creative perspectives


Matsudai roundup

EXCERPT: I’ve been away from the computer mainly spending more time in Matsudai. So much happened last weekend that I’m hard pressed to recount it all, but here I go. Thank you to Hanako Murakami for introducing me to Matsudai and its people. I really do love that town. And congratulations

How to Call a Frog

EXCERPT: One evening last week in Matsudai, we heard the most delightful chorus of frogs - deep croaking, quick peeps, and a percussive almost wooden clapping. But as we approached the little garden pond for a closer look and listen, the frogs stopped their songs. Kimie-san started talking to them. She

Celebrating the Earth on Sado

EXCERPT: Camping on the cliff above Sobama beach, our group of eight did a lot of relaxing nothing this weekend. After brunch each morning, we sat under the shadecloth talking for hours about whatever came to mind: halloween costumes, books, travels, work. Lukie showed me how to do contact juggling. Aya

Pound Cake & podcast

EXCERPT: This is from Elizabeth E. Lea’s 1866 cookbook Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers. This pound cake recipe is the basis for the method of many of the other cakes in the chapter. This is not such an extravagant cake - the fruit cake recipe calls for


EXCERPT: What happens when seven people get together to read a section of Ulysses in a bar in Tokyo? Hilarity ensues. We changed tables twice trying to find a quiet place away from the irritating 80s pop background music but failed. We ordered lots of beer, we rattled the microphone,

Masks and Pumpkins

EXCERPT: Noh performer in mask during Okina, a ritualised Okinawan form of Noh. (photo by Tod, the steady-handed) Tonight we attended a performance of Noh plays in Shinjuku Gyoen. It was my first Noh experience and although it was a beautiful specta, even the comedic play was way over my

Drawing in Karuizawa

EXCERPT: Two-fisted painting Having quickly tired of the bath and hotel, I spent the second morning drawing a little bit of tree trunk after having another walk around the grounds. I made a recording of birds sounds with a stream burbling in the background (and a bit of a breeze,

Psmith in the City

EXCERPT: I volunteered with Librivox to read aloud some of the public domain Project Gutenberg texts. I talked about doing this on my own last year, but except for some scattered short stories, never really followed through. It’s a daunting task to read an entire book aloud, so sharing the work

Early Autumn Evening

EXCERPT: The evening sky at 6 pm I woke to the sound of crickets this morning—a promise of cool weather to come. I recorded their quiet chirping outside my office this evening complete with kids playing and a train rushing past at the end: Early Autumn Evening 0’56” MP3 (864

New York Diary

EXCERPT: Ah, another Parker reading randomly selected from The Portable Dorothy Parker. At this rate, I’ll have read the whole thing aloud in about two years. Still haven’t gotten to the poetry, though. This one is a short story from 1936. From the Diary of a New York Lady by Dorothy

Too Charming

EXCERPT: I can’t get enough of Dorothy Parker, though you are probably tired of my daily readings. That’s just rotten for you but I assure you it is just a phase. I’ll soon be onto new topics. Here’s another book review from the New Yorker column, “Constant Reader,” circa April 1928.

Constant Reader

EXCERPT: One of my favorite sections of The Portable Dorothy Parker is the collection of her book reviews. From 1927 through 1933 she wrote a column for The New Yorker called “Constant Reader.” I’ve never enjoyed book reviews as well as hers; they are snarky comments on society with books as

Dorothy Parker

EXCERPT: I had the good fortune at St Mark’s Bookshop in New York, to find a book I’ve been missing since I packed it away eight years ago in Pittsburgh. The Portable Dorothy parker is something I opened again and again when it was on my bookshelf. So today, when it

NY Public Library

EXCERPT: The silent and vast Reading Room on the third floor of the NY Public Library My seat in the Reading Room, with a volume of the OED My first visit to the NY Public Library was all I could have hoped for. The Guttenberg Bible was on display along

Kagurazaka Awa Odori

EXCERPT: Last night Kagurazaka’s main street filled with traditional dancers Dancers waved their hands gracefully while stepping on tiptoe and chanting in high-pitched voices Musicians played gongs, drums, and wooden flutes as live accompaniment The music was very loud and vibrated through our bones. I recorded some of it to

Audio engineering

EXCERPT: I think I have a tin ear, which makes me most unqualified to do what I’ve been doing all morning—putting together the first show for Hanashi Station. MJ, who is a trained audio engineer, gave me a “good job honey” when she listened to the draft, so maybe it’s not


EXCERPT: New short-term goal: learn to sing ten standards. I want to be able to break into song more often; I keep forgetting how much I love to sing—the physical interaction with the world, the emotional outlet, and all the great feelings that come from the forced breath of song. But

Doctor Knowall

EXCERPT: No longer thwarted by broken sound equipment, I recorded one of the shortest of the Grimm brothers’ fairytales. this morning. It’s a funny little story about a peasant turned savant via a book with a cock on the frontispiece. I used Audacity to record and convert it to MP3 (after

Fire Safety

EXCERPT: Every year around this time, neighborhood volunteers are out on the streets at night, clacking wooden sticks together and calling out to people about fire safety. It’s taken us six years to figure out what they are chanting. The other night, as we were walking home late from work, the

By Courier

EXCERPT: UltraBob beat me to the punch of acting on the desire to read aloud with his chapter-by-chapter posting of a Mark Twain’s $30,000 Bequest short story, but here’s a recording I did this morning of an O. Henry short story. By Courier. 7’30” (10.3 MB MP3)

Lyric friendships

EXCERPT: With great delight, I’ve spotted a growing trend among my friends. They spontaneously break into song: a chorus of natsukashii 80s pop over dinner; a round of Queen’s “Bicycle Ride” on a long walk; little snips and phrases punctuating conversations. It’s a bit like living in a musical—sort of hokey

Live from Musashi-Sakai

EXCERPT: For those of you who missed last Friday’s Marshmallow Spike gig (that would be everyone except me and J-ster), here’s a first glimpse at MJ, Yoshi and their new drummer, Kei-san doing Stolen Umbrella, an original with lyrics by MJ, music by Yoshi. The camerawork is crap, I know. I

Online Audio Options

EXCERPT: When you get tired of shopping for music via iTunes, here are two worthwhile (though more limited) online audio shops. Magnatune: pays its artists 50% of the price you pay. You can choose the price ($5 - 18 per album) and the format (WAV, MP3, OGG). 106 artists in various

Aimee Mann

EXCERPT: Aimee Mann has a new album out. She’s one of my favorite singers (along with Sam Phillips, Holly Cole and a few others). Lost in Space is independently produced and brilliant, classic Aimee Mann. She has an amazing vocal range,and writes dark, thoughtful lyrics with catchy tunes. I’m listening to

Incidental music

EXCERPT: Japan is full of incidental music. Train stations on the Yamanote line have signature tunes, busy crosswalks play music, and all around the city at 5 o’clock, songs play on the public address system. I phoned the ward office to find out the name of the tune that’s played

Five Dees

EXCERPT: On InterFM last night, the Five Deez were promoting their Japan tour & new album. They are a four man rap frenzy. They were taking callers’ names and mixing them into raps live on the air. The rhymes were brilliant. My favorites were for Tachiro—touch n’go & Casio. Quick


EXCERPT: Every time a phone rings, I jump. For as long as I can recall, the blare of the telephone has startled me. I’m often on edge in trains, on the streets, in shops and during meals out and about in Tokyo, because other people’s keitai are always ringing. To keep