925 samurai film by forgotten director Buntaro Futagawa featuring star Tsumasaburo Bando.

It story concern a unlucky samurai who fall from grace due to various misunderstandings and tries to save his reputation. It's ending makes it different than what we are used to.

It's interesting how it feels like they're trying to capture a wild animal. The whole village is there, scared to death of a single, desperate and crazy-acting man. The battle ends when he kills someone in the crowd. Viewed as a monster by everybody, it is actually the first time he kill someone and can't take it.

Japanese films of the 1920s are almost nonexistent these days due to earthquake, fire and other hazards which have destroyed much of Japan's silent legacy. Orochi is a very rare kind which survived in complete form to these days.

Though it is not exactly a masterpiece (but it is very enjoyable) it's historical importance and uniqueness status can't be overstated; it's a rare chance to enjoy a certain kind of cinema.


The voice you hear is a benshi, a traditional silent film narrator of Japan. This track was recorded for the Digital Meme's DVD release. Thanks to them, this film now can be viewed anywhere in the world.