Sunday, January 30, 2005

I want your opinion, comment on this please.

I want to start a web page. It is a very simple premise. I will call it “You like WHAT?” or something like that, and the idea is to provide a forum where people explain why they like what they like. For example, “You like Marilyn Manson?!” For many people it is completely inconceivable that anyone could like this. So I provide a neutral forum where I explain the things I like, you explain the things you like, etc. We all like something, and odds are we have a reason to like it. If we share our reasons instead of just throwing our finished-product opinions around, maybe it will help us all to understand each other. In this the age of the clique, of niche-art and elite tastes, it seems to me at least that aesthetic intolerance is on the rise.

Do I sound obnoxious as I write this? Cuz I don’t mean to be, but I recognize the danger. My purpose isn’t to lecture or educate anyone – but for instance, I don’t really understand visual arts. Someone explain to me why Andy Warhol is famous? Or, what do you like about Hoobastank? Etc.

The idea is, I have my opinions and you have yours, and we have our opinions about each others opinions. This isn’t necessarily here to change anyone’s mind per se, let’s call it opinion validation. If you really must hold opinions, and you happen to be the sort of person who wants your opinions to be responsibly formed, maybe a website like this will help you. It’s secretly for my benefit.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"...and goats . . . go to hell..."

Wow been a while I didnt even notice. Anything new? I dunno. Not so much around here, this month is winding down. It's been really easy going cuz everyone has been too busy to deal with me for three weeks so the result is that this week I get to have three full days of >stuff< that has to have reports written and whatnot, so rather than having the end of the month to write the reports about what I did in the beginning I had the beginning of the month to write reports about...stuff I haven't done...

But it's all good I think I should be able to get it all finished. Today I was given a real project to help with the new employee seminar, entering data and whatnot. It doesnt sound like a big deal and its kinda not, but it is the first time I've just been given something that will help everyone and not just something that feels like busy work.

What else. Birthday was good, went to Matsuyama with Ayako, ate raw horse among other things. That was odd.

My sinuses are worse than they have ever been in the dismal history of my dismal sinuses. They have been terrible since I got to Japan, but now it is allergy season here and there is just incredible pain just inside of my face right behind my nose. I have to keep rushing to the bathroom to blow my nose because it is really rude to do so in public in Japan. Damn social mores.

I think you should all get blogs and post random rants so that I can read them. People get so bent out of shape about it, "I dont have anything to say," "I'm too embarassed" yadda yadda yadda, but fuck that, nobody has to read it if they dont want to. Just spew some brains onto the internet, see what happens. That's lunch bell.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The speed of gravity

So apparently they proved 2 years ago that the speed of gravity is the same as the speed of light. What? you ask. Make sense.

Okay. If the sun were to disappear, we wouldnt see that disappearance for 8 minutes, right, because it takes the light of the sun 8 minutes to get to the earth. But, what they have discovered, is that if the sun were to disappear, not only would we still see it for 8 minutes BUT the earth would continue to rotate around it as though it were still there - for 8 minutes. How weird is that? That's kind of cool cuz it means that it's like something just isn't THERE until the light gets to us, it cannot affect us. UNLESS the gravity travels through some higher dimension, which is the theory they are playing with.

But that means maybe there is some giagantic object just beyond the current reach of our farthest telescopes - something so big that its gravity would eat the entier galaxy in an instant. We would not feel its gravity until the instant that we saw it. Maybe. How weird.

I think the Barenaked Ladies are my favorite band. They are just really damn good and manage to be entirely unpretentious at the same time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Oh all the money that ever I had, I spent it in good company...

I turn 22 on Saturday. I am an old man now. After 21 there are no milestones left until 65, unless you want to count 50 for the novelty.

My Japanese study is progressing rapidly. I should have been doing this from the beginning, with my picking words and learning them and whatnot. Very useful.

桑原桑原

It's vaguely incredible to me that I have kept up this blog. Isn't that weird that I can up with ways to fill it day after day?

And fill it I do.

Ayako's family is having a birthday party for me tonight, she is cooking. I am excited. I rather like her, so it should be fun. We will go to Kyoto together next month. I want to stay in a Ryokan. My boss tells me Minshuku are cheaper. It is funny how my daily conversations at work resemble the memorized conversations from my Japanese text book on a regular basis. "Oh, I don't know much about Minshuku, but if you ask so and so..."

What else what else what else. My stomach so empty it hurts. Have been in touch with my old boss Skip, the one who fired me. He is hard of hearing and talks funny so I never realized how clever he was, but his emails are good. He used to live 20 minutes from here.

What else what else?

Today am running into a derth of creativity, but lunch is in 3 minutes so I don't want to open up some huge can of worms by talking about anything I care about. So I'll just type until it's time to go.

I like that they have these 4-kanji expressions in Japanese, yojijukugo. They arent grammatical in a traditional way, they are more idiomatic. Like, they would say "One Sword Straight Insertion" and that means you get right to the point in a discussion, or "No Talent Big Eat" is used to describe someone who doesn't pull his weight. There are hundreds of these, thousands. I pulled up an incomplete list that has 100 pages in Word. So I am learning one a day in addition to my 4 words. Fluency here I come, maybe.

Have been playing Suikoden 4 but its really just kind of boring. Suikoden II might be the most emotionally engaging and complex game I have ever played, but 3 and 4 are just disappointing.

Anyway thats lunch. Later.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

And for every worthless reason I know, there's a reason not to care...

I just typed out an update but it was mysteriously disappeared. That is the second time. Irritating.

I will summarize: saturday wore a hakama at a tea ceremony. Not like a kendo hakama, I'm talking silk with fancy knots, it was all traditional and whatnot. I was kind of pissed though cuz they just put the underwear on me and then dragged me out in front of all the old ladies so they could watch me get dressed, I felt like an animal on display, especially since they were all acting like they were getting away with something. I'm hardly prudish about letting old ladies see my skivvies, but I mean come on. That was really irritating.

Yesterday got up at 6 and went on a cross-japan adventure to naoshima island where I looked at art. I had fun and spent too much money.

fucking journal, always eating my words.

todays words of the day are  確保する(promise or guarantee), 初恋(puppy love, first love), 美味な (delicious, refined), and のんびり (relaxed, at ease, casual).

Jackie, is everything going okay? We are all worried about you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Now, I'm not what you might call conventionally poltical...

...given my failure to manage to vote this time around (yes, I know. Look, I tried.) and general loathing for the self-serving protest culture, but, this struck me as vaguely interesting. So read it and do it, so I can look on with a sort of cynical detachment. Get it?

Not One Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005Since our religious leaders will not speak outagainst the war in Iraq,since our political leaders don't have the moralcourage to oppose it,Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is"Not One Damn Dime Day" inAmerica.On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what ishappening in our name inIraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott ofall forms of consumerspending.During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spendmoney. Not one damn dimefor gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities orfor impulse purchases.Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours.On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart,Kmart, Target...Please don't go to the mall or the local conveniencestore. Please don't buyany fast food (or any groceries at all for thatmatter).For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut theretail economy down. Theobject is simple. Remind the people in power thatthe war in Iraq is immoraland illegal; that they are responsible for startingit and that it is theirresponsibility to stop it."Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, thatthey work for thepeople of the United States of America, not for the internationalcorporations and K Street lobbyists who representthe corporations andfunnel cash into American politics."Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting thetroops. Now 1,200 braveyoung Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqishave died. Thepoliticians owe our troops a plan - a way to comehome.There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. Noleft or right wing agendato rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you takeaction by doing nothing.You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime,to remind our religiousleaders and our politicians of their moralresponsibility to end the war inIraq and give America back to the people.Please share thisl with as many people aspossible Commercial speechmust not be the only free speech in America!

That is all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Todd you didnt have to delete your comment

Look ya'll, it's alright if you read this, I really don't care. I was just upset that Pat put it on his homepage, because my boss reads that and if she finds my blog it may be a bit awkward for me as I don't always have the nicest things to say about work.

It's true I didn't tell anyone about it cuz I wanted it to be private but now it's not so please feel welcome. Honest. But I've written so much in here I don't remember what I've written about any of you, so if I have inadvertantly published any secrets lemme know and I'll take it down.

-myk

Friday, January 07, 2005

blah.

この日誌日を本語で書きたい。新居浜にいる間に、僕の一番好きな友達はジャッキーだ。今朝、ジャッキーからEメールをもらった。「母が旧に病気になった。すぐ死ぬ。明日帰る。電話しないで。」と書いていた。

本当に大変なことだと思うけど、僕は何もできない。無力な時が大嫌いなので、僕は大変破けている。ジャッキーは今晩フェリーで大阪に行って、明日関西空港からイギリスに帰る。考えてだけで頭が痛い。大阪に行くのは一晩中かかって、それから待って、やっと飛行機に乗って、10か15時間旅行して、ずっと心配しながらだということはひどすぎると思う。

でもこれは命の一部じゃないの?時々大変なことを一人で我慢しないといけない。しかし友達だ。何かジャッキーのためにしたいが、この場合はできることがほとんどないと思う。

どうしたらいい?頭痛い。ジャッキーはこれから新居浜に帰らないか?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Japanese Culture

I had this idea that anything in Japan is Japanese Culture. Like, if I am watching Alfred Hitchcock movies and drinking german beer with a british friend, that counts as Japanese culture if I am doing it in Japan. What do you think?

Cuz like, I was thinking about how my boss wanted me to do Taiko Drumming and whatnot and how I just really don't want to do that. She was making me feel bad for a while because I was not getting into "Japanese Culture" while here - but I don't really have any interest in whacking a drum here any more than I do back home.

But, now I want to learn to do cooking (even though I'm male and that may cause a scandal among the old men around here) as my "cultural activity" (and kendo, though I keep putting off calling them for information), and so I was thinking well I should learn to cook Japanese food. But...well, I dunno, it seems I can learn to cook any food, right? Because, if I learn to cook it here then someone eats it here then it is Japanese food. Tempura came from Portugal, does that make it less Japanese? Is there some statute of limitations?

I was feeling bad for a while when I realized I spend a lot of my time here watching movies, like I was wasting my time here - but that is not the case. On the one hand, I watch a lot of movies I could not find in the states, I'm getting into a bit of a neo-samurai phase. I also watch a lot of movies I could find in the states, ie the aforementioned hitchcock phase - but so what? It's a cultural experience, and only in Japan can I watch a Hitchcock movie in Japan.

So what I am getting at is, I am into culture. But I am not into a definition of Japanese culture as the Kokinshu and Buddhism. I study those as well, but while I am here if I want to devote hours to anime or dating Japanese girls or listening to music, well, that's no less worthy. It seems to me that the culture worth studying now is forward looking, not backward looking. I am interested in "traditional culture" to the extent that it has a role to play in progressive culture - I am NOT interested in stasis as a cultural phenomenon. What I love most about Japanese culture is the way it ties old into new and maintains both, never in stasis but always in flux. Japanese culture is based on the premise that foreign cultural influence can find a niche and be assimilated harmoniously into the whole system.

What could be more in keeping with Japanese culture, then, than watching American movies with British friends?

I realize that this may sound like I am being defensive, and maybe I am to some degree because I was feeling bad about not doing Taiko drumming or keeping up with my kendo. But I don't want to do anything that I don't want to do. I like kendo at university, I suspect I really like kendo in general, but I don't consider myself a failure for not doing it here so far - I simply haven't wanted to deal with the added stress. From here on out I think I will, it depends on schedules and whatnot.

Japanese culture is life in Japan. I don't like devoting time to things I don't care about because they are old. I like devoting myself to things I find interesting, whether they are old or new. As I think about it, I am happy with my cultural experience, playing Japanese video games, watching Japanese movies, dating Japanese girls, drinking Japanese beer - basically being in Japan. Hell, maybe I'm more in keeping with "traditional japanese culture" than some of the people urging me to embrace it, by virtue of my diversity. There's a thought.

Well, that's all written out. Now I need to think about whether or not I believe any of it. I think I might.


I am going to just shift gears and keep writing, I think. I have another hour and a half. How odd that all of my work is done. I could study Japanese but I am not feeling it right now. But I am never feeling it. I like to learn and hate to study, like to do and hate to practice. I s'pose that must make me pretty normal.

I want to go back to Osaka. I would like to live there.

Jon I rather wish I had been there when you watched Versus, it is getting a lot of mention in some of the stuff I've been reading as somehow significant. I guess the director went on to do important things recently. Something about ninjas and samurai and rock and roll. Rebirth of chambara. Tragicomic violence. The stuff of culture.

What the hell is culture anyway? Isn't that just kind of a fancy word for "how people spend their time"?

I have this burning in my head again that I get when I am feeling particularly productive. Last time I had it I came up with about 15 great ideas. We'll see where it takes me, it's kind of been in the process of starting for the past couple of days and it is kicking in today. I wish I could watch Izo again but I had to take it back. Maybe I will play through metal gear 3 tonight. I am surrounded by the magnificant ideas of other people. I feel like the world is moving, shaking its head.

things Changed with the capital (write spelling?) C a couple hundred years ago when "democracy" came on the scene, power structures were shifted (in theory) etc etc etc. I feel like it will happen again. We've been on the cusp for so long. Like the zeitgeist needs to give birth and die.

Maybe the only two important social forces are tension and relaxation. And maybe that's a false distinction, maybe that's not dialectical because relaxation is just the absence of tension, so maybe tension is the only thing and its linear and it keeps going until it resets. And the function of society is to redirect the tension, to pool it into productive puddles, to guide it, essentially to keep it from overflowing. And over the course of human history we have gotten generally better at this, and we've reached the point where we are so good at distributing tension that we are thinking that we have conquered it - and yet it is something that grows forever, the role of this tension is to increase, exponentially. It's like a river and no matter how good we get at siphoning it off and using it to power our city eventually it will break through the dam like the dam wasn't even there. And then we just kind of start over. And that's our wars and our struggles and our revolutions, and even those tend to be sandbagged now and handled but the flood is inevitable right?

Man I don't want to waste my brain fever thinking about abstract social concepts with bad metaphors. All I do is betray a vague idealism hiding with its kid sister naivette on the back of a big fake monster called insight. So maybe it's art, but I don't know anything about art. Someone teach me.

I watched an arty movie last night that I think I liked but the more I think about it the less I like it. It was like too smart for me right because it was a murder mystery and I didn't figure it out until it was revealed. So my reaction is of course ooooh it was clever, but so what. It just had so many red herrings that the only character who didn't seem to be the suspect was the killer, and the more I think about it the less I feel outsmarted and the more I feel like I was had. Jackie said she figured it out, so maybe there was enough there to reveal it but there was no reason to suspect him more than the other guys except that he seemed like a conspiculously irrelevant character. I guess you can solve it like that but that seems really cheap on the part of the movie.

It was called in the cut and you know its arty cuz there was male nudity which caught us all by surprise.

I am writing a fucking lot these last few days. I suspect its just cuz I stopped chatting but then I figure what else should I be doing? I am fulfilling my responsibilities and I don't mean to imply that I am bored here because my mind is just burning so if I don't find some medium to express I am going to go mad. This is the reason I always needed the AIM I think, here I am with nobody to talk to and ideas are just kind of bumping into each other, like r2d2 and 3po in the robot factory in episode 2 where 3po stops and r2 crashes into him and knocks him down. god damn did I just reference a new star wars movie?

They say joyce had an associative mania, a sort of irrepresible desire (I think I spelled that wrong, not desire) to connect ideas or words that didnt really have an inherent connection. I feel like that when I get like this, I think maybe if not being able to talk to people makes me like this then maybe what I should do is isolate myself in the mountains or wipe out humanity or something and then I would create the most complex interwoven creative art the sky had ever seen, I would weave a tapestry connecting every element of everything my mind can reach, or imagine, or imagine reaching.

Write write write I should be studying Japanese but it is so easy it is hard. Memorizing vocabulary words is such a simply process that will take so long that it almost doesnt make sense to do it. I notice that I almost always type simply when I meant to type simple. Why do you suppose that is? Do I have an adverbial bias in expressions of lack of complexity? Does my left index finger have a sort of 45 degree upright slant that only goes into effect when I type simpl?

I am punching my fists together like I always do. My hands have started to hurt like all the time but this has become a sort of nervous tick (no k?) but I always do it even though I am not nervous I just feel kind of wired. All the time. Today nobody wants to hang out so I can do whatever I want by myself whee. Another 70 minutes and I am free to go pursue dreams of everlasting perpetuity.

I got a haircut and ayako went with me to get it so she could help me but she wasnt paying attention cuz she just started mailing on her phone as soon as we got there and didnt look up until I was done and she was like "oh...well it will grow back." The guy had been like "long? short? long? short? what should I do?" and I paniced (+k) and said "uuuuuh anything is okay, good luck." and he laughed and cut my sides short and my top long which my old boss says "oh thats kind of an American style isnt it."

My hands hurt. Arthritis? Rhumatism? Bruising of the bones? There is snow on the mountains, just a dusting. God's bleached skeleton eroded by change.

I don't like the letter k. I think that's why it is involved in about 80% of my typos. It just isn't pretty to me the way m or o are. or l or y. but moly isnt a pretty sound. omly? lymo? lomy? lonely is a beautiful word because it sounds like what it means. like emerald. or pain only its not beautiful just...good. and you gotta like the word beautiful itself, or at least the beau half of it. but the world beau doesnt sound attractive despite its meaning so that's kind of like a double miss but I've never held it against it.

My favorite word might be lineage. not because it sounds like what it means, per se. It kind of looks like what it means, a line through the ages. But also a linear urge - its the soul of humanity, the compulsion to order in a mathematical sense as well as the compulsion to procreation in a biological and social sense, genetic and memetic. And to top it all off, it works both ways, both as backwards looking (ancestry) and forwards looking (descendents). In that sense it incorporates all of human history in a dialectical arrangement contained between the l and the e.

So I think that's an okay favorite word. But I don't find the sound particularly beautiful, so it is flawed - which makes it perfect, in a way.

If you are wondering why you have seen my screenname online at all hours of the day lately, its because I am staying in pats apartment while he is in canada and pat has internet. He also has a real live shower. I will miss it come Sunday. (Come Sunday, it'll be alright...Come Sunday, I'll be holding you tight I spent four lonely days in a brown helly haze and I just want you back by my siiiiiiide...)(5 points if you can get the reference and another 10 if you can point out the glaring inaccuracy). <-- that period is necessary but the one before (Come was superfluous. Do I need a ) now? Even though the ( was an isolated incident and not really opening anything?

Hmm?

) just in case.

Anyway, I may wrap this up. I am really being too prolific.

I want to be a samurai warrior. That would be fun. Then I could die in a battle, consumed by some conflation of rage and fear, and poets could describe it as glorious but my opponent, my 相手, would share with me the burden of the knowledge that there was nothing glorious about it, that it was simply so. And so simply. Simpl

ey.

God I'm going slightly mad (queen song) (they didnt say god) (what the fuck is with my parentheses today?)

Here is my viewing list for the next week or two, until I can track all of these down:

Samurai Fiction, Red Shadow, Azumi, Versus, Aragami, Twilight Samurai, When the Last Sword is Drawn.

I'm either getting mellow or mad. I feel like I am changing rapidly. Or is that the world around me? Is there a distiction? Am I a part of it or it a part of me? Or neither or both? God do I sound like a 15 year old trying to sound intelligent but all I really am is kind of giddy and vaguely tired.

天誅 means "a well deserved punishment from heaven."

I think I am going to wrap this up before God and his bones get jealous of my creative prowess.

B (or not to B?)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

pandering to my pretentious peers prolifically

There's some scene in Shaw's "Man and Superman" (and I know that should be underlined or italicized, but ya know what? I don't...care.) where the ghost of Don Juan is in hell with one of the many ladies he had wooed and she is old and just finally died and got there and he was going on and on about something and she was all pissed that she was in hell and he told her "oh, well you can go to heaven if you want, there's a boat (or something like that) but odds are if you're here it's just cuz you'd like it more here" and yadda yadda yadda and she was all scandalized and there comes a point where there is a debate between Don Juan, the Devil, the woman (Ana's)'s father (who is a statue) and the woman herself. I don't remember what they were debating exactly and this is all out of context but I remembered the punchline when I wrote the title to this entry so bear with me.

Ahem.

[DON JUAN. [somewhat impatiently] My point, you marbleheaded oldmasterpiece, is only a step ahead of you. Are we agreed that Lifeis a force which has made innumerable experiments in organizingitself; that the mammoth and the man, the mouse and themegatherium, the flies and the fleas and the Fathers of theChurch, are all more or less successful attempts to build up thatraw force into higher and higher individuals, the idealindividual being omnipotent, omniscient, infallible, and withalcompletely, unilludedly self-conscious: in short, a god?

THE DEVIL. I agree, for the sake of argument.

THE STATUE. I agree, for the sake of avoiding argument.

ANA. I most emphatically disagree as regards the Fathers of theChurch; and I must beg you not to drag them into the argument.

DON JUAN. I did so purely for the sake of alliteration, Ana]

So yes. I like that Don Juan in a dream of a character in a play by George Bernard Shaw would be clever enough to make a statement purely for the sake of alliteration and then defend it as such.

Am I going off the deep end?

I guess THE point I am trying to make is, you probably have something better to be doing than reading this rambunctious rambling rubbish, but by all bloody babbling means, may you meander meaninglessly through the torrent of trite tepid trivilalities I spew sporadically through this vageuly cyberspacial vacuum of a void.

I am at work now and am getting my work done so well that I am all caught up with everything and waiting for my boss to finish checking it so I can do it again. And my other boss told me my reading has improved a lot, cuz we read out of this dopey book every morning. I used to hate it here but now I think I am finally okay. I think coming in late on the first day of the new year kind of just fixed everything, I now no longer feel like I have to even remotely impress anyone and that leaves me free to just open my head and play by ear and do everything I do for me and not for them. And while that may sound irresponsible and childish, I think in the end it is going to work out best for everyone. It means my opinion of myself as an employee is on par with theirs, and when nakamotosan makes some sort of condescending comment I can laugh cuz I know it's true. The whole thing seems like a bit of a game now, almost. Which is how it should have seemed from the start. So from here on out my most real education begins. This is going well.

I don't mean for that to sound ironic, either. I finally feel free and not scared - this was part of the original plan, it just took a bit longer than I expected. However, I have had this revelation prior to starting my 6month track at the chemical company next month. This means I can go in there confidently. I feel my powers returning. Just a little bit...but it means I'm still in the fight. I was a bit hopeless about this internship, to be honest - but fuck that shit. Now time to get into kendo again. Izo inspired me ;)

Wow, I feel really good today for some reason. Stayed up a bit late last night, reading a book that is >okay< (sorry Jackie, it's okay but I dunno about great or even awesome, though it is original), so I should be really tired. But instead I feel ahead of the game.

Maybe I should have given up AIM at work ages ago. No "told you so" Jon.

No work monday. It is "Adults Day" which I assume has somethign to do with the adult ceremony. Everyone who turns 20 in a given year does the ceremony together, sort of a rite of passage deal where they presumably say "Okay, you can smoke and drink now, have fun."

I let slip to Ayako that I have a blog but told her she can't read it. Is that mean? Probably. I want like nobody in Niihama to read it, this has to be my escape from Niihama. See how special you are, Jackie? And that's two references in one entry. And none to Brian. I like Ayako. I don't think I will fall in love with her, but actually that is a lie I suspect I will and will have a shit year when I go back because I'll be stressing either about having broken up with her or not having broken up with her. But now I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

So I have always been a bit of a pretentious ass and my opinion of myself has always been pretty high (reference my Achilles post) but now my confidence is coming back and it feels a little bit different - I don't feel confident like that I am better than everyone else but rather confident that I can rise to the ocassion, whatever it may be. That seems like a good change, ne? Maybe this trip will fix me. I'd better take a quick foray into random unprotected sex and heavy drug use just in case.

In all seriousness though I feel on top of the world like I can look at anything and walk away with something from it. I feel clever but not superior, sharp but not bladed. This is such an odd mood.

Now I may go on a bernard shaw kick. Too bad there are no books around here. I need to finish Ulysses. Apparently Penelope isn't actually the name of Bloom's wife but rather the title of the last episode. . As someone felt the need to point out to me. . Because somehow it is even remotely possible that I wouldn't know that. . But I digress. That being a lifestyle choice, remember.

Oh, madness and vanity. I hate books. Almost as much as I hate music and movies. Which is to say not that I hate them but that I feel oppressed by them. I love them but as soon as you open the door to one good all of human creation is knocking and trying to get in, it's almost like it's better to lock the door and play video games. Which of course are the same thing but not yet coated with all the pretention.

I like it here. I like my girlfriend, I like my friends, I like my lifestyle, I like the snowy mountains out my window, I like my job (!!), and I'll be damned but I'm starting to like me. Now for kendo and health. I get out of breath easily. I used to be able to run 15 miles. Sigh.

Miike on Izo

"I had a wonderful time making this film. It doesn't fit any genre. It is simply an assassin's massacre. You might say it is complicated. I know it is complicated. It is really hard to understand. But I don't care.

All I want to say in this film is that how you can be a human being until the end of this world. That's all, and I want you to feel know that." [sic]

食い倒れ

By the way, I managed to get my hands on a DVD of the newly released Izo. If you remember, this is the ultraviolent Miike Takashi epic about a samurai propelled by his rage at being killed through time in space in a seemingly unreasonable killing spree. Men, women, children - he mows everyone down. I can understand very little of it because most of the characters speak in archaic samurai-lingo, but I do get that every time a new group of killers tries to stop him they tell him to stop and he just kills them, or they ask what he hopes to accomplish and he just lunges at them and cuts them to shreds. I am only halfway through the movie because Ayako made me turn it off when she came over yesterday. But I look forward to the inevitable showdown. He is simply infuriated with the very notion of power structures - when he is killed in the beginning he is crucified, and looks like a japanese jesus, down the lance piercing in the side. And then piercing...and then piercing...and then piercing. This is very violent. I just wish it had subtitles. He had just chopped his mother in half when Ayako got there. Can't wait to see where it goes. He looked pretty horrified as she held her torso up between two trees and yelled at him with blood dripping from where her lower body used to be.

One thing I do know is that one of the gods sort of whistfully/admiringly calls him "irrationality incarnate."

On a side note, the phrase "kuidaore" (食い倒れ)means "to bring ruin upon oneself through extravagent eating habits."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

slurm!

Osaka Adventures

So Brian came to visit me on the 29th and I showed him Niihama. That took about 3 hours, and then Ayako and Alison joined us for a big dinner and some karaoke. The next day we met with Alison for lunch and she hooked us up with a map of Osaka and basic travel advice. Now bear in mind that prior to departure I still kinda thought that Jackie was dead and I wasn’t even certain that we were going to meet Alex and Hitomi there. So the map and brief Osaka lecture were greatly appreciated, I felt a bit better about the whole trip.

Then we went out to Saijo to pay a sneak visit to Ayako’s family’s sporting goods store. They have a ton of stuff, I swear it was the contents of like Dick’s or something but packed into a dorm room, Japan is nuts like that. Ayako’s dad sold me the nicest shinai I have ever held, and he gave me like a 20% discount, so that was cool. Afterwards I guess he told Ayako that I am an いい男, which was nice of him. She says she wants to introduce me to her family. Note that going to their sports shop on the sly wasn’t an introduction. But I got a cool sword out of it for 4000 yen, so that was good.

So after that, Brian and I bought some booze and snacks (as per Alison’s ferry advice) and headed to the Osaka ferry. It is an overnight run where we leave Niihama at 840 and make it to Osaka at 5am, and the ferry was like some sort cruise ship which surprised me. I mean yeah I slept on the floor with a bunch of snoring old men but there is a karaoke lounge and a piano lounge (note there was no pianist, the piano seemed to have a radio in it, but hey, it’s the thought that counts), and a sneakily hidden lounge for high paying customers in the front of the boat. Some deductive exploration put me and Brian in the latter with a few packs of beer and some snacks and we just sort of chilled there for a few hours until a few young couples came in and turned on the lights and the TV. By that time though I was pretty tired. We hit the bath before I crashed, and there we met a guy named Koji. I was too worn out to be very sociable, but he and Brian chatted it up for a few hours I guess. That was good, more on that in a bit.

So anyway I crashed and woke up in Osaka and went to take another bath and got my stuff together and when we got off the ferry it was raining, and by the time we left the port district it was snow. No worries.

So we get to the train terminal basically leaving the port district and going to Osaka and stood around like a couple of apes with our tongues lolling out in front of the big computer display automated ticket dispenser machine. Lots of Kanji, it seemed pretty bleak even in spite of all of Alison’s help – when who shows up but Koji-san from the baths the night before. He asks us where we are going and we tell him Umeda as that’s where Alison told us to go first and he said he was going there as well, so we went together. He guided us effortlessly through enough train transfers that I suspected we’d have been fucked without him, and then introduced us to all of the shopping and such around Umeda – which, as it turns out, was all closed because it was still like 830 am and new years eve morning at that. So he took us a restaurant where I had beef curry for breakfast. I was going to pay for him but he beat me to the draw and we were both thrusting bills at the poor kid behind the counter and in the end the kid panicked and took Koji’s money. So he treated. Then he led us back to the Umeda station and we parted company.

Brian, in the meantime, was half hungover and half exhausted and couldn’t really communicate. Koji and I exchanged English and Japanese definitions of “hangover” (二日酔い)and had a few laughs at his expense.

Anyway from there we kind of wandered around a bit and got lost and then got an email from Jackie to my delight because it meant she was alive. She told us where the hotel was and whatnot so we spent an hour or two working our way to it and then another hour finding it. Japanese addresses are vague – they are just not exact, so it is weird. The numbering of buildings and districts, while not quite arbitrary, lacks the regimented structure one might expect from such things, and the result is that even natives often have a hard time giving directions that are more than “Somewhere over there”. So it was fun to find the hotel in the sleet, and I mean that non-ironically I enjoyed it because it was vaguely cold and vaguely miserable but there was a warm place waiting for us as soon as we became clever enough to find it. It just seemed really cosmically fair, though Brian was not amused.

From there, we went to Amerika-mura, which is Japanese for America-town, much like we’d have a Chinatown or Little Italy. Ah, you may think, I wonder what elements of American culture make it into Amerika-mura? What is the functional definition of America as implemented by the Japanese youth culture in one of the busier youth spots in Osaka?
Well, gentle reader (actually, I don’t know where this expression came from. “gentle reader”? I mean come on…and yet it is indeed an expression, if a bit in the way of archaic. So just be gentle so’s no to make a liar of me.), I will tell you. Amerika-mura is basically a grid about 3 blocks in any direction where they are playing really hip music really loud, wearing the most tricked out clothing I’ve seen in Japan, sitting around or shopping in the street, eating everything from McDonald’s to theoretical Mexican Food, etc. In short, it’s a district devoted to chilling out and being cool while looking good. Many of you would absolutely hate it.

After that, it was time to meet up with Jackie and Tricia, so we went back to the Namba district to find them, after some vague confusion, and led them to the hotel. Then the four of us went back to Amerika-mura and searched around for a mythical Mexican restaurant foretold in scripture and Jackie’s drug-addled memory of her last trip to Osaka. Not a single person in Amerika-mura had ever heard of it, so after some debate we settled on…ramen. Bleh. But it was okay, actually, the pork was enormous and the whole set was only 800 yen and there was rice and gyoza and salad.

Salad in Japan, by the way, usually means shredded cabbage with some sort of mayonnaise-based goo on it. You get used to it, then you start to like it.

Anyway, we ate, then Jackie and Tricia went to the hotel for a nap while Brian and I did some shopping in Amerika-mura. We stumbled into some store that had Lupin III hoodies outside, so I was intrigued, and then suddenly Brian is in the back and these huge guys are encouraging him to try on really slick jackets. Nothing in the store had prices on it. When we were both in the back, the entire staff of this store kind of closed in and blocked off all of the exits. I was, quite frankly, a little bit nervous, but Brian was getting sweet talked by the guys trying to sell him clothing (“Are you half Japanese or quarter? Oh, that looks so good on you…”) and didn’t notice anything amiss. I sort of casually pushed past the gorilla closest to me and hovered around the exit until Brian was done. When he opened his wallet to pay, I saw the one guy look in and kinda shake his head at the other ones while saying something really fast. I am gonna assume that it’s because Brian only had like 20,000 on him and was spending half of it on a coat. I swear they were going to jump us. But when that guy waved them off they all kinda looked bored and started milling around again. But maybe I’m paranoid.

Anyway, then we went back to the hotel and I took a nap for a few hours before the evening’s festivities.

Got up at 8, showered, put on my most stylish clothing (which consisted of my Mega Man tee shirt and a black zipper sweatshirt my parents sent me (thanks parents)) and we were off. We went to an Irish pub, where I had nachos for the first time in what seemed like 10 years. Then the heavy drinking commenced, and we were all having a grand old time when the countdown took place.

We met a group of hip locals there, “led” by a really irritating fat kid that could speak some English. He hung with us, bought me a few drinks and wanted to talk about Professional Wrestling and the Backstreet Boys. That was cool, I figure so many people have been nice to me out here I can be nice to this guy. Always someone wants to practice English in the bar they say. He also said that Jackie and Tricia were gorgeous and wanted introductions, but seemed slightly put off when I told him they weren’t 24, young and spry though they may seem.

Anyway afterwards these guys took us to some club where we danced for a while. It was a little too small, a little too crowded, and the music was bad enough that even I thought it was bad, and I am the least critical in our group. Except Brian, who was having such a wonderful time dancing with some tiny girl all night that we left him there when we took off a few hours later. We told him she was probably older than he thought but he didn’t listen.

The next day I called his room to see if he got back and he picked up sounding like death. Apparently she was 27 and he had walked back to the hotel alone. Oh well. I showered and missed the hotel breakfast by about 30 seconds. Oh well. We sat around for a while and then said goodbye to Brian who would go back to Tokyo from there and me and Jackie and Tricia and Alex and Hitomi (we did meet them, they had been with us all night) headed for the subway, where Alex and Hitomi left us and then me and Jackie and Tricia wandered around a bit, discovered a lot of closed shops, and went to the ferry.

We were taking the day ferry back, so 1pm-8pm ish. We played cards and played yahtzee and ate and ate and sang karaoke. Not necessarily in that order or spelling (yatzee?).

Then we got back. Ayako came over, watched a movie, went to bed, bummed around for two days, today is work.

I overslept and was 30 mins late on the first work day of 2005. Everyone smiled when I came in. Ah well.

I am not meant for this life, but I am having a great time in Japan. I just wish I were better to the company, which is my new years resolution. Bad start though. But I have made an effort to be more friendly and have decided not to use AIM at work except on lunch break. For real this time.

Peace and happy new year.

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