Thursday, June 28, 2007

soccer roundup

DaMarcus Beasely signed with the Glasgow Rangers: That should be rad. The Scottish Premiere League plays a rough and tumble style which, surprisingly, suits the slight Beasely well. He has a take no shit attitude that should go well with the team. Now Beasely and Nakamura are in the same league. Left footed magic.

U.S. Prepares for Copa America: Minus most of their big stars the U.S. heads to Venezuela to take on the heavies of South American football. Should be interesting. Really not so much to lose. Plus, Mexico beat Brazil and the U.S. just beat Mexico, so that must mean that the U.S. is the greatest team in the world. Why would we need Landon Donovon?

Henry is out: That kind of sucks. Without him or Sol Campbell at Arsenal it really doesn't seem like the same team. Ashley Cole is gone too huh? I don't have much to say about the move to Barcelona as I never get a chance to watch Serie-A. Henry is a player I really enjoy watching though and...wait...oh..I just noticed he is younger than me.....fuck this shit...

fight girls

Oh, Michelle! Michelle! make it stop! oh...the pain.....must.....michelle.......ohhhhh

the more things change...

Follow this story.

Super Maiko Sighting Ahoy!

Sadly no, I didn't sight super maikos but it was a notable sighting. I was walking to the Hankyu station to get my commuter ticket around 5:30 today. As I crossed Shijo Ohashi I looked at some of the yuka (dining platforms out over the river erected during the summer) south towards Pontocho. There was a dining party attended by at least two maiko. I am fairly sure they were the real deal as they were separate from the normal staff of the restaurant and you kind of get used to being able to tell who are just people dressed up as maiko by how they move. Real maiko kind of float around like little hummingbirds.

your music for the week

I was just going to put in "Close to Me" but this was amusing. I have been playing "Close to Me" on the end of "Johnny Appleseed" by changing the key from B to G. The rhythm is essentially the same. Alas, all I have is my bass. But it is a trusty bass.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

tatsuya and kazue had their baby!

photo, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Omedetou!!! This morning Tatsuya and Kazue had their baby. That is all I know for now.

IMDB posters are the stupidest people in the world?

Who is stupider: People who post at IMDB? People who post on YOUTUBE? Or people who post on that site about what lyrics mean?

Under the heading, "So fake! C'mon guys! "
Some super-genius blows the whole premise of Man Vs. Wild wide open.

One episode he built a raft and then set sail in the ocean. There is a shot that was taken ON the raft, then we see a wide shot of the entire raft without a camera in sight. This means there was another boat big enough to fit camera men and producers that was right beside him. He is in no way risking his life! They probably even have local guides. I'm telling you, behind that camera is like seven or eight people....all with a waiting hotel rooms and transportation. Bear probably does his scenes and heads to town himself.

Really? You think that they didn't fit the entire camera crew on his handmade raft? Thank you for opening our eyes. This is like the asshole that tells you, "Hey man, most of them homeless dudes got houses and money and shit. I know what they're up to." Wow. Keep fightin' the system man.

oh no/ japanese education

Great. My mom read the post where I quoted the John/Kai non-sex sex scene. Nice.

I have taught at both schools now. Mikuni, where I teach Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, has been great. Most of the teachers talk to me. I am kind of part of the team after two days. Imaichi was (if you speak Japanese insert your Imaichi joke here-I'm not going to do it for you) was a little bit cold. The head English teacher looks like a Japanese Darren from Bewitched. He is pretty nice to me, but absurdly organized. He made me an all English seating chart for all of the teachers in the office. He changed it once when the vice-principal moved my desk, then he brought me a special, colored one later. No other teachers really talked to me. One, who seems like the BMOC, talked about me a few times punctuated, but he speaks Japanese so he probably understands this. I wasn't listening. The lady who teaches the "weak children" (according to the seating chart) made sure I had lunch and then asked me if I wanted to come to her class sometime. I took her up on it right then so I could get out of the office. I taught one autistic girl. She was great. All I had to tell her was, "English isn't Japanese. Just say the word like you hear me say it." She was better than 90% of my students from that moment on. This whole concept will be a stumbling block for most Japanese students throughout their lives. They are hammered so hard about the right way to do things that they can't just let go and do things.

One of the English teachers came over to speak to me. I thought he might just be really shy. No. He can barely communicate. Not just in English. The autistic girl had better communication skills than him. He seriously can't speak English. Let me emphasize the word 'CAN'T.' As in cannot. Is incapable of. He is an English teacher in a large middle school in Osaka. He can't speak English. He couldn't do anything with the class either. Good thing I am a super teacher. Anyway.

The principal at Imaichi is the man. He used to be the principal at Mikuni also. I heard a story about how he used to bring his dog to Mikuni. It could sleep wherever it wanted in his office, but the teachers had to wear special slippers as not to dirty the floor. When I was in his office on my first morning he asked, "Are you married?"
"You have lots of girlfriends?"
"Oh! You will soon. Japanese girls are great! GREAT! We have a lot of single teachers here, but their faces are all messed up."

At this point he starts waving his hand over his face and sticking out his tongue.
"I'm sorry. They're ugly." He says.

Actually, the home-ec. teacher ain't that bad...but I digress. Tomorrow and Friday are the national tests, so I get to go to school and do nothing all day.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kamogawa Madness

The rains that had been promised came. It rained heavy all day yesterday. I left for work at about 6:30 this morning. As I crossed Sanjo Ohashi, on my way to Hankyu Kawaramachi, Kamogawa was flowing like the Yangtze in some documentary; it was nasty and brown and vicious. It is normally such a slight, shallow, peaceful river. I guess being in the valley between all of these mountains creates a violent reaction to the rain.

I started my new job today. It is so good to be back in an actual school. I have a desk in the office and the Judo Sensei already said I could come train with the team. He is old and smells like smoke and his teeth are rotting out. The kids were sweet. If you have ever taught in Japan, I already have the one boy who says, "I love you." repeatedly. All of the girls from the advanced class have made me swear that I won't forget their names. All I can remember is that one is named "Serika" like "Celica" and that she goes snow skiing all of the time. Not very Miyazaki.

Apparently the school is well known for it's strong clubs, the notables being kendo and track and field. It is a big school but, alas, no hot teachers. The lady who sits next to me, my supervisor, gave me a flyer for the Gion Matsuri and told me all about the events surrounding it and kept showing me a map of the various festivities. I kept saying, "I know. I live in Gion." (sort of) But it didn't stop her. She was very nice but...I live in Gion(sort of) for Christ's sake. If there is a giant, fuck-off float going down the street, chances are I will see it. She also told me, "Kyoto is very nice. It has lots of history." Really? I hadn't realized. I just kind of threw a dart at a map and ended up on Sanjo. It could have just as easily been Gunma.

Also, for those who have taught in Japan: I have looked at one page in the text book and it is already F'd up English. For example: What will you do in the summer vacation? Is that correct? I guess grammar wise it is feasible but.... Oh Japan....why don't they just allow foreigners to have actual careers in education and then we could get promoted up the ladder and cut this shit out. I will pause while you gaijin laugh at that bullshit.
My other new school starts tomorrow.

John From Cincinnati: three

I will pimp this show until Milch puts me on the pay role. Epsidoe three came out this week and the mystery deepens. People out there have been complaining about the kid playing Shaun's acting. I think he more than makes up for it by being an actual, good surfer. This spares us the lameness of obviously faked surf scenes. No doubt he is a little awkward and uncomfortable on the screen, but I think that works very well with the character. John finally got to 'bone' Kai. "Boning is when you put your joint in my pussy. Are we boning now John?" (I hope my mom is reading that the show is a funny me.) John was actually a little scary in this episode. I thought all of the scenes between him and Kai were very good though. Charlie Utter also said 'Cocksucker' which made me wistful for the days of Deadwood.

U.S .Beats Mexico Wins Gold Cup

I have hated the Mexican team ever since the 2002 World Cup when they took whatever class they had left in a team, collectively shat it into a plastic bag and waited to hurl it at the U.S. team the next time they visited Azteca Stadium. If you haven't watched that game and think that I might be exaggerating, find it on the internets, it's out there. It was what would one describe in the vernacular as "losing your shit." The president of Mexico cried. The U.S. has had Mexico's number since. Actually the record is 9-2-1 since 200. Which makes beating them for the Gold CUp not so remarkable. What is remarkable is that it was a come from behind victory. The U.S. doesn't win from come behind victories. They get a goal early and hope for the best. This is a big big change. It could mark a major turning point. Maybe Clint Dempsey and Demarcus Beasely's fuck you attitude has finally worn off. Maybe Frankie Hejduk cremated Tony Sanneh and fed his ashes to the youngsters to remind them that that was the attitude that drove them through Korea. Europe can laugh at our soccer, but goddamn, we have to play Mexico. It's no small task. Speaking of which, Thursday brings Argentina. Lets hope the changed lineup can keep up the attitude.

Who the hell is Benny Feilhaber?

Happy (late) Birthday Summer!

Somewhere between back hair and migraines on the list of thinks I dislike about myself is my inability to remember birthdays. I don't think I have remembered one of Susan's in the last 5 years. I don't think I have ever remembered Jennifer's and I only have a vague notion that Ed has birthdays....(august-ish?) I know yours was the 21st Summer. I know that you hit 30. I just didn't remember that June 21st was June 21st. I hope this video tribute to your life makes up for it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

John From Cincinnati: two

Will someone else please start watching this show so you can either argue with me about how great it is, or you can support my diagnosis. I see on the internets that a lot of people are being very critical of it. The people who do seem to like it are treating it like a riddle that needs to be undone. I am going to go out on a little bit of a limb here and say that it is about exactly what I talked about in the last post on the subject. The show is, to me, about the great, wonderful, beautiful things about surfing that make you sound like a moron when you try to explain them. I could expound, but I am very close to becoming a hippy. In addition, the show features one of the greatest songs ever as the opening credits: Joe Strummer &and the Mescaleros "Johnny Appleseed."

Penn Vs. Pulver: results

Let's see how my predictions matched reality.

Wiman: TKO strikes-RD 1.
Garcia: Submission-RD 2.
Maynard: No contest for now. (Maynard won but KOd himself in the process.)
Miller: TKO RD 1. (I was completely wrong)
Lauzon: Submission-RD 2.
Huerta: TKO RD 2.
Leites: Submission RD 1.
Diaz: Submission (due to injury) RD 2.
Penn: Submission (not omoplata) RD 2.

How much more right do I have to be. I got the Wang call wrong, but I wanted to go out on a limb. Meanwhile, CNNSI will hire Arash Markazi to show up at UFC events and comment on what celebrities he wants to talk to. The man sat through a whole Karo Parisyan fight and never used the word 'Kimura.' I am a bitter, bitter man.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Penn Vs. Pulver

Is tonight on the TUF Finals. I will make my predicitions for the card. Behold: My genius.

Geraghty vs. Wiman- Wiman in the 2nd. I think his stand-up is too good. It is hard to call how much the fighters have changed since the show though.

Allen Berube vs. Leonard Garcia- Garcia by TKO in the 1st. Sorry, but Berube was garbage on the show.

Robert Emerson vs. Gray Maynard- Maynard by decision. Emerson's stand-up looks crisp, but I think Maynard will take him down and prom-dance him for 3 rounds.

Andy Wang vs. Cole Miller- Everything points to Miller winning, but I am calling it for Wang. Why? Wang fights stupid, but he is apparently a really skilled BJJ black belt. Miller seems to win by sneaky subs. I don't think he can sub Wang. Decision.

Brandon Melendez vs. Joe Lauzon- Melendez surprised me more than anybody else on the show. His loss was actually a really good fight. That being said, Lauzon is such a fucking badass. What a psychopath. The guy is just so good in every element. Lauzon by sub in the 2nd.

Roger Huerta vs. Doug Evans- Huerta in the 1st by handsomeness. Seriously, that dude is really good-looking right? Somebody? Back me up. I'm just saying.

Thales Leites vs. Floyd Sword- Leites in the 1st by having a cool name instead of a lame name. I have never seen Sword fight. His name is an awkward cross-rhyme. Leites is super skilled.

Manvel Gamburyan vs. Nathan Diaz-
Damn I would be scared to fight Gamburyan. He is a 5'5" cinder-block. But-and forget this at your own peril-never,ever bet against a Diaz. I never do. Nate by decision after a war. Both have great cardio and technique so it should be really fun to watch.

Jens Pulver vs. BJ Penn-
Pulver is a decent guy and a talented fighter who trains very hard. BJ Penn was deposited on earth by a higher power. BJ is not one of us. He exists outside of what is capable for mortals. Penn by being a deity in the second. If he omoplatas Pulver, you owe me a Red Stripe. Or better yet, some Hawaiian beer.

There they are. Take it to the sportsbook.

Six Hours of my Life Gone

I had to go to orientation for my new job in Shin-Osaka today. I came to Japan on the JET program six years ago and all of this seemed exciting and new, if a little unnecessary. Now it comes of as an odd kind of taunting torture. Everyone there looked interested and bewildered and ask questions. The guy giving the seminar on how to teach, when asked how long he had been in Japan sighed and said, "Five years." Fucking amateur. Just give me the schools, my money, and turn me loose. Well, I guess they couldn't let me skip it.

Just Watched John From Cincinatti

HBO, stop making good TV; I want to pretend that I am only into books. I watched episode one of John From Cincinnati. I wasn't going to, but then I heard it was about surfing. In Step Into Liquid, Chirs Carter says something to the effect of, "The more you talk about surfing to people who don't surf, the more they don't get it." So I will just leave it at: It's a good show. The surf scenes are rad. I can't wait to get to Miyazaki and Tanegashima.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lalas; you da man

My boy Alexi Lalas had to lay it down. It's about time somebody took uppity football fan out to the woodshed for a little talking to. Of course what he said was slightly different from factual, but who cares. At least he was getting in someone's face. I hate English soccer fan and their dismissive attitude. Although we sucked in the last World Cup, so did they frankly. Did they play Italy to a tie? Did they do anything? The U.S. team could be competitive against England right now. What English football fans (and their obsequious American buddies) need to realize is that America could easily have the best soccer team in the world right now if more than 1% of the country gave a shit. But as long as you can bank millions playing football, baseball and basketball, why would you devote your life to soccer? I love soccer. Americans who love soccer really love soccer. But to demand that we love it the same way Britains do and then mock every way we fall short is a bore's game. A dinner conversation for halfwits. The U.S. plays a crazy, all out, counter-attacking game. They get yellow cards, don't take cheap falls and come off the field bleeding. England throws their magazine cover sweethearts out there and wait for somebody to do something. Usually Joe Cole is the only one who will take them up on their offer. Here's the thing. I support the English team all the time. I really enjoy watching them play. However, I think their fans sense the U.S. fast on their heels and fears us so they belittle us. Fine. Whatever. When it comes down to it though, the U.S. will win a World Cup before England gets another one. Mark my words. It will do it because America has a bunch of guys like Alexi Lalas who don't give a shit about asking the approval of the old soccer elite.

Maiko Sighting

Seeing as I live directly behind Gion, I should really have more of these. About a month ago I was riding my bike north on Kawabata. As I waited at the intersection of Nijo, a bus came by and I noticed a lady on it in a kimono. Then I realized they all had kimono. I tried not to stare so I am not sure if they were maiko or geiko.

Around sakura there were lots of people dressed like geisha in Gion, but I don't think they were.

Tonight, about 1:20am, I was riding my bike up around Kiyomizu. As I was going downhill On Kiyomizu street approaching Yasaka Jinja-but on the opposite side of the street- I saw a Maiko-san waddling up the hill with a nice blue/purple kimono and a piece of paper in her hand that she kept checking and looking at the doors lining the road. I was carrying my camera, but I didn't want to be that guy.
Her stark white face was really shocking. My neighborhood is pretty money.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

my bad summer

ed, do you remember the Yachonna where I played this and the crowd reaction was about the same as if I farted into the mic. Anyway, it was funny to me. What else did I play? It was all this kind of stuff and one Jr/Sr song, which Fiona tried to stop me from playing....i think. I just remember everyone staring at me.

online guitar tuner

very useful .
speaking of which; I have no guitar right now and it be killing me.

Kamogawa Big F'n Snake!

It happened again! I was running up the west side of Kamogawa just south of Demachiyanagi when I noticed something that looked suspiciously like a snake. It was. I think it was an Ao Daisho again. This one was smaller than the one at Katsuragawa. It was between 3-4 feet. Kamogawa is essentially a big park with families and kids everywhere. I now imagine it has snakes everywhere. At least they aren't dangerous.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

top ten TV characters of all time

I said I couldn't stop with the lists. As I have the week off I have been thinking of TV a lot. (I've been reading too). I was meaning to make this list a while back. TV is a weird thing to judge because it is hard to remember a show that you used to really like and then reason whether you should go with how it effected you at the time and how objectively good it is. I think the list might change as I remember stuff.

Here are the surprises: There is only one girl. HBO is over-represented. Baltimore is over-represented. The last few years are over-represented. There are 12 on the list of top ten.

Here is the list:

1. Homer Simpson- The Simpsons
2. Omar-The Wire
3. Keith Charles- Six Feet Under
4. Tobias Beecher- Oz
5. Det. Frank Pembleton- Homicide: Life on the Street
6.Dan Fielding- Nightcourt
7. Dan Connor- Roseanne
8. Cliff Claven- Cheers
9. Calamity Jane- Deadwood
10. MacGyver- MacGyver
11. Gregory House- House M.D.
12.Tony Soprano- The Sopranos


1: I don't think I need to explain. Most quotable character of all time. WOuld it be too grandiose to say , 'Defines a generation"?

2: Openly gay badass. Streets clear when he goes to buy cereal.

3: Not sure why I identify with Keith so much, but he was always my favorite on the show.

4: When Toby finally went nuts and took a dump on Schillinger's face, a new exciting age began.

5: Every interrogation was a masterpiece. "It doesn't bother me because I don't let it bother me." "Yeah Frank, You, G. Gordon Liddy and Henry Rollins."

6: I think people forget how good Nightcourt really was.

7: The poorer I get, the better that show gets.

8: Come on. Cliff.

9: Just one diatribe or errant fart was enough to make me save the episode. hoping to save it for later. She looked like me on a Miyazaki Sunday morning.

10: The show doesn't hold up as well as I remember, but, a hero who carried duct tape and talked openly about hating

11. This show seems to get worse and worse. The doctors I worked with hated it. Nevertheless, a show about a doctor who profoundly hates people cracks me up.

12: It was hard to leave him off the list. I don't know. We'll see.

BJ Penn---this weekend

Now that Sudo Genki has retired BJ stands alone atop my pile of favorite fighters. The more people call him lazy, the more I call him a badass. What a freak. If you have never watched BJ fight, please do. His last fight with Matt Hughes, Hughes went for a single leg so BJ just did the splits. The guys is a nut. I am calling this one BJ by stoppage in the second round. Oh, yeah, he is fighting Jens Pulver.

your tune for the day

I really tried to not like this guy when I first heard the hype but here's the deal; He's really good. Sorry. Plus this is my favorite karaoke song lately. For some reason my voice is only set to hard-core country and/or ridiculous unfair.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Migraine Continues

I have yet to see conclusive research on links between migraines and depression so I can't say if one triggers the other or if they just closely mimic each other. They have shown that Migraines decrease cognitive function. Whatever the case my headache marathon led me to spend all of Sunday evening, into the wee-hours of Monday compulsively watching the last season of Six Feet Under. Back when I had a satellite dish, this series was weekly viewing, and I think it works better that way. Once I knew the end was coming, I couldn't quit. I think that is probably too much pain to be internalized so quickly. I heard of a study recently that shows that people who watch lots of TV have less friends than they imagine themselves to have. This was occurring to me over and over as I anguished over the poor, cursed, Fisher family. Actually, the decay of Ricco's marriage seemed to bother me the most for some reason. I had also thought that George's illness the previous season had been a bit overdone, but now, viewing his redemption(partial), it seems to make more sense. There are times when watching Six Feet Under that I stop and think, "This is the greatest moment of television I have ever seen." But, then again, I said the same thing about Mr. Hankey. I also firmly believe that Keith is one of the greatest characters in the history of television. I really think there are times that he carries the show. It is odd that, two years later, that show is finally done for me. Now I have to leave the house and realize.........I have no real'm being sarcastic. Don't check the hospitals. What a depressing show.

Oh, quick question: Which show is sadder, generally, Rescue Me or Six Feet Under?

I think I know my answer.

3-day migraine

It is threatening to become the rainy season, but won't just get it over with. It is fretful and cloudy and the barometric pressure is on. What this means for weak lads like me is perpetual migraine.

I ran on Saturday around noon. It was a million degrees. I got a migraine, forgot I was supposed to be at the movie theater(Movix-under the shotengai) at 7pm and ended up there at 7:30 without cleaning my house. Anyway, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean 3: Let's Make Money. There are few movies where the gulf between how much I thought I would dislike them and how much I found myself liking them has been as great as the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Jerry McGuire is the only other that comes to mind now. No more compliment needs to be paid to Johnny Depp's performance here. Although I think he was just as effective in Sleepy Hollow and maybe even in The Ninth Gate, although to much less fanfare. This chain of movies has made the inevitable slip of success; it has become conscious of what made it great and attempted to squeeze as much of that magic from the bottom of the tube. Now it just seems like they want to show us Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom, have Johnny Depp wander about and say some stuff and have us be impressed. Well, I wasn't. But that isn't really surprising. I watched it with a self avowed Avril Lavigne fan, obviously someone inhibited by neither shame nor taste. Their first words, after, "Where's the bathroom?" were, "That was so-so." Yes. Shameful. They could have given 1/16th of the money put into that show to me and I could have given them a decent TV series. The migraine persists.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

very useful

Here is a super useful link. You just put in the station you are leaving from and the station you are going too and it will give you several options with complete directions, timetable and prices in English. This is especially handy for me now as my operating system isn't supporting Japanese fonts.

It also generates options I hadn't thought of. For example, today it suggested that I walk from Keihan Moriguchi station to the Moriguchi Subway station even though the maps show them being fairly distant.

-i am using this opportunity to start new categories of Osaka/Kyoto advice. Now, this stuff falls under 'Kyoto' or 'Osaka' where half of those tags are about people I have tried to get in fights with.

Weird Shit I See in Japan.

I am starting a new list. I don't know if it is the population density or if a whole nation took Hunter S. up on his challenge, but if you live in Japan you see weird, weird shit on the regular. I see stuff constantly and hold it back thinking that I will write about it sometime, but, of course, I forget about it. So I am just going to mark it down here and come back to it later. If you live in Japan, please; feel free. I'll put a link up on the side and this can be permanent.

1. Young woman is attempting to cram a dog into her purse. An older man (her father?) is repeatedly slapping the dog in the head and trying to zip up the purse- corner of Shijo and Kawabata.

2. Young Japanese man wearing a t-shirt reading: AFROCENTRIC- Hankyu Kyoto line.

Waiting for the train at the station, I see a woman lean out her window and begin vacuuming the outside of her house.- Takidanifudo Station, Hankyu Nagano Line.

Sitting on a bench seat in the subway, a well dressed young(ish) woman is standing driectly in front of me. She adjusts her hair. She adjusts her sweater. She adjusts her necklace. She adjusts her hair. She adjusts her bra. She coughs. She adjust her hair and necklace. Finally I realize she is having a full body tic/freak-out. When I get off the train and give her my seat she begins saying, "Arigatou" to no one in particular and nodding convulsively.- Subway Midosuji Line, Yodoyabashi Station

5. Running under a bridge, I see two homeless(esque) teenagers making out while wearing dirty sweatsuits. Another girl, swathed in bandages, is sleeping on the concrete next to them.- Kamogawa, Kyoto.

I arrive at the summit of Daimonji Yama, after a semi-strenuous climb up a very steep incline and several hundred stairs. There, walking towards me hand in hand are a young couple. The man is wearing jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt. The woman is wearing a denim mini-skirt and high heeled boots. Did someone miracle her ass up there?- Daimonji Yama, Kyoto

A man is lying in the recovery position on a wooden platform wearing nothing but bikini underwear and running shoes. It takes me a little while to figure out what I am looking at.- Just north of Demachiyanagi, Kamogawa, Kyoto.

A man is riding a bike with a big basket in front. There is piece of scrap wood in the front basket holding up a cardboard box covered in tinfoil. The rest of the box is balanced on his head. It isn't raining. -Just south of Gojo, Kamogawa, Kyoto.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

youtube dump

there are several youtube links i have been meaning to get around to but i see them as a kind of clutter so i refrain, and then they pile up. so, i will just dump them all on you here.

1: In junior high I used to always do Ultimate Warrior impersonations on the back of the bus-we all had our own special wrestler-I thought that his unique brand of insanity was just a product of my memory. Apparently not. I guess everyone thought he was crazy. Behold!

2: I was aware that the Ultimate Warrior had become a speaker on the crazy conservative circuit. This is him now. I don't know who made this and I know it is juvenile, but I can't stop laughing given what a spazz this guy is. !Mirad!

Here are three songs that have been stuck in my head for the past week.

1: I am well known as a Nazi when it comes to musical taste. However, I slip from time to time. Maybe it isn't a slip, maybe I just appreciate well written songs. In any case, I think that Hanson puts together good tunes and that Nelson's 'After the Rain' was spot on. About the second time I heard 'Since You've Been Gone' I thought, 'I'm scared to admit it, that is a good song.' I will note that the lyric "I'm so moving on" sounds really forced; like a record executive said, "I got some shit that teenage girls can say! it sounds" Anyway, I guess Ted Leo agrees with me. Great minds huh. I'll give you his version as he is moderately more talented than me (cries in shame in the corner). Witness.
p.s. if anyone knows where i can get a hold of ted's acoustic cover of 'spirit of radio' please let me know.
p.p.s. as i live in japan, i have know idea who the yeah yeah yeah are, but i think i should sue them on behalf of the yes yes y'all.

2. I used to listen to this album so much in junior high, but it really holds up. Man Johnette Napolitano has got some sick pipes. Anyway. Concrete Blonde. In your face.

3. I saw Ministry live in New Orleans in 1992. It was outside and had rained all day at the Lakefront. I remember the water kind of leaping from the puddles, like when the Tyrannosaurus Rex approached during Jurassic Park, as Ministry played. They are the loudest band I have ever heard in my life. The strange thing is that, while watching this video, I couldn't think of William S. Burroughs name. There was certainly a time in my life that he was way more important than remembering a random Ministry song. Scary. For You.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Genarlow Wilson

It appears there has been some movement in the case. More than some, really; A judge threw out the ten year sentence.

For those of you who haven't been following this saga I will give you a brief rundown. Genarlow was Wilson was a football and academic star in Douglas County, Georgia. One night, when he was seventeen, him and his friends got drunk and he had oral sex with a fifteen year-old. For this he was sentenced to ten years in prison. One of the craziest parts of this case is that, if he had just had sex with her , it would have only been a misdemeanor. Why the Attorney General continues to support his sentence is beyond me. I don't think I am going out on a limb in saying that racism must play a huge part in this, even though the Attorney General is black. I don't even want to speculate on the number of seniors on my high school's football team who had sex with sophomores.

Genralow Wilson probably used bad judgment and was irresponsible, but guess what, he was seventeen! I use bad judgment all the time and I am thirty. All the prosecutors in this case are displaying even worse judgment. Now Genralow Wilson is twenty-one and he is still in prison. I doubt all of those Ivy League scholarships will come back. Fortunately some important people, like Mark Cuban and Jimmy Carter, have taken an interest so, hopefully, he will get another chance.

I haven't been making hip-hop records lately but I was going to make a track that just said over and over again, "Get Genarlow Wilson the fuck out of jail." Why this case hasn't sparked more of the same sentiment, I don't know. It is almost enough to make me want to go back to law school.

Monday, June 11, 2007

sink the sub

I got a job as a substitute teacher in Tondabayashi for the rest of this week. The good news is that I will make over $500 for four days work. The bad news is that my commute will take two hours each way and I have to catch the 5:57am express out of Sanjo Keihan. I finally splurged and bought the first of the Master and Commander series for the ride. I think it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship full of arcane naval terms that I have no use to know. There is a companion book for the series just to try to help the reader with terminology and geography. I have forgone it, for now.

big snake

I am thinking of riding my bike across Shikoku, catching the ferry to Oita and continuing down to Miyazaki. I have enough time as we aren't leaving for Tanegashima until August 12th and I have no work from the last week in July. I think my bike can do it, even though it isn't a proper road bike. I think I can make it. I have been doing small test runs over the last few days. Today I tried the cycling road that runs from Kyoto to Nara, I was trying to find were it deviates and you can continue south to Osaka. It isn't a very well marked trail. About 9km south of the cityI was stuck on top of the levy, looking down through the underbrush at the cycling path, which had reemerged from somewhere. I was contemplating picking up my bike and running down through the bushes, like I had run up earlier, when a giant, fuck-off snake went across the path right in front of me. It had to be about 6 feet long so it probably wasn't a mamushi. I am pretty sure it was a Japanese ratsnake. I am not particularly frightened of snakes but I had that weird moment where you can't figure out what you are looking at.

I grew disenchanted with the bike path and rode north to Arashiyama. I really can't understand it, the Katsura river, along which I had been riding, is just as beautiful south of the city as it is to the north, but the corresponding neighborhoods are only nice near Arashiyama. There is all of this ridiculously gorgeous real estate that is consigned to nasty factories and ramshackle, tin houses waiting for condemnation. As much as I hate American development, I would like to see someone raise the neighborhoods to the level they should be. Those around Arashiyama are beautiful. Everyone deserves to live in a nice looking neighborhood.

tatsuya and kazue

i went to visit tatsuya and kazue on sunday. sometime this week they will have a baby.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Here is my letter in response


I was glad to receive to your letter of June 6th. You see, I too am a fan of the written word. The letter, sealed in an envelope and splotched onto paper, is truly a lost art-form. I can remember as a child, and later as an eager teenager, memorizing the postal schedule and running expectantly to the box every afternoon in the hoops of a stray missive or a well-timed communiqué. Once it was a square-shaped floppy record from National Geographic entitled, “Songs of the Humpback Whales.” For some reason the idea of whales singing terrified me and I hid behind our mailbox refusing to reenter the house.

It was well thought out on your part to coordinate the placement of said letter so that I would find it while checking my box on the way out the door, rather than first thing in the morning. While I appreciate the effort it is truly a misunderstanding of the situation. If I were to be a prisoner of circumstance and foul mood, a slave to my own uncontrollable temperament, I would be your faithful compatriot and have no problem cheering you on. Unfortunately, when it comes to the workplace, I value things like stability and professionalism, so your exertion, while appreciated, was somewhat wasted on me.

I would also like to express my gratitude to whoever you retained to proofread the letter in question. I am assuming that that is what happened. I picture your beleaguered husband, laboring late into the night humoring your desire to craft a letter, filled with vague animus to an employee whom he has never met. Please give him my thanks. If my vision is off-track, and you did the work on your own, you must have really buckled down. The English was both focused and understandable. This certainly isn’t the Yukari I know, who will declare to a roomful of children, “I can see your unvisible cake.” It is interesting how mistakes in a foreign language can be charming in the right hands. Unfortunately the hands in discussion here are misshapen and palsied, metaphorically of course. The letter certainly wasn’t written by the Yukari who commanded me to teach ‘locations.’ When I asked, “What do you mean by ‘locations’? Do you mean ‘the bank’, or ‘Hokkaido’?” “No, no,” You replied. “Like ‘on’ or ‘under.’ “Oh! You mean prepositions.” I declared. You couldn’t pronounce the word, but you picked up on the general point-God forbid I invoke subordinating conjunctions- “Yes, like ‘next to’ and ‘between.’ When I laid out a model city and had the children discuss what was next to the bakery and what was across from the school and asked the kids to write down what their house was next to and across from, you charged into my classroom-who knows where from, but then again, you are always peering into the windows like a seaman’s widow who refuses to give up hope-shouting angrily, your face crinkled in the constant nonsensical panic that is your specialty, and declared, “Wesley, we do not teach our children ‘across from’ we teach them ‘next to” and between.’ I told you that in the office earlier.” I realize my mistake; I had taught the kids that there were options, that there was something across the street. Your lack of faith in a child’s ability to learn is truly inspiring. As much of a disappointment as I have been, I hope that you will always remember me fondly when considering the entire adposition family.

You may not be aware of the fact that I spent last year studying the LSAT exam for entry to law school. I did fairly well; well enough to get into a top tier school with a little begging and a second tier school with slight effort. Unfortunately I decided I would rather live by my own rules than enforce someone else’s. Looking back I find that living by my own rules involves eating peanut butter out of the jar for dinner and owning things that I find sitting behind apartment buildings. Considering all of that, the vaguely legal, yet non-binding tone of your missive was not lost on me. I appreciate the style. It is an interesting challenge. For example:

- On June 5th, 2007 The employee in question witnessed the owner of the school strike a child in her care no less than three times.

- On May 16th,2007 The employee witnessed the owner of the school become frustrated with a child who wouldn’t open his lunch box. She raised her voice to him, turned him over in her lap and struck him several times to his back.

- On numerous occasions, the owner of the school has forgone traditional first-aid measures for practices resembling faith-healing.

Anyway, as an exercise, it is amusing.

Speaking of legal matters; the only one that I think abstractedly exists between us, is the question of my apartment. A brief history: I found my apartment. I made all of the arrangements for it. I paid for everything concerning it. At the last minute, days before I was to move in fact, you called me and said that it must be put in your name. I relented. That was stupid on my part. I still assumed you to be reasonable and, therefore, capable of giving a reasoned opinion. You signed your name on the contract, yet paid no money pertaining to the apartment. (Of course-at your insistence- you have paid some of my rent, but have deducted it from my salary-so only in the most cursory of interpretations could this be considered you paying.) I posses the receipt and the paperwork for my down payments on the apartment. If you wish to be the actual owner of the apartment, I have no problem with you refunding me this money and taking control. If you would rather not, then I think we will have to come to another understanding. I will look into alternative remedies. I don’t mean that to sound threatening, I wish for the matter to work out to neither of our detriment.

I also realize that I owe you 7-man yen. I fully intend to pay that back on the schedule we discussed earlier. It was truly kind of you to offer the money, but I must remind you that I never asked for it. As I have told you before, I respect how you conduct yourself financially; you have been up-front and clear, as well as generous. I think you could be very effective as an administrator or in the accounting field.

I find it hard to express how disheartening it is that you find me a disappointment as a teacher. At first I thought you might be joking, or possibly trying a new motivational technique gleaned from a small book, with a shiny cover that you picked up somewhere. One Saturday, you emerged from nowhere to sit in on my ALC class which you had commanded me to teach how to make and read charts and graphs. Although I had carefully prepared several charts with easy to understand information for the children to convert into graphs, you had decided to bring your own worksheet. It read something like this:

Many childrens attended a picnic this weekend with their parents. The childrens were many years old. Two were five years old. Three were four years old. Four were three years old. One were two years old. Two were one year old. Four were no years old.

When the children(s) had difficulty understanding how to make a graph from this information, you threw the worksheet down on the table, stood up and, bending over at the waist hissed, “I guess YOU should have explained it to them better.” And stormed out of the room. “Okay," I said in explanation, "kids, let me try to break this down for you; Yukari is insane.”

As to your allegations of my selfishness, I understand where you are coming from. You own your own school, and are the sole operator. As such, you make all of the decisions regarding hiring, firing, budgets, curricula, and any other matter that might arise. If anyone, especially someone who you have hired as a professional educator, professes a difference of opinion with you and tries to discuss it in an adult manner, they are selfish. I don’t begrudge you that position. I try to live my life by ideals of honesty and integrity. I fail many times along the way, no doubt. But the undertaking requires a strong sense of self, a sense that can be easily confused with being selfish. It can also be very annoying, but I find it better than resorting to manipulating people in opposition to each other and timing your gossip and criticism for the maximum results of confusion and disunity. It is also easier, in the long run, than lying. Then again, I don’t own my own school so my theories are essentially worthless. In fact, the largest thing I own is a refrigerator, which I found in the garbage.

Even the worst educators are blessed with great kids. I am not sure if that is a blessing or a curse. As much as I feel your talents lie in other areas, you are lucky to operate a school with so many great children. I truly love all of them, and will miss them terribly. I imagine that their foundations outside of the school, and their own innate senses of decency are strong enough to propel them to greater things in spite of the questionable environment that they may be exposed too. I realize that you are not one given to self-questioning, but I hope that you will ask some of the other staff if they find me to be selfish. While I don’t wish to involve them in this, I am sure if Richard or Mellani were asked-without the threat of losing their jobs-they would tell you that I am surely not. If Makikio, or Miki or Hiromi or Megumi were asked-again, in an honest environment- I am sure they would give you an answer contrary to your conceptions. Most importantly, If you asked any of my students I think that you would hear that I was always giving of my time and my patience and my energy. I really believe that, even if they don’t remember me in a month or two, they will grow up to be great people.

I realize the uncomfortable dilemma I have presented you with; although you own and operate an English school, and see fit to criticize all of the native speakers who work there, you probably won’t be able to understand this letter. You will sit with it and debate its meaning. Was it a threat of legal action? Was it a warning that I was planning to tell the parents of your miraculous talent to heal? I think, in the end, pride will keep you from asking for help on this one, but you will sit there and agonize over it. Agonize the way I did that even though I could have explained a reduplitive copula, or revealed that a podium is something you stand on while a lectern is something you stand behind, sometimes I forgot to sing, “Big D little d ddd” and was therefore a severe let down as an educator.

I fully intended to work at your school for a year, possibly longer. After initial disappointment at your conduct towards me, I truly felt that, if I spoke to you as a professional, we could come to an understanding. You have made it clear that you are under no obligation to regard me as a professional, and that your small, noble pre-school exceeds both the Saito Board of Education, The Appalachian Institute for Creative Learning and the Miyazaki National Medical University in its rigorous standards. It is not for me to burst your splendid bubble. I think that a powerful sense of belief, running counter to all actual evidence, is a fine fight to pick with reality. It is just not my fight, so I thought to bow out gracefully now.

Here is the full letter

I thought it was kind of boring.

ke menito

photo by: peter reed miller/ SI

Michael Wang! Michael Wang! I'm looking for you Michael Wang!! I been tryin', but it's hard to get to 'Natti on my jetski. I'm comin' anyway Michael Wang! Be ready son.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Money Quote

"The actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary about them."

(Wilde, Oscar, "The Decay of Lying, An Observation", 1899)

A Luchadore for Everyone

There is a really great photo gallery of Mexican luchadores up right now over at CNNSI. I recommend taking a look while it is still there. I would have to say that my favorite is Maximo.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I just got back from a long walk around my neighborhood. I walked north up Shirakawa to Heian-jingu. Kyoto might be the most beautiful city on the face of the earth. I was in Osaka today. I returned to the Asian Trade Center to sign the contract for my new job. Two great coincidences have emerged. I will be teaching at three junior high schools in Osaka City. One of the schools is in Mikuni, which is one train stop away from my friend's new restaurant in Shonai.
Coincidence two: I usually list my favortie Japanese memory as the time in college that I entered the Danjiri Matsuri in Ikuno-ku. I wil now be teaching there. I am so stoked about this it is hard to explain. Ikuno-ku is well known for the predominance of Zainichi Koreans. I am really looking forward to working there.

Since I have quit/been fired I haven't stopped to think how fortunate I am to live where I do and do the work that I am able to. I have been stuck in this horrible school surrounded by such pointless negativity that I have locked myself in my room with Winning Eleven and Ritz crackers and tried to fight off the nervous shivers. Fuck that shit. I have two days left and I am sure that it will be a roller coaster ride, but I can take it. I quit, in part, because the abuse is unbearable. But now that I have stated that out loud and am leaving, the abuse is just absurd.

The Asian Trade Center is growing on me. If it could integrate in some larger way with its surroundings it could be far more interesting. Of course I think that about everywhere. It would all be great if it were connected with wilderness corridors and backed up by national health care. Don't you think a lot of people would live part of the times in the woods, or traveling without steady employment if they had complete health-care coverage? Don't you think that would make for a better country? Maybe it is just me.

I am not naive enough to think that bad things won't arise with my new job. For starters, it is glorified scab work and I object to the basic ideas behind the position. It is union breaking. Bu it will be the first time in a while that I won't be the prisoner of a small school owners whims. I really dislike that position. While it can come with great freedom and the feeling of playing for a team if everything is going right, it can also be like visiting your friend's house when you are a kid, you never know what the crazy rules are going to be and what crazy mood you might have walked in on. I had more to write about being an immigrant, and the dynamic between Eikaiwa and proper teachers but I am worn out and have to go face the beast tomorrow. I think I will just try and act like an adult.

the unhappy shooting star

scan0004, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

self explanatory.

super magic giraffe fight

scan0003, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Here is my drawing of a flying giraffe that fights, and is super and magic.

sakura at night

sakura at night, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

I would rather not have so many images on this blog, but in the midst of my retirement I feel a need to present physical evidence.

When the kids come in in the morning, I try to draw with them. Here is my drawing of sakura.

letter from milano

letter from mirano, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Here is a letter from my buddy Milano. She is five and does ballet. She is very cute and screamed, "Wesley!" at me from the other side of the train station. Her English is excellent and she sees me as no problem to my co-workers.

letter from yukari

letter from yukari, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

this is the letter firing me a day after I quit. It is very cold and polite and informs me that I should move out of my house and that I am a great inconvenience to my fellow workers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

this is my neighborhood

DSCF3167, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

which is why my boss kicking me out of my apartment is not something i want to happen.....we'll see....oh yeah, i got fired today. which is funny, because i quit yesterday. i guess it is like showing up late for an orgy, you gotta jump on and act like you are trying.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I quit my job today.

Sí se puede

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Steve Gilliard

Steve Gilliard died today. He was 41. I don't remember when or how I happened upon his blog. It quickly turned into something I made sure to read everyday. You can see it down there on the left on my list of links. Although their writing wasn't superficially connected, he filled a hole that was left by Ralph Wiley's sudden death. Gilly was right on on military history and how it applied to our current situation. He used Google Earth maps to show how talk about pulling out of Iraq was just talk until little things like bridges and two-lane roads were considered. He was thorough in his coverage of anything New York, evidenced in his moment by moment break-down of the undercover police shootings of a few months ago. He cared about how food was cooked and how the political process worked. One day, a few months ago, he felt sick and went to the hospital. He never got better. In the meantime his blog was nice enough to cross-post some of my stuff. I assume he never got to read it. He was also an advocate for U.S. soccer and hated the Yankees. That is about all it takes in my book, but he was so much more. It is really sad. It is doubly sad that in the most powerful country in the history of the world, it sounds like he wasn't getting the greatest medical care possible, but that is just speculation. I have been waiting for months for his opinions and voice to come back on the scene, but he's gone. If you have never checked out his stuff, I would recommend going back and reading it.

Fuck the fucking Yankees.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Hakuho finally lived up to his promise and was promoted from Ozeki to Yokozuna this week. I have had the pleasure of watching him fight live once a year for his entire career. The guy is rad. He isn't a pimp like Asashoryu, but he can beat Asa, which is amazing in its own right. It is nice to have two Yokozunas again, and, even though they aren't Hawaiian, it is good to watch the gaijin fuckin' shit up.


Edgar Frog: I think I should warn you all, when a vampire bites it, it's never a pretty sight. No two bloodsuckers go the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them.

I think I have found another job. It is working as an ALT at several junior high schools in Osaka. I would get paid a little more and get all national holidays as well as the entire months of August and March off. Now, I get no holidays off. I really hate my job and if this were 2-3 weeks ago I would just walk out the door. However, my bat-shit crazy boss has been super nice lately and has been telling me how good my classes are. I don't believe her but I am stupid in my loyalties sometimes. I know I should quit. My contract says that I have to give 2 months notice, but I have the feeling that that is not exactly legal. I also think that my recent suspicions that my boss is Sokka Gakkai , or something similar, and attempts faith healing on children-even during my class today. She really freaks me out. She also has the lease to my house. Whatever, she can take it and pay for it for two years. But, she spent my first month being a hateful tyrant and now is kind of doting on me. Isn't that just another side to the manipulation? What should I do? Leave and tell her she had it coming? I am pretty sure I will be 900 times happier working as an ALT, where you are actually treated like an educator and not a salesman. Uhhhh.

there is power in a union

Join the union! I wish I had known about this earlier. I think I will need their services shortly.

prolonged concrete strangeness

Work concerns drove me to the job interview on my day off. Keihan to Osaka presents the David Cross New York dilemma without the crazy guy part. every five minutes you are convinced that you have just seen the most beautiful girl in the world (present company excluded). Interview at asian trade center. Weird trip that place. Reminds me of why I can't live in Ft. Walton. It is a big, empty building full of stuff. Anything involving soul was sucked up a stairwell and sunk in the bay as landfill. There is a camping goods store. Well stocked. In a convention center down at the harbor. Nothing makes sense. Four floors of the building are taken up with a more than posh, outside anyone I know's price range interior goods store. It is like a giant airport with no planes. One of the prime, waterfront stores is occupied entirely by those gumball machine-like machines that dispense toys. Two South Americans are sitting on a bench with massive mullets. I wonder if theirs differ from that of the Anglo-Saxon variety. There is a t-shirt store named "dire need" which somehow sums up both everything that is wrong with this conference center and with capitalism at the same time.
Like most of these multi-million dollar projects (Kyoto-eki for example) there are a few good elements mixed with so much that is bad. Really this could apply to so much involving these huge amounts of money: movies, presidential campaigns...There is no way to keep them focused. These massive concrete ambitions with little beige, push-button phones set on cheap tables in the stairwells. There is a very nice concrete staircase/bleachers set-up overlooking the harbor and a large sailing ship. It the area is shaded by trees and populated by birds. everything we build should be like this area. If the trees could provide nuts or fruits it would be even better. Across the parking lot, longshoremen are offloading a ship. It is all a massive parking lot. I thought that if they could make that area like this and give everyone insurance and nice housing, I would be a longshoreman. I don't care. So much would change if so much would change. In any case I think they should take these massive, moneyed programs and divide them up to smaller concerns who could do these things so much better. Like a dirty little market with a stage in the middle. It could be so much more compact. I think William Gibson's vision of the bridge in Virtual Light is about as close to by urban ideas as anyone has gotten. Except that I think things could be nice and organic at the same time. These places still have lonely little corners with bad glass and vending machines. Why don't the ferries stop here? If you want to get the ferry to Miyazaki you have to take the train to a bus to a terminal with no stores and no food and grime and dirt and everything built on a scale for trucks. Why does business reject life? I have fully converted to the Windsor knot. I must recommend it. While I can never quite remember how to tie it on my own, it staid perfect all day and was never uncomfortable. I might have gotten the job. Quitting will be messy, like a vampire in The Lost Boys. I bought a hammock at the camping store on the way out and walked through all the train stations with it in my hand. People looked at me funny, but they always do. I went to Shonai to check out Dai-san and Ayako's coffee place. I was the only customer if that counts for anything. I want the new job. Quitting is going to be a scene. Going out of town with Koji for the weekend, which is good timing as it will be nice to be around actual friends/human beings for a change. Forgive my disappearance.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.