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We had another long day, and by the time I got home I was so dead-tired that I couldn't bring myself to submit an entry for the day. I figured that if I gave it a shot, I would cheat the day a little, just so I could sleep. So here it is, a little late, but hopefully it will do the day justice.

Our shoot was at a Gaudi Studio out near Odaiba I think. It is in a converted warehouse that is surrounded by warehouses full of BMWs. Not sure if they were showrooms or what. But just in the past few months, the owner of the studio has redesigned and redecorated the studio, and it is totally cool. Not like your typical studio. It looks more like the coolest apartment ever that happens to have a studio in it. Hopefully the pictures today will explain it a little. I forgot my camera, so Shuichi let me shoot with his. So once again, today's pictures are a mixture of shots I took and some that Shuichi took.

The shoot was for a clothing catalog/magazine called Rapty. There is no staff at this studio, so Nishimoto and I were doing all the setup and tear-down between all different cuts. Since it was for a catalog, there were a lot of different cuts, lots of clothing changes, and different angles. The models were three Japanese girls in their 20s. All three of them looked to be catalog pros. Very simple and cute posing, and they could switch in between poses super fast, like they were drawing from a portfolio of 10,000 poses. Bam bam bam bam. They just hit all their poses like robots.

I had a 15 minute period where I seemed to not do anything right, and I had to stop and wonder why. I think I was tired from the night before. Yesterday's blog entry took me a while to make, so I got to bed a lot later than I like to. Though I think that Shuichi and Nishimoto sleep about three hours a night. Consistently. Makes me feel like I am bragging when I tell them when I went to bed. I tell them that because they ask. We sort of have a series of questions that we ask each other everyday. That is one of them.

We stopped in a part of Tokyo famous for a kind of food called Monjyayaki. It is suppose to be similar to Okonomiyaki. Most of the restaurants that make Monjyayaki also make Osaka-style Okonomiyaki. The picture I had yesterday of Okonomiyaki is Hiroshima-style, which, as we all know, is clearly the best. I think talking about Okonomiyaki to Shuichi and Nishimoto made them want some. So we got Okonomiyaki and then Monjyayaki. It was the first time I had ever eaten Monjyayaki. It was ok, but does not have as much flavor as Okonomiyaki. The way you cook it is pretty interesting though. It comes in a bowl full of meats and cabbage and other vegetables. You pull all the non-liquid out and let it cook, then you move that out towards the edges so it forms a big circle in the middle, then you pore the liquid in the middle. All the veggies and meats are now acting like sandbags holding the liquid in the middle. At this point, the overall shape of the meal looks like a pizza. The color and texture is totally different though, unless you are making a really weird pizza. Like something Nicole would make. One of the pictures shows the Monjyayaki at this point. Eventually you slowly mix in all the veggies, and then just piece at the mixture as it starts to harden on the bottom, though the top is still liquidy.

We stopped at the office on the way home and Shuichi showed me some of the many magazines from about 10-12 years ago that he modeled in. It was really cool! To see him so young and all styled-up and posing. He modeled for about 4 years. And these were pretty popular magazines. He even had a cover. It was funny to see, because Shuichi and I are the same age. Many of these shots were around 1995, and that is the same time I was here as a missionary, so it was funny to see what different things he and I were doing at the same age. Well, we were both 19, in Japan, and wearing suits. Maybe we weren't too different. Ha! His suits were a little cooler than what I wore, and I am sure his lifestyle was a little more glamorous than mine. Things like that make me wonder...did I ever see him in an advertisement back then? Who knows...

I think the rainy-season started like 10 seconds before I got out of the car to walk home. I guess I'll be carrying an umbrella at all times until I go home.

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Well, I think that today's entry will hopefully make up for yesterday's. I actually took a lot of pictures, and I think I want to show a lot of them, just for fun. So click on the little picture of the day, and it will link you over to a whole page of pictures. There are a lot of pictures, so give it a bit to load up. Some pictures are mine, and some are from Shuichi that he took of me.

We had a shoot today out in Chiba, which is outside of Tokyo. We took a lot of toll-freeways to get there. I'll bet Shuichi had to spend $40 in tolls to just get out there, and then probably the same to get back. The drive took about an hour and a half, and we got lost a couple times, since we hit a couple roads that were built in March, so his navigation system wasn't quite up-to-date yet. We were out in the country and the new roads were very pretty, it's just that they were headed in the wrong direction. We drove over some bridges, but we also drove through probably three under-the-ocean tunnels. One of them was 9.5 kilometers (6 miles) and then the tunnel emerged out of the ocean and ascended upwards and became a regular bridge that carried on for another 5 or 6 kilometers until it reached the other side. Right where the road crosses from bridge to tunnel, there is a huge building, out in the middle of the ocean. There are parking levels, restaurants, arcades, and plenty of places to have a nice view. The building is called Umi-hotaru (ocean firefly) since it lights up blue in the middle of the ocean at night. We stopped and walked around for a bit. It was cool to see this huge bridge come in to one side, and then the other side there is nothing. It looks like it just terminates at this floating mall. But then you can see the opposite side just sloping into the water. Many of the picture are from this place.

The shoot was for a hip-hop magazine. So we had five female models that were dressed quite crazy. We did 4 different shots, so they each had 4 different crazy outfits. Four, or all five of them were foreigners. One was from China, and that is all I know for sure. We shot in a building that was huge. They actually call it a studio, but it was actually just 6 levels on concrete walls, floors, ceiling, and pillars. I think they said the building burned once, so now it is just run-down and empty. Ok, now let me really describe this building. Have you ever seen a horror show where there are creepy hallways, creepy doorways, creepy rooms, and most of all, a really creepy basement? Have you ever seen those ghost-hunting shows where they send a person into an old psych-ward or an old prison and then take them into the execution room and tell them about how it is now haunted? Have you seen a Japanese horror flick? Like the original Ring. Have you noticed how Japanese horror shows are all psychological and not as much blood and guts, and have you noticed how the psychological is a lot more horrifying? Roll all that together and you have this building. And that whole part about Japan isn't just for description. It is actually a big building IN JAPAN. I am pretty sure that if you were to enter at night, you would never be able to duplicate anything as scary the rest of your life, strive though you may. Huge tiled areas that looked like operating rooms. Hole in the concrete floor looking directly into the floor below. A door that just leads to a drop off. A basement full of steam/furnace rooms and what looks like prison cells. All scary shows have a struggle-scene in an old steam/furnace room. And then there was the part that I found most creepy. The second floor was a huge hall that would fit a couple thousand people probably. Chairs in perfect lines and rows. A stage up front with a podium. The room decorated in red velour. Sconce-type lighting all down the sides of the hall, lights on. The place looks like it is used daily. It is not used at all. But it sits there, lit up. This huge decorated room, in a building that otherwise could be any building in Baghdad that you have seen on a clip on YouTube...Just about the creepiest thing ever. You know that is where the ghosts gather at night.

We climbed stairs up and down carrying equipment. We did a lot of climbing and got pretty dirty. We washed our hands with tea before lunch since we had no water on our level.

Richie and I finally got that Okonomiyaki tonight. Sorry you missed out Ben.

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I stayed home and worked on my personal website today. I might pick a new background color. This is one of the possibilities. There are literally thousands of colors a person could choose. This is one of them.

I ate with Richie.

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We had a photoshoot today at Studio 109, the biggest studio I have been to so far. Since today's shoot was super top-secret, and if I told you about it I would have to kill you, I will just go ahead and tell you about the studio itself.

This building had plenty of studios in it, and as we pulled into the building I could see into one of the studios on the main level. This studio was enormous. You could photograph a Learjet in it if you wanted to. I guess they would have to make the door bigger, or the Learjet would have to be a Transformer that turned into a robot, and it could then walk itself in through the existing doors. Similar to how this space-station robot transformed itself to get inside of a house. Doggy-doors. Earth's most over-looked weakness in preparation to the Transformer's inevitable invasion.

Anyway, the studio we were actually in was quite big, and yet we shot on a small backdrop in the middle. Usually all of the studios have paper on the ground to protect the clean-white floor that many shoots require, and they only cut back the paper as much as is needed to expose the floor for that particular shoot. But at today's shoot, we weren't using the floor at all, so no paper was used. And at a shoot that involved as many people as today's shoot did (maybe 30, and probably 15 of them were suits) that floor gets pretty marked up. I had been wondering how they clean it so well. The floor was very white when we showed up, and they weren't using paper! Well I soon found out, since tomorrow's photographer needs a white floor. As soon as the floor was clear of equipment, out came the paint. One guy, 2 rollers. Huge bucket of paint. They repaint everyday, if the next customer is going to be using the floor. Absolutely unbelievable. I wish everyone that goes to school with me could learn a lesson from this. Not to paint the floor every night, but to keep the floor clean as much as possible, since that room gets painted like once a year. We need a no-shoe policy. And it needs to be enforced.

I was walking by the station tonight and there was a semi-official guy sitting there with one of those clicker-counters, but this was no ordinary clicker-counter like your average counter would use. This was a blue one that was about 6 inches long and had 5 or 6 clickers on it. Obviously for counting 5 or 6 different things. The guy was sitting is a chair by the station, and he had this crusty look on his face. As I passed him and we had a moment of eye contact, he gave me that crusty look then he reached for the clicker on the far left, and he clicked it very deliberately and with quite amount of vigor. I'll never know what he was counting me for. Especially since there were 5 to 6 possibilities.

Possible reasons that I got clicked:
1-One of 5 or 6 nationalities being counted and watched.
2-Out of 1,2,3,4,5, and possibly 6, his best guess as to what my favorite number is. In this case, his guess was 1. He was way off.
3-How many karate kicks it would take to bring me down. Once again, he is wrong. Way wrong.
4-His best guess as to how many times in the history of the world that my opinion of the best thing ever differed from that of Micah's. His guess was one. He was pretty close, if one is close to zero.
5-He was just retarded and thought the clicker was a GameBoy and that he just jumped a mushroom.*

*-Most likely answer

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Today was the first day that I actually went out with my camera. I had no idea where I was going. I just ended up catching a subway near my place and not getting off until I was sort of out by the ocean. I set up my stuff and took some shots, just testing for shots that I might try with Richie's band, The Casper. Not 100% positive what we will do, but I wanted to test a certain look. The picture today is from this series. People wondered why there was a white guy with a decent amount of photo equipment out, taking pictures of himself.

I got some laundry done and some dishes done too.

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Happy birthday mom! I started my day by fixing this blog so I can break it up week-by-week now. So please take note that there is a small navigation at the top now, if you feel inclined to go back further than what this page offers.

We had a shoot today for the magazine Maquia. I guess it was for the Men's version, or what I think may just be a men's insert called Maquia Homme. I think it features one guy or something, and this edition was with Oguri Shun. He wore some cool pants. That is all I have to say about that.

I always sit in where the model will be while Shuichi takes a shot to check everything. We had a lot of time waiting around, so Shuichi started editing my picture in Photoshop. We are always talking about being skinnier and losing weight, so Shuichi started to edit me down to what I probably looked like when I was 18, or what my brother Steve looks like now. This is a snapshot of the before and after. It is a little skewed, so the after shot is a little off, but when we were actually looking at the screen, it looked right-on. Me, but much skinnier. He also touched-up my skin a bit. Everyone thought I looked good in the edited picture and said I looked cool. Too bad the picture to the left is the truth! One girl said, "...and you look good in this one too", while pointing to the original. I think she realized people were complimenting me on the fake picture only. I didn't know if I should say thank you or not. I think Shuichi should have been the one complimented.

I met up with Matt and Rocky down by Tokyo station. Matt is heading home tomorrow. We didn't get him a gift or anything.

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Sunday. Stake conference. I was surprised at how big the church was. There is actually a nice-sized hall there that is going to be great for photo-shoots. It's got a stage and high ceilings. One side is a whole bank of windows. We could do almost anything in there. The bishop gave us permission to use it. There were a few people there that I knew. Toma, Whiteman, President Onda's sons. Whiteman was one of Richie's companions and Richie didn't even know he was here in Tokyo. It was cool to see a few people.

I came back and took a nap and then started trouble-shooting computer problems. I can now play the DVDs I borrowed from Richie. Arrested Development, Season 2. Brilliant. And although I thought my email was all fixed, it of course wasn't, but I am pretty confident that it is this time. Thanks once more Brandon.

I collect soda cans when I am here because they are cool and unique. I have a small project at home going on that uses them. There are many brands that are not at home, but I am mostly interested in the ones that we have at home, but just happen to have a can design that is unique to Japan. Or more importantly, just not found back home. Such as this Pepsi can. It has an older look to it, and it is limited edition. I bought some wire cutters at the 100 yen shop (dollar store) to help cut the can up so I can easily pack it home. But I guess that the company can afford to sell these at the dollar store because they don't have to pay for hardened steel. As I squeezed down on them to cut through the lip at the top, the handles just sort of bent together. Useless for the can project, but maybe I can keep them around for decoration. Nothing says style like wire cutters. Wire cutters and an ash tray.
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