Monday, January 15, 2018

Jan. 14, 2018

Mochi Pounding

I had to work last Friday and Saturday. There wasn't a lot going on that I knew of, and all the places I normally go to on my way into the English school had nothing (not exactly true, the space in front of Lotteria was used for selling 2018 cars, but there weren't any customers or potential buyers when I was in the area).

On the other hand, there were a lot of the above fliers announcing a mochi pounding event on Sunday, at 11 AM, with close to 8 participating locations.

I was looking forward to getting some free mochi (steamed rice pounded into a 5-pound cake, that's then cut up into small pieces, and either sprinkled with kinako (roasted soybean powder) or doused with soy sauce). Then, I got an email from a student wanting a lesson Sunday morning at 10:30 AM. That promised to make things difficult. The lesson would end at 11:30 AM, and when I got into Tenmonkan, most of the mochi would be gone at every single location. On the other hand, I've had this kind of mochi before, and in fact I had grilled mochi with seaweed at home for New Year's. I didn't mind not getting the free mochi this time, I just wanted a few photos for the blog. Additionally, there would be a second pounding at 1 PM, so if I had the time, I could wait for that, get my photos and then go up to Amu Plaza for food shopping.

I get up at 9:30, prepare for the lesson, then wait. At the last second, the student cancelled. So, I'm immediately out the door and on my way into Tenmonkan. I swing by the closest locations I'd expect the pounding to be at, but don't find anything. I had seen a poster some days earlier, indicating what I'd remembered as Taka Plaza as one spot, but I don't find anything there either. Then, I looked down Streetcar Street a little farther and saw a line in front of Shidax (a big karaoke box), next door to KFC. In order to promote themselves, they'd set up a shiruko table with a big pot of sweet red bean soup, with pieces of soft mochi. As people waited in line, Shidax employees tried to sell them discount coupons for groups of karaoke sessions. There weren't many takers that I saw. I got in line, and pretty quickly got to the table, where I was given a pair of chopsticks, a small bowl of shiruko and mochi, and a piece of pickled daikon (Japanese radish). Everything was good (except the chopsticks, I didn't eat those), and warming.

Next, I went to the Tenpara movie complex. The shop owners there had their own pounding station set up, and volunteers could try their hands at using the mallet to pound mochi too, if they wanted. This time, there were two choices: you could either get a bowl of shiruko with one piece of mochi inside, or two pieces of mochi with either kinako or soy sauce. Having just eaten shirako, I asked for the mochi, with both the kinako and soy sauce toppings.

The mochi was a bit chewier than normal, but I wasn't going to complain over free food. Unfortunately, after finishing my mochi, I tried taking a photo of the table to get examples for the blog, and they'd just run out. Instead, I continued on my way further into Tenmonkan. The station at Lotteria didn't have any mochi out, and no one was preparing to pound the next cake. So, I went to the Yamakataya department store, where the staff was handing out pre-wrapped mochi (one red piece, one white per package), and just as I got there, one of the staff put up a sign at the end of the line saying, "no more left." If I'd arrived 5 seconds sooner, I would have been able to get in line ahead of someone else. But, as I said, I wasn't really there to get the mochi, and I still wasn't feeling overly greedy.

There was one more spot, about a block away, that was still handing out mochi and shiruko. The line was much longer, and I decided against getting in at the end. However, the workers here were still in the process of chopping up one of the rice cakes, so I got my photos after all.

It was just short of 11:30 at this point, and the next scheduled poundings would be at 1 PM. Again, still not greedy. So I figured I might as well go up to Amu Plaza and see what they had going. Also, we'd ordered some window curtains from the generic products shop in the basement of Amu Plaza a week ago, and I'd gotten the notice on Friday that they'd come in, so I needed to go there just to pick the curtains up, plus the other shopping.

Osumi Peninsula Marugoto Fair

I got to Amu Plaza at about noon, where they were on day 3 of their Osumi Marugoto Fair. If you look at a map of Kyushu, the bottom end kind of looks like a crab claw pointing south. The left side of the claw is where Kagoshima is located. The right side is Osumi Peninsula, which has the city of Kanoya, famed for its flower gardens. And, "Marugoto" is that "all about" thing. So, the event this time was a food and products market for the cities and farms in Osumi.

Banners promoting Osumi beef and pork.

There were a few booths, not as many as I'd expected, selling vegetables, shochu, juices and tea. The pink block in the middle of the plaza is just a photo display of the Kanoya flowers.

One end of the plaza had the "Kanoya dining area" set up, and was selling kampachi ramen. Kampachi is a fish, either an amberjack or a yellowtail.

I didn't see anything I wanted to buy, so I went into the department store and got some free sample coffee from Kaldi. Then I went to the 6th floor to see if there were any movie fliers, movieboards, or capsule ball dispenser toys that looked interesting (there weren't). After that, I made a swing through Kinokuniya bookstore to look at the new manga releases. Again, nothing I had any interest in.

I got to the second floor and was crossing the walkway to get to the main train station section (to get coffee and a snack at Seattle's Best Coffee, and read the Penrose math book I got for Christmas, when I heard noise coming from the plaza below. Turned out that one of the sushi shops had a table set up, and two of the women were putting on a demonstration for how to fillet a kampachi.

The kampachi wasn't overly enthusiastic about all the attention, but the crowd was eating it up.

I noticed the two foamhead mascots near the table, so I ran down to the plaza to take photos of them

Since I was there, I figured I might as well get better shots of the filleting demo. That's when I saw the other table in the background with the little plastic trays.

I kept telling myself there was no point in being greedy. I could pass up on the free food, and someone else could have it that might enjoy it more. On the other hand, the line was short, there was a lot of fish, and the demo was close to finishing. So, when the rest of the staff switched the tables around, I was actually pretty close to the front of the "line". In fact, it was first come, first served, no lines, and I was near to the middle of the table. When the people in front of me moved out of the way, I grabbed a tray. It was a small, bite-size piece. A bit rubbery, but tasted good.

After this, I continued on my way to Seattle's Best, where I got my coffee and snack, and read my book (the chapter covered Turing machines). After an hour, I went to Central Park to check on a hunch (more about that tomorrow), then returned home to process the photos, wash dishes, and write up the week's blog entries. It was a good day over all.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snowcap, Jan. 12

Last Wednesday, the southern Kyushu area was getting warnings of a severe snowstorm bearing down on the area, predicted to hit Thursday morning. As a result, two of my English classes got cancelled for the day. Naturally, the bulk of the storm missed Kagoshima, and we just got a light smattering of flakes during the day, that melted before they hit the ground. But, it left a bit of a snowcap on the volcano on Friday. That looked good enough to photograph.

I'd love to climb up into the snow, but Sakurajima is a live volcano, and the government doesn't allow anyone to get within a kilometer or so of the top. Meaning that there aren't any roads or hiking trails at that level. (There is a logging road, and a logging company that has offices up toward the tree line, but that's private property and off limits to hikers.)

The temps have stayed around freezing since then, and the cap is still there 5 days later.
Not worth skiing on, though.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The 7 Shakespeares, Non Sanz Droict, vol. 3

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

The 7 Shakespeares, Non Sanz Droict, vol. 3, by Harold Sakuishi, Grade: B

Lance Carter has taken to calling himself William Shakespeare again, while everyone else calls him "Shake" (yeah, like that would happen in the real world). The household currently consists of Will, business partner Hughes Worth, Catholic priest-in-hiding Milo (Milu or Miru), the Chinese prophetess Li, the abused wife Ann, and Ann's son Cain. Will is thinking about inviting the bookseller Thomas Soap to the house for dinner some night, and the plan (to protect the Catholics, Chinese fugitives and runaway spouses) is for Ann to continue to pose as Will's wife with Cain as their son, Milo would be the housekeeper, Hughes would be a live-in friend, and Li would be kept hidden out of sight in a room somewhere. At the moment, though, the group is waiting on Li to write another "big speech" to act as the centerpiece to hang the rest of Will's new play on, and she's uninspired. One day, Will brings home some more cheese scones from town, and Milo and Ann forbid her from touching them until she starts carrying her own weight again. This is enough to prod her to write the entire "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech in one sitting.

("No scones until you've done your homework, young lady!")

Will then begins writing "Richard III", to be staged in Burbage's Cross Keys theater, with the role of King Richard to be portrayed by Burbage's son, Richard. In order to get financing, Will decides to approach Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby one more time for backing. Ferdinando liked The Merchant of Venice, but it's Alice that really thinks that Will is fundamentally different from other playwrights (she also flirts with him, kind of blatantly).

(Richard compares King Richard III to a spider sitting in its web.)

From here, Will recruits Richard Burbage to play Richard III, and the boy pretty much develops the character of the king as a blackhearted hunchback from a single reading of the play. Burbage Senior decides to stage the play in three weeks, so Will and the actors scramble to get ready in time. There's great word of mouth, but on the day of the premiere they only have half the crowd Burbage had predicted (blamed on the bad weather). Richard Burbage plays the King with abandon, scaring off half the audience. Many of the remaining audience members get bored from all the talky scenes and the long run time. Near the end, there are only a few people still in the theater watching, and they get violent, demanding that Richard act all the way to the finish so they know how the story ends. Burbage Senior decides to cut his contract with Will after the next show to avoid losing any more money. Richard knows that Will has created something great and eagerly awaits the guy's next play. Ferdinando and Alice feel the same way. Will decides that his next play will be Richard II. In the meantime, Burbage is preparing for the final presentation of Richard III, and his stage director has cut the ghost scene because there's no good way to stage it. The director accuses Will of never actually having stood on stage and thought about what the audience sees, and Will gets angry with himself for having missed the obvious. He kicks a box of props and messes up his leg in return.

(Marlowe is one of Alice's guests, and Will's not prepared to go toe-to-toe with him just yet.)

Stanley and Alice think that Will has promise, but that the world isn't ready for his type of historical plays. They suggest that he shelve Richard II for the moment and work on something else. Cain agrees, demanding something with more fighting and fewer words and love scenes. Will goes along with them and announces that the next play will be about the war between the houses of York and Lancaster (implying that this may be Henry VI, part 2). This will be a challenge, because Marlowe's best historical play at that point is Tamburlaine, which is running right now (1587 or 1588). At about this time, Will is invited to Stanley's estate, and he runs into Marlowe himself. During a bit of verbal jousting, Will drops his current script, and as he picks it up from the floor, Marlowe thinks he remembers having met Will before (from having rejected Will's play on first arriving in England). Will says they've never seen each other before. They part, and Will worries that Marlowe may report Stanley as a Catholic sympathizer to the Church of England. Stanley knows the risks, but it would be more dangerous to refuse to allow Protestants onto his estate, which would be a red flag.

(Will gets ready to work on The War Between York and Lancaster.)

As all of this is going on, a young blackhaired boy is so excited at seeing Richard Burbage portraying King Richard III that he worms his way into the Cross Keys theater as a stagehand and bit actor. Unfortunately, he's incompetent in both roles. Will drops by the theater one day as Richard is giving a key speech in The Monks Bacon and Bankay (1589) (the only reference I can find to this is a Japanese page that says it's a comedy that mixes in black magic that had influenced Shakespeare's own writing). In this scene, there's a big metal "head of truth" that's supposed to announce England's fate. The new boy walks on stage, trips on the hem of his robe, and knocks the head off the pedestal, revealing it to be made of paper mache. The crowd bounces it around like a beach ball in a rock concert.

(Robin shows how the ghost scene in Richard III could be enacted.)

After the show, Richard takes Will backstage to meet the boy, Robin Williams. Robin also works with a friend to put on a small puppet theater on the streets. He's a horrible actor. Will complains about his ghost scene being cut from Richard III, and Robin uses his little puppet theater to show how that scene could easily be staged by using two extended turntables to hold the King and his rival, with the ghosts standing at the back of the stage and holding candles to indicate which one is talking at the time. Will realizes that the boy is a gifted stage director, but is more curious about the fact that he has jet black hair and eyes. Is he Chinese? Robin says, "No." His mother is British. She sits by the window of their house and drinks all day, waiting for her husband to come back from some remote land called "Japan" (Harold claims in his chapter notes that there are historical records of two Japanese men that had visited England in the 1500's, so this thing is conceivable). Will tells Hughes that they may just have found their next live-in guest. Hughes doesn't like either the increased burden on his wallet, or the risk of betraying Milo and Li.

Summary: There's a lot of historical speculation and dramatization going on this time, too. Ferdinando looks much more masculine that he does in his paintings, and the real Alice was very plain-looking. Also, I can't find anything showing that she smoked a clay pipe; in the manga, she never goes anywhere without it. The wiki article says that Ferdinando was spied on by the Jesuits, while the manga implies that Marlowe was the main threat. And of course, we have Li from China, and the Japanese-half Robin living with Will and helping him with his plays. On the other hand, the threat of persecution and death to Catholics in England at the time was real enough. The next point is on the timeline of Shakespeare's plays. According to the wiki article, William never released printed copies of the plays and there are no clear dates on when they were first written or performed. Many historians have tried to piece together a chronology. One of the first was by E.K. Chambers in 1930, as given below. Harold's version of events has The Merchant of Venice first, followed by Richard III. Not sure if the Battle between York and Lancaster is going to be renamed to Henry VI, Part 2, or not. We'll see. According to the Japanese page on Monks Bacon and Bankey, that was first staged around 1589, which gives us a kind of anchor for Harold's chronology, for what it's worth.

Henry VI, Part 2 (1590-1591)
Henry VI, Part 3 (1590-1591)
Henry VI, Part 1 (1591-1592)
Richard III (1592-1593)
The Comedy of Errors (1592-1593)
Titus Andronicus (1593-1594)
The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594-1595)
Love's Labour's Lost (1594-1595)
Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595)
Richard II (1595-1596)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-1596)
King John (1596-1597)
The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597)

Friday, January 12, 2018

The 7 Shakespeares, Non Sanz Droict, vol. 2

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

The 7 Shakespeares, Non Sanz Droict, vol. 2, by Harold Sakuishi, Grade: B
We left off in volume 1 of the 7 Shakespeares sequel - Non Sanz Droit - with Ann being asked to compose the music for Lance Carter's new play, The Merchant of Venice. Hughes Worth is convinced that this is a mistake and that Ann has no useful skills for the group. However after she plays the lute, the group applauds, leaving her in tears. Ann comments that she'd always wanted to play in front of an audience, and had been convinced that would never happen. With a finished script in hand, Lance has Hughes chase after the theater owners to try to get them to read it over (all the owners already know Lance's face and avoid him on principle). Days go by with no luck. Anyone that does look at it just glances at the title and first few pages before dismissing Lance as a wannabe hack copying Marlowe's The Jew of Malta.

(Ann is nervous about performing in front of friends.)

In the meantime, Cain (Ann's son) has been studying under Milo (the Catholic priest in hiding) and is reading Lance's history books. The boy eventually starts making suggestions for story ideas. While, in London, one of the stage hands, John Cheney, at the theater Lance is visiting, gets arrested for being Catholic. The theater owner tries to save the boy, saying that he's the best set designer they have, but the Queen's Men drag the boy off for "questioning." This leaves Lance in a funk, in part because he's exhausted all his options for soliciting the theaters over his play, so Milo decides to take the risk of exposure to write a letter of introduction to an old acquaintance. Lance and Hughes visit a dingy-looking inn, and Hughes hands the letter to a servant, saying "tell your master this is from 'The Merchant of Lancaster'." Later that night, the servant hands the parchment to the inn's owner, and the guy breaks down in tears of joy that the Priest Bell is still alive. Back at the mansion, Milo says that his letter is intended to get Ferdinando Stanley, Baron of Strange, to read "The Merchant of Venice." (The manga generally refers to him as "Stanley, of the Strange Company". Ferdinando was the 13th Baron of Strange, which was a title first created in 1295 when Robert le Strange was named "Lord Strange" by King Edward I's Model Parliament. Le Strange as a family name goes back at least to the 1090's in England, and Lestrange refers to an old, powerful family in the Harry Potter series. Ferdinando and his wife Alice were known supporters of the arts, and of Shakespeare. His younger brother, William Stanley, is one of the people claimed to have written Shakespeare's plays.)

(Ferdinando. The man. The man with a falcon.)

The manga then goes into a history lesson, explaining why King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and joined with the Protestants, to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. This resulted in the deaths of many Catholic priests, and this practice continued with the reign of Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Henry and Boleyn. The threats to all Catholics right now are great, but they're greatest for someone like Milo. So, his writing this letter and showing that he's not dead yet is taking a big, big chance. Hughes and Lance return to the inn, where the innkeeper provides them with a letter of introduction to Stanley. The next night, the two of them prepare to set out for Castle Strange. They comment that it's a full moon, just like when they ran away from Avon Upon Stratford to seek their fortunes. As presents, Will had given John Combs a pair of leather gloves, and John had given both of them new names. The two arrive at the castle, and are nervous wrecks. Then, they have to wait four hours in a dark, empty room, and Hughes gets cold feet, wanting to run away while they still can. Eventually, a man enters the room, and Hughes and Lance bow to him, thinking he's Stanley (he's actually too old for that role, since Stanley is only 24 at this point). The guy then introduces himself as a fellow Catholic, and says that Stanley is currently reading their script, and they need to wait a bit longer. Lance has been looking at an oil painting hanging in the shadows on one wall, and asks the guy who it's a portrait of. He replies - "That's Queen Elizabeth." Lance and Hughes finally get to see what the "enemy" looks like.

(Stanley describes the treatment John Cheney received, and names Marlowe as a spy.)

As the two argue over why a Catholic like Stanley would have a painting of the Queen in a prominent place like this in his castle, they're attacked by a falcon. They turn and see the real Baron Stanley. They quickly bow. Stanley takes Hughes and Lance to his study, and they talk briefly about Milo before turning to "Merchant." Stanley loves the script, but there are too many hints within it that the author is a Catholic for it to be put on stage in public. Lance is stunned at being so naive, and is glad that none of the theater owners had actually read the script very closely. Stanley suggests shelving "Merchant" for a few years, until things settle down for them, and in the meantime to write an all-new script to make their debut with. Lance asks if Stanley knows about the arrest of the theater stage designer, John Cheney. Stanley says, "yes." The boy is currently in a prison, being tortured by the Queen's Men. In fact, Cheney was outed by Christopher Marlowe, who has been responsible for the arrests and detentions of many Catholics to date (see the note below) which is why all three of them have to be so careful. At the end of the meeting, Stanley comments that there's no name on the script. He asks who the author is, and Lance thinks about all the help he's received from Li, Milo, Ann and Cain, before answering, "I am. I'm William Shakespeare."

(Edward Alleyn as Tamburlaine.)

On the ride back in the carriage, Hughes is in a huff at this turn of events. Will apologizes for having thrown away Hughes' present to him (the fake name), but on a night like this, there had been no other choice. When they get back to the estate, Will explains to Ann, Cain and Milo what had led the two of them to take fake identities (Milo had already revealed his own background when Cain had asked why a nobody like him would have access to a lord like Stanley). Cain thinks this is all very exciting. From here, Will and Hughes start working with James Burbage, the owner of the Cross Keys theater, which is most closely associated with Stanley. Will has removed some of the more blatant Catholic references from "Merchant", and Burbage claims to be very impressed with the young man, and how this script is so different from what the usual rabble forces on him. Burbage doesn't recognize the guy that had extorted him before, even when Will starts referring to him as "Babe", the nickname his mistress had used. One of Burbage's favorite foods is a York cheese scone, which Will and Hughes steal, and then start bringing back to the estate to share with the others. The scones become Li's favorite as well. Burbage offers 4-5 pounds for a new script, which is way too little to support the rest of the group, something that bothers Hughes a lot.

(Richard III goes up against Tamburlaine in a no-holds blood match. As Li eats York cheese scones.)

Will takes to visiting the Rose theater, watching Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great three times in order to figure out how to compete against him, and the troupe's star performer, Edward Alleyn. Tamburlaine is filled with fighting, blood and broad, sweeping speeches. The crowds love it. So much so, in fact, that there are no rental boats for crossing the Thames after the show. To return to the estate, Hughes and Will choose to cross over at London bridge. There, at the top of the Sussex Gate, they see the head of John Cheney on a pole. The crowds staring from below speculate on this being the most recent addition, with a few people pointing and laughing. Hughes vomits in reaction just as Christopher Marlowe himself happens up. One of his entourage asks him if this was his doing, and Marlowe says he doesn't like to brag. But, he was there when Cheney was being tortured, and the boy told him he'd be going to hell for this. Marlowe responded by saying "The curses of my enemy add to my glory." The flunky applauds his wit as representative of England's greatest playwright, but Christopher's attention is attracted to Hughes throwing up again a ways away. He thinks he's seen Will before, but can't place him.

Later, Cain is reading one of Will's books on history, and the conversation turns to King Richard. Will says that his next big play is going to be about Richard III, which has the advantage of not having been done to death yet (and making it look like Will isn't trying to rip off Tamburlaine). A little later, Will and Hughes return to the Cross Keys, where Burbage wants them to watch the star actor of his "King's Men" troupe - Augustine Phillips, who Burbage wants to be in Will's next play. But, Will's attention is drawn to a young man dressed as a disfigured hunchback soldier, and acting as one of the many men Augustine's character kills. At the end of the play, Will goes backstage and marches right past Augustine to approach the boy, who turns out to be Burbage's second-oldest son, Richard (Richard Burbage is considered "the first great actor of English theatre.") Will tells him that he's writing the part of "Richard III" specifically for him, but the boy's not impressed. Back at the mansion, Will lays out his plans to the others. Hughes thinks this is going to be a failure. Will responds by saying that this is going to be a "war between Tamburlaine and Richard III" (i.e. - himself and Marlowe). All they need is the key speech by Li. Then the bookseller, Thomas Soap, drops by and comes into the mansion to visit. Everyone is unprepared, so Li is sent to her room to hide out of sight, but Ann comes in to serve snacks, and Cain says that she's Will's wife, and he's their son. Thomas finds this all very weird, since "Lance" had been single when they'd last met.

Thomas gets to read "Merchant of Venice," which he likes a lot. He notices it's signed by "William Shakespeare," which he thinks is a horrible pen name (Thomas suggests J. K. Rowling as a better alternative. Will asks him to find more books on Richard III, and the guy promises to do this. When he leaves, Hughes admits that now is the time for "William Shakespeare" to come out of the shadows. He'll keep the name Hughes Worth, but will remain one step behind to help as needed. With the current oppression of Catholics, Will makes a comment about how the day's cold wind outside represents the "winter of their discontent," and they're going to fight back with Richard III.  The next time Will and Hughes visit the Cross Keys to visit Burbage, a door guard asks, "Who's calling?" and Will says "William Shakespeare."

Summary: Well, first read the note below about Marlowe. There are a lot of historical liberties being taken here, which require a grain of salt the size of London Tower. But, many of the people mentioned in the manga did really exist, including Shakespeare's patron, Stanley, and the boy thespian, Richard Burbage. As to whether they met in the ways given in the manga, that's open to argument. Anyway, the background artwork is very good, and the character designs are ok. Overall, recommended if you like historical fiction.

Note: According to the wiki entry, Christopher Marlowe was born slightly before Shakespeare, in Canterbury, to a shoemaker. He studied at The King's School in Canterbury and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. There was a delay in the presentation of his Master of Arts degree, until the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "service to the Queen". This is one of the first hints that Marlowe may have been acting as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service. There's later evidence that Marlowe may have acted as the tutor to Arbella Stuart, under the name "Morley." Arbella was the niece of Mary, Queen of Scots, and cousin of James VI of Scotland. So, it is possible that Marlowe had been responsible for identifying Catholics in the theater world to the authorities. Additionally, he tended to spend lavish amounts of money on food and drink right after being commended by the Privy Council, more than he would have received from his scholarship, so yes, there's a good chance that he was one of Walsingham's spies. The problem is that Marlowe had a reputation as a brawler and rakehell, which is completely at odds with Harold Sakuishi's portrayal of him as an arrogant, aristocratic elitist. He was later accused of being a heretic, and a letter produced by one of his friends quoted him as being an atheist, as well as slandering the Church. He was working for an aristocratic patron at the time, and there's some speculation that that was Ferdinando Stanley. The Privy Council issued a warrant for Marlowe's arrest for being a heretic, and at that time it was known he was staying with Thomas Walsingham, whose father was a first cousin of the (then) late Sir Francis Walsingham. Marlowe appeared in court two days later, but the Privy Council wasn't meeting on that day. He was instructed to keep coming back until told otherwise. Two days after that, he was stabbed to death by a con man. The cover story was that Marlowe and a guy named Ingram Frizer got into a drunken fight over a woman, and Ingram stabbed Marlowe in the head over the right eye, killing him immediately. It's more likely Ingram assassinated Marlowe on the Council's orders. In any event, Marlowe's official date of death is May 30, 1593, about 4 years from when this volume is set. Is any of Harold's speculation in the manga valid? Possibly. Was Marlowe anything like he's presented in the manga? Doubtful. Then there's the conceit that Will requires the help of 6 other people to write his plays, and the reason we don't know who the others are is because of the threats to their lives if their identities were known. Therefore, Marlowe becomes a straw man that Milo and Li have to hide from in terror (Ann and Cain ran away from a murderous wife and child abuser who has many friends in the city).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cats and Dogs

This was a bit conflicted...

Cats celebrating the start of the Year of the Dog.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Segodon Matsuri, Jan. 7

I'd mentioned that I had a lot of work, and short deadlines in December, so I'd ended up missing most of the live music at Amu Plaza for their Christmas Market. Well, I picked up a second project from the same company, and that had me tied up again from the 5th until the 11th. And, the Saigo Takamori market matsuri ran from about the 1st to the 8th (for the first few days, there was no music). I had just enough time to run up to Amu Plaza on Saturday for a few minutes to do a bit of shopping. I timed my arrival to be right at 3:30 PM, which is when the next singer (if there was going to be one) would be getting on stage. And in fact, there was some live music then. The above singer is Rie Kagoe, and she did the standard j-pop thing of singing karaoke over a CD. Unfortunately, the sound guy messed up the timing in punching in the CD feed to the speakers, stranding Rie without music for a quarter second; just enough to make it sound like she was lip syncing. I left after that.

Then on Sunday, I came back up to Amu Plaza for a little walking exercise during a break in the work. The singer-guitarist then was Satoko Tajima. She did John Denver's "Country Road" with Japanese lyrics. NOT the same thing. Again, I left right away to go in Amu to get free Kaldi coffee before returning home and getting back to work.

Monday was a national holiday - Coming of Age Day (celebrating everyone that turned 20 in the past year). I had to teach English classes at the school for 8 hours straight in the afternoon. As I was walking through Tenmonkan, I heard a shrill woman's voice coming over the PA from the general direction of the 7-11, where the shopping complex occasionally hosts events. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to backtrack to see if something actually was going on there, and when I did get out at the end of the day, whatever had been happening was long gone. Sigh. I would have liked to at least have gotten a photo or two for the blog.

I continued working Tuesday and Wednesday on everything I had to get done, finally reaching kind of a stopping point Wednesday night. Naturally, when I DO have a little free time it's on a Thursday, when there's no events, and people are talking about closing shops early because of a predicted snowstorm. But, when I woke this morning - no snow. Clear skies and warm weather. Sigh.

Getting back to the Segodon Matsuri, there was one booth advertising the upcoming NHK taiga (Edo-period) drama TV show based on Saigo Takamori's life, called, Segodon. The booth had two characters done as cartoons, which I liked enough to take photos of them. The guy is Ieyasu-kun (a parody of Ieyasu Tokugawa, and has a piano keyboard for a jacket). The woman is Naotora-chan (a parody of Ii Naotora, and has an eel instead of a bow and arrows).

The front side of the booth.

If Ii could find the guy that drew her this way, she'd slapped him with her eel. (Note that "Naotora" translates to "direct" + "tiger".)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Taiyaki Catcher

The UFO Catcher machines on the top floor of Amu Plaza have been loaded with more food-styled plushies lately.

Here we have fake taiyaki (grilled pancake batter with a sweet red bean paste filling, in the shape of the tai fish). They look real enough to fool anyone not paying close attention to what they're eating...