It seems like it's been a while since I've sat at the PC on a Friday evening, relaxed, with a beer in one hand and time on the other. Nothing of earth-shattering importance to say, I'm afraid. No idiots to flay tonight. It's still early, though...
I mentioned a while back that my little girl had "graduated" from her kindergarten. Today she started school. This is a good thing, of course, but it demands a somewhat radical change to my daily routine. Now, instead of waking up at 7am, I have to get up at 6am. This may not sound like such a "radical" change to anyone who sleeps like a halfway normal person does. But when one normally goes to bed at 1 or 2am, well... some adjustments need to be made...
I had an interesting experience recently. I spent a few weeks practicing/rehearsing with some Japanese guys for a one-off show at a local bar. I'm still in my regular band, The Dead Flowers, of course, but a few weeks ago I got a call from an old friend who wanted to do a sort of reunion gig with an old band of his, and they needed a drummer. To be honest, if I'd realized how much time and work this was going to be, I would've declined. We ended up spending about 25 hours over several weeks to get five songs down. Five of their original songs that they already knew. One of them was a bastard arrangement-wise, but I've never been in a band before that spent an average of five hours rehearsal per tune. My experience has generally been: listen to the tape, take 30-60 minutes of rehearsal time (spent mostly on the into and ending) working on it, and then basically see what happens on stage. If it doesn't work after a couple of "live" ones, trash it.
Anyway, these were good guys and good players, and we did all this practicing and rehearsing, including renting rehearsal space on the day of the gig, and going through most of the set during the sound check in the afternoon. This basically proved to be my undoing. By the time we went on stage I was a bit burned out and tired. I played OK, but not half as well as I could/should have. My Japanese friends had a different problem. They were nervous as hell! One of them was almost having a panic attack (when somebody who's about to go on stage tells you he doesn't think he can move his fingers or lift his arms, heh, been there and done that before!). Personally, I've made an ass out of myself so many times that making a mistake on the drums while people are watching/listening barely gets a twitch on the embarrassment-o-meter. We didn't play as well as we'd rehearsed, but the gig went OK.
From the Food-You'll-Never-Forget Department: I've eaten a lot of (to me) weird things since coming to Japan. And I've eaten them all with a smile on my face and a "thank you." It's not always easy, let me tell you. After the gig I just talked about, I went with the band to a small restaurant operated by a guy who played in the other band that night. [Just as a side note: in almost 11 years in Japan I've only been to maybe 3 or 4 bad restaurants--only one had kinda crappy food, the others had bad service. These places are rarities.] It's pretty common in smaller restaurants here in Kyushu to be given a small appetizer before you even order your meal. I usually don't like these dishes, and usually I don't eat them. This time, though, I knew the host, and he was watching. I asked my friend (the guitar player) who was sitting beside me what this particular dish was. "It's pork," he said, "and an especially delicious cut." I tried it and found it a bit tough (like cartilage, or something). "This is pork?" I asked. "It seems a bit tough. Which part of the pig is it?" "It's the vagina," he informed me. He wasn't joking, and good manners demanded that I clean the (very small, really) bowl. I didn't bat an eye.