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Monday, November 14, 2011

Note About Blogs

First of all, I want to apologize for not having posted much here.  I find it a larger responsibility than I imagined, in terms of time.  I have to give up on the idea that there's actually going to be any great (or even more than mediocre) writing on this blog, and just do it!  So I am officially taking the pressure off myself and thus, anyone viewing has the right to know that I won't be polishing these posts much.

And then, I guess the problem for me has also always been, what do I really want this blog to be?

Well, we learn by going where we have to go -- to quote a very dear friend of mine, who was quoting Roethke...

The other thing I need to tell you is that I still haven't quite figured out the mechanics of this site.  I tried to embed two videos but couldn't figure out how to do the second one to the same blog so I had to write two blogs and now I see that they are in reverse order.  Ugh!  Who has time to figure all this stuff out?  I just want to post something!

So please, if you can, read the following two posts in reverse order, starting with "ウエストサイドーストーリ。”  And I promise to spend some time in the near future  figuring out how to make things work around here...

yoroshiku onegaishimasu よろしくおねがいします。。。("please be kind to me, as I will to you")

Julie (written like this: ジュリエ)

West Side Story - Japan Cast Interview 2 / Tonight

If you want to watch the professionals do it, here is part of an interview of the Tokyo cast of 2009 (apparently a splendid, long running production).  They are on a typical talk show aimed at people in their 20s.  The hosts sit together on one side dressed in Japanese youth garb (except for the conservatively dressed female host).  The guests (the cast) sit near them in their own grouping of five.  The set up reminds me, for some reason, of the old "Dating Game!"

Watch this all the way through and you'll see the guest dancers trying to teach the young hosts a thing or two about how to dance like a Jet...

This is typical wacky Japanese TV!  And yet, even with the motley hosts, there is lots of bowing -- which always amuses me when they are trying to be so cool!

You will here the most outlandish host say this word in a long drawn out way "sugoi."  But he says it like this SSUUU-GGOII!  It means "Cool."  But he way he says it basically means, "hot damn that's coolest thing ever!"

Well, I happen to agree! Watashi mo わたしも(me too!)


ウエストーサエドストーリ - Or, as we call it here in America, "West Side Story" is celebrating its  50th Cinematic Anniversary.  I was lucky enough to see the "one night only" big screen release of the newly remastered print at AMC cinemas in Century City.   What a thrill that was; I've never seen it in a real movie theater.   The dancing exploded off the screen, the music was gorgeously newly remixed, the colors seemed more saturated and vibrant...everything pulled together to remind me just why this movie endures.  Even though much of it is is "beyond dated" (very hard to relax into that first scene when a band of white boys (who are really quite a bit older than the streetwise teens they are trying to be) get together to show off their toughness in the "hood" by making their way down the street doing ballet!)

Of course since everything I do these days seems to bring me back to thinking about Japanese or Japan, I wondered about Japanese productions of Westside Story and how it might be done.  In English?  In Japanese?  With the same costuming that we are used to seeing in America?  Or contemporary or classical Japanese wear?

I searched all over Youtube and found a few tidbits, but the following was the most charming.  Clearly a high school (or perhaps early college?) production.  In full Japanese no less -- but Maria is still wearing her white kerchief dress with the red sash (in fact in every production I viewed, she wears this!) and with only three words spoken in English:  Tony, Maria and "Tonight."  (I find it very funny, and very Japanese, that when the lovers are singing "Tonight" they stand like stiff boards facing the audience with an awkwardly staged holding of hands.  In the movie, of course Tony and Maria can't keep their eyes off each other!)