Saturday, 26 October 2013
Happy to "blog in" today with news that I've found a good home for one of my stray musical compositions that has been loitering on "soundcloud" for far too long. MachinimaRealm is a subscription YouTube channel forum for gamers interested in a number of games, one of which is titled 'League of Legends' (LoL). Suffice to day, LoL is huge and so is this channel. They post videos regularly and the latest episode Random LoL Moments - episode 162 (League of Legends) features, among other artists, yours truly, Beerubaraoyaji. I had a little trouble with embedding the html for the link so if you check it out you will have to fast forward to around 1:50 minutes on the video to go straight to my stuff but if you are interested you might as well sit back and enjoy the whole 1 minute and 50 seconds that precedes it. I might add that the team were great to work with and I look forward to some more collaboration.
The song is titled QY20 BGM and is something I did way back in the 90s. At the time, I was living in a small apartment in the North of Osaka, Japan and Yamaha had just come out with this crazy concept - a music sequencer in a box that ran on batteries that you could use to compose your own music while riding the train to work in the morning. Oh yeah, as if anything like that would take off said the critics at the time. Anyway, I bought a Yamaha QY20 and sat on the train and composed an instrumental and appropriately titled it QY20 BGM. I always really loved the track but I remember playing it to some much younger friends at the time who laughed at me because it sounded like it was being played by a computer. My how things have changed...
Anyway, a minute on the lips, a life time in the mind - there it sat for years being under-appreciated when I eventually decided to make an mp3 of it in case I broke the sequencer or something. I stored it on a CD until someone invented soundcloud then uploaded it a year or so ago and then in 2013 it gets picked up by MachininaRealm and posted on YouTube.
Wow... hell of a journey for such a humble composition.
As of today the statistics for plays are up by 13000 % percent and climbing and the music has been downloaded frenetically. If you do check it out don't forget to like the track (assuming you do like it).
In other news, I have still lost Memoirs of a Vending Machine on kindle but it seems to be popping up ubiquitously on Amazon and its for sale. I seem to have lost control of it but what the hell, I'm happy that its available and is being read. Time for me to move on from Memoirs I feel. There is a hard copy floating around and is also available on Amazon as well as ebay from vairous sellers, too many to mention or link to on this blog.
I did a bit of key tapping the other day ( well... yesterday actually) and had another look at the band novel. Being picked up on soundcloud as a music publisher has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for creating and so I intend spending my summer break (southern hemisphere if you are confused) developing the plot and characters to the point of editing. Yes... editing and not publishing as I have learned the hard lessons from the Memoirs of a Vending Machine experience. I will not post until it is perfect this time.
Anyway, thats all for now. I'll be back sooner than later for further updates and anectodes.
Saturday, 7 September 2013
I have been away for far too long. I've been off my blog but with good reason. I'll touch on that later but for now I'll explain the title of this blog. I have given up on Kindle. Try as I may, I could not get a good review or earn a brass razoo on that forum. I was humiliated, insulted and undermined to the point of depression but still I soldiered on - "never give up," I said over and over - but to no avail. Kindle seem to have introduced new terms that you have to agree to when you sign in that give them the right to take down your book. I signed and they took down my books! That's it - no ceremony, apology or reason. Sometimes I think you just have to concede that some fights are just not worth fighting. So that's it... goodbye Kindle, I give up.
I went back to my Smashwords site and re-priced "Memoirs of a Vending Machine" for free and the downloads have just zoomed along. No complaints, no insults, no problems. I think I now know which forum I prefer and I'm feeling much better now that I don't have to battle for recognition or acceptance. Having given up on Kindle, I have an overwhelming feeling of freedom of expression.
Just so you know, I have been off my blog for so long due to my wife's disturbing and emotional battle with illness. Unfortunately I lost her. The experience has left me empty but much wiser as to what is important in life and one of those things is NOT Kindle. I will return to my writing in due course but need a little time to adjust to the new paradigm in which I now exist.
I the mean-time, I have found a little time to almost finish off a project I have had bubbling away in the background for quite some time. Having written a few children's songs including "A Mouse on the Table" and " Tuck Me Into Bed " I challenged myself a while a go to come up with an alternative ABC song. Have a Listen to "ABC -sample" on soundcloud and let me know what you think, be it on this forum or soundcloud. I have included a quick link to the right of this page if you want to connect that way.
Just for fun, I've also posted another instrumental titled "Red Arpeggio" It's a composition dear to my heart as it was intended to represent some of the good times I shared with my wife. Ironically, I put it together about a month before she was diagnosed with what eventually took her away. If you have a listen, try and keep someone special to you in mind as you remember happy times - works for me.
Thats all for now
Sunday, 6 January 2013
Long live the 80s
You may have worked out that I am on holidays and have all the time in the world to post interesting little snippets on my blog. I really enjoyed the Kyoto post and am planning another trip to Japan this year. As I settle on my itinerary, I'll do some more travel posts as the Kyoto post has proved to be very popular.
This post has nothing to do with travel. The photograph is a promo shot from the late 80s - a band I was in for a couple of years. I used to play brass so I'll leave it to you to work out who is who. I went a bit crazy with Logic pro after christmas and have come up with a few compositions that have been downloaded all over the world. The christmas songs were vey popular and I felt good about spreading a certain amount of goodwill by offering them for free.
I have decided for the time being to finish off some little projects I had in mind when I was a music student many moons ago. I have already promoted Pirates and have come up with another track that I envision being used as a theme for some kind of drama or other video. It's got some electronic brass in it which is why I used the photo above - you know... 'cause I used to play brass. Its called Remember ans is downloadable although I have licensed it to Getty Images on a non exclusive basis through Soundcloud if any one is interested in using it commercially. I have provided a link on the right if you want a quick listen.
I have picked up the trumpet recently and intend to use it for some future projects so keep an eye out if you like trumpet ballads.
Thats all for now
Saturday, 29 December 2012
This post has been a long time coming and was first proposed by a reader of this blog who was particularly interested in the snippets of information about travelling in Japan that appeared on my blog. I usually don't post this often but page views have gone through the roof recently so I guess there are people out there hungry for some new material to read. If you read 'm, I'll write 'm.
When I started this post, I thought there wouldn't be much to say and now I realise that there is just so much you can write about - maybe too much - and that everyone is doing it. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote my first novel, Memoirs of a Vending Machine was that I wanted to share my unique experiences but really didn't want to write another travel book to add to the stockpile of unread travel books published as ebooks so I wrote some literary fiction. The book is doing fine now and you can read about my difficult journey in previous posts. Compared to others however, the book hasn't gone as well as I had hoped so as far as travel writing goes, I might as well join 'em 'cause I sure as hell could't beat 'm.
Secretly, travel writing is something I have wanted to dabble in for a while now as I have been to Japan so many times now and I really do relish the opportunity to share my experience and my view. Because there is so much to say, I have decided to break this up into a series of posts and see where that leads. I intend to start of with a series of recommended things to do in Kyoto and give commentary on how I have gone about this and anything else that I think would be worth knowing. Then I'll see where idea takes me.
To begin with and by way of explanation, the reason I have been to Japan so much is that my wife is Japanese. We met in Japan, lived there for quite a few years, had two kids and kept a pet turtle before coming to Australia to live. I taught Japanese at High School after coming back and ended up organising a school trip to Japan every year after for 10 years or so. In some years, I did three or four trips that included, visiting relatives, participating in langauge exchange or professional development as well as the school trips. My favourite place on field trips became Kyoto.
Heads up, I am NOT an expert and this is NOT a travel log per se - this is just Kyoto from my perspective and you are free to take my advice or leave it, although I have done Kyoto quite a few times. Please don't rely only on this post and make sure you get a map and do some research yourself before embarking on the tour I suggest.
What I really like about Kyoto is the old world charm that remains despite the new world hustle and bustle that pervades Japan. It is a sort of sophisticated chaos that lends itself to art and expression. There is no denying that amongst the Japanese, Kyoto is a very cool place to live or to have come from and just talking about the place elevates any conversation to a higher level.
It is famous as the first Japanese capital. In fact, the Kanji characters used to write the name Kyoto translate to capital city. Kyoto is full of temples.Of note are Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji, Ryouanji and Sanjyusangendo. Nijo Castle is good for a look and some of you may be familiar with the nightingale floorboards referred to in many novels about Japan. An absolutely stunning photo can be taken at Fushimi Inari Shrine. I would prioritise Kiyomizu Dera and have chosen this as the first must-see destination to write about.
I've found that the best way to do the Dera (Tera = temple) is to walk there. I know, taxis are easy, the bus would be a unique experience and a tour bus would be perfect but what you won't do if you take the easy way out is to walk the walk along the back streets that are the real Kyoto. This is where the old world charm is locked away and to get that, you need to walk. There is no rule in existence that states that a tourist in Kyoto must walk fast. I won't lie to you, there are some challenging hills to conquer but if you pace yourself and rest along the way, you will be rewarded - and the walk will do you some good.
Note the following entrance fees and opening times. Better check about current renovations and how this will affect your visit during 2013 before you go.
Hours:6:00 to 18:00Closed:No closing daysAdmission:300 yenSpring and Fall IlluminationHours:18:30 to 21:30 (mid March to mid April and mid November to early December)Admission:400 yen
So to do the walk, it is best to assemble your minions at Yasaka Jinjya before embarking on this epic journey. It's fairly central and prominent on any map of Kyoto. This is a particularly beautiful place at night and if you have a nearby hotel, I would recommend a look at the end of an evening stroll. I always try to get a hotel somewhere along or near to Shijo Dori because it is smack bang in the middle of everything cool and gives me easy access to Teramizu Dera at the east end of Shijo Dori. The temple is an easy walk or as little as a couple of stops by bus if you get hotel that is a little too far down the Dori. If you are happy to pay the 600 yen surcharge for a 1 minute taxi ride, you may also wish to do this. On the way, you can visit the Gion District or Pontocho, the famous tea house street - but I'll save that for another post. I will also mention the Philosopher's Path, Kyoto Handicraft Centre, Kyoto Station and the Kyoto Imperial Palace but but I'll look at these places another time. I have stayed at a Ryokan or two and suggest a nice place to stay but I'll save this for another post as well.
I have stayed at the Kyoto Central Inn a couple of times. It's small but reasonable and so convenient to everything. The foyer is a good assembly area for groups and there are laundry facilities here. They seem pretty good about foriegners. If you are with a group, it's best to get yourselves booked on the same floor but you'll find that the staff will generally do this anyway. Be careful to get the back rooms, accessed at the rear of the front desk as the front rooms are old and only marginally bigger than a cupboard, although the twins are pretty good for teenagers or couples that aren't too fussy. If you are on a budget, this may suit you and all the facilities you need are there, including your own tiny shower and a TV. You'll have to eat out but that's the idea isn't it? It is pretty much a quick left out of the Hankyu line's Kawaramachi exit 6 and is so convenient to Shijo/Kawaramashi for shopping or for the teahouse street of Pontocho - and for getting around the rest of Kyoto and Osaka.
Another favourite of mine is the Karasuma Kyoto Hotel just a little further away from Yasaka Jinjya but it gives you good access to Tera Machi which is great for food and shopping and the Nishiki Market. It is pretty much a hop skip and a jump from the Shijo stop of the Karasuma subway. If you are really lazy, you can get a bus on Shijo Dori a round the corner and ride a few stops to the Gion stop which is opposite Yasaka Jinjya or catch a taxi as there is a rank nearby.There are a couple of tricky train swaps to get to Kyoto station but the hotel is awsome (by my standards, anyway). The price is quite reasonable and there are a shed load of amenities and services. I booked a floor for a group a couple of years ago and found the triple room a pretty good option for a bunch of teenagers. Oh - it is really hard to top the Starbucks virtually placed on the hotel's doorstop and there are restaurants and convenience stores near by. These hotels are fairly budget priced and there are much more expensive hotels available. I'll talk about other places I know about in subsequent posts.
Anyway, back to Kiyomizudera; Walk in through the main entrance and don't forget to look back to take in the view of modern Kyoto along Shijo Dori. (makes a nice holiday snap) There is a kink in the pathway to the right so just follow and when it straightens up, you just walk ahead to the other side of the temple area to a smaller exit. You should find yourself next to a small little park called Maruyama Koen This is a good stop for a quick lunch if you are a cheapskate like me and you purchased your lunch at the Lawsons convenience store accross the road and opposite Yasaka Jinjya. (There is a pretty good street view on Google Earth of this area)
You walk forward to an open area in front of Maruyama Pond that includes another little resting place and an icecream stand with koi ponds and a little bridge. Don't go over the bridge. You just hang a right past the icecream shop and follow your nose forward. Every now and then, you may pass a young Maiko (apprentice Geisha) or a real Geisha if you are lucky. If they are out in full regalia, they are usually happy to pose for a brilliant face-book-postable snap. You walk on past the Buddha dedicated to the dead from WWII (Ryozen Kannon Temple), then some rickshaws then hang a left and then a snappy right. If in doubt just follow all the other people walking in the same direction or ask - Kiyomizudera wa? Someone is bound to help out and just point. You will know you are getting close to the main shopping road that leads to Kiyomizudera when you start walking up at quite an angle. Wonderful little stores will appear that sell everything from yakimono (Japanese hand made earthenware and pottery) , elegant, colourful sensu (hand held folding fans) or maybe some Japanese delicacies such as tsukemono (pickles). This will come to an end and you will be thrust into another street full of interesting shops and people everywhere. You turn left and again walk up but at a much gentler slope. This leads to the entrance and you just keep going up. Along the way there are even more little stores, cafes and eateries. Try some machya icecream (green tea ice cream), you'll love it. If you are with a group of high-school boys, you can even get a replica katana (samurai sword) but you'd better make sure it is boxed and labelled as a souvenir or you may have trouble with customs when you arrive home. When the stores finish, the entrance stairs await. This is the best spot for a group photo if you need one. If you loiter for too long, someone may ask you to take a snap of them or sometimes with them.
So you walk up the steps and follow your nose, pay the fee then 'do the dera'. Make sure you visit the stalls that sell Omamori (charms, talismans) and it is perfectly ok for you to sip from each of the three cups of water at the otawa-no-taki, the waterfall where visitors drink for health, longevity and success in studies. So that's how you do the Dera really. It's best to take your time walking up to view the stores before buying. The route you take to see Kiyomizudera, will take you back down the same road and it is easier to buy on the way down than the way up.
When I take highschool kids on these tours, I always make sure I take the same route back as the one I used to get there because I love that walk so much but you may just chose to catch a taxi at the bottom of the street leading away from Kiyomizudera. At the very end of the street, if you turn right, it is a fairly quick walk back to Yasaka Jinjya so it is not a problem if a group splits into the agile who take the long way back and less agile who just take it easy, take the quick way and get a few snacks at the Lawsons before meeting the die-hards in front of Yaska Jinja on their return.
So that's the first Kyoto post in all it's glory. If this post proves to be in any way a all popular, I'll follow this up with advice on a trip the the Kyoto Handicraft Centre then a quaint little tram ride to Eiga Mura, home of the Kurosawa movies. I might even get to Shin-Osaka station, The Midosuji Subway, Umeda, Nanba, Tennoji, Mino Mountain and a host of other great places to see in the Kansai area. Shizuoka Ken could be featured as well as Hyogo prefecture, Hiroshima, Miyajimi, Himeji and Tokyo - who knows?
BTW: I've added a new widget link (up and to the right of this page) to a new post on Soundcloud. It was a Christmas song - Jingle Bells - and was done in a sort of hip hop style for a jazz ballet group. Worked well for the group and I have made it downloadable if anyone wants to use it.
That's all for now
Ja Mata Ne
Saturday, 22 December 2012
Yes, I'm a little surprised as well - another post... so soon! Maybe it's the Christmas spirit; maybe I'm just relaxed or maybe I have something burning in my heart waiting to be expunged and expressed in my particularly qwerty (Yes - not quirky) style? Who knows?
I've been spending a little time recently trawling through my smashwords and kindle accounts and have noticed a few quirky ( yes quirky this time, not qwerty) aspects to the reviewing process.
I have a short story posted at Smashwords that links to Barnes and Noble. Keitai Friends was my first published work that has become a chapter of my novel, Memoirs of a Vending Machine.
Reviews have been juvenile to say the least. It seems as though a couple of kids have had a read and decided that they hate my guts and that I deserve to be punished. So... scathing reviews have ensued.
Here's the first:
Friday, 7 December 2012
A little bit Goku a little bit Luffy ?
Great to back. I'm feelin' a bit relaxed these days so I thought it was time to re-connect and let you all know what's going on in Beerubaraoyaji world. I needed a Pirate Graphic for this post but decided to use an almost-pirate post done by a friend of mine. I needed a pirate graphic to go with my latest upload to 'Soundcloud'. I've called it Pirates as it was inspired by a visit to the One Piece exhibition in Tokyo earlier this year. One Piece is a long running anime series about a group of pirates. Pirates is an instrumental and you can have a listen if you want by clicking the 'Soundcloud' link on the right or the hyperlink that appears earlier in the text.
There are a few other uploads just in time for christmas including; Wish you a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells and Silent Night. The first two can be downloaded for free.
While I'm at it, there is a free download of 'Head Shoulders knees and Toes' I did a while a go for an ESL class back in Japan. Finally, there is a karaoke style version of 'Waltzing Matilda' also available for to download for you to do as you wish. I used it at a local civic centre at a library in Japan to do my bit for a culture festival one year. Yes, I sang it loud and proud to a fairly reasonable reception. I remember I also played the guitar to it but didn't get any compliments on that front. If you do download and use it I'd be keen to hear what you did with it and how it went as I go about creating a sideline hobby in karaoke and jingles to compliment my writing ambitions.
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is the most popular one and has been downloaded all over the world. It's a close second to Wish You a Merry Christmas then Waltzing Matilda although Jingle Bells is hanging in there.
I am on holidays now so I intend to really get down and make some substantial progress on the next novel - the band novel. I know it's taking time but if there is one thing I have learned about publishing, it is that nothing but the best of the best should be uploaded... so I am taking my time. Things have progressed but I'm not going to bend to pressure and publish prematurely.
I really really really do promise to get down and do the Beerubaraoyaji does Kyoto post in the very very near future. If I don't see you before hand, Merry Christmas and I'll see you in the new year.
Friday, 5 October 2012
I've been away for a while and totally 'off my blog' - needed to recharge after a hard few months of work.
Since my last post, I've had a flood of downloads and a few great comments. Thanks for the positive feedback folks, it really makes a world of difference. I have since found a few posts on the subject of bad reviews and have come to terms with the darker side of e-publishing and publishing in general. In related news, there has also been a lot going on in the media about trolling and cyber-bullying and it would appear that all is not well with this side of social media and the internet. It just seems that it is something that you have to learn to live with. As far as e-books are concerned, the problem pre-dates the internet by hundreds of years so I am definitely not alone here so I'm feeling much better about the whole thing really.
In other news, I've been working on the band novel again and have been having fun with the characters. Still a way to go on this one yet, but things are moving forward.
I have had a few downloads on Kindle in Europe, most particularly Germany and am looking forward to increasing my presence in this and other countries over time. Italy, Spain and France are also having a look - still slow traffic but steady. It feels good to reach a different audience. I love the idea that my work is relevant in non-English speaking countries. I think one of the main attractions is that the novel offers some insight into Japanese language and culture without sugar coating things - as well as good practice in English. Lucky I went to the effort to commission the professional edits really.
On another front, I have been dabbling in music composition lately and have uploaded a ton of stuff on Soundcloud. Two of the tracks, 'A Mouse is on the Table' and 'Keitai Friends' have clocked up enough hits for soundcloud to offer me a free conversion to the new more social-network-friendly version if I can top 1000 downloads in the next 5 weeks. The same goes for whoever is following me at the time. I have re-posted the tracks on my blog in case any of my readers are soundcloud users and would like a listen - and to get a chance to upgrgrade to the new platform. You could always follow me if you were really keen.
Lastly, I have been able to generate enough energy to think about honouring a recent commitment to do a special visit-Kyoto post that a reader sort of requested a few posts ago. I'll get to work on this soon so look out for it.
Thats all for now.