Sunday, May 22, 2016

Grandfather Dies. Father Dies. Son Dies. Grandson Dies: This is True Prosperity



An ancient Zen Buddhist story goes like this:
A very wealthy family in China bought a large farm and built a beautiful palace upon it. They wished for good luck, health, and fortune, so they decided to ask a famous Zen priest to write a scroll for them to hang in their den. The priest accepted the job and went back to his shrine to pray for enlightenment.
After a few days, the priest returned with the finished scroll and the entire family gathered around in great anticipation to see the words that the priest wrote for them. The priest said a short prayer and opened the scroll and hung it on the wall.
The scroll said:

Grandfather dies. 
Father dies. 
Son dies. 
Grandson dies.

The entire family was furious at the priest. They shouted and demanded that he go back to the shrine and rewrite the scroll for them.
As the priest was rolling up the scroll, he sighed and said: “I will rewrite the order of names on the scroll in anyway you wish. But I think there can be no other sequence. If all die in this order, I think that is true prosperity.”
My own mother died in a freak car accident in 1994. Of course, I was crushed. I was in Japan and she was in America.

After the car accident, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I understand that she floated in and out of consciousness before she died. Since I was so far away, I had no way of seeing her, holding her hand, and saying: “I love you mom. Thank you for everything.” But at least I can be thankful that my father was there to do so when she went away. Many people who die are not fortunate enough to have a loved one with them, to hold their hand, to whisper in their ear: “I love you. We all love you…. Please rest. You may go now.” And with words like these, my mother “let go” and passed away. I will always regret that I couldn’t be there with my mother in her time of need. I thank God that my father could be.
There are too many people in this world who die alone. Could there be a more woeful way to die, than when loved ones cannot be there by your side to say their last, “Good-bye”?
After my mother died, though, I was angry. I was angry at the world and I was angry at God. For months after my mother’s death I had recurring nightmares and the most bizarre dreams. Many of the dreams involved times when I was a boy. I would be playing in a playground and I would see my mother on the other side of a fence. I would cry out, “Mom! You’re back!” And I would begin to sob uncontrollably. My mother would grow angry at me and she’d start to leave. I’d cry out again, “Mom! Come back!” As she walked away, she would turn around, look at me, and always say the same thing: “I cannot come to visit you, if you are going to cry every time I see you.” And with that, she’d disappear into a field of tall grass.
I would always promise not to cry the next time. But I couldn’t keep my promise. I think I saw this same dream just about every night for at least six months.
Then one night, I had the most bizarre dream of all. My mother, as usual, walked away because I was crying, I was on my knees. I had my head in hands to try to hold back the tears. And then suddenly, I found myself in a huge chamber. It was like a colossal courtroom. I looked up and there was an old man sitting in a chair, looking quite frustrated and irate at me. He was massive in size. He was huge, at least 40 or 50 feet high and he was sitting down! He was brushing his beard and looking at me as if he was considering what to do.
I knew exactly who he was, yet I was not afraid of him; I was furious.
I shouted: “It’s not fair! It’s not fair that my mother died in an accident. My mother was still young and healthy. She should still be alive you bastard!” The old man just stared at me. I continued to shout at him. And I began to cry.
Then he calmly said: “So you think it is unfair that your mother has died?”
“Of course it’s unfair!”
The old man sighed and said, “Very well then, I shall allow you to be reborn and I will give you a different mother, and that mother will still be alive today. Would you find this acceptable?”
“A different mother!?” I said. “No… No, thank you.”
I suddenly awoke from my dream. I was in tears.
I pondered this strange dream for many weeks after that. Then it dawned on me: Instead of being angry that my mother died in an accident. I should be thankful for all of the wonderful times we spent together, all the hugs and bedtime stories. All the laughs and the great dinners. All the special times that my mother made me feel special, and all the other times she cheered me up when others did not. I should thank God for all the wonderful memories I received from being the son of this loving woman. She was always there for me when I needed her. And now, whenever I see her in my dreams, I do not cry. In fact the dream I often have with her now is one where I am on her side of the fence and we are sitting in the field and having a picnic and smiling together.
I haven’t seen my mother in a while, but I look forward to the next time I do.
I told this story to a priest who has become my friend. He asked me to show him a photograph of my mother. I did. He said: “Your mother was a very beautiful woman. Always keep this image of her in your heart. You are most fortunate that it is you, and not her, who has but memories and a snapshot.”
“How profound!” I thought. And I have always kept his words of wisdom in my heart. I share these words with my friends whose parents have passed away.
If only I could have been lucky enough to be there to hold my mother’s hand and be able to say, “I love you” when she passed away. How thankful I would be; thankful for that moment that I could be there. But I wasn’t.
But she was there to share and be a big part of my life.
I wouldn’t trade those photos or memories for anything in the world.


Would you?
My mother and father sometime in the very early 1950s.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock N Roll Ghost Story Movie Trailer released!

The trailer for the movie I am making is finished. Please check it out. It features some of Japan's best rock n roll bands.

The story is about a struggling artist who buys an antique guitar amp that comes with some bizarre surprises!

Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock N Roll Ghost Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOASlR7MQLk


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Donald Trump, Border Wall, James Santagata and Me


My good friend, James Santagata, a top-of-the-line professional business consultant, often posts comments that make people squeamish. He has posted another outlandish one today. As always, James is concerned with cost-performance.

Actually, it seems he (nor I) try to entertain, nor deal with subjective morality or reasoning....

I think some people get mad at his posts. I usually laugh.

Today he posted:

"Border Wall? Why are so many pushing for such an expensive solution? I'd settle for concertina wires and landmines. Cost effective and still superior to the watering stations that exist now. But that's just me."

Chuckle. I can see the PC crowd getting into a major huff on that one. He isn't talking about anything excepting cost-performance.... 

Immigration is not the issue here.

Not being a guy to take this sort of inflammatory rhetoric lying down, I responded:

"An exploding landmine that doesn't kill but blows off a leg or two, or sends a 1/8 inch piece of shrapnel rocketing through a left eye, leaving some guy screaming to high hell is a very effective method of "getting the word out" and promoting your product to other people around you. 

My dad, who fought in Korea, once told me that he thought it might have been an early method of Buzz Marketing."

I wonder if a big wall between North and South Korea in 1950 would have prevented the Korean War?

Just thinking from a different perspective, or at least, showing dear reader how most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs think. 

That's all.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Baby Metal is the Ultimate Corporate Musical Act


Baby Metal is not a "Metal Band" in the way we think of most metal bands; High school dropouts in need of a shower and haircut who listened to too much Metallica and AC/DC in school and then one day got together in their dad's garage to make head-banging screaming noise. 

No. Baby Metal is better. Baby Metal is three girls, who never listened to metal music, who were put together as the result of a Japanese record label business meeting where executives plotted in a smoky backroom to decide what kind new Japanese Idol group they were going to create and sell. And they would do so attempting to emulate the quality production evident in many Korean Pop projects.


In my most probably confused opinion, there is not much difference between your average Japanese Idol group and the next. I also don't think there is much difference between Baby Metal and the more immensely popular (at least in Japan) Japanese Idol group AKB48 excepting uniforms, dance steps and that decision by those back room executives as to the "type" of music that would accompany these projects.

Of course I wasn't at any of these Baby Metal meetings but I can guess that: 1) None of the 3 girls in Baby Metal had any input as to the musical direction of this project; 2) None of the Baby Metal girls write or compose any of the songs. 

Generally, speaking, I think many music fans in Japan don't care if their favorite artist writes their own music or not; the average Japanese music fan likes image over substance any day. Then there are those negative nellies who like it when artists write and perform their own music. They claim that an artist making their own songs is more "real." Can you imagine? I wish Justin Bieber would get someone else to write his songs for him; that would make him even better than he is now!

Alas, Japanese Idol singers don't write their own music... So does that make their music "fake"?

Perhaps. But it's not any more or less fake than 99% of the other crap you hear on your standard run-of-the-mill FM radio Hit Parade of Hell countdown program.

"The Japanese Pop Music industry is all that the pop music industry in the west aspires to be: Conveyor belt produced corporate schlock shoved down the throats of the unsuspecting masses." - Me

It really astounds me that people in the west like Baby Metal. I don't know any music fans in Japan who like them (there must be some.) I do know many so-called "serious" music fans in Japan (folks who work at record stores, "Music is my life" types, etc.) who absolutely hate Baby Metal.

I think most of us in Japan scratch our heads when we hear that people in the west like Baby Metal. I don't really care for Baby Metal just like I basically don't really care for all Japanese pop idol groups; I think they are the same thing. Just like I think Justin Bieber and New Direction are the same thing; but most of the fans of one or the other will surely protest.

Baby Metal is a Japanese Idol Pop outfit. It is "metal" with some Japanese "schoolgirls" "singing" over the top (Lolita Complex is strong in this one) with plenty of autotune, all created artificially by some record company so they can flog it to the Western version of "otaku." 

NOTE: ("Otaku" translates into "geeks" or "nerds" but there is a fundamental difference between Japanese otaku and geeks or nerds in the west. Japanese otaku are generally perceived as overweight guys, with a zero love life who read too many comic books and watch too many anime and spend far too much time gaming. Western geeks and nerds, might play games and watch too many anime too, but geeks and nerds in the west are generally considered intelligent. I mean, geeks and nerds in the west are the types who are president of the science or math club in high school... In Japan? otaku, well, otaku play too many games and read/watch too many cartoons and comics.)

Classic Baby Metal lyrics such as these are sure to invoke strong emotions:


NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! 
C! I! O! Chocolate! Chocolate!
Cho, cho, cho,
Is it OK?
But, you know, recently I worry about my weight 

Deep! Bobby Dy----lan! Move over! You've met your match! It don't get much better than this!

Some might say the lyrics are atrociously bad. Not me. Baby Metal and AKB48 are all a sales pitch. And the public are buying, right? So what's the problem? Perfect!

But, really, western music fan, if you are going to go bananas over Baby Metal, then you should be a hardcore fan of AKB48 too. They are, de facto, the same thing (excepting AKB48 videos are more akin to softcore porn). Check it out. Here's an AKB48 video that has almost 100 million views: (You must watch for at least 1 minute or you get penalized!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFf4AgBNR1E 




This is the same thing as Baby Metal, excepting, as I said, dance steps, uniforms (and the AKB48 girls are much prettier and much more famous) and the style of music that was decided in the backroom of some record company by some cigar smoking executives....  a decision, of which, these girls played absolutely no part in. Cool, eh? A perfect pop formula.

Baby Metal and AKB48 are manufactured music projects from the get go. 

I think I can say in the defense of Baby Metal is that (if you do consider them metal - I don't) is that "Metal" has always been absurd, over the top pretentious and ridiculous....That is what Heavy Metal has always been. 

Just ask Spinal Tap… 

And finally, one last thing in their defense: the success and acceptance of Baby Metal by westerners shows us one thing if nothing else: The Monkees were waaaay ahead of their time.

Pop music really is just one big joke. So is metal music.... 

But I figured in the case of metal music, westerners had always known that.... 

Maybe not, eh?



- Thanks to Apryl Peredo