Sunday, May 31, 2009
Magic the Gathering

I used to play Magic the Gathering back in Junior High School but stopped around the time I started High School. I got most of my cards as gifts from friends who also played. I recently got back into the game and played in a tournament over the weekend. I'm still a bit rusty and there are a lot of new cards and abilities to learn, but I didn't do half bad. Managed to place 2nd in one of the brackets and won myself 2 booster packs. Seeing as how I only have 6th edition cards at the moment, the booster packs are quite exciting. Can't get too excited about things though. Magic can be an expensive game and I don't really plan on spend much, if any, money on building decks.
posted by am at 5:42 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Track and Field Day
Just started the new school year and already the kids have a day off! For track and field day. This is the first big event of the year at my new JHS so I wanted to take a bunch of pictures, but my camera ran out of batteries about 1/3 of the way through all the events. To start with, here is a picture of the front of my new school. It's way nicer and newer than the elementary schools I worked at.

Sports day is pretty simple. With in each grade there are 4 or 5 colors that form a team. When you win events, you win points for the team. Team with the most points at the end are the winners. There are also individual class awards. The day starts off with a pep talk by the homeroom teacher assigned to each group.

Then starts the opening ceremony with marches, speeches, flag waiving, stretching, and so on. Each homeroom designs there own flag and comes up with their own theme/motto. Some of the English ones were pretty amusing.

The the games began. All the basic track and field events were covered and the bigger kids don't do any of the fun type relay games that the elementary school kids do, so it was a straight up track and field event.

As I walked around with my big camera, a bunch of students would come up to me and ask me to take their pictures. In the first picture are Maya and Mai, 2 3rd years who made it a point to get me to remember their names. And it worked! Next is Ayaka. She is a 2nd year and was one of my very first 6th graders. She was dead set on getting me to remember her name as a 6th grader, and it's stuck with me ever since. She would also stop by the ES on occasion and chat with me. And the last picture is a bunch of my 6th, recently turned 1st graders.

There was also a group of boys I was pretty chatty with. One of them really wanted me to watch his relay race, so I made sure I did and cheered him one. He ended up winning which was nice. Also notable was the boys high jump. The boy in the pictures was absolutely amazing! But it was right about then that my camera battery died. Besides being really hot, there is not much more I remember about the day except that we had an amazing order in curry lunch. Yum!

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posted by am at 6:36 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
KAT-TUN Round 3!
I got lucky and got out of school early on 5/20. What better way to spend my free time that go to the Tokyo Dome for Kame's day! And this time I took notes.

This makes it my 3rd time going to the concert. The first time I had arena seats and the second time F1 stand seats. This time I was way out there in the 2F stand seats, but was also pretty much center stage, which was nice. Because it was a last minute decision, I didn't have a ticket when I showed up at the stadium. Not a problem though. There were several scalpers selling tickets and one agreed to sell me a seat for 2,000 yen. Seeing as the face value of a ticket is 6,500 yen, that was a great deal even though the seat was not so good. I was worried that buying from a scalper would be a bit shady, but it wasn't. Most of the scalpers seem to be girls that had friends cancel or who got better seats at the last minute and just wanna get a bit back for the tickets they bought.

From the high seats, the floating planets before the show starts are really cool looking. They also look nothing like the planets they are supposed to represent but I will forgive them cause they still look cool. I didn't even notice the planets the other 2 days.

I was really excited for the show because it was Kame's day and the day before was Jin's day which I had heard was amazing, so I was expecting big things! The boy is all about fan service so I expected to see some love. I was sad that I missed Jin's day, but I had to work. Before the concert even started, I stopped by the 7-11 to grab some snacks, drinks, and a pen so I could take notes. I also wanted to stop by the restroom, bu the line was ungodly long.

The show starts with cartoon versions of the boys getting into a shuttle and the big floating planets drift down behind the stage. I really like the pork or chicken comment during the cartoon bit, as if they were on an airplane or something. While the shuttle thing is happening, there is a junior on the stage acting like ground control for the shuttle. Then all the members were introduced, with Jin getting the most screams, followed closely by Kame. Sometimes I feel bad for the other band members cause the volume difference is so noticeable.

I love the first outfits they wear. Very heavy on the silver sparkles. First song was Rescue. Again, lot's of fire effects for this song. Even electronic flames on the screens to match the real ones. And there were a ton of Juniors in red dancing around. At the end of the song, Jin blew a little kiss. Next was One Drop. This song had a bunch of sound problems on the other 2 nights I went, but was fine this time around. A lot of water effects for this song.

Next was Lips and then Yorokobi no Uta during which a bunch of Kis-my-Ft2 members in green were pretty much molesting each other. Then it was Keep the Faith, which ended with a bang of fireworks. Following that was Don't you ever stop which was another song heavy on the flame effects. Jin was really into singing this song and Kame messed up his lines a bit. Koki took off his jacket and made it look like he was tossing it into the arena, but it was actually caught by a staff member. Next was White X-mas. The other time I saw this song, the stage was completely covered in fog, but it looked like the fog machines weren't working, so the effect was lost. Kame whispered his 'Christmas' in the beginning like he always does and got a thunderous scream.

Then it was Sadistic Love. Koki got some Akame love and there were these crazy green laser lights that I never noticed before. Next up was 1584. I really like the feudal era theme going on in this song. A bunch of juniors run around with these huge flags that are similar to the one I had to hold up during a parade that I was a samurai for. Those things are dang heavy! Kame was sexy as always and got caught up a bit when he was flying around with the black and white ribbon things. Then Koki starts his taiko thing, which is pretty cool and starts his solo, Pierrot. This song has definitely grown on me and is one of my favorites. They did the motorcycle cage thing. I noticed today that Koki's mic is all flame decorated which was awesome. Then is was time for Junno's, um, cloud song as I have dubbed it. Koki and Junno sang together for a bit. Then the crowd screamed at a random point during the song. I was confused until I realized it was because Jin had come out to get on his platform. Next, Maru does his beatbox thing and then they 'rescue' more Hey! Say! Jump! members. During this time, Jin kicked Junno off the 'rescue cart'. How mean! The 2 guests were in Gokusen 3 and will be in the movie with Kame. After a failed Maru bungee attempt, they bowed to him and he sang Cherry with them.

Then it was the song they sit in cages an float around for. Kame was hanging upside down of his and Ueda was bouncing up and down on the cage he and Maru shared and screaming at Maru to bungee! Jin just sits in his and does nothing. Next was the Jump up song. When the Juniors were running off the stage, Jin was bowing to them. Way different from the first day where I saw him try and kick one!

Then it was MC time. They all bowed a lot and did funny things to get the audience to scream. Junno's funny thing was ignored. They went over all their current projects once again. Following the MC was Water Dance, then Moon. Then it was time for the other bands. Kis-my-ft2 sang Fire Beat, which is really growing on me, and the other group sang Vanilla, or something. Seems to be a bit to racy of a song for such young boys. Then it was Real Face. I love the song but really hate the purple suit Kame wears during it. Then it was time for Kame's song choices. He chose I like, some song I didn't recognize, the make it world wide song (yay!), and I wanna be your lover song. Jin messed up the last song's lyrics bad and apologized mid song.

Next is was Ueda playing the piano and his solo. The Maru's solo and run around the stage screen thing, then Wonder! Still in love with this song. Jin bowed to the crowd at the end of the song. Then it was Battle of the Kings. First was Ueda vs. Junno. The had a battle with red and blue balls on the screen, but then brought out huge guns! Junno did a bit of acting from Romeo and Juliet and then Ueda blasted him with the gun and a bunch of streamers and sparklers came out. Very cool. Next battle was Koki vs. Nakamaru. They did impressions. Then it was Kame vs. Jin. They did their air battle thing and Jin died right away, again. Jin got thrown around a bit in the end and looked a bit freaked out. Ueda helped Kame down to the ground and gave him a big hug. Then it was Wilds of my Heart and Neiro. Encore was She said and Peaceful Days. They did not come out for a second encore.

After the concert I headed for the train station and came across something that wasn't there the last time. Unofficial concert photos! Yay! As I started to poke around and check out the photos, a bunch of cops came and made them leave, but they had a shop setup nearby. The shop was really small and squished, but I got my photos. All the photos were sold in sets of 4 for 500yen a pop and I got 2500 yen worth. I really wanted a good pic of Kame in his kimono, but most of the photos were of him all wet. And Jin had a ton of good shots. He is really photogenic. I wanted them all, but made myself pick only 3 of his sets. I can't wait for the official photo book to come out. They even handed out shiny silver flyers for it at the concert.

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posted by am at 5:33 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, May 18, 2009
Okay, not actually the official Day 2, but the second day I managed to make it to the concert which was 5/17. And this time, I was prepared!

I started my day by making an uchiwa! I felt really left out not having one the last time, so I stopped by the shop recommended to me by my day one concert buddy and made my own. I know that they are supposed to have your favorite member and everything, but I like all the members, so, yeah. Maybe my next one will be Jin-themed. I really had to rush to finish it, so it probably could have been better if I had more time, but I'm still really proud of it. The heart with wings design is based off the design that's covering all of their concerts goods. Here is is!

Once again, I got my ticket from the re-sale shop in Harajuku. This time around I spent 1man and got a seat in the stands. 23 gate, section 34, row 15. This time, I also got to the show early and thus had a full concert experience. Also, my seat gave me a really good view of the back stages that I could'tn really see at all the first time. I missed a lot of the water effects stuff and had no idea that Kame was dancing around all soaked, cause I couldn't see that from my seat last time. This time I got a perfect view.

Again, I was so wrapped up in watching the concert that I failed to take any notes. Concert started with Rescue, which is one of my favorite songs that I knew I had missed by showing up late the last time. Lots of fire effects for this one! Then it was One Drop followed by a medley of keep the faith, don't you ever stop, and white x-mas (man I missed sooooo much that first day!). Then it was Kame's solo. This time I managed to catch where he and the stuntman switched and knew it wasn't him. Made that whole part way less exciting. But Kame's kimono strip tease was just as thrilling as the first time and this time I had the added bonus of watching him dance around all wet and sexy like. And he ended it by not only floating on an umbrella on the water, but also spun around with fire work sticks too. Then it was Koki's solo followed by Ueda playing the piano and singing his solo. Also, in there somewhere was Junno's solo and Akanishi's new collaboration with Crystal K. called Wonder. Can't wait for that single to come out! Real Face was also in there somewhere too. Uggg, my memory sucks!

During the MC part, they talked about all their upcoming projects. At one point, Kame was pretending that he played Yabuki Hayato in Gokusen and it earned a bunch of screams. And Maru jumped for the first time! Though, it was at a lowered level. I still felt really happy that he managed to jump this time, especially cause people booed him at the first concert I went too. It was around this part that I met another concert going friend. She was 2 seats away, but managed to scream over at me. She was visiting from Malaysia and was happy to see a foreigner that was also a fan of KAT-TUN. We had a brief chat and exchanged contact info so we could keep in touch.

During the Battle of Kings I actually kinda got what was going on. The first was some type of light ball battle, then it was some kind of comedy imitation thing, and then an air battle between Kame and Jin. Still kinda weird though.

They did an encore and came out on a rocket ship. Jin's hair was all wet and sexy. They did She said and Peaceful Days. Once they finished, they popped back out for what could have been a second encore, but was just them talking for a bit and then leaving. Before heading back home, I picked up one last concert good. A bag. Its the perfect size to hold an uchiwa, which was annoying to carry to the concert in my not quite big enough purse.

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posted by am at 5:28 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Tokyo Dome Concert!
I've recently become a bit obsessed with a Japanese boy band called KAT-TUN. They are holding a massive 8 day concert in the Tokyo dome and I went to the very first day of the concert on 5/15. I bought my ticket from a re-sell shop in Harajuku the day before the concert. Spent 2 man on an arena seat in the A16 section. When I bought the ticket I had no idea how the stadium was setup and thought I was buying what I now know to be called a 'stand' seat. When I was at the shop I just assumed a 'stand' seat was one where you had to stand and thus was on the floor and not in the stadium seats and that 'arena' was a spot in the stadium seats. Boy was I wrong, but it ended up working out well for me cause my seat was amazing! Here is a pic of my ticket!

KATTUN ticket

The A16 block was on the far right side of the stage, if you are facing the direction of the stage. It was really far from the back stage but really close to the giant main stage (though way off to one side) and right next to a ramp where the band members run up and down. So, while I wasn't super close to any particular stage I did get an up close and personal view of all the band members as well as a crap ton of Juniors who seemed to be everywhere at all times.

The biggest down side to the day was that I got to the concert late! I think I might have missed a train connection, which made me a bit late, and I was made even later by the fact that I had to go check in at my hostel. I arrived during White Christmas, which was a surprise because I didn't think they would perform that at the concert seeing as it's a Christmas song and all and it now mid May.

Because I was late, I didn't have one of the light up ball things that everyone else had, which made me sort of sad. I also noticed that everyone had uchiwa's. Uchiwa's are traditional Japanese fans. They usually come in pretty flower patterns and what not, but the ones at the concert were self made and decked out with all sorts of various sparkly things and the names of band members in neon colors. I obviously did not do my JE concert research! However, I made friends with the Japanese woman sitting next to me who told me about the uchiwa and where I could go to pick up supplies to make my own. Her English was pretty good and she was good at speaking in simple Japanese that I could understand so we ended up talking during the slow periods of the concert. She was actually a big Kis-my-Ft2 fan, who were one of the secondary bands in the concert, and would go crazy whenever one of them passed by on the ramp (which was quite often). After the show, I took my picture with her. Got a few glares from the guards, but apparently they are okay with you taking a pictures as long at its not in the direction of the stage. Either that or they decided it wasn't worth trying to explain the rules to the gaijin. Here's the pic!

Concert Friends

I was so overwhelmed by the concert and taking everything in that I didn't bother to take notes and thus sort of forgot the specifics, but there are definitely some memorable moments that stood out. First is Kame's 1582 solo. OMG! That boy is insane. He got into this huge cage that was raised into the air and then he fell from it! I now know that is was a stunt person, but that day I actually thought it was Kame falling like that. I thought I was gonna have a mini panic attack. Koki's motorcycle thing during his solo was also quite cool. I thought it is was actually him riding around the metal ball cage on the motorcycle, but later found out it was not. The King battle confused the crap out of me, but Kame was swinging over my head for part of it, so my confusion was quickly forgotten. During the MC they talked about Gokusen, which comes out the in July and about Jin's upcoming movie Bandage. During this time, some Hey! Say! Jump! member was rescued by the group and Maru tried to bungee! He backed out though and everyone sort of booed him. I felt bad for him.

After the concert was finished, I got in line and purchased some concert goods. I knew I'd be going to the concert again, if only to see what I missed by coming late, so I got one of the light up balls. I also got a towel, water bottle, key chain, poster, and some pics of Akanishi Jin, who is currently my favorite member. I had to wait in a huge line to get them and it wasn't till I reached the front that I realized I could have gone to a different gate that had no wait at all. Oh well. A few more pics to wrap this up including pics of various KAT-TUN features that were outside the stadium, and a picture I sneakily took of the stage after the concert was finished.

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posted by am at 5:19 PM | Permalink | 0 comments