August 2005


Browsing through my PC songs, I couldn’t help but wince with peeve to find folders upon folders of sentimental, slow, and love songs downloaded and saved by its brief owner – my younger sister. The PC is barely a year old and, as its new owner, I find it fitting to break it in with the kind of songs I fancy – especially the ones that spin busily in my head of late.

As I believe I’ve written in previous posts, I am keen on pop-rock-alternative type of music. But I also dig world music, having lived overseas for quite a long while. Some may say my taste is a bit eclectic, but these days, one can’t distinguish one music genre from the other (Metallica performing with the Frisco Symphony Orchestra in 1999 comes into mind) so who cares, really?

So today, I am on a downloading spree. I am using soulseek.org. Downloading isn’t as fast as I had hoped but with its ‘no spyware, no unwanted ads, no pop-ups’– or anything that might crash my new PC – guarantee, I am exercising extreme patience and keeping a positive outlook.

And everything pays off. I’ve converted 122 songs into my iTunes library so far. Here are just a few of them:

1. Green Day overload: Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends – just a couple of reasons why Billie Joe Armstrong and the rest of the band deservingly reaped (and swept) a slew of MTV moon men this year.

2. We Believe by Green Day and pop-punk spin-off Good Charlotte. Save for Joel Madden’s taste of a girlfriend (read: Hillary Duff), Good Charlotte has grown on me since the hit release Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous album. Besides, this song talks about peace and disses the resurgence of war (Wow! APU has rubbed a great deal on me). I dig such themes of late, which, coincidentally is portrayed in Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends’ video, too (albeit, a bit cheesy).

3. Bonnie Raitt's 90s classic I Can't Make You Love Me. Okay, this one is a bit off my musical palette but I fancied the song in the movie Duets (I actually bought the CD, to be really upfront about it) in 2000. But, I rekindled my fondness of this song after some hot chick (pardon the sexist label) sang it in VH1's Rockstar: INXS reality show.

4. Luciano Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma. I am not really a big fan of opera and theater, but this song (from Puccini's Turandot) struck my fancy after hearing it over and over in several contemporary and commercial films (the type that spends a great deal of moolah on production that it couldn’t afford any of Danny Elfman’s or John William’s original compositions); The Sum of All Fears, The Killing Fields and Bend It Like Beckham just to name a few. Turns out, Turandot is equally interesting a story to read. I’m buying the novel soon (but that's for another blog entry altogether).

5. Dave Matthew’s Dreamgirl. I didn’t know Dave Matthew’s released a new album until I caught Julia Roberts and her ridiculously-masked stalker in the band’s latest video on MTV the other day. Good choice, Dave!

6. And then there was Lifehouse. Of course, You and Me was on top of my list given its current popularity in the charts but I also downloaded Breathin’, Simon, Take Me Away, and my Karaoke fave, Sick Cycle Carousel from previous albums. What can I say? I am a fan. Incidentally, Jason Wade and the rest of the band is set to perform here in Hawai'i next month; Can’t wait for that one, really.

The list is long, I tell you. I’d better dust my earphones; this is one sound tripping I’ll have to sit a long while through. 

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The plane taxis its way from the tarmac to the long concrete runway. It's almost 2 pm. G and I are on board Korean Air flight 721 bound for Incheon, South Korea. Final destination: Honolulu, Hawaii.

The thought of sun, sand, sea, and Matsumoto's famous shave ice escapes my consciousness as the plane’s tires speed away for take-off. I poke G away from her tired, sleepy self and point her attention outside the window. There isn't anything much to see but a long row of steel and concrete that makes up Kansai International Airport; Nothing much except catching the fleeting moment of finally leaving and bottling three years of life spent in Japan.

As the plane wades its way through the afternoon clouds, I couldn't help but feel sentimental and sad. Japan has become a second home. It wasn't love at first sight – in fact, sushi and haikus are still alien to me, but Japan (and all its eccentricities) eventually grew and rubbed on me as days turned to months and months to years. I have imbibed a great deal of Japanese-ness that my heart bleeds to leave. I crack a smile then frown at the thought of living a life without the ubiquitous karaoke, ramen noodles and miso soups, shallow and searing onsen baths, the osteoporosis-ridden obachans, high school girls in skimpy skirts outside combinis, and the ingenious toilet seats.

Wow! I'm going to miss a lot. And I haven't even fully thought of the friends I left behind.

My stream of thoughts is interrupted by the stewardess' voice. What drink do I prefer? she asks and I promptly say soda and water with a friendly hello on the side. I would have thanked for the distraction away from thoughts about Japan but as I drink my cup of Coke, I stop and smile: I just had a conversation in nihongo.

See related blog entry: Missing Japan (Posted 31 March 2005)