Remembering Shachou

Hello, all. I apologize for not posting for such a long time. Something is happening this weekend that got me thinking about something I’d like to share with you. Grab a cup of coffee and get settled in, this one’s gonna take a little time.

I came to Japan in Feb. of 1991. At the time I was REALLY into playing billiards and my first full day here that is what I did, I searched for a billiards shop and went there. Before too long I was meeting the local guys my age that played. One guy that I met was a long hair, thin, wiry looking fella with a really handsome face. His name was/is Yuichi. As we got to know each other over the coming months we learned that we both liked the same kinds of music. He told me that he played guitar. I had a little background with the guitar. I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed it immensely. Anyway, one day we were at the billiards parlour and Yuichi told me that he was going down to the guitar shop to pick up some strings and asked me if I’d like to go along for the ride. Sure, why wouldn’t I? So, he took me to this little shop in town called Music Town Rasta. The shop was small, but it was filled with all kinds of really cool vintage guitars, nice amps, etc… etc… This was no place for someone looking to pick up a cheap beater, the goods were in here. Imagine the world famous Norman’s….in Japan.

Anywho, the owner of the shop greeted us when we came in. Yuichi seemed to be a regular customer in there and was very comfortable just pulling up a chair at the counter and shooting the bull. The owner seemed really interested in me. He loved America, he went there at least once a year to buy guitars……and he frequented Norman’s now that I think about it. Along with his love for America he was really into American football. I too am a HUGE fan of American football so we hit it off real quick. Before too long, I too was a regular customer of the shop. Many, many days just going in to hangout for the day. The owner’s name was Takashi, but everyone called him “Shachou”, that is word the Japanese use for “President”….of a company, not like the President of the US.

As the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into years, Shachou and I became good friends. Some mornings he’d give me a call and we’d go hit the pool and get some swimming in before going to open the shop. I knew his family and I even taught his daughter English for a while. I spent a lot of time in that shop. I always got to mess around with guitars that most people only dream about. I could kick myself for not buying that ’68 Les Paul Black Beauty he had for 3,000 dollars. I couldn’t even look at one of those for that price nowadays.

Oh, a little side story. In the shop he had this drum throne that he kept back amongst the guitars. If you wanted to play a guitar or test an amp you could sit on that drum chair. The only down side to that was that the frickin’ thing was broken underneath. Whenever you’d pick it up by the seat part of it it would come off the post and you’d be left with a round drum seat in your hand and the rest of it was on the floor. I always bitched at him to get rid of that piece of crap and get a new chair. He wouldn’t have any of that talk though. “No reason to waste money” he would say. “You’ve been here long enough to know it comes apart, stop picking it up like that”. hahaha!!

Hanging out at the shop all the time I got to watch him working on guitars. Eventually I just flat out asked him “Hey, can you show me how to change a pickup?” It was there that my lifetime, so far at least, love for tinkering around the innards of a guitar started. Whenever I’d see something I didn’t know I’d just ask him to show me how to do it and he would. The majority of tinkering I would do would be on my own guitars. Eventually though, when a customer would bring in something to be fixed, he would turn it over to me and he’d stand there and watch me and give me tips on how to make it better. One day he was getting ready to run out for a little bit to get a few errands taken care of when a customer came in with a 50’s Tele that he wanted the soldering to be touched up a bit. Shachou, without skipping a beat, told him that he needed to go out for a while, then he turned to me and said “Jim, take care of this”. I didn’t work there, I was just a customer, but he was leaving the store with me in charge and handing me a guitar that costs more than my house and wanted me to do the repairs on it. He told me to go over it and make sure the neck was straight, screws tightened, check all the connections etc…. and fix up whatever needed to be done. He said if I come across something I didn’t know, just set it aside and he’d take care of it later. I had arrived.

Fast forward 14 years. I went into the shop one day and he was sitting there playing his guitar, he had a Sonic Stratocaster, pearl green body, maple neck, ebony fingerboard, no fret markers. Anyway, he was sitting there playing through a Fender Blues Jr that had come in a few days before. The sound of that amp was incredible. Of course his playing had a lot to do with that too. Anyway, I really liked the sound of that amp so I asked him “how much is this going for?” and he said “It’s not for sale. I like it so much I’m gonna keep it here.” I told him I’d buy it but he said “no way.” Later that evening when I was going home I was heading across the parking lot to my car when I heard him call my name. “Hey, Jim, come back here” So, I went back in. He said “Take it, it’s yours”. I was like “Really, how much?” and he said “Nothing, just take it. It’s yours”. Damn, Shachou, that’a awfully generous. He carried it out and put it in my car. That’s how I got my Blues Jr.

About 2 weeks after the Blues Jr. incident I was coming in from work on a Friday evening when my friend, we call him Dr. T, called me. Dr. T and I are guitar buddies. We’ve gigged together quite a bit and he’s someone that I consider a really dear friend. Anyway, Dr. T calls me and he says “Jim, Shachou died today”. It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. “What?? He’s only 49 years old!!”. Dr. T told me that everyone was at the shop so I jumped in my car and ran down there. Turns out that he was at home that morning watching a baseball game lying on the sofa. His wife came in and told him he should probably get ready for work, the shop opened at noon. He said “OK”, stood up from the sofa, raised his arms above his head to stretch, had a massive coronary, and dropped dead where he was standing. From all accounts he was dead before he hit the floor.

I get to the shop and it was a madhouse. Shachou wasn’t very good at keeping records and there were a bunch of people there that had guitars out for refinishes, or orders that had been placed and partially paid for….it was a mess. I can understand their feelings, but, can you at least let the body get cold before doing this shit? We spent the rest of the evening there trying to get things in order. It was an insurmountable task and I was getting pissed off more and more when someone would say something about possibly getting screwed out of money. My thought was “hey, let’s wait until after the funeral to take care of this”. Needless to say there were some people that showed their true colors that evening and I, in turn, cut them out of my life.

We just passed the 10th anniversary of his death in April. This coming Saturday night we are having a tribute live show to remember Shachou. 5 bands joining consisting of people that used to hang out there regularly. My band seems to be the main event of the night. I usually do an EVH style solo spot in our shows but this time I’m going to take that time to talk a little about Shachou, he deserves it. His wife has since moved out of their house and I don’t know where she went. If I could get a hold of her I’d like to borrow his guitar and have it on stage with us. No way to find her though.

Anyway, that’s my story. I hope I didn’t bore you with it. This Saturday, if you remember, about 9:00pm Japan time, give a little nod to the heavens for Shachou. I know you guys would have loved him.

Y’all come back, I’ll leave the light on for ya.


P.S. As I was leaving the shop that night, I grabbed the drum throne. It’s up in my room next to my desk. I’ll never get rid of it.

P.P.S. Remember Yuichi from earlier? He’s the bassist in my current band. All these years later and we’re still friends.

L to R: Yuichi, me, Koji


Poster for the Tribute show. Rest in Peace, old friend.


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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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It All Started With A Cap Gun

On more than one occasion I can be quoted as saying that America has wussified itself to the point that I can’t wrap my head around how kids have any fun these days. I mean, I understand that we should take extra measures to protect children, but in reality, there is a certain number of kids that just have to get hurt *AND* there’s sort of a rite of passage that comes with doing dangerous things when you’re a kid.

It all started with a cap gun. I was going through Facebook today and came across a post by a friend of mine. You know the posts, the “if you grew up in the 80’s….” and there’s a picture of some board game like Chutes and Ladders, or characters from TV like Erkl….why the hell did I choose Erkl? Anyway, I usually pass those things up because, well, a lot of those things from the past deserve to stay right where they are, in the past. I don’t really get a sense of nostalgia looking at them. But today was different. He had posted a picture of a cap gun. Man, that right there got the memories rolling. Cap guns were bad to the bone. Remember you’d get that roll of caps and go shooting after each other? Or better yet, take the caps and smash them with a rock? How about scraping them with a rock or a knife until they fizzled about a butt hair away from your finger and left a burn blister? And we were stupid enough to do it again with our unburnt fingers until they were all blistered and aching.

Talking about the cap guns of course turned into a conversation on all the other stupid, read “dangerous” stuff we did as kids. Now, I’m not trying to teach anyone how to do this, and I suggest that you don’t, but anyone my age will remember taking 3 or 4 empty tin beer cans, cutting one end off of one of them, then cutting both ends off the rest of them, duct tape them together, cut some holes in the bottom and an exhaust hole on the side, pour in some gasoline, drop in a tennis ball, strike a match and “BOOM” instant canon. My uncle Terry taught me to do that before I was even 10 years old. HA!!

Then there was always the one kid in the neighborhood that tore apart the lawn mower and built a go-cart with the engine. Of course, as soon as he had it out on the street the genius in us took over. I mean, if you have a go-cart you gotta have a ramp. So, we’d hit up someplace where homes were being built……it seems like homes were always being built when I was a kid, anyway, you’d hit one of those construction sites, peel yourself off a couple sheets of plywood, and drag them back to the neighborhood. Then, if making a ramp so you could jump a lawn mower engine powered go-cart wasn’t brilliant enough, you propped that ramp up with a single row of bricks, stacked like 5 or 6 high. That ramp would be all wobbly and as soon as the first person tried it the bricks would fall as soon as the go-cart hit the ramp, then you’d get this pathetic….hop off with two wheels, swerve all over the damn street and, God forbid, try not to slam into a neighbor’s car, or swerve the other way and run into your friends, although they were safe because they saw your ass coming and were hauling it out of there in every direction.

I basically told that same story on FB when my friend Rob replied with

“Two words: Lawn Dart. Wait, three words: Lawn Dart Chicken. We used to throw them straight up into the air and wait to see who would run for cover first.

Every toy I seemed to own as a kid had a DC motor or a heating element designed to leave me with electrical burns or just plain old burny-burns.

Of course, we learned young what danger looks like. A few cuts and burns and puncture marks and you start getting a finely-tuned sense of what danger looks, smells and tastes like.”

Lawn darts, or Jarts as we called them in the Cincinnati area, and heating elements were a staple of our youth. We’d be at my grandma’s house and my dad and uncle would be playing Jarts in the back yard. Once they got bored and went in the fun really started. I remember one time a friend of mine that lived in my grandma’s neighborhood got a Jart stuck in his shin. I honestly don’t remember if I was the one that threw it at him or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that it was. haha!!

As we got older the ante was upped. Around 10 or so someone inevitably gets a minibike. Is the minibike an opportunity to learn safety and responsibility? Is it a chance to get out on the dirt lot and tool around? Hell no, a minibike means one of two things, more ramps or a rope and a skateboard. To this day, my left forearm is slightly discolored from being dragged about 15-20 feet. I wrapped that rope nice and tight around my wrist, stood on the skateboard ready to make history, he hit the gas, I went straight down and got dragged screaming like a little girl. I was picking gravel out of my arm for a week after that. Needless to say, mom wasn’t impressed.

Finding a gallon of gasoline in the garage and a box of matches, or a lighter, gave you the instant thought of “what can I set on fire”? Ever fill an empty coffee can halfway up or so and toss in a match? Why were gasoline and lighter fluid so intriguing? Even as a kid you’re smart enough to know that a wrong move with that could kill you. What possessed us to do it? I mean, we never burnt down houses or set forest fires or any shit like that, but we’d do ignorant shit like spell our names on the street and light it. Idiots!!

Which of course leads us to fireworks. Summer wasn’t summer without getting your hands on some fireworks. Ohio and Kentucky were pretty strict on fireworks laws so you really couldn’t buy much more than sparklers or snakes, remember those things? But, the great state of Tennessee, the home of Elvis Presley, was totally open. A quick 4 hour ride down I-75 would get you across the border and you’d be able to pick up the good stuff. Granted, we were just kids, and couldn’t drive, but there were always the older brothers around the neighborhood that would make the trek. They’d come back with a trunk full of stuff, enough to get them jailed if they were caught. Huge bricks of firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, M-80’s, you name it. M-80’s, remember those? Weren’t they something like a quarter stick of dynamite or something like that. Summer called for blowing shit up. Again, we didn’t set any houses on fire or cause forest fires, but we surely didn’t mind having roman candle wars using garbage can lids as shields. The local elementary school sat on this main road up on this little hill. There was this exercise area that had outdoor wood equipment. We’d sit up there at night and shoot bottle rockets at cars going past. On more than one occasion we had the joy of running from some pissed off old man or, God forbid, a guy in his twenties that could catch us. We never did get caught, but we sure had some close calls. Why did we go back?

Anyway, like I said above, I can be quoted as saying that America has been wussified. In my heart of hearts I wouldn’t trade one moment of my childhood, and I’d probably do it all over again if I could, but maybe they’re right, or at least partially right, in keeping kids away from that stuff. It’s amazing that we weren’t badly injured or killed.

Any young people out there reading this, this should not be used as a textbook of how to set shit on fire or blow things up. I’m just recounting my youth. You guys stay safe out there.

That’s all I have for now. If you were a kid of the 70’s early 80’s, what kind of crazy crap did you do? I’d love to hear it.

Y’all come back, I’ll leave the light on for ya.


Posted in Things I think about | 5 Comments

YouTube Comments Update, Don’t Panic!!




Ok, as almost all of you have noticed by now there have been some MAJOR changes around YouTube and Google + over the last 24 hours or so. First thing you may have noticed is that you can’t respond to comments. Here’s the skinny on that. Any comments that were left BEFORE this change went into effect are basically dead, you can NOT reply to them, even if the comment was left 1 minute before the change set in. The old comments system isn’t compatible with whatever they are implementing. You CAN reply to any comments that were left AFTER the change took effect, so basically anything that was left within the last 24 hours or so. This does not mean that your old videos are dead in the water….only their current comments are. If anyone leaves a new comment from here on out you will be able to reply to it. Now, whether they are going to integrate the old comments into the new is a mystery. They haven’t insinuated one way or the other. So, if you have comments that were posted the night before last that you hadn’t gotten around to, too late.

Now, I do have a little workaround for you if you’d like to reply to an old comment. You won’t be able to reply directly from that comment, but, in the comment window put a + sign in front of the name of whoever you want to reply to and they will get the message. For example, if I was wanting to reply to Kurt Bell I would write his name as +KurtBell, and it would get sent to him. Obviously this will only work if that person is on Google + too. This could be hit or miss.

Another feature that they have integrated is being able to control certain aspects of comments. They’re talking it up like it’s some super new feature but I don’t really see any options that weren’t there before. With that said, with comments from the old system the only option you have if you want to censor them is to delete them. Go to the far right side of the comment and you’ll see a little arrow in the top corner of that comment. Click on that and your options will drop down. The new system has “remove, report abuse, mute, and ban from channel”. Again, nothing really new from the old system so I don’t get what Google is peeing in their pants for. Anyway, the old comments will only have a “remove” option.

One other thing, people can now comment on your videos from G+, they don’t have to be on the YT page. Obviously this means you can reply from G+ if you’re there.

So far that is about all I have for you. If you have any questions feel free to drop them on me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Guys, this is not the end of the world, it’s a minor inconvenience until we get used to the new system, and from what I’m seeing it’s not really all that bad. The one thing that *is* irking me is that we will no longer get notices in our YouTube inbox when a comment is left. From here on out you will have to have it set to either get them sent in an email message OR there is a little bell in the top right corner of your YT page that will have a number on it if there are any comments. I think that shows stuff from Google+ too so yeah, it’s going to be a bit of a pain. I’m sure they’ll eventually get something else worked up though. The cool thing though is that in the email message you get notifying of a new comment, there will be a reply button under the comment. You can click on that and it will take you where you need to go to respond. I’m really not too thrilled about getting notifications via email though. I get enough mail everyday without having to sift through comments in my inbox. I’m gonna hold judgement until I get this all figured out though and can get it to working to my liking.

Anyway, all for now!!

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Apple Sucks, Dude!!



When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house , I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home……wait a second, that was the Outsiders. Sorry for the plagiarism, Miss Hinton. I meant to pipe in about the Apple vs Android war that is all the rage.

If you’ve ever used the words “Apple Sucks” as your argument, then I’ve probably just dismissed you and haven’t tried to talk to you about it. There can be tons of reasons for not liking a product, but just tossing out “because it sucks, man” isn’t one of them. All that tells me is that you probably formed your opinion after looking at the front of a Wheaties box and saw your favorite star using something other than Apple. “Shit, Bruce Jenner likes it, it’s gotta be good”.

Nah, if you want to say that Apple sucks then at least have something to back it up…..something legitimate. I also see a whole lot of horse shit out there when these arguments start. Let me shoot down some of my favorites.

1) “Apple comes out with a brand new phone every year, money hungry bastards!!” This one has got to be the one that I give the “Highest Pile Of Steaming Horse Shit” award to. Dumbest argument that I’ve ever heard. Before getting into this blog I was curious as to how often Android phones are released. I mean, I’m an Apple user and it bothers me that they upgrade so often. Anyway, Android is an OS that will be hosted by many different phone makers, whereas Apple is just one. With that said, CLICK HERE to see a history of Android between 2009 and 2011. In just two years there are more phones on that page than I care to count. I repeat that the Android OS will be hosted on various manufacturers products so you can’t count every single one into the debate, but, if you look at Motorola alone, there has to be at least 20 different Motorola phones running Android. If I’m not mistaken, Apple has 6 (3, 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, 5S/5C). I’m not trying to say that the companies using Android are bad, all I’m saying is that EVERY SINGLE MANUFACTURER comes out with a new phone in about a year. They have to. Do you actually believe that Apple is going to put out a new iPhone and the other manufacturers aren’t going to put anything out to compete with that? That’s just silly. So, that argument is now squashed and you can no longer use it in good faith, because it’s a steaming pile of poo.

2) “The new iOS, or OS for the iMac’s and MacBooks, doesn’t support the apps/software I have on my 5 year old machine.” Ummm, Windows 8 won’t run a lot of software designed for Windows Vista. Need I really say more? New operating systems aren’t designed to run your old software, no matter if you’re Apple or PC. They don’t make money by allowing you to use old software/apps. (POW) Did you hear that? That was that argument being shot down….listen for the thud.

3) “Apple is so expensive” Ok, I’ll budge a little on this one. Apple products are expensive. 2 years ago when I got my first Mac I would have said ridiculously expensive, now, I’ll just say they are costly…..but you get what you pay for. My iPhone 4S is 2 years old, doesn’t have a scratch on it, and I’ve never had any issues with it other than right now this new iOS7 is sucking the battery like it’s a lollipop. I’ll find what’s eating it up though. Which takes us to…

4) Battery life. I hear so many non-iPhone using people saying things like “My battery lasts for 3 days” etc… No it doesn’t. It might if you never run anything, but if you’re watching YouTube, playing games etc… you have to charge your phone up everyday just like the rest of us. I have a Mophie Juice Pack, it’s a case with a built in battery that will charge my phone. The 2 together get me through the day with no problems. Sometimes, with light usage, I can even get half of another day in. That argument doesn’t float either. Move on!!

Now, for a legitimate gripe, I have a friend that said…

“I hate how apple controls every aspect of what you can do with your stuff”

Ok, that’s a fair argument, but I’d like to put my point of view on it. Apple doesn’t allow just anything to be put on it’s phones or computers. Every piece of software, every app etc… has to go through an approval system with Apple. Tight ass? You betcha, I won’t even argue that, but, with that said, you almost never have to worry about viruses and all other kinds of crap infecting your machine. I’m cool with that.


Which one is better? Neither one really. The best phone out there is the one that suits your needs. I make videos for YouTube, I surf the web, I check Facebook, Twitter, etc… I don’t play games. The iPhone does exactly what I need it to do. Will that be the same for you? Who knows, but before you decide, give them both an honest chance. Just saying that Apple sucks for the sake of saying it is ignorant.

As for the users of each, well, one of the reasons that Apple sets it’s prices so high is so they can cater to a specific demographic. They don’t want the toothless hillbillies in the trailer parks, usually known as Pittsburgh Steeler fans, advertising their gear. With that said, Apple surely has a large contingent of douche bags using their gear. The guys wearing wool caps in August and hipster glasses….you guys aren’t “cool”, you look more like a target for a punch in the throat than anything else.

Anyway, again, before making a decision on a phone, check them all out and see what your options are. And if you’re going to bring an argument against Apple, make it something more than “Apple sucks, dude!!”

Y’all come back, I’ll leave the light on for ya!


Posted in Things I think about | 5 Comments

Summer In Japan…..It Sure Is Hot!

Mt. Fuji

Summer is beginning to roll into central Japan and I gotta tell ya, this is my 22nd summer in Japan, and I still can’t get used to it. I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio in the US of A. As a Cincinnatian I was fortunate enough to grow up in an area that had all 4 seasons. I know there are probably going to be people in other areas of the United States that will take offense to what I say and say that they have 4 seasons too. Let’s take Florida for example. The seasons in Florida look something like this, Kill Me, I’m Gonna Die, You Gotta Be Kidding Me, and Jesus Christ!!. My mom lives in Clearwater, Florida. I’ll be talking to her sometimes in mid-winter and she’ll be telling me how cold it is……then she reports that it’s only in the lower 70’s. It takes everything I have to not hang up on her. Up in Cincinnati we actually go through 4 full seasons. It can get blistering hot in the summer, freezing cold in the winter, and spring/falls that make you glad that you’re alive. The one downside to living in Cincinnati is that you can experience all 4 seasons in a day. My wife and I went to my hometown one time and we arrived a few days before Halloween. The day we arrived it was perfect fall weather. Perfect for a long sleeve t-shirt or a very light jacket. We went to bed that night and when we woke up the next morning it was snowing and there was a wind chill of -20. Stupid me, I forgot about how temperamental the weather can be that time of year and we neglected to pack coats. Needless to say we were in the mall at opening time suiting up for the winter.

I first came to Japan for a vacation in August of 1990. It was hot when we left Cincinnati. We stopped over in Seattle for a few days and got the relief that the pacific northwest can bring. When we arrived at Narita I was so excited to get out of the airport and officially into Japan. We got our bags, breezed through customs, then headed outside to catch a bus into Tokyo. The Narita Express train was still about a year away from being born so we had to bus it. I glided through the concourse headed for the door. When the door slid open I was greeted with the most humid, stifling, stagnant, non-moving air that I had ever experienced. It was like walking into a brick wall. You step out and it literally hits you right in the face and makes you stop for a moment to give your brain a second to reconnect with the rest of your body and realize what is happening. Mix in the pollution stank from the cars and buses hanging in the air like a rancid bison carcass, and you’ve got something to write home about.

My destination in Japan was Shizuoka. I had been told so many times how mild the weather is in Shizuoka. “It doesn’t get as hot, or as cold, as other places in Japan.” I’d love to get into how the Shizuoka people say “it doesn’t get cold here” and then how I spend the entire winter frozen like a popsicle…..a “MULLYsicle” if you will, but that is for another day. Today we’re talking about summer. So I get to my destination and stayed there for about a month. To be totally honest, I didn’t notice much difference in the heat and humidity here in Shizuoka than I did when I was in Narita. There were times when I was sitting in the house where I was staying, with the doors and windows wide open, and without moving a muscle, I was sweating like a dyslexic at a countdown.

I’m a fat guy so hot weather is my mortal enemy. I don’t know why I decided to come back here to live, but I do remember that I decided while I was still here on that first trip. I even remember sitting there, with sweat trickling down from under my moobs, saying “this is where I want to be.” So, I went home, sold everything, and 6 months later I was back here…….for good. Like I said above, it’s been 22 years already and I have no plans on ever going back there to live. The summers here are miserable, but I can deal with it.

Now, what advice can I give you? Well, first, if you’re planning on a trip to Japan, I would highly recommend NOT coming anytime between June and October, unless you enjoy the torture. Oddly enough there are people that enjoy the heat. God only knows why, but they’re out there. To be totally serious/honest for a second. July and August are awesome in Japan. The heat is almost unbearable, but the festivals and the fireworks displays are second to none. Regardless of the heat, Japan has some really cool stuff to do in the summer. Ok, back to action…

Second, if you do come in the summer, dress lightly. Thin materials, things that breathe, things that will dry easily once you get into an air conditioned room. If you’re the type that tries to save a few bucks by buying really cheap underwear, you know the kind, 15 pair for like 3 bucks, stop it now. Get some quality underwear. Nothing sucks much worse than walking around with your underwear bunching up like a hammock between your legs. I’d also like to add that if you have tattoos on your legs then you need to be prepared to have your ink looked at, and not always in a kind way. You may get some dirty looks. Remember, you are a guest in another culture. A culture that doesn’t readily accept tattoos. I’m not saying it’s definitely going to happen, but you could actually get turned away from places because of the ink. Again, you are a visitor here, not the other way around. If you have a negative experience because of your ink just try your best to let it go and accept it for what it is, a different culture. I have ink and I have accepted the fact that it’s not always going to be welcomed.

Third, stay hydrated. I can’t emphasize that enough. Believe it or not, more than 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. We just don’t drink enough. What are the symptoms? Well, the first one is, obviously, thirst. If you’re feeling thirsty you’re already experiencing the effects. Other symptoms could be dry lips, dry mouth, headaches, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, cramps, and the list goes on. Make sure you’re getting enough liquids, and I’m not talking about hosing down a 12 pack of beer. You need water or some kind of sports drink that will rehydrate you. Here in Japan the 2 most popular sports drinks are called Aquarius and Pocari Sweat. Every once in a while you’ll come across a Gatorade, although Gatorade may be more readily available in the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Here in Shizuoka, not carried everywhere. By the way, coffee lovers, your brown nectar is NOT good for dehydration, just the opposite actually. So don’t go running to Starbucks to quench that thirst. The best thing you can do is drink water. Make sure you’re getting at least 2 liters per day. The good thing that I can report to you is that you’re not in Mexico. Water out of the tap in Japan is safe to drink. Of course there are going to be tin foil wearing conspiracy theorists out there that will tell you otherwise, but don’t listen to them. The water here is safe for consumption, and even if you are a little leery of that, every convenient store and drink vending machine has bottled water, and they don’t charge unGodly prices for them.

I guess that’s about it. If you’re planning a trip to Japan I wish you all the best. And if you need me to be your guide, forget it! It’s too hot! I’m staying in where the AC is.

Y’all come back, I’ll leave the light on for ya!


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Ray William Johnson And =3


If you’re a content creator on YouTube and you don’t know who Ray William Johnson is then you’ve had to have been vlogging from your closet. For those of you that don’t do much more on YouTube than watch your (insert family member here) do mundane crap like school plays, recitals, birthday parties etc…, then it’s time to step out of the box and check out RWJ’s channel. The concept behind Ray’s channel is that he reviews viral videos. It’s pretty much as simple as that. Imagine stepping back in time to the late 80’s and watching Bob Saget doing America’s Funniest Home Videos. It’s pretty much just like that…..except a lot more entertaining, and no Bob Saget….thank God. Ray reviews 3 videos each week and he tosses in a lot of one liners and gags to keep you at the screen.

Why am I doing a blog about RWJ? Well, up until recently he was the number one subscribed content creator in the world, with over 8 million subscribers. Sitting in that position may bring fame and fortune via YouTube, but it also brings along a lot of haters and trolls. As a content creator myself I’ve been fortunate that I don’t get a lot of trolls. But my channel is still relatively small. I’m in the 3400 subscriber range. I get the occasional insult about my weight, but I always wonder what they think they are going to accomplish by calling me a Pillsbury Doughboy?? Do they think I’m not aware of my girth? It’s not like I went to bed last night built like a Greek God and woke up this morning looking like 350lbs of chewed bubblegum. I put a lot of time and effort to get here. Anyway, back to Ray. I know a lot of people that are content creators that talk a lot of shit about Ray. Let me address 3 of the biggest negative comments I hear about Ray….in no particular order of popularity.

1) “He’s not funny” – Well, comedy is selective. What you find to be the funniest, most hilarious thing you’ve ever seen, I might find it to be comparative to sticking a pencil in my eye, and vice versa. Just because you, or I, don’t think something is funny doesn’t mean that it isn’t. It just isn’t to you…or me. In my personal opinion Ray is funny. Granted, there are shows that aren’t as funny as others, but for the most part I don’t get through an episode without at least a giggle, and when he throws the black baby into the wall….I’m damn near in tears. As a content creator myself I wonder if he writes all his dialog or if his staff helps. I tend to think that he’s the biggest contributor though.

2) “He’s Gay” – Ok, first off, have you seen his girlfriend? The one he lives with? Pretty hot Asian chick. As you guys know, I’ve been living in Japan since 1991. I have a soft spot for Asian women….or should I say a hard spot? Regardless, Ray is not a homosexual. Even if he was, who gives a shit? What business is it of yours? What does he do on camera that oozes gayness? If he was gay, how would that change anything about what he does? But again, it falls back to “what business is it of anyone else?” and “who really gives a shit?”.

3) “He makes a living off of other people’s work” – This is the big one for me. In my opinion, if Ray was taking the videos and ONLY showing those videos, then yeah, he’s making money of them like Nike does with Chinese kids chained to tables. But Ray doesn’t do that. He shows small portions of 3 different videos and comments on them. His comments are usually a lot more fun than the videos he’s reviewing. In turn, if your video gets reviewed by Ray William Johnson then your video is going to explode. To add to that, if you actually are a content creator and have more stuff up on your channel then your channel will explode too. So you see, Ray may be using other people’s videos as his medium, but the people that made those videos get something in return. It’s not like Ray took their video and uploaded it to his channel and got all the views and revenue from it. All that traffic goes to the content creator, as do the rewards. To give you a good example, I watched Ray review a channel that features “How To Do Anything” and the video Ray showed was “How To Throw Your Socks On The Floor”. The video itself was hilarious, a hand holding a pair of socks reaches into view and drops the socks on the floor. Finished. Brilliant!! When Ray reviewed that video the channel had like 1,500 subscribers. I kept tabs on it. Overnight that channel gained about 20,000 subscribers and the total views were through the roof. That guy definitely stepped into the big leagues as a result of Ray’s review. I just went and checked that channel. As of this writing that channel has 61,000 + subscribers and over 10 million video views. Fantastic!!! Content creators need to recognize what Ray has done for a lot of channels out there.

Anyway, my take on the hate for Ray William Johnson is that it boils down to a lot of envy for a guy that had an idea, ran with it, and became successful. Don’t hate on the guy because he got to it before you did. A lot of people starting out on YouTube think they are going to have instant success and make a living off of it. It doesn’t work like that. It takes a lot of time, talent, effort, and luck. See some of the behind the scenes stuff from =3 and you’ll see that they take almost an entire day just to shoot a 5 minute video. He’s not just walking in there, telling a few jokes, and uploading to YouTube. There is a LOT of work put into those episodes. Hell, my ThingzThatSuck videos are basically one minute videos, with no dialog, and one of those is easily 3 or 4 hours work for me. Add the time of coming up with the idea, working out the shots in my head etc… and there’s a half a day’s work right there for 60 seconds of video. And at this point in my YT career the payoff is minimal. A couple hundred views and it’s history. If I was in this for the money or fame I would have already driven off a cliff. I do this because I enjoy doing it. I’m content with my 500 views and socializing in the comments with my viewers. A shout from Ray wouldn’t upset me though. hahaha!!!

Y’all come back! I’ll leave the light on for ya!


Posted in Things I think about | 2 Comments