It all starts with butter…

…or a cube of beef fat into a big, hot pan, followed by thin, delicate slices of well-marbled beef. Then comes the vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, scallions and yam noodles. Toss on some sake, mirin, shoyu, dashi and sugar and let simmer until the meat is just done and the veggies are tender. Scoop up on to a bowl full of rice, dip a morsel in raw egg and enjoy.

This dish is best enjoyed with a cold beer, with feet under a hot kotatsu table and a good movie.

Sukiyaki on a cold, dark night reminds me of living on Awajishima with Justin. Max and Mina, I will have to cook for you when we next meet…

Web Music

I used to listen to Pandora 40 hours a week, only when I was working. I’d turn it down low and keep it running until I clocked out. When they started limiting their free subscription to 40 hours per month, things started to go downhill. I had stopped listening to Pandora until relatively recently, only to find that now advertisements are wedged, frequently and conspicuously, between tracks are distracting and make the listening experience less-than-optimal. I guess it’s better than local radio, but then again almost any city has better radio than Monterey.

I much prefer Last.fm to Pandora. Once in a great while, there is an advertisement and they don’t seem to have the same negative effect on my listening experience as Pandora. The interface is also more appealing–it looks cooler and gives me more information that I want in a format that makes Pandora look bland. This is my new go-to-station.

Lately, I’ve also enjoyed listening to 8tracks–it’s cool to hear a “mix tape” that someone has put together. It makes me nostalgic for tapes that family, friends and strangers used to commonly share.

Another site that I’m currently checking out is Stereo Mood. From the little I’ve used it, I’ve enjoyed the eclectic mix of music that is strung together by, well, the mood of the tracks. The juxtaposition of genres united by emotive themes seems to work pretty well.

There are some other sites that I’ve listened to, and I’m sure new ones will come to my attention and pop up along the way. I’m just glad that I can listen to a variety of interesting music without having to blindly take a chance on buying CDs that I may or may not like, nor do I have to depend on knowing people who are really into discovering and sharing new music. Now I can be lazy and let the internet bring an interesting variety to me, as I do other things that I want to do as I listen to selections that have been assembled by another person or an algorithm. I like the internet.

Voice Acting

When I worked for ECC in Osaka, a company that was one of the larger companies that provided English instruction in schools and in the private sector, I occasionally did voice acting for their manuals. It is very possible that in some classroom or study area that Japanese people are listening to my voice, trying to imitate my accent. Scary thought.

Today, I got a request from my friend Luke asking me to record the following:

This is a script students are doing for a play and they need American voices.

Can you help and make a recording???

I would SUPER appreciate man!!!

A: Where is the Jap?
B: I heard an explosion over there.
C: Be careful.
A/B: Yeah…

A: Hey! Look!
B: Freeze! I’ll shoot him.
C No, don’t shoot.
B: Why!? He is Japanese.
C: Look he surrendered.
A: But it might be a trap!
C: No, he has already lost his fighting will.
B: Yeah…

Your motivation is that this Japanese villager was about to commit suicide by blowing them all to pieces and couldn’t go through with it. Eventually surrendering.

So I roped Mika to play the part of “C”. Here’s what we came up with. Now that I’ve started to accumulate a portfolio as a voice actor, I’m expecting the offers for lucrative opportunities to come rolling in. Any second now…
luke_script