Monday, August 28, 2017

Great Review of Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story by UK movie critic Tony Lee!


There is a great review #GHOSTROADS from Tony Lee (famous UK movie critic) for Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story.  http://www.tonysfolio.net/ghostroads-review/ … 

It reads:

Screamin’ J-Rawkins! 

Who knew that the formative spirits of rock ’n’ roll like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley still haunt the downtown clubs and back alleys of contemporary Tokyo with such …life? Ghostroads is a kooky spooky showcase of a thriving J-Rock underground scene, which venerates the pioneers of the low-slung guitar, and shines a spotlight on its multifarious stars of today. 



Renowned Japanese guitar hero Mr Pan plays Tony, enigmatic leading light of The Screamin’ Telstars. He finds himself in a mysterious guitar store when a screeching solo goes one louder and blows his trusty speaker the night before a gig. Lurking beyond the regular equipment, in a forbidden back room, he’s drawn to a battered old amp that seems to be just begging to be taken. It’s as if it’s beckoning him somehow, talking to him even. The looming shopkeeper lets him take such a tatty piece of junk away for nothing. A struggling retailer donating goods for free is maybe the point at which he should have become suspicious… 

Sure enough, all was too ghoul to be true, and the voice, the spirit of the amp, shimmies into existence before him. A classic ‘the devil has all the best tunes’ scenario unfolds as, under the ghostly guidance of this sharp-suited spectral soul man (Darrell Harris), Tony can suddenly play like the wind. (Read more here: http://www.tonysfolio.net/ghostroads-review/)

Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story World Premiere @Raindance London Sept. 25 - tickets here: 

https://raindance.ticketsolve.com/shows/873578421


Sunday, August 27, 2017

What Does a Piano Competition Have to Do With Raising Children?


The Semi-Finals and the Finals for the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition in Asia were just held at Showa University of Music in Shinyurigaoka. My just-turned 11-year-old son was in the competition.

The Chopin International Piano Competition in Asia is one of the highest level and most prestigious competitions all of Asia. Just to be able to compete means that these children have made it to the top level of their class. Some of those kids are simply amazing!

In October the finals were held for Tokyo and, in his first attempt, we were pleasantly surprised when our son won a Bronze Medal and made it to the semi-finals. He is in the 11-year-old to 13-year-old category so we did not expect to win a medal (some of those 13-year-olds are incredibly awesome and there is a big difference in growth and body strength between a 11-year-old and a 13-year-old!) So we were extremely happy that he even made it to the semi-finals in his first year trying. Most 11-year-olds didn't pass the earlier competitions.



If you have a child and they are involved in any sort of competition like this, then you know it is not just a competition for the child; it becomes a group effort involving the parents, siblings, an instructor (or two or three) and, perhaps, even some family friends. My contribution? I make breakfast and dinner almost everyday, do the grocery shopping, and am chauffeur and delivery boy so that my classical-piano-trained-wife can focus on working with our son in honing his skill and talent. Thanks to this group effort, and the extra effort of his instructors, he fared well.

A few days before the semi-finals, we had the chance for our son to practice on a real Steinway grand piano for a few hours so I decided to make a video of his practice. It's not often that one can get to where a real Steinway is located and be allowed to video tape and have a run of the stage! So, I just had to make this video! When it was finished, I just knew I wanted you, dear reader, to see it.

This was a live performance, in a private seating, on Jan. 8, 2015 at Shiodome Hall in Tokyo of Chopin Impromptu. If the link doesn't work, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGg9FEXgqTY


(If you enjoyed the performance and the video by Mike Rogers and Ken Nishikawa, please go to the Youtube link and give us a "Thumbs up!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGg9FEXgqTY)


Trust folks, that when kids get to this level of skill (the top level in their peer group) in anything; be it any musical instrument, ballet dancing, classical violin, soccer, baseball, swimming, painting; heck, anything involved with art, skill or talent, that they have gotten to the point that it is almost 100% completely up to the child as to whether or not they can succeed. Only if the child really wants to do this and they have the inner talent, hunger and desire to succeed in their hearts and minds, can they take their "game" up to the level they need. The parents can push and push and push forever, but it won't matter (in fact, pushing too much is detrimental); the child must feel and desire to succeed in their goal in their entire being in order to, well, hate to be corny but to "Feel the Force." A flower cannot be forced to grow.

Well, as it turns out, our son didn't make it to the finals. He was a bit disappointed but... at the semi-finals, he played the best he's ever played, so we are more than proud, pleased and satisfied. We couldn't have asked for more! In his first try he made it to the semi-finals so we are not disappointed at all. 

If he didn't play well; we might have been disappointed. But, he played his heart out and played wonderfully. At this level of competition, winners and kids who didn't win (because win or lose, all these kids are winners), are all decided by the tastes and whims of the judges. 

One of my sons instructors was at the competition and witnessed his performance and praised him greatly; she believes he can win. Maybe he can win, but not this year. My son says he wants to try again next year. 

So, we get to go through it all again… Next year. What a wonderful experience and great memories for parents and their children.

As my friend Ken always says; "Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow." 

As my friend Jyoti reminded me;

"What day is it?" asked Pooh.

"It is today." squeaked Piglet.

"Oh? My favorite day!" said Pooh.

Life is fun. We are happy. Hope you are happy too. 


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

NOTES: I have harped on this subject relentlessly and will until the day I die: I am a professional in broadcasting so I like to think I know what I am talking about concerning the subject of TV. There is no way my son (or any of these other children who were in the Chopin Competition in Asia (or anywhere else) could ever be in this sort of competition or at this sort of level of skill had they been watching TV. Do your children a favor; throw away your TV set. For more, please refer to: The Plug-in Drug www.lewrockwell.com/2008/02/mike-in-tokyo-rogers/the-plug-in-drug/

School is, of course, extremely important. I choose my son's school for a variety of reasons and, soon, I will post about that. But for now I'd like to recommend St. Mary's International School in Tokyo. I know many graduates of that school who are leaders in business (presidents and high ranking executives of big companies in Japan) as well as well known musicians and athletes. In fact, in the music department, St. Mary's Boys Choir is internationally famous and has won many awards over the years... You don't get that way without skilled and talented professional instructors. I know that St. Mary's is tops in this country in these fields. I cannot count the number of times, in my capacity as a guy who did marketing for huge corporations in Tokyo that I have met big shots who were graduates of St. Mary's in Tokyo. http://www.smis.ac.jp/ 

The world is getting more and more difficult. It's getting harder to succeed, and even to survive in. I think this is because of the economy; and it's going to get much tougher from here on out. School is to teach math, reading and writing, but also needs to teach our kids how to think and get a meaningful job, a dream in life and how to prosper in our society. 

Get rid of the TV; get them into a top level private school (or even home school?) Our kids need all the advantages they can get.

THANKS: To my best friend Ken Nishikawa. Without Ken, none of these video productions could be possible.

ADDENDUM: August 27, 2017. My son made it to the "All-Japan Finals" again... "Hell time" at my house from now. Do or die! Step up and hit the home run or go back and try again..... School, study, practice - AND karate practice (he is one step away from Black Belt)... Could have NEVER done these things if he was watching TV.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Packed Tokyo Trains and Subways Used to be the Best... Now? Air Conditioning Has Ruined Everything.


In the late 70s and early 80s, before the Yamate Line and most of the Tokyo subway platforms and subway trains were air conditioned, they were the best.

Now, it's not so good. 


"Get yo ass in there!"


I mean, look at this video. What a ripoff! This train is half-empty. It needs many more people. This is nuttin.'


This ain't nuttin'! What a bunch of woosies!


Back in the old days, when Japan's economy was booming and the the trains were REALLY PACKED (not like today) riding the trains and subways was great exercise. As well as great practice in being a Zen Buddhist.

Ommmm....Ommmm....Ommm..... 

Especially back in the late 70s and early 80s when the subway wasn't air conditioned. I'd get on the Tozai line in the early mornings and get a full body massage and get in some gymnastics and ring work in while I made my way to the office. 

Not only did I get some great stretching in I could get a great workout on the rings (like an Olympic athlete). The full body rub down every morning was definitely a plus. I could tell the people giving me the rubdown were experts at that and had lots of experience. Real professionals. Top quality.

And, right after the workout, a sauna? Not necessary. It was August and hotter and more humid than a sumo wrestlers arm pit after an 8-hour-workout (and it smelled like one too!) by the time I got to Iidabashi station, I was completely soaking wet and ready for a great day at the office. 

Now, you tell me, could there possibly be a better sports club than the Yamate Line or the Tokyo subways back in the days before the air conditioning? I doubt it (and the price was amazing!).... 

Oh, and back in those days, after a hard work out, we could all enjoy a cigarette on the platform too like real gentlemen. Not like the uncouth crap savagery we suffer from today with "Smoking Areas" outside the stations!

Oh! Those were the days!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Professionalism is Craftsmanship: Years of Effort, Dedication and Experience


Professionalism is the same as craftsmanship: work on it and strive for it everyday and, one day, those specialized skills will reward you handsomely. 

As we get older, we must strive for perfection in particular skills as we will never be able to beat mass production like McDonald's. 

I remember when I was a junior high school student. I loved wood shop class and would later go on, with the help of great teachers in high school, to build furniture that won awards at the State Fair (twice in fact! - yes, I was a geek, why do you ask?) 


In 1973, when other kids were making napkin holders in wood shop class, I was making stuff like this French Provincial end table. I won a Blue Ribbon (whatever that means!) at the State fair for this one when I was a sophomore in high school. This table still sits in my living room as sturdy as the day it was built (plus a few nicks and scratches). I'm expecting that this will be an antique in my son's living room someday.


One day, when I was in seventh grade, I asked my wood shop teacher (forget his name) how to make a brace for a table leg that had a dovetail. 

The instructor grabbed the piece of wood I had and said, "You make a 3/8 inch cut along this line." He took a pencil and instantly drew a straight line along the piece of wood, without a ruler or without checking size, or anything; he just scratched it off, just like that, in the blink of an eye, with the pencil right then and there. Then he handed the piece of wood back to me. 

I looked at the wood in confusion. I wondered why he drew a pencil line on my piece of wood? I said, 

"Why did you draw this line?" 

He replied, "I said, 3/8 of an inch." 

"How do you know this is straight and it is 3/8 of an inch?" I asked incredulously. 

He looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Years of experience, young man." Then he walked away. 

I went to my workspace and used a ruler to check the line he had drawn: I was awestruck! It was perfectly straight and 3/8 of an inch all along the breadth of the piece of wood in which he shot off that line seemingly without a thought. 

I was astounded!

Truly, professionalism comes with years of dedication, effort and experience. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Japan's Summer Holidays, Japanese Department Stores, Cute Stuff, Donald Duck's Ass and Me


Yesterday was August 15 in Japan. It was the end of  Japanese summer holidays and "Obon." 

Wikipedia explains Obon as: "Obon (お盆) or just Bon (盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori."

Every year, at this time, like clockwork as has been the case for the last twenty some years, my family returns to my wife's hometown to stay with her parents and welcome back the spirits of loved ones past. 

My wife's parents live in the country. There's not much to do here except relax...

Also, every year, at this time, I accompany my wife to the local big Japanese department store. Like I said, there's nothing much else to do. Japanese department stores sell the usual stuff, but they also sell some really cute stuff. I took some photos for you of the cute stuff they sell.


 

It's a Japanese department store so they sell stuff like these "Yukata." Yukata is a sort of "Summer Kimono" the Japanese like to wear these things to go to festivals and get into the spirit of the season. Of course, they have many different kinds and styles. The ones above seem sort of traditional (maybe for folks a bit older and more conservative.)


Ah? These seem like they'd be good for a younger couple... That one for the male of the species looks like it could also double as a table cloth.


This yukata is for the ladies. Smart design! It's suitable for the younger ladies and the older ladies could turn heads with this one too!


These are Japanese ladies accessories. At the top are "Tabi" socks (for wearing "Zori" - those wooden sandals.) In the middle are little handbags (my daughter says she thinks those small purses are called, "Kinchaku.") and, at the bottom, are ladies purses.


More ladies purses and little bears (made of kimono cloth)... Not sure what the little bears are for besides being "Cute" (Japan likes cute!)


Not into bears? OK. Here's some ladies' purses with a cat design. The cat is called, "Maneki-Neko" Wikipedia says, "The maneki-neko (Japanese: 招き猫, literally "beckoning cat") is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner." 

Are all these things super-cute or what? They are sure to bring a smile to anyone who shops at this store.

But, what's this? An unhappy customer? Look at this guy! He doesn't look like a happy shopper! But wait! That's not just any unhappy shopper! That's me!

"What's this? I want to see the manager!"

Heavens! This is Japan! This is a Japanese department store! There's so much cute shit here that one can't help but become enthralled with the "cute-ness!" People are supposed to be happy here! But I am not happy at what I have seen! Call the manager! I want to complain! I've never been so insulted in my entire life!

Is he saying, "Kish my ash"????

Is that Donald Duck flashing his ass at me? It is!!!! Well, I never!!!!!

I'm deeply offended! I'm not coming back to this department store ever again!.... Ever!

Well,..... At least not until next year's summer Obon vacation! 




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

レインダンス映画祭にゴーストロード出品決定! 25th Raindance Selects Ghostroads - a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story!


The 25th Raindance Film Festival has selected Ghostroads - a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story as one of its feature films for this year's 2017 festival! The staff at Ghostroads and myself thank the good folks at Raindance for choosing us and a great "thank you and much appreciation to the team and everyone" who has helped and supported us so far. 

2017年開催第25回レインダンス映画祭の長編映画コンペティション部門に ゴートロード - 日本のロックンロールゴーストストーリーが出品されることが決定しました。 ゴートロード を支えてくださったみなさん、ゴーストロード制作スタッフのみなさん、ありがとうございます!心から感謝いたします。



Raindance Film Festival in London is one of the most famous Film Festivals in the entire world. Wonderslist gave Raindance the honor of being named one of the 10 Most Prestigious Film Festivals Around The World: http://www.wonderslist.com/10-prestigious-film-festivals/

ロンドンで行われるレインダンス映画祭は、世界で最も有名な映画祭の一つ。 Wonderslist 誌が選ぶ「世界のトップ10権威ある有名な映画祭」にもレインダンス映画祭はランクインしています。http://www.wonderslist.com/10-prestigious-film-festivals/

The world famous Variety Magazine, the bible of Hollywood, listed Raindance as one of the world’s top 50 ‘unmissable film festivals.' Variety writes: "Early-autumn Raindance, the love child of provocateur Elliot Grove, caters to the grittier, weirder end of indiedom and has a particular penchant for rock ‘n’ roll-themed pics. Despite its Cinderella status, it attracts an unusually large share of industry support."  variety.com/2007/film/markets-festivals/50-unmissable-film-festivals-1117971644/

ハリウッドの聖書と呼ばれる世界的に有名なバラエティ誌には、世界のトップ50の「逃げられない映画祭」の一つとして、レインダンスが掲載されています。 variety.com/2007/film/markets-festivals/50-unmissable-film-festivals-1117971644/


This year's Raindance festival takes place in London, England from Sept. 20 until Oct. 1, 2017. For more information see the Raindance webpage. (https://www.raindance.org/festival/)
Tickets are now on sale! https://www.raindance.org/festival/

今年のレインダンスフェスティバルは、2017年9月20日から10月1日までイギリスのロンドンで開催されます。詳しくは、Raindanceのウェブページをご覧ください。 (https://www.raindance.org/festival/
チケットは現在販売中です! https://www.raindance.org/festival/

------------------------
Ghostroads Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Japaneserocknrollghost 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ghostroadsjapan

Here is the trailer (if link doesn't work, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxwJ4AfzOwM)




For more information & publicity in English contact: 
Susie Tullett
TullettPR
 0044 (0) 7775 657733

詳しく:
マイク・ロジャース mikeintokyo2004@gmail.com
西川ケン   "ken@robot55.jp" <ken@robot55.jp>



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Glen Campbell Lives in a Japanese Grocery Store Near My House


The sad news is that Glen Campbell has passed away. I really liked Glen Campbell when I was a kid. He was on TV and had lots of nice songs that a ten-year-old like me would like... And I did.

Glen Campbell is gone and all that are now left are his songs and his legend... 

But, in Japan, in at least one store, the legend of Glen Campbell lives on and, judging from past history, it will continue to live on for a very long time to come. 




At OK Store in Yoga (Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan), there's a daily tribute of sorts to Glen Campbell and it's been going to for at least the last fifteen years since the store first opened. 

"OK Store" is a well-known grocery store chain in Tokyo. It is a "No "frills operation and boasts "Everyday Low Price" (sic).... 


OK store is similar to your huge grocery store chains you have in the west. I wrote about OK Store before here: The Sexy Japanese Movie/TV Starlet and Me (Also Known As: The Formerly Famous TV Star-Lady at the Discount Grocery Store) 

OK Store opens at 8:30 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends... I go there, like clockwork, almost every Monday, Thursday (and sometimes on Saturday). 

Since I can remember, at this particular OK Store, before they open for business, one can hear the easy-listening "elevator-lounge version" of Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy playing on the store's BGM (Background music) every morning at precisely 8:27 am. 

In the beginning, when I first heard it, I thought it was an amusing and pleasant coincidence to hear that song. Many times, I've thought they'd change the background music. You know, change the music every once in a while, or every season... But, no. Glen is still there everyday, every morning; just like the sun rises in the East. 

Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" comes on, plays for a few minutes, then the song fades out and a woman's pleasant voice comes over the loud speakers welcoming customers to the store... and letting everyone know the day has begun.

This cycle has been going on since I can remember. 

I have been shopping at this particular OK store, as a regular, two or three times a week since it opened (at least fifteen years).... Because it's on the store's piped in music, I have been humming Rhinestone Cowboy in my head every time I go there during that entire period... (I always go just before opening time - I hate crowds). 

And whenever I go there and hear Rhinestone Cowboy, I am reminded of fond times in my childhood and my wonderful parents - especially my mom who was a really big fan of Glen Campbell.

Glen Campbell was so important to me and my very happy childhood. 

Thanks, Glen Campbell for some of my favorite songs in my youth... And thanks over these recent years for often reminding me of good times I had with my mom and dad.

Glen Campbell has many great songs.... Like I said, I have been humming his songs since I was a little boy - and I have been humming Rhinestone Cowboy 2 or 3 times a week over these same last fifteen years.... 

I imagine, if I am lucky, I will be humming it for at least the next fifteen years.

Rest in peace, Glen Campbell. 


Oh, and, whenever I hear Rhinestone Cowboy, I also immediately am reminded of Glen Campbell's - "Where's The Playground, Susie" from 1969. 
(If video doesn't play, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua_8LP802xY)

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...