Why I Like You Specifically

Lets get so drunk we forget who we are. Lets get so smashed that we dont want. So gone that we come back around.

I know youre the kind of person I want to be around. You believe in what I believe in. But lets believe later, and drink now. Lets want later, and turn bottles up now. I want to be with you.

I dont know if Ill see you again. Could be never, could be. But why care about the future–its so stupefyingly abstract that it hardly warrants discussion when cans are popping and everyones laughing. Believe me, you are what I want. No one else is like you tonight. Tonight, you are like no one else.

If we meet in the future, remember me. Remember the fun we had the last time. We will recreate that. Im positive it will work. Ill never stop. Its been so long already, but it doesnt matter. I remember you. I remember last time. There arent many whom I recall with such fondness. Like no one else–tonight.

How is it you make me smile. But Im smiling. And Im drinking. Lets not end this night. I want you and not some toiling miserable catatonic substitute who will surely ruin himself or herself and hurt the rest of us when all we want is to be alone together and imbibe the highest quality canned b—. Fuck that.

Give me another drink! This is why I like you. You give me b— when I ask for it. Talking about dying is such shit. Its a shame some people are so caught up in sadness. Youre beautiful and Im glad we are friends. Youre gorgeous. Open up a can, two, three, four, five. Drink. Be with me. Be with me. You dont think its necessary to quote Shakespeare to make a point. Just smile and laugh. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of ideas.” Thats a good one, not Shakespeare, though. Not even close.

Im breaking up with him or her. Completely and utterly. I wonder if anyone blames me. Glad Im drinking. Glad Im with you and not the other. So happy. Lets drink and stay happy.

I want to drink until I am happy.

yourself

If I had a dollar for every time I drove down the street, where I thought I might have headed if that was my properest direction. But I was with other people. And though it was indeed raining the time was is. Don’t make you something love out it of when nothing you?

At any of all rates, calculating whether or not that one instance added to another might affect the whole, the center, the outer, the dualism, the mind, the body, the soul. Take for instance a dollar. If I had a dollar for every time I drove down the street, where I thought I might have headed if that was my properest direction. But I was with other people.

But who doesn’t want to be normal? What is exceptional is by definition not unstrange. Instead, live with yourself. Be yourself. You likely have something good to you, inside you. At any of all rates, calculating whether or not that one instance added to another might affect the whole, the center, the outer, the dualism, the mind, the body, the soul. How about the next instance? Each moment is infinitely impossible to understand. Forever. For anyone.

Take space. You can’t fucking understand space. What if all energy travels across universe-wide widthless strings? Then what? But we all zoom in and think our FWP are some serious shit. But take space. Take it. But who doesn’t want to be normal? I get it. Being a…nice big rock might be fun. Friends, tourists, the ocean or the forest always in view. No responsibilities. You wouldn’t even have to exist as yourself. There’s no essence to you. If you change, you’re only more interesting to scientists. “Effect of sunlight, wind, and water erosion on sample of rock reveals carbon-14 does some shit or something crazy.” (Science, et al.)

My favorite movie is probably still “I <3 Huckabees,” but I wonder about the self like I didn’t used to before.

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Digital Versatile Disc

Digital Versatile Disc

Hail Mary

“Ave Maria” is a tricky song, because it isn’t just one song. One could easily understand mistaking one version of a song called, say, “I Love You,” with another (there are probably 8,000 original songs with that title, if I had to guess). “But how many songs called ‘Ave Maria’ could there be…that are also crazy famous?” I thought when I realized I might be confusing multiple songs. The title seems punchy enough that just one song called “Ave Maria” would be known around the world. But no, there are two. And both are worth hearing.

Note: I urge you to listen to all of these songs from start to finish.

“Ave Maria” – Bach/Gounod (performed by Celtic Woman)


Celtic Woman should not be ignored (even if their name–a singular denoting many women–is grammatically odd). I get the feeling most people view the group as PBS cheese for old people. While that is one area they do, deservedly, own, Celtic Woman isn’t just cheese. Their arrangements are big and beautiful, their singers talented (depending on the genre), and their song choice varied.

If you thought they just sang Enya-style elevator-Braveheart music, that is…well, that’s almost correct. But listen to them! Above is one example of Celtic Woman’s divergence from their namesake  genre.

J.S. Bach originally composed the music, excluding the melody, for this version in the 18th century. A dude named Charles Gounod wrote the melody and lyrics on top of that song in the 19th century.

The song sounds very classical to me. Half of it, at least, indeed is. I like that the melody never really stays in one place, but I give more credit to Bach for that. His Well-Tempered Clavier composition is just a bunch of arpeggios, but within a few minutes there are so many different combinations of notes. Technically speaking, it’s exciting. But I like the next one better.

“Ave Maria” – Schubert (performed by Luciano Pavarotti)

Composed by Franz Schubert in 1825, originally titled “Ellens dritter Gesang,” this song might be equally as popular as the one above. It is a fantastic song. (Celtic Woman did this one a few years after they did the Bach/Gounod one, but Pavarotti is much better.) It’s happy and sad and loud and soft. The lyrics (here they’re Latin) have been translated a few different times. Originally from an English poem, Schubert used a German translation for this piece. Now, the Latin version, the lyrics to which are from the Catholic prayer “Ave Maria,” and which resemble the original lyrics of the English poem, seems to be the most popular.

Even though it’s Latin-ness was somewhat superimposed on the German composition later, this song sounds Italian to me. It’s probably because, here, it’s sung in Latin by an Italian tenor. Nevertheless.

Ah, it’s a great song. Josh Groban’s version is good, too.


I was kidding before. There are more than two popular songs with this title. The above are perhaps the most well-known. Here are some bonuses that you should listen to.

“Ave Maria” by Vladimir Vavilov (performed by don’t know)

This song was written by a Russian several decades ago, and originally falsely attributed to an Italian. To confuse you even further, I almost gave the credit for Schubert’s piece to the guy who wrote this one, Vladimir Vavilov. Reading about songs called “Ave Maria,” I didn’t realize there was a third one that was hugely famous. Now, I believe I have it straight for you, reader.

This is another great song. The resolution is on the last syllable of “Maria” is right on.

“Ave Maria” by Yoko Kanno (performed by someone)

A Japanese woman wrote this song for use in a cartoon. And it’s fucking awesome. It appears in full in the anime Cowboy Bebop. The diagetic aria is used for a scene in the show set at an opera house. It’s relatively incidental in the show, but Yoko Kanno (if you know me) never fails to surprise me with the quality of her compositions. Her “Ave Maria” deserves attention. Yes, even though it’s in the background of a TV show. Listen to the whole thing, please :)

Seasonal Songs

My life will not be the subject of this one. I don’t want it to be.

I’m starting to understand the idea of “seasonal albums.” Not collections of songs tailored to accompany a particular holiday, but albums that fit more successfully into a certain temperature and certain colors. Influences for this idea are, recently, Greg Johnson and Anthony Fantano.

The Needle Drop called Feist’s new LP, Metals, a “Fall album.” Fantano is right that it is a little cold, like it’s cover art. Many of the songs are about pain and, by extension, loneliness. But energy from tracks like “A Commotion” keep it from being “desolate.” It also might be (nationalist) that she’s from Canada. I imagine thick sweaters, dying trees, yards lost under reds and oranges and yellows, and hot drinks. And therefore, I see lots of warmth (coffee, etc.), too. This argument would almost perfectly justify Metals as a “winter album” as well, which is an issue. It’s possible that there are just cold albums and warm albums; heat albums and A/C albums; coffeehouse albums and beach-front albums. That would make the seasonal album a dichotomy instead of a quadchotomy. For example, what’s the difference between a Spring album and a Summer one? I can’t say. But I can say that there are emotions and phases that fit my idea of one (or two) season(s) over another.

And I will surely change my mind when April brings in some warm weather and green plant life, and I am still listening to Metals.

(I’m also confused that I feel more comfortable saying “album” or “LP” but not “CD.” I even like saying “record” meaning “album,” but since those two words mean different things at the Grammys ["record" means a single song], I’m still unclear what to do. The very very former seems to be the rightest, and the oldest. So let’s go with that.)

A seasonal record may refer better to a season of life. Trouble with relationships? You might connect better with a record about breakups and heartache. Trouble fitting into the real world? Melancholy, philosophy-laden, and political albums–or, conversely, one about friendship!–might help you understand what you are going through. Always happy? Listen to the radio or whatever.

Most of the time, I seek music that reflects my emotional state. But sometimes, my mood follows the music I listen to.

I pay more attention to song lyrics now. I don’t think musicians are in the business of delivering the pithiest and profoundest summations of being human. I think writers do that. But, being a lover of music, I am drawn in by good musical compositions, and find out that “hey, this person is similar to me in at least one aspect!” (Do I really talk like that?)

Seasons change, and as they change, I’m looking for something to do with my life.

September

Typhoon no. 12 whirled north over Shikoku and Kansai starting September 1st, lasting several days. The lingering did the damage, I’m told. That the typhoon wasn’t pushed onward with any haste is the reason so much water accumulated. In Hongu–though Hongu was certainly not the only place affected–the water rose to flood levels, then to bad flood levels, then to rooftop flood levels. Power was out, cell phone signal was gone, even water was cut off. Cars and parts of buildings were under water.

Just so you know, I was not in Hongu for any of this. I showed up 10 days later. I lived in Tanabe (rent-free) with a gracious ALT who put me up until the Board of Education allowed me to return home to Hongu.

Landslides destroyed important roads–important because in a small town one road can be nearly the only access available from one area to another, short of tiny mountain paths. As news rolled in after I arrived, the death toll numbered in the tens (I think it was around 50). Shit was not good.

Locals tell me it was the worst flood in 60 years. Hongu is prone to flooding, the water rising to unfavorable levels just a few months ago. But it was especially rough this time.

This connects my district of Hongu to the area with the tiny grocery store. It was very important that this road open up, and finally did, looking like this. It’s still in this condition–half paved, with a temporary traffic light in place, blocking one direction at a time.

This is an interesting side-view that allows us to see how high the mud piled up on top of the rice fields. The gunk rose almost to the top of the plants, as you can see.

In that same rice field, garbage and various items were tossed into this pile, now dried up, but clearly still dirty. This is next to a small stream that was surely completely submerged at the height of the typhoon’s flood.

The foot of the massive torii Shinto gate across the street from my house.

My home, by the way, is elevated completely above the highest waters, and was therefore not damaged. For that, I was fortunate.

A lot of rice was killed by the mud.

Inside the beautiful, relatively new World Heritage Center, furniture was taken outside to wash, while documents, books, and folders were laid out to dry. Those bumps in the floor in the background are warped wood. I imagine being under water for a couple of days and then drying caused this. This building is still not in full use as I write this.

This is the local town hall’s (where I work) parking lot. It’s covered in dried mud. It might not look like it did much damage, but the feeling you get when you walk through your town and ever sidewalk, every parking lot looks just like this, makes you realize how clean towns typically are. I mean, they typically aren’t caked in mud.

You can see how deep the muck got in this parking lot–lower in altitude than the one above.

I don’t entirely get why this wood debris settled stuck in the side of a bridge like this.

This is the first floor of the building where I’m based. It’s higher than the buildings on Hongu’s main street, but still get four to five feet of water. (The education office–and my desk–is on the second floor.) So here, for about a week, I worked distributing relief goods, donated materials like clothes and food and cleaning supplies, to people who needed them. I was fortunate to get food, work boots, and some other items by the generosity of others. Relief materials are still being distributed daily at a local gymnasium, where I went to work until two weeks ago.

It was a grim situation for a long time. But posting this information so late allows me to skip forward in time for you. Now, people are doing better. School has started again. I have my desk back. Businesses are slowly stocking their shelves again. Most of the sidewalks are cleaned up. The river water isn’t entirely a filthy brown. More and more important highways are opening up, allowing people to get out of Hongu and into areas like Tanabe and Shingu without taking hour-long detours through scary, winding mountain roads.

So now, the town is beginning to come back. Everyone in town–and many volunteers from out of town–worked very hard to recover this quickly. Morale is back up. I hope further recovery is ahead of us!

My 24th Birthday

I had a good birthday this year. I did not necessarily expect to have a good birthday. But, all-in-all, I relaxed, felt the sun, and was congratulated by friends, family, and others. Thank you for caring. thankyouthankyouthankyou

After a simple lunch at Yoshinoya (a diner-style cheap Japanese restaurant, the likes of which I went to so often in the past, that I miss them not being in Hongu, where I live now) of meat over rice, miso, and pickled things, I was kindly driven to Shirahama beach. A discussion with a friend made me realize that I like the hotels and commerce packed into the view behind us, approaching the shoreline, rather than the secluded-island style beach, because of all the fond times I’ve had at Florida’s beaches, which resemble Shirahama.

The crowd was enormous for a small beach (because it was a Saturday and a festival day), so different genres of music blended together from all directions coming from under others’ umbrellas; wayward frisbees and beach balls encroached on groups of tourists (mostly national) who weren’t playing; and a grocer peddled imported fruits for a “good price.”

These lanterns were spread out over Shirahama beach in honor of deceased ancestors. My birthday weekend coincided with Obon, the festival in Japan for spirits, during which time they return home (I think).

A pizza restaurant near the beach which had the best pizza I’ve ever had in this country.

The one picture I have of our hours in the karaoke box.

The night ended, and I returned home (by bus) the next evening to a surprise: the torii–a Shinto gate–was lighted. I didn’t learn until later that this, too, was to celebrate Obon. I’m pretty sure that Hongu has one of the world’s largest torii. That’s the one they lighted.

This is the view from my yard. The torii would have been hardly visible if not for the spotlights.

And a magnified view:

Thank you again!