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I think I may have slightly gained the upper hand in wrangling my self control. Every time I go on a trip, or anywhere for that matter, I have an impulse to want to buy things, gifts for friends or myself. I was much worse in my early 20s. I had no concept of saving & budgeting, & I was feeling very generous, always buying useless, meaningless things.

Now I am trying much harder to control my shopping impulses by reminding myself that I am trying to de-clutter my life & really clean up all the junk I’ve accumulated over the years. Oh, & I am also trying to stick to a budget & all that good practice stuff. I am slowly getting better at controling myself, or more accurately my wallet. On this past trip to Vancouver, I was very much relieved when I didn’t get much chance to do any souvenir shopping. It also helped that I didn’t approach this vacation with any desire to shop whatsoever.

I am happy to report that most of my moola was spent on taxi fare, food, coffee, & ice cream. Who can resist coffee or ice cream? Well, actually, there were one or two times when I gave in to my shopping impulses & bought a few trinkets. However, I try to justify those purchases by saying they’re only small items, & one of the items I bought was handmade by a local Vancouver artist, while another item was a comemorative item from a once-in-a-lifetime art exhibition.

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I got this super weird cute tooth necklace when I visited a fun shop on Granville Island. The shop assistant explained that it was handmade by a local artist from Vancouver. I thought this necklace was really cool, & I like quirky, odd, unique jewelry like this. This is a souvenir I will defintely cherish, & it will always remind me of Vancouver. I’ve already worn this necklace several times, & the best part is that I’ve worn it in the shower (accidentally), & the metal chain does not rust.

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Ok, I hauled a bunch of enamel pins. That’s not really big time news to anybody. I’ve said in the past that I am going to try to limit my collecting of various little things, but I feel like enamel pins can be justified because they’re making a comeback in the fashion world. Slapping enamel pins all over your oversized slouchy denim jacket is in style now. I feel like I’m already ahead of the curve, since I’ve been collecting pins since before they made a comeback as a hipster trend.

A few key pins to make note of are the maple leaf pin, the YVR umbrella pin, & the Takashi Murakami pin. I don’t think I’ll become a ‘Canadiophile’ anytime soon, but I wanted some glaringly cheesy souvenirs to show I had actually visited Vancouver, BC, & I thought buying myself a refrigerator magnet was too boring. (Plus, I don’t stick things to my refrigerator, so there’s no use for a magnet.)

I really wanted to get a unique souvenir to commemorate my visit to the Takashi Murakami art exhibition, but most of his gift shop merchandise was your standard, you-can-get-it-anywhere pop art flower stuff like: pens, postcards, notepads, plushes, & other useless bric-a-brac. The museum gift shop was selling a cool coffee table book & framed art prints, but I was not about to lug those heavy items home in my dinky little suitcase (& run the risk of paying the overweight luggage penalty). So, I got this little pin instead. I find it so much more meaningful that I got something that I took careful consideration in selecting.

In the end, I think I did pretty well, only got a handful of items. I said in my last blog post that I’m going back to Vancouver again with Jian in a couple of months, & next time I’m going to try to focus more on eating, drinking, & adventuring. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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When a band offers you a pre-sale link to buy concert tickets, you better work fastThe Killers had a special promotion for their Wonderful Wonderful tour, that if you buy their new album Wonderful Wonderful through their band website, they’ll not only include a free t-shirt, but they’ll also send you a link to pre-sale concert tickets before anyone else. Well, well, well…that website nearly crashed, & all of the pre-sale tickets were sold out! I mean, the concert tour sold out so fast that Jian & I had to buy our tickets through a (trusted) third-party ticket reseller. We were lucky that the third-party ticket prices were only $10 dollars more than the general ticket price(s), give or take, so it all worked out in the end.

We met up with two of our closest mates, who surprisingly have never ever been to a live music concert before. They were also huge fans of The Killers, so they were equally as pumped up as we were. However, they had no idea what they were in store for. Jian & I had to explain a few things about concerts to them, like: why assigned seats are better than standing-room floor seats, or whether to stay for the opening acts or not, or whether to buy the concert goods online or at the concert. That night was one of the most memorable moments in my entire life. I will never forget this experience with my favorite rock band & my best mates. Alright, let me break down the concert for you into sections.


THE BAND STAGE

The stage was a fun throwback to the retro neon signs of the famous Las Vegas strip. At the beginning of the concert, the stage had a minimal abstract appearance, with a wrap-around video screen behind the band & a triangular video screen above the stage. Then from the middle of the concert & all throughout, the stage changed to show neon lit arrows on one side of the stage & a water tower on the other side of the stage. Fun fact: for each city stop on the tour, the band would display the city’s name on the water tower. The concert I went to said “Los Angeles”. Of course everyone wants to know the ultimate answer to which electronic keyboard was Brandon Flowers going to use for this tour? Well, since the main & first single off of the Wonderful Wonderful album was “The Man“, Mr. Flowers had to use his ‘male symbol’ keyboard, while the backup singers had stands with the ‘female symbol’, as you can clearly tell from my photo below.IMG_2940-1.JPG


THE FAN EXPERIENCE

It was so badass & cool when The Killers invited a random fan to play with them on one of their songs. I know a lot of other bands do this at concerts, like Foo Fighters, Blink-182, & Green Day, but this was the first time I got to witness it in person. The band invited a teenage girl named Aelena Gilles to climb up on to the stage & play the drums on the song “For Reasons Unknown“. The crowd went absolutely nuts when she got up on stage. The band jokingly anointed this fan with some actual sand from the Mojave desert, & lent her a pair of plastic Elvis-inspired sunglasses. Let me just say, that this was one of the many highlights from the concert. This teenage girl totally killed it on the drums, & like I said before, the crowd went wild every time the camera would showcase this fan on the video screen. Everyone sang their hearts (& lungs) out & danced along to every song. When the band asked the audience to hold up a light, the entire Staples Center arena nearly erupted in smartphone flashlights. It was so cool to be part of this amazing fan experience. It kind of sucked that they had to replace two of the original band members (Dave KeuningMark Stoermer) with two fill-in band members, but those guys had legit reasons for not going on tour…like going back to college to finish their degree, &/or spending more quality time with their kids before they grow up too fast. The experience was still amazing as ever. They all know how to put on a great show. The last time I saw the full original cast lineup of The Killers was at the Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco, back in 2015.


THE “MEAT & POTATOES” A.K.A. THE MUSIC

Since this was the Wonderful Wonderful tour, I was assuming the band was going to play most of the songs from their latest album, but surprisingly they didn’t. They played a great mix of all of their albums, focusing on most of their hit singles (Mr. Brightside, Spaceman, When You Were Young, etc.) & a few throwback gems (Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, Smile Like You Mean It, Andy You’re a Star, etc.). Oh man, the audience got the most pumped up every time the band would play an old school song from their Hot Fuss album. (I can’t believe in a few short years it will mark the 20th anniversary of the Hot Fuss album!) I just fact checked my own personal catalogue of The Killers music, & I just realized that the band practically played an entire set (plus encore) straight from the lineup of their Direct Hits album, minus the songs: Shot At The Night, Miss Atomic Bomb, Just Another Girl, & Be Still. However, you could just replace those missing songs with the new songs from the Wonderful Wonderful album, & you’ve pretty much got the entire setlist for the Los Angeles leg of their concert tour. Here is the complete song lineup for the concert.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

This concert was one of the most incredible live music shows I’ve ever been to. I love how engaging Brandon Flowers was with the crowd, & the band really knew how to whip the crowd into a frenzy & get us all to chant along to all the songs (I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!). The band usually plays a cover song from another artist or band, but for this concert tour, they decided to write & perform a spur-of-the-moment song the band wrote just for our city venue. As described by Mr. Flowers himself, the song was written on the road while the band was touring, & the song was titled “L.A. Song” as it was written for the Los Angeles venue, & it was a little tribute song to all of the landmarks of Los Angeles. I’m not sure what The Killers had planned for other cities, but I’m sure it was just as memorable & amazing. With this Wonderful Wonderful concert tour, you really get a strong sense of how proud The Killers are of their Las Vegas, Nevada roots. I mean, Brandon Flowers came back for the band’s encore performance wearing a metallic gold suit! I was so blown away by this concert experience, & I’m sure my lungs felt blown away as well. My throat felt a little sore after all the singing I did to go along with the band. I’m going to end this post with a quote from Brandon Flowers that I’ve fallen in love with. Cheers everyone!

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Today’s song of the day:

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It’s that time again for me to show you another collection of mine. OK, I swear I’m not a hoarder. My house isn’t filled from floor-to-ceiling with boxes & mounds of junk. I’ve got carefully curated collections of hand-selected knick-knacks that have some sort of special meaning or purpose in my life. So far, I’ve pretty much shown you my collection of handkerchiefs & hand towels, & in one of my earliest blog posts on this site, I’ve shown you my box of miscellaneous pens, my XL sized box of stickers, & my box of miscellaneous letter sets. One might think I have a problem with letting go of things I don’t use, like I’m overly sentimental regarding personal objects, but I don’t care. I’m a proud collector of the things that I genuinely have interests in.

In this latest installment of my hoarding denial collection cataloging, let me introduce you to my pin/badge/brooch collection. There have been many pins & brooches that have come & gone over the years, but these are the current pins that I’ve kept in my collection.

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  1. I love this victory pin. This is probably my most used emoji on my smartphone, so I was very excited to get this in a pin form. I also love that this pin could also be the “peace sign”.  So, it’s got multiple meanings.
  2. I don’t usually say the word “legit”, but I stil lthought this was a cool pin. I like how it’s written in cursive, & it sounds like very Cali-casual vocabulary.
  3. I saw this large felt pin at LofT in Osaka & immediately fell in love with it. I love the cute characters acting as boyfriend & girlfriend. This pin was supposed to promote a popular webcomic turned into a fictional novel. However, I can’t remember the name of it or what it was about. I just thought this couple was too cute to pass up.
  4. I am a big fan of Nathaniel Rateliff & his music. I am especially a fan of his band Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. I love their southern, bluesy, alternative-y rock music. They kind of remind me of The Black Keys, which is another rock band I’m a big fan of. I got this pin to commemorate the first time I watched Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats live in concert (just last month).
  5. I haven’t really mentioned this on this blog, but I’ve mentioned it on many ocassions on my Instagram feed. I am a big fan of whisk(e)y & whisk(e)y based cocktails. Yes, I have been known to imbibe a cocktail or two (or three) on the weekends with my friends, & I’ve been known to knock back a few whiskey old fashioneds. I saw this pin at a craft spirits shop, & I had to get it…just for fun.
  6. I attended my first “nerdy” convention, the ID10T Conival hosted by Chris Hardwick (of @midnight The Talking Dead fame). There was a booth there selling pearler bead pins, & these two pins caught my eye right away. I’ve played the Professor Layton puzzle games on the Nintendo DS, & they were fun. I really loved the graphic design/artwork of the Layton video games, so I got these pins to honor the artwork.

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Ever since my first inaugural trip to the fine city of Portland, Oregon I’ve fallen in love with this ice creamery called Salt & Straw. When they decided to open up a location in my town, I was ecstatic. I bought a set of these pins to not only show my love for ice cream, but also for my admiration for this ice creamery.

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Seven years ago I visited the Ghibli Museum in Japan with my friends. We got to watch a short film called Mr. Dough & the Egg Princess. This short film really touched my heart & made me tear up a little bit. I loved the hero character Mr. Dough, but my favorite characters were the royal egg family. The egg princess was so cute. Basically this is the story of a tiny egg-girl who is forced to serve the evil witch, but after a blob of Dough comes to life, she befriends him & both escape from the witch’s home & set off to see the world. This was such a heartwarming story, so I got this set of king & queen egg pins as a little memento of my time spent at the Ghibli Museum, but also because I wanted to get a his & hers pin set for Jian & myself.

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These pins are so random, & I don’t even know why I kept them for so long. When I attended my first Comic Con in San Diego back in 2011, I was so naïve. I grabbed every little freebie & complimentary swag that was being offered. I was taking all of the free posters & pins without even caring what it was about. I picked up the first two pins without even caring what they were. The third pin I got for attending Conan O’Brien‘s special art gallery event for his made up comic book hero called The Flaming C. I got the last pin in Los Angeles when I shopped at the store called General Quarters. The shop attendant let me take this last pin for free after I bought a really awesome eucalyptus candle. I don’t really have anything interesting to say about these pins. They’re so boring & random.

There are two urban streetwear brands from Japan that both Jian & I have been huge fans of since their early days of tiny shops in the back streets of the hip Harajuku neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo. Man, we’ve been loyal supporters & big fans of these brands since the early 2000’s.

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The first brand (which is showcased in the pins above) is called WTaps, a very military inspired brand. The founder of this brand, Tetsu Nishiyama, is a fan of militaria & military history. His brand has branched out from clothing to lifestyle products (like camping equipment & incense burners). Jian & I both love this brand, not really for the military theme, well yes, that, but also because the quality of their products are so amazing & last throughout all the changes of fashion & trends. We’ve each got at least a dozen t-shirts &/or jeans from this brand that have survived countless washing machine beatings over the past 10 years, & they still look nearly as good as the day we bought them. As you can see above, with the exception to the Vespa inspired pin on the far right & the vinyl record symbol on the bottom left, most of these pins are extremely military inspired.

 

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This is the second Japanese streetwear brand I was talking about earlier, NEIGHBORHOOD (a.k.a. NBHD). This brand is also part clothing, part lifestyle products. This brand is more motorcycle/biker inspired, since the founder/creative director of this brand, Shinsuke Takizawa, is an extreme enthusiast of classic & vintage motorcycles (i.e. Triumph, Harley-Davidson, etc.). He even has his own extensive collection of motorcycles, & he displays some of his personal motorcycles at each of his retail shops within Japan. Shinsuke also restores his own motorcycles in his collection.

Both of these two brands (WTapsNBHD) mentioned here are very technical in style & practicality. The quality of their clothing is so good that a lot of the items we’ve purchased over the years have withstood the test of time & repeated washings, & let me tell you that I don’t always treat these clothes delicately. I’m not going out & buying expensive frou-frou detergent for delicate fabrics. I’m only using regular everyday detergent (& sometimes a spray-on stain remover) & an unforgiving washer/dryer set from the late 1990s.

A lot of the clothing Jian & I both buy from these brands have lasted so long, that now we don’t really get the chance to buy as many new clothing pieces. Now we have branched out into getting more of the lifestyle items, like their coffee mugs, incense holders, floor rugs, & other miscellaneous practical items. We used to collect pins from each of these brands every time they would design new sets for the upcoming fashion seasons, but now, we treasure these oldies but goodies which are extremely hard to find now-a-days.

 

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These next set of pins are what I would put in the “just for fun” category. The first two pins are from my & Jian’s best friends. They went to San Diego Comic Con earlier this year (as they do each & every year without fail), & they purposely waited in the long queue at the Peanuts booth to gobble up all of the limited edition Comic Con exclusive products. As a small souvenir, they got us these two pins. (They also got me a Comic Con exclusive Outlander bandana/handkerchief, much to the outwardly-shown ire of many middle-aged Diana Gabaldon/Sam Heughan/Outlander TV show fans, to which I am extremely grateful & thankful to my friends.)

The next pin is a boombox, which I thought could be a cool symbol of the fact that I was born in the 80s decade, & I am a huge music lover. The fourth pin is one that I purchased at a pop-up art gallery for British pop artist Pete McKee. I loved all of his artwork, but wasn’t sure how I’d be able to pack a poster or framed art piece in my suitcase, & I didn’t want to figure out how to pack & ship these items back to my house, so I ended up getting a small enamel pin to commemorate my lovely time in London & to honour all of the phenomenal & eye-opening art I discovered there. I also thought this retro couple riding a Vespa scooter together was very romantic, & that was another reason why I chose this pin.

The fifth & sixth pins are ones I bought in two different stores, but they both carry the same reference. They’re both references to my late-blooming passion & appreciation for cocktails. I never snuck alcohol with my friends when I was a teenager, & I didn’t have much of an interest in drinking when I turned 21 either. It wasn’t until my late twenties when I finally succumbed to my own self-pressure & taught myself how to properly drink alcohol…properly as in learing my limits & trying not to embarrass myself too much. I chose the first of the two pins for its sheer cuteness. I loved the pastel colors & the little cocktail umbrella garnish. I especially loved the phrase “Drink Up” on the bottom of the glass. I’m only a little disappointed that the writing is so small, you’d have to look very closely to be able to read it. The second pin I got because I like to drink Negroni cocktails, but it’s also to commemorate the recently popular event called “Negroni Week” a week-long celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails & an effort to raise money for charities around the world. A few of my close friends work at or own bars in my city, so to honor them & their industry, & to promote charity giving, I wanted to wear this Negroni pin in celebration of a good cause.

The last two pins are sort of a tributary nod to my dad & his background. My dad is from Japan (born & raised), so he has a fine appreciation for sakè. I don’t particularly enjoy drinking sakè, but 99.99% of my family (both maternal & paternal) loves this stuff, especially all of my extended family back in Japan (obviously). So, I got this pin to honor the Japan side of my family.

As for the baseball pin, don’t get upset, but I’m not actually a fan of the San Francisco Giants team. Then why did I get this pin, you ask? Well, at the time, it was during the height of the 2010 World Series, & the Giants were the fan favorites to win the pennant. Almost all of my friends are huge fans of this team, & they’re not happy of the fact that I am a diehard Oakland Athletics fan. I’ve been a fan of the A’s team since birth…well, because whatever dad liked the family had to go along with it, but we did so gladly. I got this pin, mostly because I’m a big fan of baseball (over most other sports, except for European auto racing), & this pin was the most subtle & minimal of all the pins I saw in the sporting goods store. I could support my friends’ fandom of the Giants team & show my love of baseball. On top of that, my dad was such a huge fan of baseball. As a matter of fact, every male member of my dad’s side of the family, all the way down to my nephew’s generation, are all huge fans of this sport. Most of my uncles, including my own father, at one point had opportunities to play professional baseball in Japan. They’ve been playing baseball all throughout their school careers. My grandfather strictly forbade them from trying out for any major league teams, so none of them became professional baseball players in Japan. My dad, however, was able to go to college in America on a baseball scholarship, & he even played baseball for his college team in Texas. That just goes to show how deeply rooted my family is in their love of this sport. A lot of my cousins & nephews all played baseball in high school, & some of them have even won regional awards for their schools.

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This is the last set of pins I’m going to talk about. (I swear I’m rambling too much about nothing here.) I don’t know what propelled me to shop at an urban skateboard & overtly male streetwear shop, but I ended up getting this cool & childlike paper airplane pin anyway. I liked this pin as a nod to being like a kid again & making paper airplanes out of scrap construction paper. The second pin came from a time when I suddenly had an urge to dress more edgy & punk. I thought getting this pirate -slash- biker gang inspired crossbones pin would make me look super edgy & standoffishly cool. Now, I just look at it as a cool Halloween accessory. The very last (but not least) pin is very special to me. It’s a cool leather textured pin that I got in Japan at an iconic & legendary streetwear store that has long since been closed (circa 2010). I really enjoy listening to jazz music, & I thought this pin was so clever combining the trumpet into the word “jazz”. I also really liked the quality of the leather fabric & the metallic silver lettering. Every time I look at this pin, I am reminded of a nearly bygone era & fashion trend in Japan that is slowly fading away.

Most of the underground, legendary & iconic shops that once lined the behind-the-scenes back streets of the Harajuku district have slowly migrated towards the newly revived Shibuya district. Once a cutesy fashion hub for low-budget trendy high schoolers & teeny bopper tweens, Shibuya is slowly becoming the new hub for urban streetwear & avant garde fashion. The back streets of Harajuku, nicknamed Ura Hara, are fading quickly, & most of the iconic shops where you’d see queues lining out the door & wrapping around the street, are now closed. I’m not saying this area is becoming a ghost town, but it surely has lost a lot of its early 2000s charm. In its place are more hair salons, second-hand thrift stores, & consignment shops. Man, I miss the old days of Tokyo, where you’d see all the trendy kids in ghetto streetwear hanging out in the streets. Now all of those places have moved on to the internet or some other far flung neighborhood that’s not easy to get to. I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo & rediscover new places. Until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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