Recently I have found the reason why I enjoy j-pop so much. Ever since I went to highschool, my pop music taste has been primarily j-pop. At that time, i enjoyed it mainly because there are cute japanese idols who sing cheerful tunes. But slowly, I listen to more singer-song writers who produce their own music. So what is different about j-pop than all the other pop music in general?
The main reason, as I recently found out, traces back to j-pop history. I read an article about the early influence of j-pop after 2nd world war. To start off, j-pop has its root to jazz music in the west. Jazz in usa is a form of personal expression with more complicated arrangement and irregular forms. A lot of jazz music are originated from the south where a lot of african americans reside in the late 19th and early 20th century. They are very expressive when it comes to jazz music - a lot of improvisions. With a background in piano and voice, I naturally enjoy music which are more expressive and free-form.
Another important reason why i like j-pop is because of japanese people enjoying western music. Japanese people enjoy listening to English songs even when they have no idea what the lyrics is about. This influence their music-making as the melody and arrangement of j-pop songs are always catchy and good sounding. So a lot of times we hear a lot of j-pop songs which feature very generic lyrics. It's almost like the lyrics are the leaves and music are the flowers - lyrics complementing the music. As a beginner in Japanese language, a lot of times I put more emphasis on the j-pop melodies than the lyrics. This fits my pop music profile completely as I concentrate more on the music than the lyrics of the songs.
It was the Americans who defeated Japan with 2 atomic bombs and ended World War II. But the Japanese people didn't feel ashamed of it and even borrow American culture like music and tranform it into their own materials. I admire their willingness to accept and adopt.
New season new drama! 'Dangerous Beauty' is about this brainless-but-pretty sister and the smart brother who is studying for his doctor degree. Completely different character and totally different value system. How can they survive in Tokyo living together? The actor is from 2004 x'mas drama 'Last Christmas' and actress is from the highly-popular 'Densha Otoko'. Must see comedy!
I had a relaxing thanksgiving weekend. Spent a lot of time with parents. Last year, I went to Mexicali for a short term mission trip, and i labelled the trip 'the perfect thanksgiving'. It was quite an amazing experience. This year, it is another 'perfect thanksgiving' to me - able to spend time with close ones in family is the whole point for thanksgiving. We watched a lot of basketball games. Unfortunately only one game was both exciting and spectacular (we were talking about why games cannot be both 'exciting' & 'spectacular')
Good worship today at church. Even morning service there are so many people which is a tad unusual. For dinner tonight, I went to have Shabu-Shabu at a new restaurant just opened around the block where i live. The beef is so very good. It's great to have shabu during winter time, esp. with low temperature like today.
100% totally agree. To me this is especially true after my HK trip. Being able to get back in touch with schoolmates after many many years is just a heavenly thing. Although many we have not keep in touch for years, the familiarity and sweetness of the people are still there. I remind myself the reason why the familiarity is because we spent time together every day for a few years. Nowadays, It is very hard to spend time with someone everyday for a few years.
Just like old friends, you don't need to pretend or to fake myself in front of them. Can just be myself.
Today is Microsoft new game console XBox 360 launch day here in the states. The states launch the system earliest as Europe is 12/3 and Japan is 12/10. One of my colleagues stood in queue from 3am to 8am this morning and got himself the $299 XBox 360 core system. The green box is now sitting comfortably in his cube.
Reminds me of myself 5 years ago, standing in front of Target store for 6 hours to queue up for the PS2. Talk about desire :)
This afternoon I went to the housewarming party of my friend who 'suddenly' got married. A nice big house with 4 rooms, they also prepared some good snacks for all the guests. Saw a lot of old friends from vov (the singing group i spent 2 years with). Great people, good food and fun chat. I got my friend some cookies and cocoa from Starbucks in a nice silver tin (didn't have time to shop so just went to nearby Starbucks to pick it up on the way). It was a nice and pleasant afternoon. Even got to play some fuzzball.
MY friend's wife is a nice, warm lady from Taiwan. My friend is originally from HK but came to US to study highschool and up. From the outside it is hard to imagine them being together, with cultural and language difference.
A thing I observed at the party: HK guys who got married here, most of them marry Taiwanese girls. HK guys who got married in HK (those I know), they marry U classmates, usually same year same major. Interesting trend.
Picked up Dragaon Quest VIII yesterday at an amazing price. I was gonna pick up Xenosaga II as well since it's finally dropped the price to become a bargain game. BUT, I won't have time to play two long RPGs simultaneously.
This game was released in Japan last year and it was the Game of the Year voted by many Japanese game magazines. It took Square-Enix a while to translate everything into English, but it is worth the wait. They even go further to polish the game menus to be easier for english speakers to enjoy. Sweet.
As a veteran RPG fan I can assure you this is one of the best RPGs in a while. I actually have not play an RPG for a while (last was 'Shin Megami Tensei ~Nocturne~') because I simply do not have those times to sit down and spend several hours developing the characters. But with DQ8 coming along, I just have to do better time amanagement :) I want to know what makes 4 million people go crazy in the land of the rising sun. What is so attractive and enjoyable about DQ8?
From first glance after I pop the CD into my PS2. I can see that different aspects of the game are of high quality. DQ8 is very easy to pick up. The menus and controls are very intuitive. Walking around town is a breeze. The voice acting is one of the best I've seen in RPG, with people having different accents like British, Indian, Southeast Asian etc. The characters use some interesting words I find myself needing to look them up in the dictionary. The cell-shaded characters are very well-designed and do not feel anything kiddish or too cartoonish.
Then the battles! One of the most important elements in an RPG is the playability of battles. If it is not designed well, it will get boring because battles make up the majority of an RPG. I'm 3 hours into the games and I've been doing constant battles already. There is non-stop action. And the battles themselves are quite exciting with needing to use some brain-power to analyze what to slash first, or when to boast up your power. A lot of strategies are needed to complete a quest. Monsters are intelligent. They give you critical hit from time to time. You will get killed if you are not careful, and the money you got will be halved.
The music of the game must be one of the best I've ever heard. The music when running around on the worldmap reminds me of going to a symphonic concert. The score is amazing. And, music changes at different times of play for same location. Sound effects are very well made also.
I am looking forward to spending some time on this gem. No console game fan should let this slip away. RPG fans must pick this one up otherwise you'll miss one of the best RPGs ever made.
Today I got an invite to a house warming party. It is from a friend I have not seen just for a few months but still keep in touch thru im. Then I saw the title of the invite which says 'xxx & yyy house-warming' and 'yyy' is a lady's name. So, I asked my friend who that is. I thought she's my friend's sister but guess what, she is the wife :) They dated a few months and got married last month and obviously their wedding wasn't widely announced at all.