Monday, November 29, 2004

"Don't" read the note. Don't read the note. Dont read the note, and now look at him!

This is an email I just sent to a couple of people. Anyone who reads my blog may find it to be of interest. I have decided to uncork the bottle of ambition I have been saving for just such an ocassion. Tell me what you think.

This started with my brothers plan to write a book. We talked about various plot elements and in the course of that discussion a vaguely interesting theme was created. But he told me he will not write it, so I want to.

The book opens with Raphael Mercedes Mercator, our intrepid hero, finding yet another clue on his search. We don't really know what it is that he is looking for, only that he is driven beyond reason to find it and we are given a vague sense that it is something unbearably worth finding. He's looking for God or Salvation or Meaning or Cheap Sushi or something. And he has some sort of benefactor, leaving him various clues about where to go, or what he can expect. But nothing is spelled out for him, he is still amazingly clever etc. The clues are something he doesn't really need, but he appreciates them.

Endymia Byron (I don't like this name, it will change. I don't like Raphael, either. I explain my reasoning below) is working on something, something big. She seems to have some sort of mystic powers or something, and she is creating, building, striving, and remembering. She weaves in and out of the book, we get flashes of her remembering this or that experience, and they slowly begin to resemble Raphael's adventures. We realize that she was the one leaving him clues, and we realize that she has gone on the same/a similar quest. We are not sure how she ended up, however. She seems to be working on some final difficulty as the book opens.

So we have two parallel quests (odyssey and ulysses? this just ocurred to me) unfolding, one in memory and one in fact. Raphael (because it is silly) Mercedes (because it is a girl's name, a car's name, and the name of idealism) Mercator (because he is a projection) is a real adventurous hero, and he doesn't need these clues, which Endymia (From Endymion, Keats's poem about a man who falls in love with his ideal image of a woman) Byron (Because she too is a roving adventurer, but an artist as well) is leaving him. However, he does appreciate them, and as the book progresses the clues begin to get personal, and we start to realize that Endymia is beginning to fall in love with him through the course of her adventure. He, a roving romantic at heart, notices this and at the same time realizes that he too is beginning to fall in love with her, though as far as we know their only communication has been the one-way leaving of these clues.

So you think, okay, he has extra impetus to finish this madcap quest, because he not only finds whatever is Worth Finding, but he finds her and can live happily ever after. They are at this point madly in love with each other.
Then suddenly, the playful, careless yet smitten tone of the clues changes - she begins to sound scared, worried, things aren't going well. She tries to warn him off, because she loves him so much. He senses her danger and loves her too much to stop, he charges forward to save her.

At this point we kind of have this sense of two lovers separated by a few miles and a couple adventures. The feeling I want to shoot for is, will he make it in time? Will he get there before she finishes whatever project this is she is working on? It has to seem really simple like that. There has to be hope.

And then we realize what she has been working on, some sort of final clue to warn him off, to point the way to success, which is somewhere she failed to reach. She is basically pouring her soul and life energy into warning him against making the fatal mistake she did, pointing out the road to salvation. And we realize what she made is something like ancient or mysterious, she built the pyramids or created humanity or something - ultimately, she lived billions of years ago, was not anything remotely conceivable to us, in a way. And yet of course really human in some important way, so we can relate to her.

And he realizes this eventually, the whole thing falls together for him: she set out, just as he did. Her crew and friends, like his, slowly began to lose heart or desert her, or stop off and say "I have found what I wanted, good luck and see you." She drifted, as did he, towards isolation, and what kept her going in the end was the idea that she of all beings was not alone in wanting to find that which was worth finding. She fantasized that some day, someone would share her image of the worthwhile, that some day some one would follow in her footsteps, and in contemplating this singular soul she fell in love with it - the more she thought about him, the more she almost created him, for indeed Raphael Mercedes Mercator is the exact image of her mental image.

She fell in love with him from a billion years away, from opposite ends of a doomed quest.
She failed, and the warnings she left him were to help him succeed - maybe she is some primordial satan, lamenting the loss of God. She points him towards salvation, implores him with her dying breath to choose God and Life, and his love for her causes him to disregard even that warning, to charge after her, forsaking his original goal. And so he too fails, he is damned, having turned his back on Salvation and what is worthwhile for the baser impulses - love, passion, humanity.

And so they are two damned souls at the end, perfect in their suffering, both having failed at what they set out to do. We see his future written in her past, and he saw it too, maybe he was even lying to himself at first, realizing the inevitable end but unwilling to face it - maybe that's when the last of his crew leaves him, and he needs her to press on.

Through the course of the book, we realize that she destroyed everything she loved in pursuit of this quest, and maybe that that is why she failed - and maybe we realize this before he does it, but it will forecast his doing the same thing, but I want it to be subtle. I don't want the sweeping cosmic hopelessness of it all to set in until the very end. I want it to be a lighthearted adventure with vaguely sinister undertones through most of the plot.

I am now in the planning stage, I have started writing very little. I want this to be magical, beautiful, so perfectly sad that no fool ever again asks me what I find beautiful in tragedy. I want it to express the human desire for salvation and uncontrollable urge for damnation. I want it to convey the darkest themes I can bring writhing into my control, all beneath the thin facade of a goofy romp. I have always said I don't write because I have never had anything to write about. I can't use that now - I genuinely think this is good, but I have been sort of fantasizing about it for a few days now and perhaps my judgment isn't worth it. So I wanna know what you guys think.

I have enough now to write a sort of borges story about it - I think I just did. The biggest difficulty will be to fill blank pages with adventures, to make the whole thing somehow worth reading. I can do abstract and sad, but I need to figure out how to do lighthearted and goofy, which as I said has to be the soul of this book.

So the one thing I did not expect to do in Japan is start writing a book, especially a book that has nothing to do with Japan. I am saying here and on my blog that I am going to do this, so you all now have an obligation to nag me about it once in a while. I think I can do it. I want to do it. So I have no reason not to do it. It would be cool if I could finish a draft before I got back.

But yeah, you have to give me opinions, or ideas if you think they are good. How do I have her communicate with him? What sort of trials does he overcome? Am I gonna stick with him as a wandering pirate with a slowly leaving crew? Just sailing? Or is he by turns going to be CEO and soldier, poet and drunk? Is there just one him, or is he the collective identity of the human male, falling in love with the collective identity of the fallen celestial? Suddenly this feels like Blake. I don't want to overwork it, though. It's all vanity and all madness, but I think I could have so much fun with this.

Anyway, yes, opinions please. If your opinion is, keep this to yourself and don't blab about it, you needn't express it as I don't think I will make this any more public than this, until it is done.

I just want to write a story about the destructive nature of love and about the choice we all make before failure. I think in the end this is about consequences, maybe. But I also want to play with words. I mean, it doesn't just SEEM fun for most of the text, it IS fun. Here is hoping I can see it through.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Urami Bushi

So Dragon Quest 8 comes out here on Sunday. Now, to you, that may just sound like there is another game coming out, yeah, whatever. I felt the same until I did some research.

Apparently the dragon quest games are more popular than final fantasy, hot dogs, and God put together over here. They are so popular that when the first couple came out kids would skip school and adults would skip work to buy and play them. On such a vast scale, in fact, that after Dragon Quest 4, the Japanese Diet (their congress) passed a law - and this is not a joke - that Dragon Quest games could only be released on Sundays and national holidays.

So, on Saturday night, I expect there will be lines forming outside of these stores and pouring into the streets, and by Sunday afternoon the city will be devoid of youth.

But Mykola, you ask, are you going to buy it?

Nah. I am working on a few others right now and some books, so I will resist the urge to drop what will likely be 8000 yen on yet another game that I wont understand.

Although on that note, the not understanding note, when I got here my teacher put me on level 2 japanese, kind of advanced beginner, which is fair. there are like 7 levels. she says normally to go from 2 to 3 takes about a year, but I am now at three and will likely make 6 before I am done. So I guess I must be smart. But its hard. I can do it all when I meet her but i forget, so I need to study. Boo hoo.

But she gave me a salt shaker with mickey mouse ears.

Right now, I sit at work chatting. But that's okay cuz I am on lunch break. But when lunch is over it will be not okay. But I will do it still.

Things are going well.

Swift Boat Veterans Still Hounding Kerry! I love the onion.

Jon Stewart needs to be canonized. I want him and chomsky to run for office. And then get elected and go mad, corrupted by their newfound powers, like the villains in KOTOR. I would run with this but I'd hate to ruin such a wonderful game for anyone who has not played it so go play it you sad fucks.

Almost the weekend.


The Japanese Experience... captured by watching alfred hitchcock movies and drinking wine.

Today was day off, so last night was kind of continuation of weekend, right. That was cool, went to Jackie's where the aforementioned hitchcock and wine went down. We watched Spellbound which was wonderful, I believe I have fallen for Hitchcock in a way I never really expected to. Pat and Alex came down and we were all sitting around chatting about various things I'll not get into, and then I had a chu-hai, which is like the fruity beer that is so popular out here. Note to self, chuuhai after a bottle of wine will knock you out. So out I was knocked, it was quite weird, woke up the next morning with a headache go figure and me and jackie watched more movies (North by Northwest which was quite good and surprisingly risque in parts, and The Cell, which was odd) and then I got invited to a birthday dinner for Naoko one of the girls out here but when I got there (against my will, really, I wanted to go home) it was discovered that it was a girls thing, kind of, and not even naoko's boyfriend was there, and I was the only one who had not known that and there were exact reservations and it was all rather embarassing and of course jackie had known the whole time but dragged me along anyway though I really shouldnt act as though I had no choice in the matter but I had gotten a free toothbrush out of it and what could I do?

Somewhere there I forgot how to punctuate. whatever.

So yeah, all my entries anymore are "watched movies and crashed at Jackie's", but I guess that's more or less what i do these days. I'm glad to have a friend who not only loves to watch films but has great taste combined with a sense of adventure in terms what we watch, so it works out really well. Though I find myself drinking often. Which doesnt bother me although I know my parents worry but I guess I am finally living the fabled "college life" that I never really bothered with at school, though I did have my nights.

This place closes in 10 so I am going to wrap this up and go to bed as I am already an hour after my bedtime. Three day week now, so that is cool. If you read this I want you to send me an email letting me know what's new wherever you are. I demand it. It is really easy. Here, I will even give you a link, right, or .

You have no excuse.

And whoever that was with the advice about Ayako - Jon - I will take it into consideration. She still keeps calling me, so I suspect she is trying to keep her options open. She was quite flirty with me at Pat's the other night, after all the subterfuge. But apparently Pat and Alex have known something was up with her and drew, right, and did not tell me, so that was quite friendly, the rats. Pat tells me that she apparently thought I wasn't moving quickly enough for her, that I was too interested in getting to know her and not interested enough in shagging her, but really I'm not gonna just mess around with the first gorgeous girl that crawls into my apartment, I mean, I am a romantic, I need to like the person, right?

Though frankly I don't even know why I am talking about her, except that I can't believe how rampantly easy it would be to just get laid with a different gorgeous woman every night out here until I went home. JET, zach?


Monday, November 22, 2004

...and you shall know me by the trail of pocky wrappers.

So quick update. Had a great, very Japanese weekend. Friday was nothing spectacular, went to bar, drank heavily, went back to jackie's with karen and pat. Pat had enough of karen's yammering about 4 hours into that but I was tired (read drunk) and passed out intermittently on the couch as karen talked for 5 hours about how terrible her life was and how nobody would give her a chance. I can't believe jackie stayed up and listened to it all.

Saturday watched a movie in the afternoon (Marnie by hitchcock. Sean Connery. Weird.) Saturday night got a call from the Nova teachers (kind of the OTHER circle of gaijin) and was invited to go to a club here. There was a band and there was an all-you-can-drink (Which I didnt mean to engage in, I just bought a beer, but apparently after one drink you are in for 40 had all I could drink). The band was pretty cool, it was like out of any number of hip indie movies about hip indie people going to Japan and doing hip indie things, like watching a group of 30-something japanese hip indie people in suits singing 60's british rock (with of course a female lead). That was a lot of fun, actually. It was like the 5 6 7 8's meets the lounge band from Lost in Translation. I kinda was pissed that I spent 40 bucks, but there was no cover and I got to drink all night, so it worked out okay.

Then on Sunday I got a call at 10am to go to Matsuyama with Jackie and Tricia. Apparently, say they, there is no better cure for a hangover than a shopping trip to Matsuyama. Okay, sure. So to Matsuyama I went and saw many an interesting thing. We went to this mall type place which is basically just a couple of streets that have a roof over them, right, so it's huge and quasi-outdoor, with hundreds of little shops and restaurants and arcades. Search though I did, however, I could not find Tekken 5, which was my goal for the day. What we did find, though, was print club (print club: photo booths you go in with your friends, take a few shots with weird poses, edit them with computer graphics, print up a sheet of them and they are stickers. Very Japanese, very girly. But I have some print club pictures now.). We also went to a store called Muji ("no brand") which I guess is uber-stylish in the UK, its basically like Ikea but not just furniture there were clothes and food and all sorts of stuff, all very minimalist. I rather liked it and it was surprisingly not expensive, though my eye for expensive has adapted since being here I suppose. I bought a tiny tree. Jackie managed to destroy it in the 3 minutes I asked her to hold it, as she forgot it was a tree. "Don't give me anything living!" says she. "I'm glad it wasn't a puppy." says I.

Oh, let me back up to Saturday night briefly. Before the club was hanging out at Sophie and Ellie's place and this guy Drew gets there. He is kinda the new guy, 27 year old from Australia. And guess who came in with Drew, I was so amused I laughed out was my wayward lass Ayako, who was supposedly ill. Apparently they had gone to Matsuyama saturday - which was of course the place she was gonna take me. Hmmm...very interesting, you say. I say, bwahaha, let someone else deal with that one. Shut up, Jon.

So yeah, after Matsuyama, it was Sunday right so we did dinner and a movie as we have taken to doing on Sunday. Pat roasted a chicken with stuffing and mashed potatos and mm. I do love to eat, and Pat cooks well. It works out quite well. Then we watched Shrek II. Ayako was there and was all flirting with me, which just amuses me. Apparently there is such a thing, such a cultural phenomenon out here, as the Gaijin Stalkers. These are Japanese girls who have shaped themselves and their lives around getting Western boyfriends. It seems our good friend Ayako is one such. Ah well whatever.

Alison was there as was Tricia from out of town not our Tricia. Alison gets along with very few people because she is very picky with friends, apparently, but seems to have taken to me, jackie tells me I am very lucky and she knew alison for 6 months before they ever hung out. But yeah, Alison invited me to some exclusive party next month at some club that her boyfriend is putting together, it's all vaguely hush hush and apparently I am in the cool elite. I can dig that.

Also, I bought two books in Matsuyama. This entry is as chronologically arranged as pulp fiction being watched during Momento, right, but it's cool. I bought Virgina Woolf's Orlando and Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels. Both seem really amazing, and I was devastated to learn that Orlando was abridged. I should be more careful. Matsuyama is the only place oyu can get books in English so I was eager to make a purchase any purchase as it were.

Also, my funds are diminishing faster than good similes I can think of, so this week is Ramen week I think. Whoo.

But yeah, weekend of 60's rock covered by Japanese hipsters, and running around through video arcades and print club booths. Very Japanese weekend. Tomorrow is a day off so its movie night tonight. North by Northwest and The Cell. Cool.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Exterminate the brutes!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

You have saved our kingdom once again. Take anything you need from the treasure room.

I sit here on my shelf, just talking to myself. My blog is spiralling into music quotes, I had commited myself against that. Curses.

I think I'll just post another sequence of short insights. It beats writing the emails I should be writing.

I like writing here over writing emails. Why? I'm not sure. It's somehow comforting that this is going to be here, maybe? Or maybe my ego cannot abide writing to a small audience than I could. Though my ego has diminished a lot.

Lsat time I wrote that I dont feel and I dont believe. I meant it when I wrote it, but afterwards as I was biking home from the computer place I was thinking about that. A year ago, that would have been true. But now I'm starting to wonder if it is. There are simply some things that make me happy, and some things that make me sad. Some things I find beautiful, and a few I find ugly. I think maybe I can feel. Or maybe I'm starting to. Or something. I mean, don't read that the wrong way, I'm still a madman. But if what I wrote before were true then my continued existance is nothing more than the product of inertia, and I'm not so sure about that. I have hopes, I have aspirations - just, nothing really specific. I want to see tomorrow.

I guess if I had to define my most pressing feeling, it would be...hmm. It'd be like that sense you get when you turned in a paper and you want to see how you did. I feel like I'm waiting for the magic morning when everything falls into place. And yet that's rubbish and I know it. If I give in to that, as I do regularly, then I am simply allowing my life to pass me buy in the same vein as any marginally handsome, marginally rich soul-less quasi-hero of oh-so-many christmas movies. So perhaps it would behoove me to be more proactive. I have taken steps. I guess I gotta build up inertia.

The British:
Here is a partial list of vocabulary you may hear from me upon my return.

Drunk is now Pissed.
Cigarettes are Fags.
I am not upset about something, I am gutted.
Joe did not mess around with Jane, Joe got off with Jane (this could mean either snarfing or shagging, interestingly enough.)
"Rubbish," used in various context, most generally as "Bullshit"
ie, that's so/such rubbish, I should have gotten a much higher score on that last song.

The Japanese:
My Japanese is of course getting better every day. You will not, however, hear it from my upon my return unless you speak japanese. If you do, well, you probably know better than I do.

Today, I woke up and felt like complete rubbish (!), I've had a vague cold for a few days, my head was stuffed. I am taking vitamin C excessively. I went to heat up my bathtub as is my wont at 6am, and blinked when I did not hear the familiar "Whoooosh" of the gas jet kicking in. Turns out my water heater is broken. I figure, okay, whatever, I won't shower. So I went to bed for another hour, woke up at 7 and felt even worse. Now, today's schedule was 8 hours on my feet in the factory wrapping plastic in plastic. A few moments of meditation on doing such a thing with a terrible sinus headache and no shower left me with no recourse. I called in sick.

That's the first time I've done such a thing, and I don't have the feeling of getting away with something, like I usually do when I call in sick. I simply felt miserable, and my condition seems to have deteriorated as the day went on, so it was a good call.

The good news, they sent someone to look at my bathtub boiler (which miraculously started working again) and he told me that yeah, it definitely is broken, in spite the fact that it may work sporadically. So, they are not going to repair it. They are going to install a real, live shower tomorrow, complete with instant hot water. This is really like Christmas, my apartment is now about 90% perfect. All I need is internet, and I'm looking into that.

I need to buy garbage bags and qtips. And water. All I have in my apartment to drink is one beer, which I have been saving for later for a few days now. So I guess sitting in my apartment all day watching movies and not drinking water was perhaps not the best way to spend my day. But on the plus side I saw The Professional and The Core, both of which I enjoyed. The Professional wasn't as mind-blowingly wonderful as I kinda had hoped. But it probably woulda been if I'd seen it 4 years ago when everyone else seems to have. The Core was a cinematic triumph, one of those films that makes you remember why you like watching movies.

No I'm kidding, the core was of course kinda bad, but I really enjoyed it.

My chamomile tea has arrived. That's better.

Miike Takashi (or Takashi Miike if you're in the West) is the order of the moment. I want to see his new movie Izo ( A samurai, killed in the 1860's, gets stuck outside of time either from his own rage and being killed or as a sort of damnation. He pops in and out of various ages, and just kills, he is fury incarnate. Eventually, the gods take notice, as he is unravelling the natural order of things. They, led by Beat Takeshi (!!), order him to stop, but he takes no notice, going so far as to rape mother earth in his disregard for authority. So, the gods summon together the greatest warriors from every age humanity has seen in an effort to stop Izo, and the final battle will have Samurai, Ninja, Yakuza, you name it, all teaming up to destroy this manifestation of chaos and rage. This is out now. I need to figure out how to see it. But I live in shikoku. It will be in the states before it gets here.

Now I am reading IMDB and he has another movie coming soon, Yokai Daisenso. (Great Ghost War). I guess it is a remake of an old Japanese movie (like Izo is actually a sequal to an old movie, which I guess just ends with Izo dying, no grandiose extrapolations), and in this film a european vampire comes to Japan, and the various ghosts and goblins of Japan team up to drive him out. I can't wait.

I love that he has put out like 60 movies in the past ten years. Most of them are of course scheit, but even then they are interesting. I mean, I rather enjoyed Full Metal Yakuza.

Wikipedia: "Not all of Miike's films are gorefests, however. The Happiness of the Katakuris was a farcical musical comedy involving zombies."

I think I am just damned to the foreign movie section wherever I go. In the states I just watched Japanese movies, and here I just watch American movies. Kinda silly.

So Bush's cabinet walked out on him. Even Powell, who was the "liberal" of the squad. Yikes. I guess we're not fucking around this time. Condi as secretary of state? Woot.

Zach tells me Powell says he was not asked to stay, and the white house says well, he didn't ask to stay. So I think it would be rather humorous if his resignation is sort of an awkward social situation. Just passive agression and nervousness.

I have been writing this for quite some time now. I started browsing. There is a book I will probably buy, about the cinema of Takashi Miike.

I am going now. Life is good.

Monday, November 15, 2004

So they found Atlantis maybe? Heh, that's random.

Full fathom five your father lies!

Not much to say today. Spent the day in a factory wrapping monitor screens. That was kind of lame. I actually wrote out a bunch of stuff in my pocket notebook when they had me sitting by myself for an hour as they decided what to do with me. But I do not have my pocket notebook with me. So oh well.

I kinda wish they were a little more organized with this internship business. I'm realizing they just kind of shuffle me around like a hot potato, where whoever has me has a day to decide how to hold me before they toss me off. Except I'm a week in this factory, so I suspect they're just going to make me do really bad manual factory work for a week. I can hardly wait. That blows, I'm not getting paid enough.

How much am I getting paid? 1000 month, 40 hours a week = 160 hours, time off for national holidays we'll see 136 hours a month. what does that add up to? Thats tricky, I cant do math. Lets try that again, let's say 32 hours a week for simplicities sake and then 250 dollars. So 250 divided by 32. We can do this. Thats about 7.80 an hour. That's not bad, but for spiritually deadening factory work, I dunno...I don't think I can be satisfied with more than 95% of the world and a place to live in exchange for a few hours of boredom. What a life I lead.

Anyway, that's a bit of a tangent.

Kate, I havent forgotten that I promised to write you an email. I will. Honest.

And those of you who arent on the facebook yet, get on it already, what's with you. You're behind the times.

I rented The Stone Roses complete disc today. Every time I hear them I like them. But the disc isnt just blowing me away like i expected.

My wisdom teeth hurt.

2001 is a good movie.

My kitchen is still a mess from cooking yesterday.

I kinda am tired in a real ennuic sense.

I am not going on crazy adventures every weekend, primarily because I volunteer to do stuff for various groups every weekend. But this weekend will be open and I think I will drag jackie and pat at least to Matsuyama if not hiroshima or osaka. That could be cool and spontaneous.

I finally turned my heater on today. I look forward to going home and walking into my bedroom and it being warm.

I have noticed that my most comfortable comments in my blog are a sentence or two long. This is as long as a thought lasts and to write more seems somehow dishonest.

My mind skips around a lot.

I rented the Professional tonight and will watch that as soon as I get back to my apartment.

I don't really mind the factory work I have ahead of me tomorrow but at the same time my legs are starting to hurt in anticipation of 8 hours standing there wrapping plastic in plastic. I will never look at a computer monitor the same way now that i know how irritating it is just to make the screen.

I am vaguely amused by that girl. sorry Zach. But apparently I am willing to sacrifice good relations with my friends on the altar of vague amusement. Next time shh.

This is Japan, why do I write about American music and British friends? Am I not immersed enough? I must not be. I will come here once more to play (read teach english) and I think it's then that I'll really rock out. This feels too much like work, kind of. I feel like I'm in Lost in Translation, right, with interesting spontaneous relationships with english speakers, but in a world that kind rages around us without our participation or understanding. And yet I straddle that fence, cuz while my Japanese is terrible it's not bad.

I don't study enough.

I don't play enough video games.

I don't drink enough when I have the chance, and drink too much when I don't.

I smoke not enough to satisfy me and too much to make me happy.

I like people smiling.

I am not happy.

I am not unhappy.

I have distilled my blog, this is all you get from here on out.

I am kidding.

It is very gratifying when someone asks to borrow your copy of Ulysses.

I cannot believe in anything or anyone, and I cannot feel anything besides the ocassional self-pity.

This only bothers me on a very simplistic, intellectual level, but I would be lying to say it makes me sad or anything. Is that wrong?

I am in an odd mood.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Rebel Rebel Bitch Bitch

Picked up Marilyn Manson's Golden Age of Grotesque. I like how I have to run all the way to Japan to get into all this wonderful western music.

Just talked for an hour about American government and American politics. That was alright, I got fifty bucks for it. Basically just explained the division of powers, the electoral process, etc. Then talked about 2004, quick bio of bush and quick bio of kerry. Managed to make a list (albeit short) of good points about Bush, too, so it worked out alright.

I like the looks on their faces when I explain the electoral college, as it really does just not make any sense. "Right, yes, then all 21 electoral votes go to Bush. Unless one of more of them decide to vote for someone else. Yeah, they can do that. It's rare. Yeah, I know. Yes."

Thought about going into the Simpsons bit about the Aliens..."Go ahead, vote for the third party, throw your vote away!" But didn't.

Was more or less a really good weekend. Stayed up til 6am on friday night, passed out on Jackie's couch after karaoke, despite the guitar playing until 8. Jackie was telling me she is adopting me as a little brother. I seem to get that everywhere, so I have a new Romel in Japan, right. Doubt she will be as indispensible as Romel, but probably a bit more fun. Maybe I can establish foster-siblings all over the world. Hear that, George and Andrew? You're obsolete.

Got my bike back from the police (they found it. how...unlikely.) Bought 2001 (which we will watch tonight after dinner), one of my favorite films. I am really excited to see it.

Was just riding my bike around today in a dressy shirt, jeans, my red sport coat, my bono glasses and my hat. 3 days stubble. Every girl I saw smiled and waved. That was fun. Simple pleasures.

Bought the new Eminem cd. It's really just kind of bad. It sounds utterly joyless. I was really kinda disappointed. Only listened through it once, but it just wasnt any fun. Oh well.

Am undefeated in scrabble here. 3 for 3. Lets see how this keeps up.

Stomach has felt weird lately. Maybe I should stop cooking my own food and go back to processed bentos.

I am cooking tonight. Dinner is my place. Weird. Will put on Tom Waits and clean as soon as Marilyn finishes.

Feeling okay.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Just on the offchance that some of you havent read this.

Its not all that great, but it made me smile.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The large print giveth and the small print taketh away

Book V – November
Sunday, November 7, 2004
945 am
ICA seminar

So I just taught English to a group of young execs in training. I had one hour. I talked about prepositions. I had them describe photographs. The photographs were from Last Samurai. Much fun was had. I thought it went rather well. Afterwards my boss was like “It’s okay, you’ll do better next time.” But screw that, it was cool.

I went to an onsen last night, which is a hot spring/public bath. Sat around in luxurious puddles with a bunch of naked men. This was after drinking heavily, it was very relaxing.

By the way I’m about 4 hours away from Niihama in a mountain lodge for this seminar for young execs. The atmosphere is pretty relaxed for me – I get to chum around with these guys, they were all kissing up to me last night in order to ensure that I wouldn’t call on them during my lesson this morning. Hahaha, suckers.


On Monday I have the day off, as does Ayako. We are going to go to Matsuyama, the “Big City” in Ehime prefecture. I do not know what we will do there. But it will be fun. I rather like Ayako, and suspect we may be dating – despite certain other factors at play, Mr. Jones, which can be disregarded.

Ah, in the video we are now watching for this seminar, Eiga-san just won the world kendo championship (2003) with a suki to the throat of his Korean opponent, after 12 minutes of absolutely nothing. It was glorious. I would like to win with a sudden suki, whatever I may be doing. A suki is a fast, straight, dangerous stab to the throat – it completely disregards the enemy’s defenses, which are designed to ward off chops and slashes, but it leaves you reeeeally overextended so it’s very hard to do. The target is tiny and the consequences for missing are deadly. To do it in a world-championship match is great. To win with it is almost as glorious as to lose with it.

So I have noticed that I am writing much less than once upon a time. I guess that means I’m me again, now that the novelty of “starting over” has more or less faded.


That's as much as I got written down at the seminar. It is now a few days later. Just as I got to that point in my writing, they called on me for my reaction to the film and I was like "Uhhhh, I'm a moron and lazy to boot." Except in Japanese with kendo references.

So my mom tells me that my parents found this blog. That was quicker than I expected, my dad must be googling our last name more often than normal. Just for the record, though, upon reflection I've decided I'm not going to censor this or anything. If my parents are interested in reading my thoughts and opinions, I suppose they're welcome to. They're just as welcome not to, though. So if my language is too fucking coarse, maybe they'll stay away. Hi mom. :-)

So naturally, the most natural segue in the world is from talking one's parents to talking about one's love interest. Ended up not going to Matsuyama with Ayako yesterday; rather, we sort of bummed around Niihama, it was rather boring. Her friends keep nagging me to know if we're a "couple" or not, and as I am a bit curious myself I just asked her her thoughts on the matter. She more or less changed the subject, then we rented Kate and Leopold and watched at my place from opposite ends of my futon as she sat on the edge of her seat, anxious to see if Meg Ryan would able to beat the odds and end up with Hugh Grant.

We are not impressed. We are thinking Japanese girls play just as many stupid games as American girls and are tired of stupid games, so we'll see, I think I'm - err, I mean, we think we are on the market again (we mean). Once we slip into the royal we, we prefer to run with it for a bit.

But yeah, that was a rather dismal end to a great weekend. Which is how it all must go, I suppose.

What else. The local CD-rental place has like 5 tom waits cd's that I don't have, so I'm rather happy and surprised about that. No Nick Cave, though. Someone send me The Boatman's Call, that's a great album from the reviews and the few songs I've heard. I hear tell it's sad. :-D

Work has gotten a lot better. I am in the chemical block this time around - I rather like it there, my desk is between two pretty young girls who always giggle and give me candy, and across from me is a guy who seems pretty cool. They cornered me in the coffee room today and told me I didn't have to be formal with them like I am with everyone else, as apparently they are also lowest of the low, so I finally have some friends in the company. That's a relief, as if you're informal it's much easier because it doesn't matter if you fuck up. (Hi mom!) So when I'm there, on the fifth floor, it's really relaxing and I'm productive. I am translating the company website there, so I can work at my own pace, nobody hanging over my shoulder (it's a job that'll take at least a few months, so nobody expects me to finish while I'm here. But maybe I can get all the translating done all the way through once, right, and then I'll just opt to work in Nissen Chemical with my pretty girls and my website until August. Nifty.). In the afternoons, Fukushima-san takes me to various other chemical block companies around Niihama, where I do all sorts of stuff. The other day I made some of those things that are like stuff floating in know what I mean? Like paperweights and decorations and stuff. I made a stamp with my initials, with a cool plant inside. Today I did work in a factory, just working a pressing machine that put serial numbers into plastic sheets. This is kind of ideal for me, as I am rather nomadic by nature - I don't like to stick to anything in particular. So mornings with pretty girls and a different job every afternoon is pretty great, and back by 5 to go home.

Except that my obligations from last month aren't quite done yet, right, cuz I still haven't finished the october newsletter that they want me to write. That's a bitchload of work! And I was DONE and they told me to do it over cuz it wasn't what they wanted and then I FINISHED and then my boss proofread it and it was DONE and she asked her boss to read it too and he's a fucking Bush-supporter and knows my leanings and that's why he made SO many corrections that it'll take me another week to do it. On friday, when she gave it to him to look at (at about 5:15) I was like okay, I'm gone, I have to be somewhere at 530. And he was like, but this...oh, well, I'll just leave it on your desk for you next week? (meaning, don't you dare leave) and I was like yeah that's great, seeya. So this is my punishment. Bastards. So I stay til 6 frequently just writing meaningless shit in Japanese. I can't imagine anyone is interested in my juvenile expressions of impressions of the local coffee shop, or typhoons.

Have I mentioned yet that nobody signs their name here? They all use stamps, everyone walks around with a little ink thing and a name stamp, and that's how they certify official documents. Seems to defeat the purpose, as the stamps aren't custom made or anything, you just go to the store to find one with your name. That's why I made a stamp with my initials earlier, it's not just random. I have one that says MIKO-RA in katakana, but now I have one that says MJB in english. And then the lady from that factory dropped off two more that she made for me. So I have three MJB stamps. I'd give them away as souveniers if I could - any of my friends MJB? I don't think so...Pateras, what's your middle name? I could file part of the B off to make it a P if your middle name is Joaquin or something.

It's so silly that I smoke these days. I still don't smoke much, but I smoke a hell of a lot more than I ever did. I do like a pack a week maybe 15 on the weekend and 5 throughout the week. It's such a silly thing to do and I'm sure I could quit now with no qualms. But I think I'm secretly holding out for a girl that'll make me quit. I don't think I could ever tolerate anyone that would tolerate me smoking, so it's a good litmus test, right?

So I have been asked to give a speech this weekend to a group of people who are interested in America. I guess they do this every month, and try to get a different gaijin every time, so it's nothing too special. But only a few of my friends here have done it, and they've been here for years. So I think I must have impressed a few of the right people when I did that proofreading hellwork. I get 5000 yen for it, and they want me to talk about American politics. I laugh.

Music - I am going to take the next three months to explore The Stoned Roses, Bjork and Oasis. These are the songs that the people whose musical taste are as sharp as their wit sing at Karaoke, and I am always very impressed that these guys all slipped through the cracks for me.

I'm almost done with Circe in Ulysses, I have flown through the past 150 pages. It's really fantastic, even if I only have a vague sense of what's going on. It's very pre-wake. Joyce actually had to rewrite the whole thing, because the first time he wrote it his typist's husband through it in the fire as obscenity. Why can't people get it? Just burn what you don't understand. Sigh.

If you want some interesting reading, go to wikipedia (thanks for that Dan, I'd forgotten it existed) and search for Memes.

What else what else. My music finished. I think I'm going to go home now, it's almost 9. Going on bed time. Peace out, ya'll, as they say.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I tell you all my secrets but I lie about my past, and send me off to bed forever more...

What a great line. Tom Waits, "Tango til they're sore." My brother always quotes that line when he's drunk, I'm glad I finally stumbled upon the album it's from (Rain Dogs).

Anyway, not a big post today. It's Sunday, that means that Pat is cooking us all a delicious dinner. That's in about an hour.

I stumbled upon another really cool science news article -

How cool is that? It's like everything is going well.

Oh yeah, Bush. Ah well.

But yeah, there'll be another biggish update soon - this weekend I went to a weekend retreat for young executives in the company. I got to teach them English. I thought I did a pretty good job...though my boss, who is always my harshest critic, just said "Don't worry about it, you'll do better next time." when it was over. I was like, thanks.

The only downside of today was when they were all commenting about the video they just watched (about a world-famous kendoist) and I was vaguely paying attention and then my boss's boss was like "Mykola, what did you think?" and I was like "Huh? Oh...umm..." and proceeded to tell everyone about kendo back home and then just didn't know where to stop cuz I was so scared about being put on the spot so I went on to talk about how I wanted to practice here but haven't been going at all because I'm so tired all the time and on and on and by the time I shut up everyone was kind of shaking their heads. I think I should have said something like "Yeah, great video. Really inspirational. Cool. Thanks. Done."

Of course, it's only a problem in Japanese. I've determined that the source of my powers is the English language. Take that away and I'm just frustrated. But I have finally had the insight that I'm not here to impress anyone and fuck them, they're here for me to learn from. Today I learned I should shut up when nervous, not keep talking. Lesson learned, done.

And Kate, I promise I'll reply to your email, it was quite interesting reading. Dan, I'm glad you have a blog now. But for christ's sake email me more often.

On the highway yesterday I saw a Monkey Crossing sign. It just kind of makes me happy that such a thing exists somewhere in the world.

Rain Dog Extrodinaire

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Well shit.

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