I wasn't sure whether to make this public or locked... don't want to really get into keeping a public journal again but at the same time, this entry's content isn't private and it seems a shame to limit it unnecessarily.

I signed up for Japanese lessons. That was one of the things on the master plan for this year and I decided it was time to go ahead and start on it even if other aspects of the master plan aren't turning out as planned.

As a whatever-I-am at U of T I could probably enroll in a class here, possibly even at a discount or for free, but I very much want to make contacts and do things outside the University, and so instead I signed up with the "Think in {Japanese|Korean}" language school which advertises via posters on telephone poles around my neighbourhood. Went to their Spring party last weekend, and that was an experience. I'd wondered what kind of people take Japanese and Korean lessons in Toronto, and it turns out the answer is, mostly Japanese and Korean people. I myself don't speak the native language of two of my grandparents, so I guess it sort of makes sense.

Yesterday afternoon I had coffee with the woman who runs the place to do administrivia. My first actual lesson is next week. I should have realised - she's Japanese, ne? - that I'd be called upon to cough up a business card. I don't often use business cards, but I run them off on the laser printer when I need some, and it happened that yesterday I was carrying some of the ones I'd made to put on the networking table at the Building Bridges Pub Moot. So I gave her a card that said "Matthew A. Skala, PhD. - Astrology, Tarot, Computer Science." Dave Barry wrote about playing business-card "War" when he went to Japan. ("Special Assistant beats Staff Columnist by 37 points, advantage mine!") I wonder how many points my card is worth. Probably quite a few, actually, just because of the PhD.

I live a block away from an establishment called Hugh's Room, which is a folk music venue of enough repute that I'd heard of it before I moved here. I've been walking past it on my way to the subway station every day ever since moving in, and kept thinking I should go check it out. But I didn't get around to doing anything about that until very recently, when I read their poster of upcoming attractions and saw they were having two shows I'd like to see within the space of a few days. The first of those was last night: Eliza Gilkyson and Mary Gauthier.

I've seen Eliza Gilkyson a couple of times at festivals, and I have two of her albums. She's in her late fifties, based in Austin, Texas, looks like (actually, is) someone's grandmother, and is still writing and performing new songs about changin' the world and carryin' on with boys. One was about Internet porn. We should all be so energetic. She played an acoustic guitar, accompanied by Nina Gerber (who didn't get her name on the marquee) on electric; I was quite impressed with Nina as well, and now I want to go back and re-listen to my Eliza Gilkyson albums to see if I can recognize her sound in the backing tracks.

I'd never heard of Mary Gauthier before, and had an interesting chat with some others in the audience who were in the opposite situation (fans of Mary, never heard of Eliza). Her sound was folk-ish too, but her content was blues - hoboes, cheap hotels, prison, being an orphan in New Orleans, and so on. That was kind of fun too, but it wasn't really what I'd come to see.

The crowd was interesting. When I used to go to festivals in Victoria it would be mostly seniors and I figured that was just because hey, it was Victoria. Mostly seniors here, too, though. It may simply be that seniors are the people who listen to folk music nowadays. I was one of the youngest people in the room excluding the wait staff, and possibly the youngest not there with his or her parents. It'll probably be an even greyer crowd at the next one I'm planning to attend, which is Tom Paxton on Monday of next week. I grew up listening to his music and didn't even know he was still in business, but I guess folk music doesn't tend to offer a good retirement package. I figure I'm lucky to be able to see him while he's still around.
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