Monday, October 20, 2008

"We keep coming and going to this place."

The speeches for the contest are coming along, despite the kids being so busy we can barely squeeze in a half hour for practice between their classes and their clubs.

I've always been one for intense food longings, where I'd go a week and not want to eat anything else. Unfortunately now I'm somewhere where I can't get most of the things familiar to me. Right now it's feta cheese - you can't even imagine how much I want. I'd sprinkle it on rice and pasta and lettuce and - ah, torture.

So I worry a little about everyone at home with the financial problems going on - and me, too. What if all my saving is for naught if we're back to eating grapes of wrath? It doesn't help that I only have the foggiest notion about money to begin with. But hey, Japanese TV will explain it to me with costumes and props!

There's one variety show that I always enjoy watching, that finds unusual things around Japan and the world. These vary from "that's kinda cool" to "that's amazing!" in every possible genre - animals, geography, architecture, hobbies, and of course, food. Probably the only thing they have in common is the reaction of the studio audience. I've often discussed how the main criteria for being famous in Japan is reacting well. Most shows have a little box in the corner that shows the faces of the guests while the main stories are being shown, and those who sit there like dead fish don't last long in the business (with some exceptions.) There's a a number of people with the job title "talento" - no one's sure exactly what they do, not sing or act or be funny, they're just always on my TV! Some of them I love, some I hate - what they have in common is that they react perfectly. A sad story, they cry, a funny, they laugh. An amazing story and their eyes get very big. Even when I sardonically wonder, what are they good at, I know - they make you feel what they feel - or pretend to. They magnify the program's emotional efficiency. And some of them are so endearing as they do it that I love them as much as I do my favorite singers, or actors, or comedians. And this show showcases them - something unusual is shown in little bits, and then there's a dramatic zoom to show the full impact to swelling music. Our talentos and other members of the audience ooh and ahh. If I saw it in real life I might go, meh, but this is Television! In Japan! They once found a pony with a white spot on its side in the shape of Hokkaido on its side - months later they're still showing that picture. The other day there was a restaurant that served a small meat dish that came with a bowl of rice - mounded up, it weighed 3 kilograms, was 24 cm high, and cost 2000 yen. I wouldn't eat that much, for sure.

Here's a clip to give you an idea of this marvel of programming. I'm pretty sure it's so awe-inspiring because it takes something common to all of them, and well-known, and standard - almost every train in Japan looks the same - and makes it a little different, and more practical to boot. They're very inventive. Whoever thought of "Necessity is the mother of invention" wasn't Japanese, because I think they come up with a lot of things that aren't strictly necessary, but are pretty cool.

We've been invited to listen in on the chorus club practice tomorrow! I'm very excited - sometimes I miss performing so much it's a physical pain. Even being close to it will be something to enjoy.

1 comment:

Raney and Don said...

we crave reality even though it comes in stabs of pain. ralph Waldo Emerson, p.s. raney says she saw tammy boyle at b.c.c. play today, love your father. Raney, again, I was thinking about speeches at funerals and they are eulogies or panegyrics which are generally the good things, I guess if friends were too negative it would stain the person's good reputation. Its good to hear the news on your blog. -Raney