Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ricky Martin, Menudo and Me (Another True Story!)



I first came to Japan in the late 1970s. I used to get a scholarship for university and I would take a bunch of that money and then go running around Japan... Then, when back at school, I'd starve as a student - it was well worth it. 

Back then, there were very few foreigners in Tokyo. When I would walk through Shibuya and the Scramble intersection, people would point at me and say, "Look! There's a foreigner!" Some people would even ask for an autograph.

Those were the good old days. Being a foreigner in Japan was the same as being some superstar merely because of where you were born (kind of like British royalty).

I'm standing in the white shirt. Ricky Martin is sitting in the middle in front in the blue shirt....10 years old.....OK. He was 13... So sue me... 


One time, I think it was Jan. of 1979, I was waiting for my friend at 109 department store in Shibuya. They had just completed building it and I was told to wait there for my rendezvous. I got there an hour early. But, after walking around lost in Japan many times before that, I thought it would be best to stay at the designated place and wait for my friend - rather than going off exploring and getting hopelessly lost again. 

No cellphones in 1979!

While I was there waiting, four different beautiful Japanese girls walked up to me and, looking me straight in the eye, said (in impeccable English), things like, "She's not coming. I'm supposed to take you to dinner." Or, "Your girlfriend called me and told me that she can't make it, so I'm supposed to take you to coffee now." Or, "It's getting late, we'd better hurry or they'll cancel our reservations."

What!?

I was so surprised. I wondered how these girls knew who I was and who my girlfriend, who I was waiting for, was? Weird, eh? How did they know?

Duh! I figured out after the forth girl asked me to go somewhere with them, that they didn't know who I was and they didn't know my girlfriend, but they were trying to "pick me up!"

"Wow! What a wonderful country Japan is!" I thought, "This would never happen back home. Never in a million years!"

It wouldn't. I have never had a girl try to pick me up back in my home country... Ever!

"Japan was like heaven!" I thought. I'll never forget that experience.


A few years later, I would return again to Japan. This time, I got a regular job on TV Tokyo’s “Ohayo Studio.” It was in mid-1983 or so. Ohayo Studio was hosted by a famous TV announcer named Shiga san (I don’t know his first name), and Yasuha Ebina. Yasuha was a famous pop-singer. Yasuha's dad was one of the most famous comedians in Japanese history. They are all very well known stars in Japan.

I couldn’t believe my luck. I had only been in Japan a short time – couldn’t speak a word of Japanese – and, by some miracle, I got a regular job on a daily kid’s TV show. Impossible! Incredible!

Me, Shinko san (she sang the tunes for McDonald's TV commercials) and Yukari Morikawa far right (who scored one of the biggest #1 hits in all of Japan in the 1980s!)

I taught short English phrases on Ohayou Studio once a week. Also, on that show, there would be local J-Pop bands appearing. 

One time, though, the world-famous Menudo came to the studio. Menudo was the first group that Ricky Martin was ever in and they were touring Japan and Asia so they stopped into the show.

I was looking forward to talking to those guys because, even though I loved Japan and everything about it, I was dying to speak English to another native speaker (Spanish? Oh, well, close enough!) and I was also simply dying for some good Mexican food! Figured that these boys might have brought along a few burritos!

In Japan at that time, there weren’t any good Mexican food restaurants at all. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Ok, well, I have to admit that that the band Menudo isn’t from Mexico, but, hell, being a dummy, I didn’t know that! I figured that they must have been from Mexico because the word “Menudo” is the name for a delicious traditional Mexican food dish. If anything I am logical, Mr. Spock!

Anyway, Ricky Martin and the boys from Menudo came to the studio and they “lip synced” (くちぱく) one of their songs. It was “OK.” (Wink! Wink!) After the show I went backstage and said to them, “Hi guys! I’m your biggest fan in Japan! I have all your records and I love Mexican food!”

They all looked down and kind of scowled and said, “We’re not from Mexico. We’re from Puerto Rico.”

How embarrassing! I said, “Oh? Yeah! I knew that! Well, that’s OK because I’m not from Japan! Ha! Ha!….. Ha!... Ahem...”

Oh, yes. I did feel kind of stupid. Why do you ask?

Anyway, after that dumb remark from me, I could tell the room was getting cold and it seemed like, all of a sudden, the guys from Menudo didn't want to talk to me so much, so I asked to take a photo and got out of there as quick as I could...

I could have never guessed that a decade or so later, Ricky Martin would become such a big super-star with that “Livin’ da Vida Loca” song…

So, I took the photo and, since then I have been telling people that I was an "original member" of Menudo; the photo is "proof"... My story goes like this: 

"Those brats in Menudo kicked me out because I was the most handsome one in the group. I was getting all the hot babes (at least the ones who could drink, smoke cigarettes and could go on a date without their mom driving the car!) 

Band management said that Ricky was extremely jealous of me and my action because of my devastatingly good looks, humility and being more "macho" (mui macho!) than all those skinny little punks put together (plus I had the biggest "burrito"!).... Ricky was jealous so I had to go! So they kicked me out and removed my name in the credits as co-writer of all their big hits, including "Livin Da Vida Loca!"

And that's the truth. So help me God! Bwa! Ha! Ha!

Seriously, though... I do look like one of them, don't I?


OK. FREEBIE!

Here is Morikawa Yukari singing her monster hit... Can you guess what song this is?





Monday, June 26, 2017

Che Guevarra Cigarettes!?


“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” Che Guevarra

Che Guevarra seems to be a cool image amongst hipsters and Socialists these days. Never mind that Che had, reportedly, 140,000 people executed and showed serious homophobia....  

Anti-establishment young people all over the world have Che’s posters at home and on their T-shirts. It seems that so many don't really have a clue as to what this guy was all about. They have no idea he was one of the most violently illiberal establishment figures in the history of South America. Why do people worship this guy? 

I figured it out!

They admire the image (which is cool!), but Che Guevarra wasn't a cool guy....

Che Guevarra is popular because of cool art ala Andy Warhol style.

Many years ago in Roppongi, there was a silhouette poster of actor Rudolph Valentino on the wall of a building. I am a Valentino fan so I knew who the man in the poster was; I asked many Japanese people if they knew who that man was in that poster; none of them knew. 

And, today, I suspect that 97% of the people who like this Che Guevarra image in Japan (and around the world) haven't a clue as to what he did or what he stood for.

Need proof? 

Now, in Japan, they are selling Che Guevarra cigarettes. I saw these at the store and just had to have a "Face palm moment."



Show that you are a good socialist by smoking Che Guevarra cigarettes.....

You're kidding me, right?

Or, even better show that you really don't understand what's going on and are historically illiterate by buying a quarter million dollar Humvee and having Che Guevarra's face on your truck displaying your true Socialist tendencies.

??????

Earlier today I wrote to my friend and I said, "You know, we are surrounded by a society at large that is 95% made up of crazy people. You realise that, don’t you?"

He responded, "More like 97%"

Maybe we both underestimate?

-------------------------

NOTES: My friend Thomas P. (Tom) Logan writes, "Hmmm...what's next? Augusto Pinochet cigars? Pol Pot breath mints? Nick Ceausescu chewing gum?"

Thanks, Tom.... "Ceausescu chewing gum" has a nice ring to it!!!! 


Friday, June 23, 2017

New Manga: The Obesity Virus Discovered in Japan!

Obesity Virus discovered in Japan. Worldwide Panic Ensues! A tasty and blood curdling tale about the Obesity Virus and how it was invented as a biological warfare weapon by the Imperial Japanese Army in late WWII. They wanted to make the virus into a gas and drop on USA, Brit, Chinese soldiers so they would get obese and couldn't run fast... But, the massive research pigs were all killed and US soldiers ate them - thereby taking the virus back to the USA in their own bodies after the war. Now you know why there are so many obese people in the USA! Finally! 

Finally, Japan gets revenge????

いつもツイッター連載「肥満ウイルス」をご愛読ありがとうございます!ついに登場!😍「コミック版 肥満ウイルス」作:ダニー(ザ50回転ズ)🐷肥満ウイルスをどんどん広めよう!!!http://ameblo.jp/himanvirus/ でまとめ読みできるよ!
(毎日のアップデートは:https://twitter.com/Himanvirus)


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cool & Strange Music Countdown June 20, 2017! Pinksideofthemoon, Japanese Led Zeppelin, Miami Dade County Police!

Welcome back to another episode of Cool & Strange Music for June 20, 2017!



Once again, it's time for our monthly dose of Cool & Strange Music.

Today I have a real variety of stuff for you... From Japan to the Super-Cool and the outright bizarre.

First up, let is take a trip to Japan and I do mean, "trip." The first song today was arranged by NHK. NHK is Japan's government run national TV station. I doubt I've had much good to say about them in the past (I don't know why the government taxes us to run a TV station - is this North Korea?)... NHK (like all TV) is bleeding audience, especially younger people. So they seem to have propped up a new company called "NHK Blends" whereby they take some of those tax monies and spend it on new projects. NHK Blends is described as: "A musical mix: East meets West." OK? Well, I do think the NHK Blends Youtube site is kinda cool.... Check it out. (NHK Blends Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUpWgbZCNH1bi7Zec_7tfNQ)

#3) Japanese Cover-Nijugen-Koto - Led Zeppelin-Stairway to Heaven:
https://youtu.be/nZPnt4tKGdU?t=1m (Song starts at the 1 minute mark.)


It's called, "Cool & Strange Music" for a good reason; some of the songs are really cool, like the Led Zeppelin cover above, and others... Well, there's "Strange" and then there's "WTF? Strange." The next song falls into the latter category. This is one of those, "Is this for real?" This time it's the Miami Dade Country Police Department wasting your tax monies on this video.

WARNING! Once you've clicked on the link below, you can never un-see what you have seen.

#2) Miami Dade Country Police Department - Sex Offender Shuffle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfCYZ3pks48



Oh, my god!!!! If you were able to watch that entire video above, then give yourself 100 points and go ahead, go take a shower now... We'll wait.

Finally, at #1 is Pinksideofthemoon featuring Lee Popa and Jolee. Their description of this video says, "Weather permitting, skygazers in America and Europe are in for a treat in the early morning hours of Tuesday, when the first total lunar eclipse in almost three years is poised to turn the moon pink   it was the first night of us recording music together we were watching a lunar eclipse and for a split second the moon turned a bright pink we had no choice we became the pinksideofthemoon." Check out their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/Pinksideofthemoon-110587222355798/

#1) pinksideofthemoon - Lost Inspace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKtEKvIgHtw


Well, that’s it for today! Hope you have a great rest of the week and hope you stay Cool and Strange!
See more Cool & Strange Music countdowns here: 
http://robot55.jp/?s=cool+%26+strange+music

And if you like new music and alternative artists check out the weekly Top 3 here:
http://robot55.jp/?s=Top+3+videos

Monday, June 19, 2017

Why Independent Artists From USA, UK and the West, Cannot Get a Recording Deal in Japan


Again, recently, I've had several people writing to me telling me to introduce them to a Japanese record label because they are "absolutely sure" they can break big in Japan. So I'm going to go over this subject again....

But before I go into why you, independent artist in the west, will probably never get a contract with a Japanese label (until you have a contract with a western record label first - and why bother? You can become big without either label because of the internet)... Let me give you some reality about Japan. From Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Other Western Artists are Minor in Japan 

This column is about Japanese Rock stars versus Western Rock Stars in Japan... The premise is that, in spite of the hype and hoopla in the western press, USA and UK artists have seriously fallen out of their position of "Most Favored" in Japan (and China and elsewhere in Asia). That's what this post is about.

But, over these last fifteen years, sales of albums from US and UK artists, and in turn their popularity, have dropped off a cliff. Western artists are just not the draw or as popular as they were a few decades ago. 

The last big western artist who could come to Japan and quickly sell out a few nights at Tokyo Dome was Michael Jackson at the height of his popularity in the early nineties. 

But that was a long time ago. Very few western artists can come to Japan anymore and sell out the dome even for one night. Most today don't even try. Coldplay certainly couldn't do it. 

In fact, I don't think there are any bands in the entire world (excepting, perhaps a Rolling Stones reunion) that could sell out a few days at Tokyo Dome these days. Aerosmith is playing there next week, for one night, but they are having a hard time selling tickets and will be lucky to sell out the arena seats on the first floor.

Read more here: http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2011/11/lady-gaga-coldplay-and-other-western.html


-----------------

In the last month, I've had three different artists' managers and agents from the USA, Ireland and Britain ask me for help in getting them a release deal or a music publishing deal in Japan. These people ask me because I play a lot of new and independent music on the FM radio. Perhaps they also know I used to run one of Japan's most successful Indies labels (in the late 80s & early 90s) and I have been involved with alternative music and the promotion of that kind of music since the late 70s.




Today, I'd like to write a short post about why it is next to impossible for an unsigned independent artist in the west to get a record or publishing deal in Japan in the year 2017. I do this to help people and I do this to help myself because I've written this explanation more times than I care to and don't want to do it anymore. 

This example though, I'm sure, is not just limited to the music industry. I think this example is a microcosm for all industries across the board in Japan when it comes to subsidiaries and licensing product across international boundaries.

Let me give you specifics.

I can think of three artists that I really like and have been playing on our weekly FM radio show. (I guess I shouldn't name them. You can see our playlist here: https://www.interfm.co.jp/wtf/)

Because of this support and these efforts to bring new music to Japan, I have earned the reputation for being the guy who finds these new artists and plays them years before they break even in the west. May I pat myself on the back? Recent examples were Amy Winehouse who we began playing heavily in 2006, a full two years before she she broke big, Guns & Roses, Rancid, and a bunch of others I can't recall now. I was the first one to play these artists in Japan years before they got popular even in the west. Over the years there were dozens. 

Like I said, this is an example, a microcosm, of how other businesses in Japan work also. If there is a parent company and a subsidiary involved you can be sure that politics play a big part in all decisions that are made... This point is obvious but many artists fail to grasp this.

In the past, I have also introduced independent artists to Japanese record labels and music publishers and have gotten them contracts. But that was well before the year 2000. Japanese labels and music publishers today are not interested in signing new western acts for the Japanese market and here's why...

Let's take the example of a world-wide label like Warner music. Warner in the USA releases hundreds of albums annually. Of those hundreds of albums, only a handful get released in Japan. It is unclear how the process for deciding which artists' albums get released in Japan is made. Ostensibly, it would be a decision founded on which artists' album the local label people believe would be most popular and sell the best, but I would be a fool to tell you that is exactly how it is done. I have been in Japan long enough to know that politics and favors are quite important in the decision room. I know that sometimes the good of the company is sacrificed in order to placate some employees' desires and wishes. 

I have witnessed, more than five times in my life, adult Japanese men over 40-years-old of age, actually crying or pouting like little children at business meetings because they didn't get their way. I've seen this in the last month, actually! Grown men crying like children! It was astounding. 

So remember that, perhaps, sometimes an album is released just because Mr. Tanaka is a fan of that artist even though the rest of the staff don't feel that it will sell well... And when it doesn't sell well? Does Mr. Tanaka suffer any penalty? Not immediately and perhaps never. In a few years he might be transferred to another section.

Ever heard of the Peter Principle? If you haven't you should. The Peter Principle says that, "In a hierarchy, every employee will rise to their highest level of incompetence." That, in a nutshell is one of the biggest reasons I can see why business is bad in today's Japan.

But I digress.

The western arm of the label releases hundreds of artists a year. In Japan, only a few of those are released. Politics play a big part. Now, when hundreds are not released, what would happen if the Japanese side arbitrarily picked up an artist from, say, London who wasn't signed to the sister or parent label and released that artist in Japan? Well, you can bet that the sister or parent company would soon find out about it and they would be very pissed off. It would become a major political problem for the western label (destroy their credibility in the local market) and it would then become a major political problem for the Japanese side too.

The western arm of the label would say (of course), "Hey! We have all these other artists that we released. Why don't you release one of those? Why don't you help us promote our artists?" A big row would ensue. And people would be angry and relationships frayed or destroyed.

The Japanese, not being ones to want to make trouble, would rather decline unilaterally signing an artist from the west - one that, by the way, doesn't even have management that the Japanese side has a relation with - so if there is trouble, they have no one to blame. 

The Japanese just won't do it.

In the west, you have the Billboard charts. In Japan, we have the Oricon charts. They are both corrupted by payola but they are what we use. To see the most recent Oricon charts, we have to subscribe and pay money. There's no way I'm going to pay money for that so here's the most recent Oricon Chart Top 30 chart that we can see for free. It's from Nov. 11, 2011. See if you recognize any names on the Top 30:



See any Adele? Lady Gaga? Katy Perry or Flo Rida? No? Neither do I and you will rarely, if ever, see them on any Japanese charts. Like I said, sales of western artists have dropped off a cliff in Japan. 

There won't be any recovery of those sales anytime soon, either.

Understanding these things, then you can see why your band, unsigned in the west, has a basically zero chance of getting signed here in Japan. I hate to break this news to you good folks and great musicians but it is what it is. Don't take it personally at all if a Japanese label or publisher doesn't answer your inquiries about your music. It's not about the music anymore.

Imagine if there were a time slip and your band were the Beatles, as yet undiscovered in 2017 and unsigned to a label in the west, there's no way a major Japanese label will sign you for release in Japan. It has nothing to do with your music and your talent and gift; it has everything to do with intra-company politics.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, if they were 18 years old today, would have a major problem. 

And that's why the major music industry is dying.

Good riddance?

NOTES: Interestingly, there are some indies bands in the west who do get signed in Japan to some really cool indies labels.... One good example are the Baby Shakes from New York. They got a licensing deal and I heard they have recorded songs here in Japan... How did they do that?

Baby Shakes - Do What You Want https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xF6Yl8RAqc



The Baby Shakes got signed to an indies label run called "Base" that is run by a really nice guy named Toshio. (BASE: http://recordshopbase.com/) Base is cool. I gather Toshio does what he does because it is a labor of love. 

Another cool label is Vinyl Junkie: http://vinyl-junkie.com/label/ (Vinyl Junkie might license your album, but not if it has already been released overseas... I have never heard of them doing anything but licensing.)

If you write to these good folks, you can tell them you read about them on my blog.... I don't know if that'll be any help, though!


- BIG THANKS TO ALEX KISH!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rock and Pop Musicians! Please Make Two and a Half Minute Songs!


Everyone knows that the attention spans of people are getting shorter yet rock musicians (people who are appealing to those with the shortest attention spans of all), keep making songs that are getting longer.

I don't get it.

According to the website: Attention Span Statistics data

"The average attention span in 2000, 12 seconds. The average attention span in 2012, 8 seconds. "

Yet, people keep making pop and rock songs longer and longer! Ever since "Let it Be" by the Beatles and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, which BOTH were six minutes long, pop and rock musicians keep making songs over four, even five minutes! Is this counter-intuitive? Or just plain, well, "Not smart"?


No. This is NOT what I want!

I think it's not very smart. Let me tell you why...

I program and select all the music for a very popular morning drive-time program in Tokyo. Our service area covers 35 million homes, so it's huge. I know that many people like me (I've asked) have agreed that the "perfect pop/rock song" is 2.5 minutes long (or thereabouts). Three minutes? Well, okay... Three and a half minutes? You're pushing it. Over 3:30? Hmmm, it had better be as good as the Rolling Stones, "Jumping Jack Flash" (which, I didn't look, but I believe is 3:48!) Still, with that, I will probably cut the last 30 seconds. Over 4 minutes? That's starting to get really difficult to use. Over 4:30 or 5? No thanks... Send me a radio-friendly version, will ya?

(By the way, if I must be going to a commercial in, say, 1:40 from now, and I have to cover the time, will I play the 2:30 song and cut 50 seconds, or am I going to play the 5 minute song that has a 48 second intro? Easy call, isn't it?)

Yet musicians keep sending us their new singles and the songs are all over four or five minutes. I hate it!

Why?

OK. It's simple. Did you know that there are ten times more listeners at 7 am than there are at 7 pm (due to people driving in the morning)? Let me repeat that: Did you know that there are ten times more listeners at 7 am than there are at 7 pm (due to people driving in the morning)? And the number of listeners rapidly declines after the morning driving time ends (in Japan, after 8:30 am). So that's why you want your song on before 8:30 am; there's many more potential listeners for your tunes if they are on early. 

Did you also know (at least in Japan's case) that the average listener listens to FM radio for only twenty minutes at a time? That's right.

Now, morning shows (the ones with, by far, the highest ratings) need a quick tempo and a fast pace. We don't have time to screw around. We have to get lots of information, news, weather, sports, traffic, commercials and music shoved into the shortest time span possible. That means we play lots of short songs in the mornings (when, as I mentioned, the ratings are highest)... That means we (well, I won't) play any songs at all that push the 3:30+ mark (or I just lop off a few minutes - do you want that?) 

I greatly prefer short songs. (See my show webpage and song list here: http://www.interfm.co.jp/wtf/... Scroll down. You can see that nearly all songs before 8:30 am - peak drive time - are under 2:45!)

If you send me a 2:30 song, then I will greatly consider that for airplay during the peak times... But, if you send me a 5 minute song? Yeah, later on in the show... Or never. Long songs are difficult to use.

Of course, I'm talking about the fun shows that are on in the mornings (did I say the ratings = more listeners - were higher at that time? I did? Thanks.)

That means, in my case, I will play short, up-tempo songs like early Beatles, Stones, Ramones at peak times to get the listeners pumped-up and ready to go in the mornings. We don't do easy listening...

It used to be that, long ago, songs were always under 3 minutes. What happened? I don't know. But this "long song" business is foolish. 

It's simple; if you want your songs played when there are the most listeners, then make them short. If you can't say it in 2.5 minutes, then you need to work on it.

Of course, there is a time and place for longer songs.... But generally not on the highly rated morning shows... I'm trying to wake people up in the morning and cram in as much as I can in the shortest space I can... But, then again, maybe people don't care about radio anymore... OK. I can understand that too.

But, knowing this, and if you DO want radio airplay, why would you want to make long songs?

Your call.

"Brevity is the soul of wit." - Lord Polonius from Shakespeare's Hamlet 1602

NOTE: Oh, and PS: If you are a new musician, then make sure you "Like" the FB pages of the radio programs you are (or want to) promote to. Our FB page is here: http://www.interfm.co.jp/wtf/

NOTE TWO: THE PERFECT SONG? I don't know but it's a great example of what I'm talking about. Within the first 30 seconds, you hear the intro, verse, chorus and hook... If this isn't perfect, then it's damned close: The Beatles - Paperback Writer (if link doesn't work, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmVwo2DxkGg)




Here's another one (You can argue with me but you can't argue with the success of the Beatles!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyclqo_AV2M



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Winning at Raffles, Bingo and Winning at Life Are the Same! Here's 5 Simple Tips on How to Win at All of Them!


(This post originally ran in July 2013.)

Once again, yesterday my son won the Top Grand Prizes at a Raffle contest at one of the big international schools here in Tokyo. The prize was a trip for two, all expenses paid, to New York, New York, or another destination of our choice.


My son with his grand prize certificate. Actually, besides the Top Prize, we also won two of the other Top 50 prizes. Count that in with a day outside helping friends and volunteering to make this world a better place, it was a day of constant winning! (Look at that smile! Any child who is that happy all the time has just got to win, right?)

It is about the fourteenth time he has won one of the big prizes at a raffle or bingo in the last four years. We always win. We have come to expect to win. In fact, if we don't win (at least a trinket), it has come to seem strange to me. 


Mar. 2011: Wins 11 games in four years. Grand Prize three times. Not a bad winning 
percentage. You really can do that too! 

Winning at raffles, bingo and winning at life are very, almost eerily, similar and I'd like to talk to you about that today. I think, if there is anything that I have been a massive success in my life at is that is being able to convince my children that they will "win." I have shown them that the way to "win" is by first believing that you will win and that you are a "winner.". I have even convinced - may I suggest that I brainwashed - my third daughter into believing that she would conquer "incurable" forth stage cancer. 

I do not mean here that you can believe yourself into winning a game of chance like a lottery or the raffle; I mean you can become a winner simply by changing your attitude and better understand of what it means to "win."

But before I go into theory and philosophy more, allow me to continue (brag like a looney) by telling you about the past and our "luck" and wins in all sorts of games and winning at bingo.

Two years ago, we won the very top prize of a vacation to Okinawa that included hotel and airfare. Yesterday, he won the trip to New York. In February  of this year, he won a gift certificate worth several hundred dollars at a very famous store in Tokyo. Last year, he won five times out of a total of 12 games or so in one tournament. Think about that; there are seven hundred people all competing at bingo trying to win the prize. To win once is enough to bring wide smiles and cheers to anybody's face. But he won five games in one night! That must be a record. Every time my son won, people were astounded. By the forth time he won, everyone was clapping for him. By the fifth time, people were verbally shouting, "That's incredible!" "I've never heard of such a thing."

The lady sitting next to us at our table last night has worked for the organization that ran last night's bingo for thirty years. She told me that she had been coming to this event twice a year, every year, and she and her husband had never won even once!

One of my son's former teachers knows my son won at bingo again and she wrote him this note by email:

"Congratulations! I just can't believe you did it again and I'm so happy for you. I believe you went to Bingo with a purpose in mind and had your heart set on the Grand Prize.

We can all learn a lot from you."


She wrote, "We can all learn a lot from you." Indeed. We can. My son's former teacher is very much a woman who understands a positive mental attitude and what that can do for a self-fullfilling prophesy.

Now, if you've ever played bingo, then you know that winning any prize is very difficult. People play all their lives and never win a Grand Prize. But winning it several times is almost unheard of. Last night, there were probably about seven hundred people playing and yet he won. It's always that way; seven hundred to one-thousand people playing and we always win. 

But, even before my son was born, I was lucky at winning these things. My wife too. And, don't think it is just luck. There is something to be said for a positive mental attitude or, may I go on a limb here? ESP.

My family and I have won at least a dozen grand prizes and at least seven free vacations to places all around the world.

But this is not a blog to brag to you about how lucky I am or we are. It is a blog to tell you how you can become this way. It's a not blog post to tell you how you can start winning Bingo. But, believe it or not, folks, winning at bingo and winning at life are EXACTLY the same thing. 

Winning is easy! It is easy, actually... Well, let me say that it should be easy... But people need to understand what "Winning" actually is. For most people, with a confused idea as to the definition of "Winning," it's "easier said than done." And you know why? Because most people are so negative and defeatist all the time. People are their own worst enemy. 

Think back to your school days. Think back to that guy or girl you remember that you envied. You thought they had everything didn't you? They always won. They were the best looking, they had the nicest car; they were popular, they always won at everything. They became class king or class queen. They had the coolest parents, the most beautiful girlfriend or boyfriend. They were truly lucky. You wanted to be like them.* 


My high school class king & queen. I thought they looked like movie stars!

Well, I hate sounding like a salesman, because I'm not selling you anything, but I'm here to tell you right now you can become one of those lucky people... Read on.

There are two really important things that you need to understand about becoming one of these lucky people. One is understanding what exactly it is that we are doing and its purpose in our life; and the second part is how these things affect your entire belief system. These two go hand in hand. 

The first part about understanding what it is that we are doing is, perhaps, the most important part. Today, we're using bingo as an example, so let's go with that. Think about this; is winning at bingo the best part of going to bingo? Is winning everything? I don't think so.

At bingo, I meet friends and other parents and always smile and shake their hands and say, "Hi!" We are all at bingo so, of course, the subject quickly turns to bingo. I always try to be extremely positive and say, "I always win!" They laugh. They don't believe me (the ones who knows us well don't laugh). Invariably, they all say the same thing,

"I never win." 

They say this with a voice of exasperation and defeat. Poor folks. They are totally and completely missing the point. They are really missing the boat in the bad lesson that they are unknowingly teaching their children subconsciously. Get this: I suggest to you that they are teaching their children defeatism and a losing attitude. 

I can imagine this family in my head; after "losing" at bingo (I mean, they don't win a "prize"), they hop in the car and go home. Dad and mom and kids are sad because they "didn't win." When they get into the house, dad takes off his coat and gives out a very loud sigh. "We lost again!" He says.

Is that any way to teach your children how to win? Is that anyway to teach your children how to be positive?  

Here is what I always tell my son before we play bingo;

"Remember the best part of bingo is not in the winning of trinkets or prizes, it is in the doing. Just being able to be here playing bingo with friends and family is winning. That is the "win." This is fun and it is a wonderfully exciting time we spend together. Just by being here together, we have already won. So smile and let's have fun!" 

It is. Playing bingo with my wife and son is a great memory and it is so very much fun. 

I tell my son this because I want him to be a winner. I want him to understand what "being a winner" truly is. This sort of thinking, this positive attitude, actually, I learned from an old Zen Buddhist saying,

"The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Can you understand this concept? The joy is in the action, not the result. Get it? I think people who truly love to paint or fish or golf, etc., can understand this. For the painter, a beautiful work is nice, but the true value and joy is not the finished painting, it is in the action of painting. For the fisherman, of course catching a fish is fun, but the true joy is standing there alone in front of nature and contemplating life - the joy is in the doing; for the golfer, the winning score is interesting, but soon forgotten; the real joy is in the day and the time considering the play. For all of them, the real value is in the action, not in the result. 

This is what is meant by, "The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Now, do you understand why, whether or not my son wins a big prize (a trinket), he knows, he believes and knows in his heart that he is a true winner? Can anyone deny that, regardless of prize, that we won merely by being able to go and play together and enjoy this moment together on our short time on this earth? 

Some people will scoff at this (they have a losing attitude). But let me ask you to consider this question: There are two children. They both have to go to school. One wakes up in the morning and says, "I don't want to go to school. School is no fun." The other wakes up and says, "I want to go to school. School is fun." Which kid gets good grades at school? Which kid becomes successful at school? Which kid is positive, is popular, gets the best girlfriend or boyfriend and becomes class king or class queen? And is considered a "Winner"

Simple, isn't it? It is the old chicken and the egg problem. Which came first? The kid liking school or the positive attitude? Which came first? Hating school or the negative attitude? And how did these children get these attitudes?

How do these attitudes affect our belief system? How can we change these attitudes? And, if we have children, how can we stop teaching them bad attitudes and start teaching them beneficial ones?

I think it is obvious how these attitudes affect our belief system. In the example above, do you want to be like the father above who comes home exasperated and continually expressed doubt and a defeatist attitude to himself or his children, or, do you want to be the person who understands that the joy is in the action and not the result?

Think about that: The family who thinks they "lost;" They just spent a wonderful time together, probably a rare time together, and they are so focused on winning some "stuff," (usually junk) that they fail to see the true value of what they have just done and they fail to see that just by being alive and being together that they've won the greatest prize of all!

I see this with people I meet everyday. They are worried about their job and the economy. They fear for the future. Almost everyone I see is this way nowadays.

But consider this, my friends; you are still here. I would wager a donut that you have had these fears and worries on and off for the last 5 to 10 years; "Will I have a job?" "What am I going to do?" "How will I survive?" With all of these worries what you are actually saying is, "How can I win?" Or, perhaps, "I never win."

Guess what? Thinking like that you probably won't ever win at bingo, and I'll bet that, even if you are winning, with that attitude, you'll never realize it either...

Today, many of my friends and many people are worried about their life and the future. It is natural to worry. I do it too! But I fight it. You should, you must, fight it too. Worrying, like saying "I never win at bingo," is creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. Stop it right now. If you say, "I never win," you won't win.

You need to start saying that you are winning (not "I'm going to win." You must say, "I am winning." In the present tense). Saying first. Repeating. This will start and plant the seeds of belief. When you believe, really believe, you can move mountains.  

From today, here's five things that you need to do to start on the track to believing that you can win at bingo and win at life:

1) Write down on three pieces of paper the saying, "The joy is in the action, not in the result." Tape one of the pieces of paper to the refrigerator and tape one in your car where you see it constantly and the last one in your wallet. Think about that phrase a lot. Repeat it out loud whenever or wherever you can.

2) Get a dollar notebook and start writing down your top 10 goals for your life and do it everyday! Here's how.

3) Wake up in the morning and the first thing you MUST do is think: "Smile! Today is going to be a great day!" If you can't remember to do this by yourself, then write it in large red letters on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

4) Start using the Law of Attraction and positivity to create a good self-fulling prophesy to help you. Here's how

5) Start greeting everyone you meet with a happy and healthy "Hello!" or "Good Morning!" Stop sounding like you are dead to the world. If you greet people with an un-energetic salutation then you sound like you are losing. Stop it immediately. Everyone is searching for positive people. You should be that person. Instead of being "dark" and absorbing light like a sponge, you should give out light. People are attracted to light.

And, number six, OK, I said there'd be only five, so sue me...

6) Call your mom or dad or kids and tell them you love them and do it RIGHT NOW! Don't hesitate! Or, better yet, give them a great big hug and tell them yourself how much you love them and how beautiful they are. Realize that today is a fantastic day and you all are the luckiest people in the world... (Oh, and of you do go to bingo, take grandma... She's lucky, right?) 

Some people read this and think that I am a very lucky person. I am. But I've been through two divorces, a war with cancer, family members dying in bizarre car accidents, worrying about work as we all do (nothing special)... I've been through a lot of difficult times... But you know what? I never forget something special; I know that projecting negativity will just make things worse; I know that projecting positivity, in the face of great challenges, is creating a good outcome for myself and my loved ones through the power of the Law of Attraction. I know that, by being happy and thankful that I create a better situation for you and a better situation for myself.

Remember my friends, "The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Stay happy. Stay positive. Spread positivity. You already possess the greatest prize of all.


* Did you know that those people you envied in high school who you thought were truly lucky had parents that went through a terrible divorce or a parent who died when they were young? Or they had a sibling who was terribly handicapped? Or they had a younger brother or sister who died at birth? The difference between these people and negative people? These people didn't allow these things to create dark clouds on their horizons. They took the challenges and learned from them and those challenges helped them to grow into better, more positive, more loving people.... Think about it. Everything happens for a reason. Look for the positive and you'll find it - or create it yourself.

For my friends: Dale Yost, Naomi Yamada, Allison Sayne, Jp Valentine, Julie Rogers, Sheena Rogers, George Williams, George Chumly Cockle, Takatoshi Uchiyama; and also a thanks to the positivity of the Moxxor gang of JT, James Turner, Jared Turner and John Saylor! You guys all rock!


Japanese Fruits: Wild Japanese Fashions in Tokyo

I like to walk around and take photos of beautiful people. Recently, I've been doing that a lot to and from my way to work. I always us...