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Friday, January 15, 2016

Dang. Nerds have it rough this week.

Hey fellow Magicians,

Bet you all are recovering from this whirlwind that is the start of 2016. I certainly am. It's been hard trying to look through the news online considering all that's been happening this week. Even a friendly BuzzFeed quiz or an insightful Huffington Post article from a friend hasn't pushed me to take a complete plunge into the news sphere. As you probably heard from this morning's broadcast, the most I could handle surfing was Rogue One news (and that material was almost a year old!).

We lost a lot of great people this year, starting off the new year with Natalie Cole, then Monday morning over a Buzzfeed quiz to recover from the mess that was the Golden Globes I find out David Bowie passed away. Then at the Verge, reading up on Spike Lee's latest documentary and the Academy Award nominations, Alan Rickman passed away yesterday. At this point, I'm not surprised that many of us (myself included) are probably saving up for once-in-a-lifetime con experiences, re-examining life's priorities, and trying to make at least one thing concrete in our plans before we join them in the stars. And it can be very easy to feel all alone in that effort, especially as we're already in a marginalized group when it comes to fandom and how we express it.

My message to you all this week is not to give into the despair, obsession, or depression so easily but to see the light in the cracks and be bold enough to reach out when you need it. Believe it or not, there are loads of people who know what you're going through and want to help. If you need somebody to talk to, I'm here for you as well. Feel free to comment here, private message me via Twitter (@djmk4life), or whatever's comfortable for you. This is my job - to give special people like you and me a voice, to provide education for the new initiates, and cheer and entertainment to the familiar. Most importantly, to deliver comfort beyond the radio and internet waves to make the world a better place to live in. The impact may be small but it'll benefit the long run.

David Bowie and Alan Rickman will be missed greatly. They're the two most influential performers I'm glad to have experienced in my lifetime. David Bowie taught me that being yourself is the best way to live. Alan Rickman taught me how even the sharpest tool in the shed can be used for multiple purposes and tricks. I really wanted to meet Alan Rickman because he had a fascinating philosophy and a story to tell and I'm sad that I missed that shot. The final lesson these two have taught me as well as many others before them is that you can't depend on your original plans completely. Sometimes you have to fast-forward a few steps before you can backtrack to where you want to be in. So seize those moments of joy because those moments may never come the same way again.

Carpe diem.

<3 DJ MK

PS - MK on Mixlr will continue where we left off with the Bowie/Rickman Tribute. Keep a lookout on my Twitter or on here to catch the livestream. Plus my laptop's finally in commission so I can record episodes again! YES! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

My dream trip to Japan & my language efforts (わたしのやすみと日本語をは なします)

A girl can dream, right? And this one certainly has big ones.
I've always wanted to go to Japan since I was a little girl nuts about anime and martial arts. I'm happy that's one dream that's never gone away. If anything, it's gotten better over the years to bigger and more dramatic things. With dreams, the "if" is the first thing to overcome. The most important thing to remember is that there's no such thing as an "if" unless you're exploring possibilities in fiction (and even that's not solid!). The bigger challenge is the "when". I'm hoping to do this trip around my 25th birthday because one part of this vacation feels right to have it around then. Whether I'll have someone with me during the trip or not is still a mystery. But in the meantime, this is my dream itinerary, also keeping into consideration the visa travel period I currently have.
The side bar has a partial list of places I want to go to but this post will go into more detail about the activities and reasons.
  • Try Nikka Whisky in Hokkaido
This one's an obvious nerd-out for me. Ever since I started watching the asadora Massan, I've been learning about the whisky industry even if I don't necessarily drink it. But watching the show's been pushing me more and more to explore Hokkaido and see how close the climate is to Scotland's (I've been to Scotland but it's been 14 years <0_0> so my memory may be a bit spotty!). In addition, Rita Cowan-Taketsuru [dramawise - Ellie Kameyama acted by Charlotte Kate-Fox] is from the same area where my relatives live so maybe an international side-quest in Glasgow? ^_~
  • Go nerd out to Tokyo
An absolute requirement for any foreign otaku is to go nuts in Tokyo and sampling every ware possible. Activities include visiting Tokyo Disney Sea, playing tons of arcade games and riding the ferris wheel in Odaiba, doing the 1000円 challenge, buying loads of manga and gachapon figures, and making pilgrimages to Harajuku's Hachi statue and climbing to the top of Shibuya's 109 and Tokyo Tower respectably. Optional - blowing up my suitcase while doing all of these things.
  • Say 'おきに' in Osaka
おきに is another way of saying ありがとう while in Osaka. While I first got the context of this greeting more so in dramas (specifically the live action version of Grave of the Fireflies), I've seen a number of YouTube videos to figure out that it is a legitimate phrase. It can be used on its own or attached after ありがとう. Of course, I'm still learning so if you've worked with Kansai-ben, leave a comment below. :)
  • Sing the Zenko-ji song in Nagano
There's a song my martial arts teacher taught me about going to Zenko-ji temple. While he didn't specify where Zenko-ji is, educated guesses have led me to Nagano since it's the closest to his hometown. In terms of the song itself, I don't know if it's a widely-known folk song or my teacher composed it. It describes going to the temple with your friends under the moonlight.  I found it really interesting so I felt the need to add this to my bucket list. That and I want to make a proper temple visit.
  • Enjoy jazz in Kobe*
Kobe has a really impressive jazz scene and has all kinds of styles. It's the city that gave birth to famous composers and bands like Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts. If they didn't create the styles, chances are the city gave a lot of inspiration (ex. Soil and PIMP Sessions - founded in Tokyo but inspired by Yoko Kanno) or provided fruitful ground for cover bands to flourish. In addition, the story behind Kobe's recovery after the Great Hanshi-Awashi Earthquake and the support they provided during the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster is really inspiring. I love jazz and I love good stories. Don't believe me? Watch this video:
Meguru Kisetsu by All That Jazz from the album Ghibli Jazz 2

*And for those who talk about the beef, yes, it is as delicious as people say. :)
There's also a really nice onsen/ryokan called Koya, which reopened in 2012.
  • Be a henro & complete the pilgrimage in Shikoku
This one's the central part of why I want to go to Japan besides the nerdy pilgrimage. I also want to experience the spiritual side by going through an extensive pilgrimage itinerary. On average, it takes 45 days to complete the pilgrimage (which basically takes up 1/3 of your visa time if you're a US visitor). The time can be cut in half with public transportation & biking but there's no solid account as to how long that would take. On top of that, most henro opt solely for walking when it can be just as genuine of an effort to use public transport to get to certain spots; one will be Dogo Onsen, the bathhouse that was one of the inspirations of Spirited Away. I'm planning to a mix of both during my first shot of the pilgrimage. (Yep - this is not my only trip to Shikoku I'm going to do!) Whether I'll have someone with me or go solo, that's up to fate really.
Because there's not a lot of documentation on walking and using public transport (since it's a pretty recent practice), this site has given a guess as to what that would be like. I've been referencing this site frequently. - http://www.shikokuhenrotrail.com/shikoku/walkingAndRiding.html
There's also an informative site comparing Shikoku to the famous El Camino pilgrimage - http://senguesthouse-matsuyama.com/blog/2013/08/24/camino-vs-ohenro-a-pilgrimage-throwdown-part-un/
  • Soak in the hot springs in Atami
Of course, what better way to relax and recover from an intense spiritual experience than to relax in one of the most popular resort towns ever? A fitting conclusion to an exciting first time through Japan. It may not take the entirety of 3 months, but it will certainly be a fun-filled and insightful adventure to boot.

Side quests -
  • Go to Japan during TGS and/or JumpFesta
  • Practice Aikido in Hombu Dojo and Iwakuni Iwama
  • Go to Comiket and D23 in Tokyo
  • Celebrate New Year's Eve and Day
  • Do the Kannon and Basho pilgrimages
  • Browse around gaming and anime spots (Shenmue, NANA, Studio Ghibli film locales, etc.)
  • Fly to Okinawa!
  • Bike up and down the steepest bridge in Japan
  • Carry a mikoshi during a matsuri (yes, women are starting to do this!)
If there's any other locales or activities I should try out, feel free to suggest things in the comments or tweet them to me @djmk4life. :) Thank you so much for reading this blog and here's to another year of excitement and content!

<3 DJ MK