Andrew

Author's details

Name: Andrew W.
Date registered: December 17, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Hammy Photo on Instagram — December 11, 2017
  2. Hammy Photo on Instagram — October 16, 2017
  3. Hammy Photo on Instagram — July 27, 2017
  4. Hammy Photo on Instagram — June 20, 2017
  5. Hammy Photo on Instagram — May 7, 2017

Most commented posts

  1. Michio Kaku = Douche — 16 comments
  2. Why Bad Journalism Has Driven Me To Desperate Ends — 13 comments
  3. JELLYBEAN! — 12 comments
  4. Hey Canada, WTF? Or: Wow, I Thought Getting My Passport Was a POTA! — 9 comments
  5. I'll have photos and a whole post up soon on the blog and the Hammy Central page,… — 7 comments

Author's posts listings

Dec 11

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy is at home, sick today. Hopefully this fruit stays down.

Oct 16

Hammy Photo on Instagram


I did not know #Hammy had a pimp jacket.

Jul 27

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Mesmerized.
Even without headphones, #Hammy likes to watch movies.

Jun 20

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy is going through his “green period”. This is a series of drawings of YTG intern Henry Morse.

May 07

Hammy Photo on Instagram


No, it’s totally okay. Don’t move over or anything so that I can sit next to my sleeping son. I know you know he’s there because you keep looking over at him, but no, don’t consider moving. I’ll just stand here indefinitely, thanks. #Hammy

May 07

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Stopover at Tateyama station yields ice cream for #Hammy .

May 03

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Watching a scary movie. (The Princess and the Frog) #Hammy

Apr 02

Youcaring.com: you had one job!

IMG_5996UPDATE: The problem was with the Paypal account I used. Apparently in the years since I used that account, Paypal Japan has changed policies and I can’t receive money on that account without upgrading to a premium account.

I am not pulling this post down because youcaring.com still took 3 business days to figure this out (including one business day of not answering me at all), and because I’ll have to wait at least one more to get an answer on how to change the destination account. (Re-upgrading my Paypal account will take 7 to 10 days.)

But yeah, youcaring.com’s crime is mostly just slllloooooowwwww customer support.

I recently helped rescue a sick tanuki (see photo; poor little guy) from around my neighbourhood, and I thought it would be nice to do a little bit of crowdfunding to cover the costs of the compassionate fellow who drove several hours over toll roads to help me set the trap and then again to pick the little guy up and take him for treatment.

I did some quick checking around and came across youcaring.com. For a small-scale, beer money project like this, they seemed perfect, particularly the part about no fees. Crowdfunding platforms generally take a 5% – 10% cut of whatever you raise. Sometimes it’s worth it. On the large platforms, you get quite a lot of exposure, which is valuable. But for a tiny project like this, mostly targeted at friends and family, a smaller site with no fees was appealing. Also, of the smaller sites, they were one of the few that offered Paypal, which is important because I’m based in Japan, where a lot of other payment processors won’t allow me to withdraw funds to my local bank account.

youcaring-logo-1-big<–(Their logo.)

I launched the campaign on Thursday evening (Japan time). A few hours later, my friend Rosie let me know that it wasn’t allowing her to click through and donate on her phone. I quickly tested it on my phone and multiple browsers and found that the button that is supposed to trigger the checkout screen wasn’t working; it was just reloading the page it was already on. I tested a few other campaigns, and the site worked properly.

I immediately opened a ticket with their support system. They’re a small site, so it didn’t seem unreasonable that they only answered during west-coast US business hours. They didn’t answer overnight on Thursday, my time. Finally got a peep out of them on Friday morning.

Them: Are you able to have your donors try on a different browser or device? There is a known issue in Firefox that our engineers are working on.

Ignoring the fact that, in addition to my problem, apparently their platform doesn’t work on 12% of computers (that’s Firefox’s market share) and they don’t mention that anywhere on their site, I pressed on, and replied within 4 minutes.

Me: The "Donate Now" button does nothing, so my donors can’t actually complete their donations. They click the button, the loading screen appears, and then just returns to the link at the top. It won’t progress to the credit card entry screen. This happens in all browsers, as far as I can tell. I’ve tried personally with Firefox and Chrome, as well as the mobile versions, plus the mobile browser within Twitter. Can you confirm that it’s not happening with this campaign on your end? [note: since then I’ve tested in the Edge browser; that also doesn’t work]

Despite having replied within minutes, this exchange took place about 15 minutes after their close-of-business on Friday (their time) and I have received no reply as of today (April 2). Which is totally reasonable for a business this size, except that the thing that is broken is the main function of their platform. And yes, it’s just for one customer (as far as I can tell—other campaigns go to the payment screen with no problems), but this isn’t like some weird formatting, or photo uploads not working properly. This is the bit where people give money to the campaign. Also, the worst time for a campaign to not be able to accept money is when it launches, of course, because it really ruins any momentum that you build with that initial post to your followers.

To add insult to injury, to anyone on the donate page who left one of the “send me emails” boxes checked, they have been sending emails advertising all the lovely campaigns that person could donate to… even though the one campaign that person was trying to donate to hasn’t received any money yet. So the “Donate” button submits the donor’s personal info, but doesn’t accept the money.

Sigh.

PERSPECTIVE: Yes, I’m running a tiny campaign trying to raise a few hundred bucks. It’s a “beer money” campaign, and there are no lives or livelihoods hanging in the balance. Terry the tanuki is going to get treated regardless. So it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for youcaring.com support to spend a lot of time on me and my piddly campaign. However, I would be wary of any company that behaves this way towards any customers. Maybe it is worth it to pay that 5% fee to deal with a company that responds meaningfully when you have a problem with its platform (especially in the case of a medical fundraiser or a similarly important fundraiser). I guess I’m mostly annoyed because I have software to run my own fundraiser directly off my website, but I thought I’d save time and energy by using an existing platform for this one. Ugh. My mistake.

CONCLUSION: I’m going to follow up with youcaring.com on this, just to see how it comes out. I’m hoping for them to turn things around, but I’m not holding my breath and fully expect to spend time next week searching for an alternative platform. Bummer. They seemed really promising for future mini-fundraisers like this one.

Mar 27

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Mini Darth Vader. #Hammy

Mar 05

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy and Mummy reading together on a Sunday morning.

Nov 11

Hello, Leonard

It was in the school cafeteria at Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto. The air smelled of grease. I was probably eating a packed lunch, although there is a small chance I was gnawing on the “spicy” “fries” that the cafeteria served.

I was sitting there with my friends Bill and Nicki (I think that’s how she spelled it). Bill was bugging Nicki to sing something.

“Come ooooooon!” he said.

So she sang it. There in the cafeteria, gently, with no accompaniment except the background chatter and the clangs from the kitchen.

Suzanne takes you down
to her place near the river,
you can hear the boats go by
and you can spend the night beside her…”

And there it was. My introduction to Leonard Cohen.

A few weeks or maybe months later, I was in my aunt Fern’s car. She always had very nice company cars, and it was the first car I’d ever been in with a CD player (I’m dating myself here, but it was the early 90s, okay?). I noticed an orangey-yellow CD in her collection. On the cover was a photo of a man in a mirror, adjusting his shirt in front of floral curtains. I borrowed that CD that day, from my very generous aunt Fern, and only returned it more than a decade later.
In the intervening time, I managed to collect every album he’d ever recorded, including a couple of concert bootlegs and the execrable Night Magic, which was far less easy in the days before digital music. I read both his novels and had a dog-eared copy of Stranger Music that I loved so much that when I got a replacement for the one damaged in my family 1996 house fire, I gave it away and kept the fire-damaged one. It somehow fit the voice of the author, I thought.

One of the biggest regrets of my life was that I didn’t attend his early 90s (93? 94?) concert in Toronto at the O’keefe centre, despite another friend Erinn encouraging me to. I wasn’t really into concerts then (and had, in fact, never been to one yet). Since then, I’ve never been in the right place at the right time; and now I never will be.

The world changed when my father died. The world has now changed again. My remote literary and artistic… is “mentor” too strong a word? is “spirit animal” any better?… well, he’s gone. He was never here, I suppose, but at least while he lived I could imagine, perhaps, one day, a meeting. I wouldn’t have asked him anything too deep; I wouldn’t want any of the mystery removed. I might have just said “Hello, Leonard.”

 

Thanks for the photo, Amie.

Oct 18

Making a Living From Art

Disclaimer: Just to make this clear right at the beginning: I don’t have a “right” to make a living doing what I love. I understand that I am privileged to even be making the attempt. My ability to make this attempt is partly an accident of birth, and partly a result of the sacrifice of others. I am aware of this, and, if successful, hope to “pay it forward” and help others do the same.

“Hey, let me tell you something kind of important.”

 

Most of you know that I do theatre. I consider it my full-time job, although I have a part-time job and take occasional freelance gigs in order to help make ends meet.

The arts economy has changed since I left theatre school. And, as far as independent theatre production in Japan goes, it’s changed a lot since I first came to Japan as well.
The upside is that the inter-tubes and related technologies have made it easier to make shows. We now have easy access to media assets (sound, video, text) and inexpensive ways of integrating them into our shows. We can advertise to potential audience members quicky and efficiently and do ticket reservations online.

The downside is that the competition is massive. Not just from other small groups like us, but from the huge media companies. Fifteen years ago, expats here were bored and somewhat starved for English language cultural activities. Sure, they could watch movies on bulky VHS tapes, but they had to at least leave the house to get them. Now, stimulation, vacuous or intellectual, is just a finger-push away.

The problem isn’t so much that people can’t be convinced to go and see theatre, but that they’re not looking for it. Most people these days have a surplus of stimulation, not a deficit. Add to that the marketing problem common to groups producing original works, that is to say that the shows are unknown, and you have some idea of where we stand. There is an audience for international theatre here, but it tends to be focused on groups who tour into the country (usually sponsored by a large media company or University). The problem is twofold: the audience doesn’t know about us, and if they did, they might value us less because we’re local.

YTG (Yokohama Theatre Group— my theatre company)’s goal is to develop the company name as the “star” of the show, rather than the title of the show itself, but that’s going to take time. To get attention from the general theatre-going public, the media, the festivals, and the universities, we’re going to have to build up a reputation, and the only way to do that is to keep creating and documenting our shows.

Until then, we’re stuck in a financial model that requires us to depend on friends and family, and from the arts communities that we’re associated with, both here in Japan and around the world. This means that the very people we should be giving free access to are the ones we rely on the most for support right now. I’m not going to bemoan this state of affairs, as I’m very much in favour of the democratization of media in general, but I think you can see the challenge we face, and the challenge that I, in particular, as an artist trying to make a living at making art, have.

So, for those of you who are supporting me, thank you. Thank you so much. Seeing your faces at the show, or your names on the list of Patreon patrons warms my heart. (And of course, thank you to those of you who have supported YTG in the past in one of our one-off crowdfunding campaigns.)

Hey, thanks.

For those of you who are not, no worries. But consider this: a small amount of support from each of you would make a huge difference to me. I’d be able to increase my artistic output and it would be available to you, either in the form of show tickets (for those of you who are local) or show videos (for those of you who are not, or who just miss a show). At the moment, I’m able to squeeze out one to two shows a year, plus some events, plus a podcast. If there was a stable base of support, I could probably create 3 – 4 shows per year, plus multiple podcasts, plus possible writing projects (several of which are currently sitting on the back burner). More shows means more stuff for you to see if you’re a supporter, and it also means more chances to get YTG shows into festivals, to get grants, and to get commissions. First, I’ll have a body of work I can show to festival directors and grants agencies. Secondly, I’ll have a repertoire of works to draw on should opportunities arise. (Not to mention that if I’m able to pay my collaborators, I’ll be more likely to keep them around and keep more shows on the ‘active’ list.)

If you want to think of supporting us as charity, that’s fine. YTG is a charity. We’re a registered NPO in Japan.

A still from “39”

If you want to think of supporting us as advance or surrogate ticket purchasing, that’s fine, too. At a certain level of support (currently $20 USD, but I’d like to see that drop), you’ll receive stuff: like videos, show programs, and the like.

For those of you not currently supporting my work, I want you to ask yourself this question: If Andrew was doing his shows at places and times convenient to me, would I pay to go see the show? If the answer is yes, then I encourage you to support my work via https://patreon.com/ytg .

For those of you currently supporting my work by coming to my shows, I want to suggest that supporting me via Patreon would not just get you cheaper tickets, but allow you to support me even when you can’t make it to a show or event due to bad timing. (And you’d get a video!)

Look, I’m not going to get rich from this. The first goal is to bring YTG into the black so that it can start paying off some of its accumulated debts and so that I won’t personally have to front the company the money for each show it does. Next, I’ll worry about making sure people get paid for their work. It’s great to work with our dedicated volunteers, and volunteers will always have a place at YTG, but despite the fact that it’s a charity, I see YTG as a professional company, which eventually means paying casts and crews.

Please consider supporting this NPO that I’m putting all my serious energy and resources into. As I said at the top, I have no right to make a living doing this, but support is going to make the difference between theatre being an expensive full-time “hobby” that produces 1 – 2 shows a year and me being able to ramp YTG up to a professional company that pays its artists and makes lots of great shows. Your support will help me get YTG’s work out there and seen by people who can help me take this to the next level.

Places you can find my work:

YTG website: http://ytg.jp
Patreon Page: https://patreon.com/ytg
Theatre Podcast: http://exit.ytg.jp

 

 

 

 

Looking into the future. Or maybe a chair.

Sep 05

A Plea to People Who Support Theatre

Photo by John Matthews

Photo by John Matthews

Some of you might be aware that I’m doing a show. This is true. You can see info about it here: http://ytg.jp/en/shows-en/upcoming-shows-en/494-fullgamut-en

As any of you doing small, independent theatre (especially here in Japan) know, we’re stuck in a financial model that requires us to build out from our friends, family, and the arts communities that we’re associated with, both here in Japan, and around the world. This means that the very people we should be giving free access to are the ones we rely on the most for support right now. I’m not going to bemoan this state of affairs, as I’m very much in favour of the democratization of media in general, but it’s still a fact of life for small-scale theatre and many other arts.

So, my plea is in two parts:

1. Please support me and the work that I do. Buy a ticket. If you’re not local, or you want more inexpensive access to our shows, events, and videos, join our Patreon campaign at https://patreon.com/ytg

2. If you are going to buy a ticket please, please, please reserve your tickets now! Don’t wait until the last minute! Don’t make me sweat until the show starts that the cast and crew will outnumber the audience. This is about the money, yes— I don’t want the show to lose money and stop me from doing the next one— but it’s mostly about not wanting to perform an amazing show that we’ve worked on since March to an empty house.

Look, I know we’re all busy people in Tokyo, but it means so much to have those bookings as early as possible. You can always email the box office and change your booking if you need to. Just let us know that you’re coming.

Jun 29

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy insists on eating breakfast lunchbox style.

Jun 25

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy is all dressed up for the wedding.

May 28

Hammy Photo on Instagram


At last. #Hammy

May 28

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy plays outside. Still no food.

May 28

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy, five minutes later.

May 28

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy after a thirty minute wait for soba. Still no food in sight.

Let me be clear: soba, just soba. There are a total of about ten people in this restaurant and the kitchen is 30% the size of the seating area.

May 28

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Mother and son at the fishing hole. #Hammy

May 15

Hammy Photo on Instagram


This is a better angle. You’ll note the scenic hose hanging from our plum tree. #Hammy

May 15

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Although, from a particular angle, it looks more like a prison break. #Hammy

May 12

Resetting Panels in Lubuntu

Cocked up the taskbar panel badly in a new Lubuntu install. Found the following fix:

cp /usr/share/lxpanel/profile/Lubuntu/panels/panel ~/.config/lxpanel/Lubuntu/panels
lxpanelctl restart

May 05

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Picnic in our garden, under the rose bush. #Hammy frolics.

Apr 09

Hammy Photo on Instagram


On the Cookie phone with #Hammy “Hello!”
“Hello, who is this?”
“Baby.”
“Where are you calling from, Baby?”
“Here.”
“Where’s here?”
“Here.”
“Right beside me?”
“Yes.”
“Then why are we talking on the phone?”
[7 second pause for maximum effect] “Bye bye! Beep!” [Hangs up.]

Mar 27

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy wisdom: if one spoon is good, two is better.

Mar 26

Hammy Photo on Instagram


#Hammy with Yanomi ( @shoshinz ), a.k.a. Miss Hiccup. (Plus cousin Shou) Otsukaresama, Yanomi-san!

Feb 26

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Yanomi and #Hammy unwrap dessert.

Feb 26

Hammy Photo on Instagram


Yanomi and #Hammy unwrap dessert.

Jan 26

Weird Place for A Writer

(photo in this post courtesy of Nema Photographie)

 

I’m writing this long-overdue blog update while I should be writing content for By the Hour, my upcoming show—my VERY upcoming show, that opens in just a few weeks (Feb 12 – 14). Why I’m not: because more than any other show I’ve worked on, it’s hard.Photo by Nema Photographie

 

So, first, we’re developing the show in rehearsal, so it’s not just about pounding out a script. Not that I haven’t done this before, under similar time pressure, but here’s the rub: the show is supposed to be accessible to both Japanese and English speakers, without the use of subtitles. And the subject of the show (sex workers in Yokohama) is a talky-ass subject. Our research is not very deep at all, and there’s still pages and pages I could write, without being preachy or anything… but I don’t want to create that show. Not just because that’s not what I’ve promised to deliver to audiences at the TPAM showcase, but because I really want to do something different with this piece.

 

I have to be cognisant as well of the fact that a lot of what I write is going to have to be translated into Japanese by my co-creator Naoe Kawamoto. So again, trying to keep the words to a minimum. It’s an enormous challenge.

 

So yes, I should be writing the play RIGHT NOW as I sit on the local train to Kamiooka station, but I think I instead needed to type out this post to clear my thoughts on the matter. Not sure if it worked, but I’m now itching to write, which is a good sign.

 

(If you want  to support the show, please buy a ticket at http://ytg.jp or, if you’re not able to attend the show, because you don’t live in Japan or something, head over to https://patreon.com/ytg and pledge to support my theatre company.)

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