Thursday, May 31, 2007

the free market

Remember this anytime a conservative tells you how important the free-market is to them. Of course it isn't. The rigged market is. Obviously this company is doing exactly what capitalism calls for and responding to consumer demand. But that can't really happen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I think another byproduct of working on a novel is that, when you read other people's work, you can't help but notice really well written sentences, even when they are not particularly noteworthy.
I have been reading Hunter S. Thomson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. I have been planning several long, political posts on this. First, however, let's address this one sentence which I can't get unhung-up on. Behold:

The parade ended at the east end of Custer in front of Scott's Rock Shop, which sells rocks.

I don't want to overdo this point, but when you think way too much about writing, this stuff starts to matter to you.


Even though I haven't thought about her in a while, reading Cindy Sheehan's retirement letter this week was absolutely heartbreaking. What more did anybody want from her? In a time when everybody is a PR polished, used car salesman, she was raw and didn't always put things the way everyone would like her to. Who cares? What would you do if your child was killed for someone else's ego. It is sick that people would call her names and tear her down. Democracy is supposed to be messy and hard and we only want it smooth and easy. The fact that someone like Cindy Sheehan would have to worry about her finances and the names she has been called after what she has tried to do for our country is shameful. Does she present things the way I would want someone to? Not always, but what does it matter. If everyone could care and give as much as she has. Sad. I hope she realizes what she has done someday. Power is a monster and it will beat you down.

never go to kyoto eki mae DoCoMo

I thought I would stop by the DoCoMo Shop in front of Kyoto Eki on my way home from work. I walked into the empty store, the staff were standing around smiling like they had been under the counter at the Beanery hitting up whippits. I went to the machine that spits out numbers and asked (sorry, still no Japanese fonts) in my most polite Japanese, "I want to pay my bill, do I need one of these tickets?" Everyone smiled uncomfortably so I asked again. One young man with an absurd haircut smiled at me like I was a retarded child and said, "Please wait here for a minute." I figured out quickly what was going on, but I wonder why he thinks I would understand "Sho sho machi kudasai" if I can't speak Japanese. A balding middle manager in an ill fitting shirt and a badly tied tie scurried out from the back, his eyes a beady. "Can I help you?" He asked with an oddly incompetent accent. "Yes, I just want to pay my bill." I said in Japanese. Everyone who worked there just stood around uncomfortably. "You fucking morons." I murmured. The middle manager persisted in speaking to me in broken English until I finally overwhelmed him and he spoke in calculated, ultra-polite Japanese.
I try to be more understanding about these things than Brett, but this time really got to me. I know that many stores, especially in Kyoto, have to deal with foreigners who wander in off the street speaking all kinds of gibberish. I understand that. But do they ever process how disrespected and dehumanized you feel when you say something in completely normal Japanese to someone and all they can do is look at you like your lobotomy must have been traumatizing. What I said was absolutely correct, and the only thing that kept them from understanding that was their own small minds diseased with their own preconceptions. That is what happens when you are taught what your image of foreigners should be. If I have a DoCoMo phone and I am saying that I want to pay my bill, in very polite Japanese, shouldn't they assume that I know what I am talking about and deserve to be treated like a human being.
It occurred to me as I left, swearing I would never come back, that that is one of the big factors in my hatred of my current job. That is the same, patronizing dismissive way I am treated everyday.

Monday, May 28, 2007


it is odd. i have no sympathy for any animal poachers and feel that we should ere in the extreme towards preventing species extinction. yet when i read this, i think "so?" i know that is ridiculous. i want to fight people over their stance on whaling. i would have no problem putting all animal exploiting businesses out of service immediately. but i am a surfer, and as irrational and statistically improbable it is; i am terrified of sharks. i always have been. i am sure that their disappearance would cause great unseen faults to open in our ecosystem. i am sure that something wonderful will have been lost. if they were a mollusk or a reptile i would argue that you have to understand that even the smallest creatures not only have a right to exist, they might play a part in our survival. when it comes to sharks...i just don't care. i know it is my fault. i spend every second i surf- and i love surfing- imagining something tracking me, panicking about something that will never happen. if i were told that all of a sudden there were no more bull or tiger sharks, a secret cheer would go up in my heart. i would know that that cheer represented an attitude that i find intolerable in others, but my fear is primeval, not rational. fuck a bunch of sharks.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

oh shit!


here we go again

Well, it appears that another thing that I love is about to be exploded onto the mainstream. Liddell is fighting Rampage again. Gone are the days when Rogan would mispronounce his name "LIIdel." For the record, I think Chuck will probably win because the roll that he is on is a little too viscous to be stopped by a mortal, and Rampage, no mortal in his prime, has seemed to be on the backside of his career for a while now. That being said, I bet on Rampage over on Subfighter. ESPN carried the weigh-ins live. This is ridiculous. Is Fugazi going to be on TRL this week? All of this hype has the ability to raise Ramapge to the superstar status that his personality has always been cut out for. If he wins this fight-which he is perfectly capable of- all of the media and fan attention will immediately swing to him. If you follow MMA, you know what Rampage does with media attention. Rampage and a camera are like the oceans and the sun. If he maintains the title with a long run of defenses-which he is perfectly capable of-he will have come in at just the right time and be the biggest star the sport has ever seen. Somewhere, Paul Varlens and Keith Hackney are crying softly. Actually, thinking about it, this must be killing Mark Coleman. Good, I know it's killing me. Bye-bye MMA. I hope the world treats you nice.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

speaking of which...

summer, check this shit out!! i was at that show. it was when they opened for wesley willis and dave concluded every song with "rock over london, rock on chicago" and wesley willis told me "get the fuck out of my way." now if someone would only post car vs. driver I might break down in tears of strangeness.....

why did they hijack our music?

it used to be so beautiful...

by the way, it's funny seeing davey off to the left. i always forget he was in this band as i only had their 7" for years before i bought their album.


Last night I went to see Tenniscoats at Urban Guild down on Kiyamachi. I was a little hesitant to walk back through the scene of my earlier encounter.... There was nothing wrong with Tenniscoats, a lot that was very good in fact. It is just very hard for me to watch music when I am not playing it. I am so bad at being a fan of anything, which would be a good trait if I ever got to actually do something. I recommend listening to Tenniscoats. They were a lot like American Football without the kick-ass drumming. It is just that I come away feeling that it is the kind of music that I can play in my sleep but... well. There is no try I guess. Koji's band, also played, but I was late. It is nice, however, to live in a town where I can walk down the street and see live music. Urban Guild is quite a nice set up. It is like watching music in a cave with good beer and wooden tables. At some point I want to see a band at Urban Guild who looks like they posses an insatiable need to play music. I want to witness someone yell and scream and talk between songs instead of whispering, "I am really embarrassed." And then fiddiling with their capo before playing the first chord. Oh well. I am a little pentecostal when it comes to music. Just grab the fucker by the throat and play it like it is killing you. Not that kind of scene I guess.

I meant to stay up until 3:45 and watch the UEFA finals at Hub but I fell asleep. Only so much excitement I can take.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

kyoto fu

I was walking down Sanjo, towards the shotengai, to attempt to pay my rent. I have been reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and was thinking about writing a post about it. I was going through all the money quotes that Hunter S. has had over the years. Probably the money of the money quotes is "when the going gets weird, the weird turns pro." I was ruminating on that, and how maybe I wasn't completely out of the loop on life, I have just become such a pro that I had to flee to where the weird reigns supreme.
As I crossed Sanjo Ohashi I saw these two Japanese guys in front of me dressed like complete morons, with ratty dyed blond hair. One of them was staggering but they didn't appear to be drunk. They were aggressively fucked up. Two things about Japan:

1) No one will stop on the street and help anyone or try to fix something that is wrong.
2) No one has the ability to recognize those that are fucked up hard.

These two were bumping into people and staring at them afterwards. I was right behind them and I thought, "Jesus, I am going to fight one of these guys in the next minute or so." The shorter one, the one on the right, with the sweat pants, ran into an old man in front of the Lawson and stopped to glare at him. I walked around them and felt them fall in behind me. I thought they might just walk into me from behind. A young man approached on a bike and recognized to girls walking in front of me. They stopped to say hello and moved off to the side. I stepped around them. The dumbass on the left walked up to him and kicked his bike. I stopped on the corner of Kiyamachi and watched. The young man looked like he had no idea what to do and the girls looked a little freaked. He bowed slightly and apologized as the two fucked up jack-offs surrounded him and started to get in his face. I am never sure about how I make these decisions. I don't think I really 'make' them. I walked back and grabbed both of the guys from behind and started dragging them off down the street. The odd part is that somehow in this process, I lost the ability to speak Japanese. Somehow, that little split second that it takes you to speak your not-native language was replaced with the split second of dragging two fucked up on something douches consideration. I looked up and realized people were staring. Of course. This is one of the biggest streets in the biggest tourist city in Japan. Two foreign guys rounded the corner and I was kind of looking at them. So I had these two guys by their throats and I am looking around trying to decide how to explain the situation to everyone. Then they start yelling at me, the two tweaked out guys, I wish they had just punched me so that my reflexes would have kicked in and I could have smashed them. It is so strange, after training to fight for these last two or three years, it was really the last thing on my mind. I was trying to think what to say, to them, and to everyone who might have seen this. Some Japanese guy, with fancy hair and a nice shirt, appeared and did the Japanese version of breaking something up
; he tried to make everyone feel that they were right and it was all okay. Now my verbal ability kicked in. (I apologize for not having Japanese fonts right now) "Who the fuck are you two?" I yelled. "I watched you all the way down the street. You want to fight somebody you don't know?" Unfortunately this probably sounded like I was just asking questions, not that I was out to destroy them. The shorter one offered oddly, "The guy hit me with his bike." "Shut up. Fuck you. No he didn't" Now the guy with the nice shirt, is looking at me like I am the ass and I just need to let it go. Very Japanese. He keeps waving me away saying, "It's okay now." No it isn't. People that walk around looking for a fight, deserve to get it.
As I left the scene and continued to the bank one of the girls came up and thanked me for helping her friend. That was nice.
At the bank my wire transfer was all messed up and I had to call the home office and speak very polite Japanese to get my password unlocked. I think I stressed more about that then choking two guys with dyed blond hair, tweaked out of their minds, at the same time on a street corner.
Oh pro indeed. This is a very rough version full of typos. I will fix it later.

Monday, May 21, 2007

the split shift

I worked 13 minutes short of 12 hours today. It was a split shift, which tests one's mental stability and discipline. On paper they look good. Sure, you work for five hours and then are off for three. Except that you really work for six and are off for two. Plus, once you start working you are never off. You can't just downshift. As I have a commuter pass I can go between Kyoto and Seta as many times as I want with no additional charge so I took the train back to Kyoto so I could eat at Subway for 15 minutes and turn around and head back. But trains are nice, and you can read on them, and my boss can't find me.
So, I'm finishing up my second class of the evening. I am assigning the students two sentences for homework:

My house is next to______. My house is across from_____.

Suddenly, through the large sliding door, my boss comes bounding in, panicked and angry in her odd, baseless way. "We don't teach them 'across from!'" She chides. This isn't the first time that she has interrupted my class to give me information that I have no interest in. Actually, at the moment, my boss's opinion lies somewhere on my personal scale of importance between the dump that my upstairs neighbor took yesterday-at the exact moment it was passing through the pipe next to my apartment, as that was the only moment it had any actual relevance to me-and a random wino's pre-cancerous prostate- in the sense that it would be a shame that anyone acquired cancer and wasn't aware of it when it could have been treated. That is how I feel about my boss's announcement that "we don't teach 'across from.' That's what I told you in the office." Flash back a few hours beforehand when I am wasting my lunch hour preparing for this class. The folder, in which my boss outlines what she wants the students to be taught that day, reads "Location." I ask her what she means by location, whether she means the bank, or Antarctica. "No," she responds, "Like 'next to' or 'between.'" "Oh, prepositions." I say. "Yes. I guess. Is that what they are called? Prepo....." You can see what a moron I am. Clearly my familiarity with the adposition family uniquely brands me as a substandard teacher. I had inadvertently taught my students a way to describe things that face each other.
This is every day at my work. Or, when things are going well, there is the oppressive threat of this being everyday. That is why I hate my job. My boss's English is worse than my Japanese and yet she is free to charge into my classroom at anytime and declare me incompetent. And then to glare at me as if I had just asked the students if I could rub up against them furiously while wearing tight jeans. This after I witnessed her talking to some four year-olds about their 'unvisible' cake. Fucking moron. If she had the ability to read this far into the post, I will give her this month's salary back and leave. I already told her to fire me. When you live through a year with no job, finding the cheapest place to buy potatoes and digging change from between your tatami mats, you really don't give a shit about whether you can hang on to another meaningless job. The sad part is that it could be a great job. The kids are great. The program could be pretty solid. But all the strings are pulled by an incompetent control freak whose confidence far exceeds her ability. Isn't that always the way?

happy birthday mom!

I asked for a plastic shrimp peeler and my mom sent it to me. I broke it trying to take it out of the package Saturday attempting to teach the children to make gumbo, which they hated. Is that in any way a metaphor for our relationship? Probably not. I hope the Braves win and American Idol is on with Don Williams as a special guest.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I recently completed Simon Winchester's The Map That Changed the World; William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology. As the bulk of my reading was done on the seventeen minute train ride between Kyoto Station and my soul-crushing, futile job, I initially took away the message of Smith's consistentlyhopeless efforts to have anyone notice his noble efforts and internalized it.

A large section of the book deals with Smith's exclusion by his betters at the Geological Society of London, mainly George Greenough. Smith labored in relative obscurity, known only to the most rabid of enthusiasts, as the authorities in the Society shaped the growing field of geology around him. Slowly things began to change:

"A new breed of scientists...who accorded as much honor to the practical men, the men who went out into the field in the damp and chill and happily dirtied their hands in the finding of facts, as to the theorists and thinkers in what was, after all, a fundamentally practical field of study."

Slowly I began to see Smith's struggle in a larger context. For some reason I pictured, completely apart from the field of geology, Amy Goodman- charisma vacuum that I feel she is notwithstanding- laboring away in her firehouse. I pictured people I will never hear of, powered shakily onward by a day's worth of caffeine, bringing me information that I wasn't even aware I needed. I pictured a kid at the local college station, absent even a trace ounce of personality, tracking down an interview because they think it is important that people hear it.
It was as these thoughts were murkily lurking in the back of my mind that Brian Williams' words of April 4th came to my attention:

"You're going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I'm up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn't left the efficiency apartment in two years."

In the book Thomas Webster describes the members of the Geological Society as:

"...a band of busy, jealous, active and revengeful witlings who have gained and kept their asendancy partly from contempt, partly from the indolence of others."

I had, for the last few years, viewed the contemporary media through the paradigm laid out in the description of scouts and GMs presented in Moneyball. That is to say that they are a bunch of marginal charlatans whose own job security is maintained only by convincing people that they must exist, even when their own effectiveness is seriously in question. Those in the hierarchy of the Geological Society seemed to be partaking of the fruit of the same rotten tree. Surely media is growing and changing, as it always has. Surely there are flawed people who will be often wrong and people with false motivations as well as people who are well-intentioned yet pathetically ineffective. Yet:

"There was tension in particular once such men began not simply to rise but to overwhelm and displace the smug 'little coterie' whose fossil collectors' dining club it originally was."

I suppose one can't blame people for protecting their racket, yet when it comes at the expense of society at large-not to mention at great personal cost to those on the wrong end- our betters should be able to realize that their are simply playing out an old and tried role and step back and reflect on how they could function to the larger good of society. Even the Geological Society now gives awards in Smith's name.

science is interesting, if you don't think so, fuck you

I've been watching the Beyond Belief forum from last fall. Mainly I've been watching because I enjoy listening to smart people talk about smart things. The argument about religion vs. is science is one that finds me-much like abortion rights arguments- strangely ambivalent. That isn't to say that I think abortion should be illegal or that religion and science are both valid in equal portions. I don't think any of that stuff. Rather, I don't feel myself given over to strong emotions in either of these venues. I am interested in the conversation, and certainly find that I have things to say, but my enthusiasm investment is lacking.

Of course this conference exists in the orbit of the inimitable Richard Dawkins. I very much enjoy Dr. Dawkins, but I am starting to think that he might be the Anthony Bourdain of the science world. Bourdain probably isn't the greatest chef in the world, or the most knowledgeable expert on food -although he is assuredly far above average- but he is the most well-spoken, the best writer, and boundlessly enthusiastic. I find myself disagreeing with Bourdain on many counts but I always find myself listening to him. I feel the same pull to Dawkins. I am certain I am not alone in this respect, hence his ubiquitousness. Watching some of the other scientists, namely Joan Roughgarden, find themselves on the wrong end of Dawkins verbal cudgel, one can only shake their head and chuckle. I don't mean to imply that he is anything less than an amazing scientist, rather that he will always have a natural advantage over other amazing scientists in that he is a bad-ass motherfucker. His absolute, uncompromising nature is completely appealing and yet, to a large degree, absolutely futile. I think, in his great zeal, he has left out two very important considerations:

1. (this is the most important consideration on any subject) People don't give a shit. Really. they don't. Most people will never, ever care.(and if you think it is bad for science, try writing music) The best you can do is do the science, represent the science, and hope that means something.

2. (this is the argument I make) If it wasn't religion, it would be something else. Dawkins envisions a world without religion. You know what people would believe in then? Bad science. Why? Because people are stupid. And I say that with the utmost respect for people. If everyone threw down the yoke of belief immediately and took up the rigors of the laboratory, dinner conversation would center around such epoch-making revelations as, "Say ma, did you know your toenails keep growin' after you done died?" Nothing, really, would change. Of course his counter argument would be something to the effect of, "No, they wouldn't believe such trifling if they applied the scientific method and cared about the truth." But you see, there is the flaw. No matter what the focus, most people's brains just don't seem to work that way.(and I should be very specific that I don't mean that as a question of biological brain function-although it very well might be- i intend it in a far broader sense) I think we will keep progressing and keep growing, but people will never fully understand everything they see and hear and they will make shit up to fill in the blanks. Moreover, and this is where Dawkins really misses out I think, they will enjoy doing it. Making things up is fun. Thinking that baby Jesus was born on Christmas, or that dead people's hair keeps growing, or that Willy Mays was a 'three manhole man' feels good, even if it isn't really true.

In any case, watch the series if you get a chance. What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

the irish hand grenade

this story rules. it's just temporary. 'kids! it'll grow back!" what would your fighting name be? i still think i would go with "hates you." read after my name, instead of in the middle.

because it's friday, you ain't got a job and you ain't got shit to do

I work ten hour Friday's. In the mornings a little boy named Ryo, who's mother is Chinese and a little girl named Miho who's mother is Filipino, both come to the school. They ended up just hanging out with me while all of the other kids sat around the table making origami. I don't know if the other kids realize that they are half-Japanese, or if they realize it themselves, but they seem more comfortable around me and a little uneasy with everyone else. Miho gets so nervous and you can see her beginning to cry if you don't make sure she is occupied with something. Ryo just likes to jump on my back. My job should be fun.. It is not. There is nothing in Seta, in stark contrast to Kyoto and I ended up eating lunch at McDonald's, which I would never come near in America. For some reason most restaurants are not open between 2 and 4, which is my lunch break. I mentioned this to a girl I work with who responded, "People eat lunch around 12." No, I am an American. I eat lunch whenever I fucking feel like it. Speaking of which I woke up at 4am and now the sun is coming up. Great. Going to teach the kids how to make gumbo today. Why do I hate my job? Fell asleep watching Beyond Belief. Pretty decent. Forgot my bike keys so I took the Keihan to Shichijo and walked to Kyoto Eki. Keihan still rules after all of these years with it's plush green interior. If you come to Kansai, take the Keihan. Now I am tenously
awake and have to get up in two hours. The sun is coming up and I know that my Saturday will suck because I will roam it like a zombie. Why won't somebody just give me a job writing. I read today and one guy just had a page of "hottest sports movie girlfriends." Jesus, like I couldn't do that all day? Does Woody Harrelson Nailing Lucy Liu in a parking lot count as 'girlfriend'? Does 'Play it to the Bone' count as a sports movie? Give me a job!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


walking through Teramachi with Tracy this afternoon. Discovered odd purple pants with an array of buckles and suspenders that bore the message, "You Say Mad Punks, We Say Fuck You!" Couldn't agree more. I'll go back for a picture.

yeh summer, you right

Yesterday I had to walk my bike to Demachiyanagi (sorry, my Japanese fonts aren't functioning right now) to get a flat fixed. The owner/ukulele instructor of the bike shop told me it would take about twenty minutes to fix so I wandered up towards Kamigamo Jinja looking for some coffee. Little did I know. A small stream ran under giant, arching trees tied with shimenawa. Time was coming to head back to the bike shop but I am driven to wander, especially towards water sources. Just inside the main gate to the actual shrine, the stream bends hard to the East. A vermilion bridge spans the stream where it becomes enclosed in stone and squared by two staircases. The shrine was gigantic and there might have been five other people inside. Displayed on one of the outer walls were photos from the early Taisho Era of children washing their feet in the stream. As I turned back towards the bike shop I passed through a neighborhood that was flanked by the grounds to the shrine and the stream, as it flowed down to Kamo-gawa. Lovely.

You're right, Summer, I should give up on that because you got a taste for Joe Patti's and Taco Bell. Wait a second. Taco Bell. Hmmm. A compelling argument.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

anglo-french word pairings

I have been caught up with this lately. I feel like it is something I must have known and then forgotten. I get asked a lot of questions about why some things are the way they are in English. Usually I will just answer, "Because it is English." If the questioner is somewhat of a sophisticate, I will expound on how English is a bastard child of various European fluctuations. I didn't realize, or had forgotten, that a lot of our synonyms, or near synonyms are a direct byproduct of 1066.

The explanation is probably slightly too simplistic, but goes something like this: After the Francophone Norman Invasion, French became the language of the ruling classes in England. Most of the commoners, however, didn't speak the language, conversely, the ruling classes didn't speak so much Middle English. They also didn't do so much raising of livestock, only consuming it. Consequently, words describing the livestock remained through to Modern English in their Middle English forms. Words for the meat product of those animals reflect their French ancestors. Hence: Cow/Beef.

Here is a further explanation.

Here are some examples:

pig/pork, cow/beef, wood/forest, sheep/mutton, house/mansion, worthy/honorable, bold/courageous, chicken/poultry.

Any more?

didn't mean to

post only youtube links...but this is awesome

edit: investigated further. viewed this week's episode of Panorama from the BBC. John Sweeney, seen yelling in this video, was reporting on The Church of Scientology, who are fucking insane. He should have done more than screamed at them. He should have beaten Anne Archer's vile discharge back into her dusty, disused ova. I realize no one reads this and so it doesn't matter but; fuck Scientology. Please come follow me around and tell me how angry you are. Please!!! The is why there is no Northwest Florida Broadcasting Corporation. "Hey, remember those Scientologist guys who were following us around?" "You mean the ones what got a flare shot through their windshield and beat with a length of hose?" "Yup. Too bad we can never, ever, air that episode...ever"
Jesus, their own defense of their ridiculous, aviator sunglass infected, self-fellating, carnival circus tent game of multi-million dollar soggy biscuit looked more like the character witnesses from Corey Haim's bail hearing. Oh really? Julliette Lewis says it's ok? Great then. Should we check with Martha Plimpton just to be safe.
Again, Scientology, you are a two-bit circus cult for rich assholes who believe that self-help and career advancement are the same thing. Really? You help people? Well, sickle cell anemia also prevents malaria, but nobody really wants the shit now do they? Here's an idea: sell your million dollar centers, quit using celebrities for back-up and go live real lives that don't require you to belittle and intimidate other people because they might find out the secret that you have been trying so hard to hide from yourself, namely that you are insane!
Scientologists, I beg you to follow me around(not that I have any relevance to any situation outside of playing catch with pre-schoolers and running non-profit companies into the ground.) Maybe your child's precious first words can be, "Daddy, why do you walk with a limp?"

books i have read

since we last met.

Stalingrad-Antony Beevor: For the second time. It rocks. Highly recommended.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend-Laura Hillenbrand: Amazing. I have no interest in horse racing but this book is captivating. Tom Smith is one of the most profoundly American characters on paper. Rewatching the movie, which had surprised me with its excellence, was somehow lacking. Still the Smith character is inspiring to me.

Ripley's Game-Patricia Highsmith: Very well crafted. Interesting without having a catch. Compelling without having a hero. Makes one long for Europe. The movie was garbage. The only time I can recall wanting to smack Malkovich of the screen. The plot was driven by cell phone conversations, decidedly outside the sharp tone of the book.

The Talented Mr. Ripley-Patricia Highsmith: I re-read this after finishing Ripley's Game. Better the second time. Maybe it is being in the middle of writing a novel that makes me respect Highsmith more. She is so right-on and precise. Each chapter is like a cheap, furnished, room that you rent and when first entering worry that it doesn't have anything you need, but you never figure out what else you could have put in it. She writes the kind of books that you make excuses to yourself saying that John Grisham writes when you get caught with his books on tape.

The Map that Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology- Simon Winchester: What a rad book. Good writers, Intelligent people, can make you care about something that you really have no motivating interest in. Horse racing for instance, or geology. I plan to wirte a longer essay about this book shortly. It is inspiring and terrifying. It harkens bakc to the odd disharmony I felt when I read Endeavor and Joe Gould's Secret back to back. Unsettling to read about a genius who can't get his shit together and anytime he does, he are thwarted by their betters. I must go and see this map.

moral of the story

Hikari Fiber isn't coming. They will tell you they are coming. You can beg them to come. They aren't. You will have to yell and scream and stamp your feet and wait around on your only day off while they go to the wrong apartment and tell you that it isn't your fault but it will take another month. I hoped to quickly resume posting. I had many profound and insightful things to say about this wonderous city. I had articles saved up and topics to write about. I was going to tell you about the night I climbed through an old graveyard and snuck behind an old temple to look down on the city at sleep. I was going to talk about how my rented bike is a cumbersome death-trap while my loyal Trek, trapped on Chad's roof in Miyazaki, is slick, liquid, justice. I could have talked about new people and given advice on moving here. Now all I have to say is, "Don't believe Hikari Fiber, and never, ever, under any circumstances, sign a contract with Friend's International Pre-School." I doubt anyone looks at this anymore but it is imporant to get writing again so..with a whimper........bang

attempting to silence the voices in my head.