Sing it loud and sing it clear
Nagasaki Travel Blog› entry 62 of 93 › view all entries
If you go to Japan, you must sing karaoke. If you’re an American guy that is so self-conscious of his voice that he won’t even try to sing one of his favorite songs that he sings every night in the shower, then please drink up and rock band that shyt or else you’re not leaving the room. Embarrassment is not only a part of the experience, but also an essential key to the night’s entertainment (for your own and others).
Besides, the more you squeak off pitch, the more people respect you for taking a chance and letting all these notions of being all serious subside (Why So Serious?). In fact, you’re just releasing the stress and taking that stick out of you’re a$$. On a daily basis, most Japanese people put up this much-practiced grin and routine bow of respectfulness to the extent that they would go crazy if they didn’t let loose once a week and drink until 8AM while sleeping on the street next to his own heap of vomit like a hobo (I guess you don’t have to take it to extremes).
This philosophy involves the idea of transitioning between the masks you wear in every situation.
Picture a 5-band equalizer with every band representing a range in a set of traits. The extremities of these traits are not the extremes available in the whole world, but rather the level of extremity expected from Clemens. So, for example, if the treble-band represents playfulness, the maximum and minimum levels would lie in drunk-Clemens and business-Clemens, respectfully.
As with every fun activity, you lose yourself in the moment. Sing it loud and sing it clear to release all the stress piled from the week before. Drink the included open bar with most hourly rates, and leave the microphone with the aroma of beer and cocktails. You might plan for an hour of singing, but it always ends up being four.
I don’t mean to assume all readers would like, or even warm up to, the karaoke scene. This activity just might not be your cup of tea. I think some people would rather sit at home and smoke a ball of crack – to each their own.
~See Lemons Cherng K
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In my vacation sleeping mode, I usually require at least 8 hours to be functional (Cooper sleeping habits averaged 4 hours a night). Therefore, sleeping at 4AM and waking at 11AM was just at the cusp of my awake-ness threshold. All I wanted to do was watch some Judo on the Olympics and lay on that comforter for a few more hours. I’m not sure whether I should use “I’m on vacation” as an excuse to do whatever I want, or as a motivation to make the most out of it by waking up and doing more things. My camera usually makes me do the latter. Driven by this disease, I stumbled out of bed and started roaming around the city like a zombie.
There was no agenda or even a map to tell me and RJ where the main attractions were. We basically walked following the trolley lines to reach the port area. The harbor was filled with large private boats and also acted as a field for the park next to the museum. I can’t even imagine how many soccer balls, Frisbees, and childhood enthusiasms are lost in those waters. What a buzz kill. Nice job, Billy. Why don’t you show off your swimming skills by jumping into the water?
The view from Glover garden gave me an approximate orientation of the city and drew so many questions about interesting building architectures. I still didn’t figure out what that over-sized ping pong ball was doing sitting on that green thing. From afar, it looked like a parking lot with an unnecessary aesthetic design. We went closer and it still looked like it served no purpose. Next to this useless monument was a little mall. I was tempted to buy a soccer ball so I could practice juggling (urban soccer) in the last month of traveling. Unfortunately, soccer balls average $50 there for not even a very high quality one. The balls themselves also looked smaller and were made out of a weird material (Dayum, everything in Japan is smaller).
The mall reminded me of every single Long Island mall I’ve been to. It was the same design and had the same look and feel. The only difference was the bystanders and eye candy. Like in all good malls, there was an entire floor devoted to arcades, casinos, and those arm catching games (otherwise known as, “complete rip-offs”). RJ was oddly hooked on wasting money on these machines. It was as if spending more money would probabilistically help his chances of obtaining the object (yes you’re increasing the number of chances you get, but it doesn’t increase two fold. It’s not like the machine starts to feel bad for you and grab a little harder.).
There was a constant switch between two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back and one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back, which means that on average, he went nowhere (“Where you goin’? Nowhere.”). I gave him a blank stare as he continuously put more money into that machine. I wonder how many meals I could have weaseled if I had just taken his offer and played a few games with his money? I feel like I could have completely taken advantage of a naïve teenager. Luckily for him, my conscience suggested this far-fetched idea of cost benefit analysis. Even if you just take money over time as a simple rule (ie. how much money have I spent this hour? And, how much usefulness was it compared to the last hour?), the arm game just doesn’t make any sense.
Although, if I didn’t see RJ toss away at least $100 the entire trip on these games, I wouldn’t have been able to see the little tricks they use for every machine to insure that they wouldn’t lose too much money, while still keeping it seem like you’re going somewhere. The normal boring arm catchers in America have a weaker grasp and thick glass to augment the depth perception. Although this trick is also used in Japan, the creativity of the game is much more impressive. For example, there are many games where the arm does not grab, but instead, it is used to kick a ring sideways off a little hook. Or, you have to arrange a little stick so that it enters right in the middle of an opening. Sometimes the materials they use to wrap the edges of a toy are very frictional, and you just see the arm’s strength cower in defeat.
There are so many traps that made me think, “Wow, maybe I can get that.” Of course, my frugal tendencies just made me hover around and watch some other sucker try it. After seeing someone throw away so much money in such a short period of time, I concluded that this prize grabbing game is more addictive than the slot and pachinko machines. The taunting little doll, action figure, or candy is just staring at you and screeching, “Please save me from this glass box! Look at me, so cute and fluffy. I’m so close to escaping, you just need to give me a small push. Save me and I’ll always be yours. I’ll do anything you want. I have a pleasure mode.” It’s okay, man. The first step is admitting that you have a problem.
~See Lemons Stay Away From Dolls
I remember a time when I used to know at least 20 constellations and each of their meanings. Of course, this useless knowledge (well maybe useless except for impressing the opposite sex) was core dumped a long time ago to make room for useful stuff like, electrohydrodynamics, Navier-Stokes Equations, and Poisson distributions. Fantastic.
The tram ride up to the mountain kept me mesmerized. I looked down and saw Nagasaki as a giant creature. It almost looked like an amoeba covered with lights devouring the landscape. The small flickers from the trolleys and cars throughout the city kept catching my glance. For some reason, every time I’m in these situations, I see myself looking from the top of the tower instead of seeing it through my own eyes. Do you remember the camera pan in Titanic when Rose spreads her arms and stands at the front of the boat? The camera circles around the entire boat while showing the 360-degree view of the world around her. This was how I saw myself – completely free with an unreal view before my eyes.
Screw taking pictures that probably won’t come out nice. I walked around the roof of that building and just took my mental snapshots of the twinkles above and the twinkles below. I thought a lot about a lot of things, as usual. I don’t even know why I became so philosophical and psychological – I wasn’t even drinking. My life felt so insignificant. I couldn’t even grasp the simple concepts of time and space. How far away was that light shining in the valley below? How far away is that burning gaseous sun in the dark night? Just trying to picture a light-year given my current references is impossible. Trying to picture a nanometer blows my mind even more.
As I thought about things that I normally didn’t give much second thought to, my eyes opened to an unexplainable connection.
After taking my hundreds of pictures on the mountain, the group went back to grab some “Chinese food” for dinner (it wasn’t Chinese at all). I think they tried to make gawn chow ngow haw with ramen… I don’t know what they were thinking. The only thing that dinner did was made me miss my Mom’s home cooking (and provide beer).
After dinner, part of the group went to sing some karaoke. We planned to stay for an hour but wound up staying 4 hours instead (this often happens). Singing “Imagine” got it out of my system. Mad K skills, son (It’s scary that I actually sometimes talk like that. Damn you, James).
~See Lemons Admire the Night Sky