Monday, July 30, 2007

Takyubin: feeling slightly better

Just now I mailed one bag to Miyazaki. It was fairly big and had most of my stuff for the trip in it. It cost about $13. Rad. Maybe I should just put all my stuff in bags and ship them around the country in a perpetual limbo that requires no storage and is insured against any damage incurred by the company. Then I can reclaim them when I have a place to live. Have I beat the system? Never. More pain.

I would advise everyone who has heavy luggage and other destinations between their arrival and their final resting place (ominous) to ship their stuff from whatever airport they come in at. It doesn't cost much. I have done this when I flew into Tokyo and was going to take the train. I just pulled out some stuff, put it in a small bag and shipped the rest to Miyazaki for less than $20. Super genius.

Nooooo Bear! Nooooooo!

Oh Bear, say it ain't so.

This Vacation is Killing Me

I have to be out of my house by tomorrow. No storage space. I stuck two suitcases at Tatsuya's last night. On Thursday, my friend Koji said he could take all of my stuff at his place. Last night he said, "Oh yeh, I can't." So I am throwing away a ton of stuff. Refrigerator, washing machine, chairs and tables, you know; the little stuff. The only good point I can think of is that there are tons of homeless people in Kyoto so I am going to try and go drop of my dishes and things down by the river where someone can use them.

I have gone to a bunch of recycle shops and none of them will take my stuff. One I went to today said "We will come by and look at the stuff, but even if we want it, you have to pay $150." I was a bit incredulous and tried to clarify what they were saying. The old woman in charge said, "He can't understand Japanese please explain it to him." "Money." "He says. "He money." That was odd. I had just used words like "Hikitori" and "Nedan naranakutemo." Retards. I told Tatsuya of my troubles. He said, "Of course. You are a foreigner. They are lying to you and nowhere will want to buy your stuff." I am afraid that I believe him.

I have a chair that I like very much but I never sit in. I took it to the laundry mat and put it amongst their chairs in hopes it will stay there for a month. They have a security camera, but I think I will be okay. I have so much stress right now that I imagine my blood turning to graphite.

One good thing about America having a vast culture of poor people is that their are systems set up to serve/prey upon those poor people. Japan is set up to work for the stable middle class and so there aren't any businesses catering to almost broke transients like me. Fuck 'em. I'm leaving my washing machine next to the building and walking away. Why isn't there a Salvation Army or a Waterfront Rescue?

Question to Americans: If a friend asked you, "Can I keep some shit at your house for the month that I am gone?" It isn't even really an issue is it? I don't know. Is it just my friends? Is it the South? Why is this a problem here?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Master and Commander Vs. Trainspotting

Hold on to your britches everybody; Master and Commander is a better movie than Trainspotting. Let me explain. I hadn't watched Trainspotting since it first came out and I saw it in the theater. I was blown away. It was awesome. I have remembered it as such ever since. I saw Mater and Commander by myself in a shitty theater in Miyazaki. The opening scene was punctuated by an earthquake. In the intervening years I have read Trainspotting twice and begun reading the Master and Commander series. The novel Trainspotting is easily one of the finest ever written. It is about people who have hit bottom. It is sad and heartbreaking. Watching the movie again recently it struck me as a shallow goof with a good soundtrack and decent acting. Nothing special. A little bothersome. I found myself wondering about the things they changed more than I normally do in an adaptation. I watched Master and Commander again yesterday. It is an amalgamation of several of the novels, yet I found it not bothering me in the least. It is such a well made, beautifully directed movie that I found myself not even thinking about the huge differences between the novels and the movie. The spirit seemed the same. Maybe being 30 and actually living on the bottom makes the adventuresness of Trainspotting seems absurd. Maybe the novel is just THAT much better. I don't know.

Why Japan is Ridiculous

I have been trying to find a storage space to keep my stuff in while I am gone to Miyazaki. I finally got a list of places last night. I called one today and talked to them for a while about which room would be best and how to make a contract. I wanted the room that was about $60 a month. That seems pretty reasonable. The lady said, "Okay so that will be $250." "But I just want the room that is $60." "Yes, that is the introduction fee plus two months insurance and the rental for one month."

Everything in Japan comes down to this bullshit. I think I am just going to sell everything except for my computer and my clothes and see what happens. And people wonder why I have no money. It is because my life is a series of this happening.

If you are looking for storage space, or 'trunk room', in Kyoto, then here are some links.

Pat Tillman's Still Dead

I was a fan of Pat Tillman's before he joined the army. He played strong safety, like me(well, 900x better than me) and he seemed to live his life how he wanted. I completely understand why he would feel motivated to join the army. I thought he was doing the right thing. Some people don't get it, and I understand that. In my opinion the guy was a hero. At first his death seemed like a tragedy. Then it started to look like a sham. Now it is starting to look like a crime. I don't want to comment before all of the facts are in, but things are looking weird. At best, his death was exploited as a PR stunt. At worst it was a political assassination. If facts keep coming out like they are this could have giant ramifications. If you don't know some of the details, check here.

Cointreau, Karaoke and Cigarettes

That's it. The title says it all. That is what my house smells like. Why do I tell people they can smoke in my house when I don't want them to? Wait, I know why. Last night was my first Kyoto karaoke since college. The selection wasn't the best, but they had "Don't Call Me White." Interesting. I endured Akko's renditions of Avril Lavigne and Sum 41 because she 'likes punk. ' Who would have predicted in high school that Greenday and The Offspring would be something you sang at karaoke. I am packing up my house. Where am I moving???

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Judo Incident

After splurging on a new Judo Gi for $90 that I don't have to spare (file under: I have to do something or I will sit here and rot) I got up at 7:20 on Tuesday and packed off to judo club. When I arrived, everyone was siiting around in their P.E. clothes. I went looking for Suwa-Sensei, the Judo teacher, and found the club president standing in the hallway outside the principles office. "Are you waiting for Suwa-Sensei?" "Yes." He answered quietly. "Are we not using the Dogi today?" "I don't know." He whispered. I went to the teachers office and couldn't find Suwa. I walked back. "He's not in there." "He's in the principal's office." He said, looking down. I thought maybe me coming to Judo club during summer break had created some kind of problem. I went back to the Budo room and waited outside the door. After about 10 minutes Suwa-Sensei appered with the club president in tow. He mumbled something like, "No Judo today. Student...injured...sorry." I couldn't tell if he was telling me I couldn't come to judo club because a kid might get injured. "I'll explain later." He said. I went into the room with him. SOmething was clearly going on. I sat in the office just off the Budo room as Suwa-sensei called someone's house and spoke to their grandmother about their condition and said he would be by in the morning to take him to the hospital. As he was talking he was drawing a map on a piece of paper.
After Suwa-Sensei got off the phone he went into the main room and said, "Everyone, get where you were when it happened." If you have never been spoken to by a mid-50's, alcoholic, shop-teacher/Judo coach from Osaka then you probably don't understand the level of fear in the room. The kids all ran to their places. To were standing out towards the middle of the room. Two first year boys were in the boys dressing room. All of the girls were in the girl's dressing room. The club president stood in front of the door. One 3rd year black belt slunk up and whispered, "I wasn't here. I had to go turn in a test." What followed was 30 minutes of reenactments, whispers, screaming, changing of stories, bows, more yelling, more bowing, confessions and crying. Apparently, after practice on Friday, the club president had told two of the boys to trip one of the younger boys by running up behind him each holding one end of a belt. I couldn't quiet catch what the motive was. It kept changing. The kids were as vague and
indirect as they are when I talk to them in class. Apparently the kid they tripped hurt his head and no one said anything. They confessed it was because they were scared of the older students that they didn't report anything. Suwa-Sensei told them that there would be no more practice this week (bye-bye $90 Dogi) and that they were out of the Osaka tournament for August. At this point, as everyone started crying he pointed and yelled that it was all the club president's fault. I agree. Then it is both black belt's fault. I can't believe they would fuck around with a belt like that. That's kind of insulting. Then it is all of the 3rd year's faults. Suwa-Sensei explained to them what I was thinking, that it wasn't that they were joking around and someone got hurt, it was that no one said anything and the kid could have had a serious head injury. That the chance when they could have gotten him a CT scan had come and gone. Moreover it made them look dishonest. This story is much longer, more elaborate, scary and revealing, I this forum isn't really broad enough. Anyway, with all the talk about bullying in Japan, I think it is good to go over the top on this stuff before it gets started. I was very proud of the Japanese education system this week. As critical as I am of the club system, it gives kids a chance to try to manage a social structure on their own and rewards them when they succeed and punishes them when they fail. Fairly in this case.
I am not sure what the exact resolution was. Some people may have been kicked out. I chose to leave the room when the real yelling started as I didn't want to stress the kids out to much with having to cry in font of me. We just did weight-lifting for practice. The kids technique is so terrible. So, so terrible. That is Suwa-Sensei's fault, unfortunately. When he benches, he doesn't even bring the bar down halfway-a big problem in Japan. Junior high is great because the girls are way more diesel than the boys. I taught them how to bench and do dead-lifts and military presses. They were great. The boys are hopeless.

Barak Obama is Right

Speaking to a private gathering in New York last night, Barak Obama stated the following:

"Look, one thing I'm very confident about is my judgment in foreign policy is, I believe, better than anyone else in this race, Republican or Democrat.

"And I don't base that simply on the fact that I was right on the war in Iraq. But if you look at how I approached the problem. What I was drawing on was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders.

"The notion that somehow from Washington you get this vast foreign policy experience is illusory."

This is one of the most important points to understanding what is wrong with American politics. It is a congragtion of people who repeat each other and reward people for parroting them correctly. Do they ever feature prominantly the opinions of people that say things like, "Please don't bomb Fallujah, my cousin lives there." Isn't that valid? That is why I support exchange programs and any opportunity to live abroad. It would be really hard to order the bombing of your old neighborhood, or economic policies that work to the disadvantage of your friends. Unfortunately, for the establishment, being completely wrong isn't a deal killer, being different is.

Pharoahe Monch: Desire

I keep meaning to mention this. Ed brought the new Pharoahe Monch album down during the Gion Matsuri and played it whilst I was schooling him at Winning Eleven. I 'obtained' the album and must deem it, "badass." Why he is not declared one of the greatest MCs ever is beyond me. The biggest surprise on the album is his cover of Public Enemy's "Welcome to the Terrordome." As I have declared this the greatest hip-hop song of all-time I would never have recommended that anyone cover it. However, Monch destroys it. He does a very credible Chuck D and then goes beyond it and owns the song. It is worth the whole album. Check it.

Kyoto Summer Travel Advice

I went to pay some bills today. There were tons of foreigners everywhere. I suppose it is summer break so people travel as families and students make trips they have saved up for. Here is my advice to you about traveling to Kyoto in the summer: Don't! Don't do it. I was born and raised in Florida. I have lived in Richmond, Austin, Tuscaloosa and Miyazaki so I am no stranger to summer heat. I am ok with it. But this just must be a miserable way to travel. Doing anything in the middle of the day is just torture. A lot of main attractions in Kyoto close around 4pm so it isn't like you can stay in in the day and go in the evening. Fall or spring are far more reasonable. If you do have to come in the summer, get a place to stay downtown, or ate least in Higashiyama. Go out in the morning, go back for a nap from 12-5, then go back out in the evening. Kyoto is beautiful enough at night and cools down a lot when the breezes shift to coming down from the mountains. Of course, you will have to miss a lot of temples but I would argue for walking the various rivers and canals and viewing Jinjas, which are open at all times of day, at night. It is too hot to force yourself to enjoy. I am not going back out until the sun starts going down. There were also 9 million hot chicks downtown today....coincidence? ---

your tune for the day

I used to always play this on the radio show when I got homesick. It is good for when you need to hear someone speak real English.....Summer, you know what I'm sayin'. It's like sitting through math class at FWBHS.

Nippon no Mirai ha Sekai no Urayamu

David sent me this link, which is hilarious but points out the differences between the Japan seen by the outside world and the reality of living here. My satirical story would read something like, "Spaceship Brings Japan Miracle of Insulation." From outside, Japan is a high-tech success story, from inside it, at times, is tenuously clawing out of 3rd world status. Consult my old photo entitled "2nd largest economy in the world." Make no mistake, this photo is no aberration, you can find homes like this 5 minutes from anywhere in Japan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brabo with the Gi

I have never tried the Brabo with the gi. This looks rad. I'll have to try it at Judo tomorrow. Poor junior high kids. Actually, even though I finally bought a gi, I am supposed to go drinking tonight and watch the Mikoshi return to Yasaka Jinja. Hope I can get up to make it to Osaka by 9am and then wrestle children in 100 degree heat. Vomit.

By the way, if you need to buy a gi in Kyoto,; take Marutamachi a little past Higashioji and there is a martial arts store named Masaharu. It is right next to the Budokan, behind Heian Jingu.

20 long years

It's been twenty years since The Princess Bride !?!?! Ouch. Certainly one of the finest films ever made. I was always surprised that Carey Elwes never became a big star. Why? I am more disturbed that he now looks like this. Dude, you were vicious. What happened?

Vick Issue

Leroy Butler was always one of my favorite players, from his time at FSU through his heyday in Green Bay. I like his response to the Michael Vick situation as much as I liked the way he played safety.

"My 7-year-old [Danielle] loves animals. We were out shopping for a dog. We were in the car, and I can't listen to sports radio anymore because she heard how they drowned and electrocuted some animals. I looked back there at a red light and she had tears in her eyes. She said, 'I don't understand why somebody would drown a dog.' Now I had to explain it as a parent. I said that sometimes people do stuff that is so terrible that you've got to offset that guy by doing something good. She just kept wiping her tears. She was really bothered by it. It's a stupid thing to do, obviously. But these guys get so arrogant, they don't think about it. You got $30 million, $40 million in the bank, they're on top of the world, no remorse and no one can stop them.''
-- Former Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler, in an interview with Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

I don't think Michael Vick understands what a giant piece of shit he looks like right now. Emmit, Emmit, I'm looking at you right now too.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wind Through the Omikuji

Last video. No running water, but you get the feeling. Inside Shimogamo Jinja.

Inside Shimogamo

Inside the Jinja itself.

Shimogamo Jinja: running water

More lovely weather running water. Inside Shimogamo Jinja grounds.

Shimogamo Jinja

Taking advantage of the weather, I swung by Shimogamo Jinja, one of the oldest places in an old old city, to take this video.

Kamogawa Ducks!

The name Kamogawa means "Wild Duck River"--except for above Shimogamo Jinja where the kanji shifts to the same as "Gamo." So here are some ducks eating fish north of Demachiyanagi.

More Kamogawa Loveliness

I apologize for the shakiness. I am holding the camera and had just run 5k and done 50 push-ups so I was shaky too. This is just south of Demachiyanagi.

Kamo Gawa - Beautiful Day

Despite the promised rain today's weather was incredible (and 900 degrees). So, I went out and took some video for you guys. It is all of running water up and down Kamogawa. This is why Kyoto is so rad. This is downtown in a city of 1.5 million people. I recommend watching while listening to Daniel Johnston's "Running Water" or Gym Class Heroes "Beautiful Day."

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Yesterday I went to Rozanji with my friend Miho. She had received free tickets somehow. I forgot the memory card for my camera. Rozanji was the residence of Murasaki Shikibu who wrote The Tale of Genji. The building itself surprised me by how small it was. You think about Murasaki Shikibu being so grand but it is a very confined complex. Of course, it is directly next to Kyoto Gosho so it would have been part of a larger network of buildings. There is a nice little garden with moss and gravel. I recommend stopping by if you have time. It is on Terramachi just north of Marutamachi.

your tune for the day

Stuck in my head today......most days? One of the most played on the radio show. Insanely good rhythm section stolen by dave grohl.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Japanese Education

Here is an interesting article that is very revealing about the Japanese school system. It won't be too surprising to anyone who woks here, but it my be informative otherwise. Here it is more important that your name tag is put on your uniform correctly than it is that you pay attention in class. I agree with a lot of the emphasis put on being a student and not a little adult-something that fucks with American students endlessly in my opinion- however Japan is going to have to address issues like these more and more as its native population declines. It might have to actually think about who is Japanese, and who is allowed in their schools.

Shikoku Bike Trip Off?

It is unfortunate, but I think I am calling off my bike trip across Shikoku to Miyazaki. I have put in a lot of planning and I am really up for it but...

Let me explain. Japan has the highest domestic travel prices in the world. I thought that by riding my bike I would save money. Here is the barrier that might put me over the edge. Shikoku is a major island separated from Kansai by Osaka Bay and the smaller island of Awaji. Awaji is connected to Kobe by a long bridge and to Shikoku by a short bridge. Both of these bridges, as it turns out, are off limits to bikes. So my plan was to start from Kobe and put Awaji out of my way in the first day. Now I have no way to get onto or off of Awaji. There are also no direct ferries from Osaka to Tokushima. Odd. There is a ferry from Wakayama to Tokushima but it costs $25. A train to Wakayama costs $15-20. The ferry from Osaka to Miyazaki costs $120 with my own bunk. There is also a bus to Tokushima from Kyoto but it costs $45. So, if I have to spend 1/3 of what it would cost to get to Miyazaki to get to my starting point than I am kind of defeating the purpose.

That was the last straw. To get my bike in order I need to get: a new helmet $100. toe clips $50? a rack-$50 lights $20. a tent $150 and on and next payday is two weeks into August. I could pull it off but I would again be stressful broke and the whole point is to save money. I really really want to ride through Shikoku. I want to be outside and camping and getting my body into working order and all of that, but it is appealing if I am getting on a bike here and starting an adventure. If I am paying out my ass to be able to start then what am I doing?

Friday, July 20, 2007

the kitchen miracle

This morning a miracle happened in my kitchen. It must be a sign. God now needs no proof. If something like this can happen to an empty can of tuna, waiting to be recycled, then what can God do with your life? Behold: my kitchen miracle!


I had 6 hours to waste in Umeda today before the Mikuni Jr. High nomikai (drinking party) commenced. I was going to see 300-finally,the movie I have looked forward to most in the world and not seen-but they changed the schedule so I saw Hollywoodland . I told myself that simply going to a movie was a good enough experience. No, no...not good. I am beginning to think that I will watch any movie with Adrian Brody, because he is rad. I am also beginning to think that Ben Affleck being shite as an actor is not hype. He sucks ass. He is really bad. These kind of movies are so variable. China Town, L.A. Confidential and Angel Heart are all as good as can be. This movie was a chore. I don't know what was missing. It is not Adrian Brody's fault though. Diane Lane and Molly Parker are both really hot for white chicks, so what went wrong.?Affleck.

edit- now I am reading the comments on imdb and I think that maybe I like the movie more than I thought. People are dumb. Anyway, Adrian Brody is a really decent actor. Ben Affleck is a fatty boombalatie. I am drunk.


gion, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Sometimes when you are young, you have a dream. Other people can't see your dream and they think you might be crazy. But you believe. Believe young sir. It can happen to you. I think some people don't think that Tomoko, to my immediate left, is hot. But, she is. She is kind of awkward and gangly and odd. But she has a bright red obi and she is pretty rad. I am drunk, by the way, but don't sell Tomoko short, and kids.....Live The Dream!!!!!!!!!!!

p.s. it goes without saying that Miho and Keiko are rad....not as rad as any lady that reads this blog, but rad enough to hang with them in a pinch.....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

C-Span: I luvs ya

C-Span's website has been streaming the all-night Senate hearing on Iraq. It is rad. I have been watching pretty much since I got home (I had to get my sliced up bike tire repaired and I got told off by the man what drives the apple truck and I got kicked out of the book store.)

1. Republicans, especially James Inhoffe and Lindsay Grahm are really, really dumb. I don't mean that because I don't agree with them. I mean it because the words that come out of their mouths are stupid. I don't know if it is on purpose for a dumb audience, or if it is the best they can do.

2. Frank Laughtenberg is a godawful public speaker. Let me give your speech buddy. You are worse than my students.

3. Conservatives are operating through such a weird, stilted, outdated view of people. It reminds me of when my Dad tells me about a 'nice young person' and I see who he's talking about and they are a trashy loser. The Republicans hold up our soldiers not just because they are using them as a political tool but also because they have a very narrow view of what people can be. Lots of people I know joined the military because they has fuck-all else to do. They aren't heroes. They might be placed in circumstances to do something heroic. That's different. Being subjected to violence and responding in kind doesn't make you a hero. That being said, shunning all violence doesn't make you virtuous. The conservatives remind me of the guy who spoke a the Choctaw pre-graduation ceremony who said, "It's good to see some good kids. You see all these young punks on TV." Me and Justin Hollon lost it because they guy was so ridiculous. These are the people who run our country. There is only one mode of service. Only one mode of heroism. And if we aren't in favor of that path than we can't be of service and we won't be heroes. It's ridiculous.

C-SPAN Booknotes=RAD!

Booknotes is streaming around 500 of their 800 programs here. Supa-rad.

My Neighborhood

This is dumb and they are fake Geiko, but this is funny because this is directly behind my house. What they don't show you is the 7-11 just to the left and the mass of housing projects behind the camera. Anyway, that's my neighborhood. I walked down this street on the way home today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Here is some Gion Matsuri video I took. This is a Yamahoko float somewhere in the area of Shijo Shinmachi.

Sorry if it is shaky, I had a beer in my other hand and was standing in a giant crowd.

It ain't mine!

The day after the matsuri, Ed and I went to Amagasaki to visit Tatsuya, Kazue and their new son Kanaya. Ed took the picture. Yes Mom, I got their address for you.

Sake Sangria

Here is the recipe for sake sangria that we made for the matsuri party. We were trying to do Japanese themed drinks. The green tea infused vodka also came out well once Ed adjusted the vodka levels down and the Cointreau and fuitiness up.

Go Reid

Let me take a moment to pat Sentae Majority Leader Harry Reid on the back. If you don't know what is going on, read this. Essentially, he is invoking a Senate rule to force a 30 hour debate on Iraq (Reid/Levin bill) using procedural maneuvers to keep Republicans in the chambers. Someone needs to shine a public spotlight on the fact that the Republicans are running a stall campaign to make sure nothing passes through congress.

Crazy Train

This morning I was on the Keihan Limited Express to Osaka. I hate it in the morning. It is packed and if I am lucky enough to get a seat I am wedged in at old man penis level. The place smells like 12 different kinds of warm Aqua-Velva. Somewhere around Hirakata-shi, the young man in the suit sitting next to me hauled off and punched a middle aged guy standing in front of us in the ass. I have no idea what happened. I was finishing up Trainspotting. I heard everything that was said but it went like most Japanese fight/arguments:

-What You!
-Why You!
-What What!

And so on. I was too tired to get it together to ask. Maybe the guy next to me was just getting freaked out at the crowd. If so, I am kind of proud of him. It gets to me to. It is also possible that the guy standing up was masturbating/ molesting someone. If you don't live in Japan that sounds more far-fetched, but it ain't. In this case, I am also proud of the guy. Maybe the guy next to is just an asshole though. Who knows? Exciting.


Today was the main, parade portion of the Gion Matsuri. Hundreds of people pull the giant floats around Kyoto. People from around the world come to watch. It's on a weekday so I had to work. The parade is from 9am to 1pm. I left for school around 7am. Today they were having teacher's conferences so my supervisor told me I could leave during lunch. I took off back for Kyoto and made it in at 1:30 when everyone was leaving the matsuri. I grabbed my camera and went down town but everything was over. There were so many foreign people that I got freaked out and came home. I fell asleep. I woke up around 7pm and was headed for the grocery store. My bike was lying on the floor of the bike room with the tire slit open. Nice. I went to walk and I noticed lots of police shutting down Kawabata Dori. Hundreds of men in white hapi coats were running northwards. I ran back for my camera. When I made it back to Kawabta, it was just normal traffic. I went to the grocery store and got some food. Matsuri was in the air, but I don't really know anyone to call and get up to something with....oh well, save that for Miyazaki. I was back in my apartment boiling noodles when a ruckus broke out. I bunch of people in white hapi were running down the street in fornt of my apartment. I tried to take some pictures. I came back in. A deep drum beat started. I went back to the balcony. White hapi coats were streaming by and the mikoshi appeared. It was big and golden. I took some video. I love the mikoshi. I love all mikoshis. I find it very hard to watch the matsuri and not participate. Nevertheless, it was nice. The mikoshi was followed by someone on a horse. That's a first for me. My timing is bad.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Almost Live Matusri Blogging

gion matsuri111, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Gion Matsuri accomplished. Drank sake sangria and beer and I still ain't drunk. But I am tired from walking 800 miles of matsuri in a jenbei looking for people I can't find. Drank beer. Keiko drinks lots of beer. A chinpira tried to fight a cop and tripped over a bunch or garbage bags. Yakisoba was eaten. Goodnight.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Typhoon Averted, Matsuri On

The typhoon never really materialized. So me and Ed went for Mexican food and had to listen to the owner do his mariachi crooner act. The cocktail party for today is on. I am using this recipe for green tea martinis. Will it work? Will it taste like ass?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

before the matsuri, it rained

before gion matsuri012, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

A typhoon is coming. The government reported that it is moving at the speed of someone on a bicycle. The cocktail party looks to be postponed to Monday. I went to Yasaka-Jinja to see if there were any signs of the matsuri being canceled. The mikoshi were lit up and out on display. I held my umbrella and snapped photos in the drizzle.

Gion Geiko Sighting

Last night I wandered around a rainy Gion to see if their were any signs of the matsuri being still on. In a windowed restaurant next to Shira Kawa, a regal Geiko was sitting very upright at a table next to an old man. She was facing the window and I didn't want to stare. Her hair was very grand.

Lance Hahn is Sick

I fell so out of touch. This shit ruined my week. I had no idea Lance was sick. In a sane country they wouldn't have to throw benefits for kidney transplants. In a just universe Lance would be carried around on a palanquin and fed beer and Mexican food. The guy is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. If Greenday and Rancid and every other doss cunt that got rich of the groundwork that other people laid aren't footing the bill then they can get fucked(that's an overstatement but I am still bitter at Rancid for trying to beat me up back when I couldn't fight). I was lucky enough to open up for J-Church (the fabled At The Drive In appearance) I didn't say anything to Lance 'cause I hate being a fan, plus they are one of those bands that mean more to me alone in my room so I didn't want to lie about how great they sounded but I love his music more than most things. If anything (else) bad happens to Lance I am storming back to America like Rambo in the first movie and setting things straight. Scooter Libby goes free and good people have to beg to live. Fuck this shit.

Blow It Out Your Ass Arash Markazi

I just put him in the title so it will come up the next time he googles his name and comments anonymously. I didn't go back and check on my predictions from last weeks UFC. I didn't do as well on the methods as I did last time. I got all of the outcomes right except for Sherk vs Franca. I took a flyer on Franca and he couldn't pull it out. I still haven't seen the match but I heard it was a postion clinic. Naturally the assholes in the stands booed. Americans. Also, Ortiz Evans was a draw. I had Tito winning. The real question is; does Tito have any room to improve? I will still bet on him, but Rashad is only going to get better. I don't think Tito is. Nevertheless, he made mad coin on the draw ($200,000 to Evans $18,000)

To CNNSI I quote Michael Stipe, "Come on aboard I promise you you won't hurt the horse. We treat him well. We feed him well. There's lots of room for you on the bandwagon."

But they could really do with some better reporting. The real question coming out of "Stacked" is: which recently dethroned champion stands the best chance of regaining his belt? I'll give the percentages:

Tim Sylvia- %0
Chuck Liddell- %30
Rich Franklin-%40
Matt Hughes-%50

After watching Silva, I gotta say that I don't think Franklin is going to be seeing that belt again. Well, seeing it maybe. Not wearing it. Tim Sylvia has no place among the top level heavyweights coming in. Hendo is coming and is a much better style match-up against Rampage than Liddell. He also out-classes Liddell in the athletic department. GSP has every reason to expect to beat Serra in a rematch but I think Koschek is a much more difficult match for him than people think... Hughes is looking more and more beatable. That being said he beat my boy Penn, but, what are you gonna do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who Dat Say They Gonna Cover Miki Dozan

I was in the Conbini in Kyobashi Eki today and there was this girl singing Lifetime Respect really slow like. What da? Sorry for two youtube songs in as many days but I just realized it's the middle of the summer. While there aren't many problems something seems a little off about this translation to me. Mainly, that it doesn't emphasize that "together" and "all of my life" are almost homophones in Japanese and that is kinda the main point of the song. I'm nitpicking, but I don't think he is saying "I don't understand marriage but I want to have a baby." I think he is like, "Get married? say whu? Let's get down to business. It's fate baby. Believe dat!" He definitely doesn't say "I won't leave you." He says, "I can't let go of you." That's a pretty big difference I think.

terrible video. hardest karaoke song ever. I saw Miki at Beat Crap my first year in Miyazaki when Kate tried to fight the owner because they closed the bar during his set. So much foreshadowing in that little experience.
So who is covering this?

Read Books Good for Brains

I keep talking about TV and movies on here, but books is better. I'm sorry. It's just that I usually read on the train and at work and watch movies at home so I am thinking of them when I post.

Books I read last week:

I finished Post Captain the second in the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian. I liked it more than the first book. Maybe because I am getting more into it, maybe because O'Brian was getting more into it. I don't know. I usually don't go in for British aristocracy tramping around the countryside getting into delicate entanglements but this is good stuff.

I read Ian Fleming's Casino Royale in a total of about 3 hours. Not a great book but certainly worth reading. I enjoy that style: He walked in. She walked out. He punched her in the face. There are some serious misogyny issues taking place. The book also contains the phrase, "the sweet tang of rape." I shit you not. I couldn't make that up.

I reread Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. That's some fucked up shit right there. Remind me never to climb a mountain. I remember watching the news report on this disaster with Summer's family. Doug kept laughing and shaking his head about stupid fuckers who want to climb Everest. I don't understand why people criticized Krakauer so much. What was he supposed to do? Operating in that atmosphere is like diving at severe pressures, you can't control how your physiology will respond. It isn't like he slept while people died because he was tired. His body was dying. Anyway, a crazy read. I'd like to make the movie, but someone else is.

I am currently reading two books: one is a kirie version of the Tale of Genji. The kirie is by Miyata Masayuki and is incredible. There are so many standout cutouts that I can't go into them all here. The book is in Japanese and English. It is abridged to make room for the kirie, which sucks but is necessary. I am also rereading Trainspotting . My copy is the one with the cover that reads "The best book ever written by man or woman...deserves to sell more copies than the Bible."—Rebel, Inc. True that. The only problem with reading it is the language enters your brain and you begin to think things like "pish me keks" or "I was no goin" or "disnae." I'm feeling more Mark Renton than Sick Boy these days. Hell, for the last few months I woulda settled for Spud. This book should be assigned is high schools. On the all-time list for sure.


Did you know that Penn Jillette named his kid Moxie Crimefighter? For my money that is probably the best name I have ever heard. I think all of the names I would want for my kid would quickly be knocked down by whoever I happen to put in a family way. Would any girl let me name our kid Achilles? Or Nowaki? (do you know the kanji for that one there? ed, i'm looking at you is old Japanese for typhoon.)

Speaking of Penn Jillette I have been re-watching the old Penn and Teller series The Unpleasent World of Penn and Teller. It reminded me of how much I used to like them. Their kind of magic (directly influenced by James Randi) is rad because if you get the joke and you get the trick it teaches you something about not being a sucker. Not just at the carnival, but at the church and at the election and in front of the TV. I very much enjoy how them revealing how the trick is preformed is just as much another trick. Clever. Unfortunately I think a lot of this good feeling is lost when I watch their program Bullshit. While a lot of the show is decent, it can't get around the fact that Libertarianism is so much the belief system for twelve year old boys. It makes all arguments so much easier to say that freedom is good control is bad so therefore that applies absolutely in every situation. For example, they are right on about drug control. It is ridiculous and self defeating. People who are reckless and want to poison themselves will. The best we can do is deal with and minimize the problems his causes to society. Meanwhile, they lambast recycling as foolhardy claiming that most of it ends up in the dump and anyway we have enough room. Well, as with population growth, space is a fallacy. We have enough space for lots of things. We don't have enough RESOURCES. And that's the bottom line. So if you attempt to discuss waste without discussing overpopulation, you are having a pointless conversation. It is just shallow comfort to yell 'freedom' at the problem and hope it goes away when organization and effort are necessary.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let's Teaching Junior High!

-I have two sisters one older and one the same.
-You're a twin?
-How can I tell you apart?
-Her eyes are different.
-They're blue?
-Well, what is you first name so I won't confuse the two of you?
-And what is your sister's name?
-.......................................... Is she in a club too?
-The same; basketball club.
-So if one of you fouls out you can sneak back in?
-We play at the same time.

-Mr. Okubo, why don't you introduce yourself.
-(In Japanese) I don't want to. I can't speak English.
-That is why you are in English class.
-(In Japanese) I don't know what you are talking about, I can't speak English.

This goes on for a while with patches of English and a lot of silence.

-Last question Mr. Okubo: What do you want to be?
-A translator in America.

Mr. Yano-What do you want to be?
-A musician
-What do you play?
-Do you play the drums?
-Do you have a drumset?
-Where do you practice?
-You don't practice?
-But you want to be a musician?

your tune for the day

I have had this stuck in my head for the better part of a week. Maybe because it is summer. Remember when you had to stay up until midnight on a Sunday to hear rad music? I kinda miss it. Anyway, I had Jane's Addiction to the list of bands I could give a shit about once they change bass players. (Weezer, The Promise Ring, etc...) The only people that seem to be immune are Iceburn who seem to have a stable of geniuses on retainer. Eric A was the man. Did anyone else notice that this bass line is the same as the Red Hot Chili Peppers version of 'Higher Ground'? Play them both and you will see.

Gion Matsuri Cocktail Party

If you are in Kyoto this Sunday for the Gion Matsuri, drop by. We are having summer cocktails, wearing Yukata and Jinbei and wandering around the matsuri.

Moore Spanks Blitzer

If you missed Michael Moore drawing and quartering Wolf Blitzer yesterday, check it out.
I have to admit that for a second I thought, "Hey, don't be mean to Sanjay Gupta." But Moore's point was exactly right on. First, CNN felt a need to run a piece that said, in effect, "Pretty much everything Sicko said was right but we can look at the numbers a little differently, so Michael Moore is a liar." They keep doing shit like this. People don't listen to what is being said, they just take away the mental insulation that anything that makes them uncomfortable is a lie, or 'fudge' as Dr. Gupta would say.
Second, while Gupta's actions in Iraq, and I remember watching them at the time, were valiant, in the end he was only serving to hype a war and not question its premise. Moore is right to say that and will be skewered for bringing it up. It was rad to watch him stomp all over the moronic Blitzer however.

Poverty Averted: Mission Go

I stopped by the 7-11 in Gion to check my bank balance in some desperate hope, having planned to eat deviled eggs for the week. BAM! $130 in the kitty baby. Livin' large in the 07.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I won't bore you with my hard-luck year. Every month I think I am done with my poor man's crisis. Unfortunately... The Japanese system is retarded. You get paid once a month and that is usually two weeks into the next month. So, while I have been working for a month, I find myself with $30 to get me through until next Tuesday. I don't think this is actually possible. What happened was this: Towards the end of last month, my work asked me to submit all of the paperwork for my work hours and travel expenses. I had been paying my travel each time I went but the forms specified that, except in rare cases, I should buy a commuter ticket and get the receipt. I really like my new job, and I wanted to do the right thing by them so I bought the tickets. This, combined with my travel for the sub work I was doing for them and the training added up to about $400 in travel expenses. This is included in my next paycheck. Meanwhile, my old job probably isn't going to pay me anything because I walked out on them and didn't fill out all of the tax forms and..... I also realized that the Monday after next is a holiday so I am super screwed. Actually, i f I make it that far I will be stoked. I found myself yesterday considering whether people would look at me as evil if I started killing ducks in Kamo Gawa. It is 'Kamo' Gawa for Christ's sake. There are also large Koi roaming its waters. I could have fish and duck. I now where some eggplants and tomatoes are still on the vine. I also found a cabbage patch. I probably wouldn't get shot. I found myself today pondering rolling drunk old men for their wallets. I sold 16 books today, thinking that they might give me 300-500 yen each for them. In total I got 500 yen ($5) for the batch. That was rough. The lady at the book store said, "How are you broke? You are an English teacher in Japan." Welcome to my world baby. I am still living like a pauper (except for that fiasco where I bought a drill to hang a hammock and found it didn't work so I had to rent a drill and the bit broke and I lost about $100 dollars on the whole fiasco.) One of my schools I don't have a commuter ticket to, so I am thinking of riding my bike for two and a half hours to get there because a one way ticket is 390-yen and I could eat for a day on that. Every month I think this is over. Don't get me wrong,everyone should have to do this once. It is a good lesson, but I have already learned it. I found some Mayonnaise in the fridge and a dozen eggs were only 150-yen so I am thinking that 2 dozen deviled eggs might get me through a day or two. I could take to the hills and hunt inoshishi. I had a student on Friday give an introduction in which he said, "Friends and money are important." I asked, "Is money really important?" He responded in the affirmative so I asked him for some. He said no so I asked further, "What if I punched you in the face and took it?" Everyone laughed at my joke...but it wasn't. I think I might punch him in the face and take his money. This really all goes back to ten years ago when, having a perfect credit history, the company decided that I now had bad credit so I couldn't have a card anymore. Why? Because I transferred schools which they read as dropping out of school and defaulting on school loans. When shown their mistake they responded, "Yes, you are right, but...what can you do? Go fuck yourself." Well I have been for a decade and I have no credit card still. So do you think if I tape my knife onto a long stick and sit quietly in the woods behind Nanzenji I can get an inoshishi? Then I could steal eggplants from the river and boil it all with some stolen cabbage. If you have any no money eating advice, please let me know. I am thinking I might go with tofu and vitamins for the rest of the week. Oh, Gion Matsuri starts this weekend and we are supposed to be having a cocktail party at my house on the 15th. If you are in town, stop by. Great time to be broke. Maybe I can sell the washing machine. These are glorious days my friends. Glorious broke-ass, motherfucking, stupid days.

Tanabata Maiko Madness

Last night was a red-letter day(night) in Maikoness. I was riding south on Kawabata going to 99 to get some cheap food. Crossing the intersection of Shijo and Kawabata was a Maiko-san with an old man. Now, I think there is some chance this was a fake. Usually Maiko aren't so out in the open and she was smiling and walking kind of naturally. On the other hand, her outfit and make-up looked right and the guy she was with looked old and rich.

I continued south and was in the hanamachi south of Shijo (which one is that? Is that Shimabara or is it still Gion?) when I show three Maiko waiting outside of a tea house. I think they were the real deal, but I caught them in a strange, unguarded moment. They were laughing and one of them was kind of dancing and then the mama came out and got mad at them. This is the virture of riding a fast quiet bike with no light. They were amusing but I realized that being a Maiko isn't equivalent to being attractive.

On the way bag, with a big bag of groceries, I decided to take the back way through the real hanamachi. I always feel like I am intruding. I was dodging an old man when an absolutely beautiful, striking Maiko-possibly Geiko- walked around the corner wearing a blue kimono and giant geta that I heard before I saw. I realized the shocking grandeur and draw of these figure then. She said "Konbanwa" really assuredly as I dodged my bike around her and I wasn't sure if it was to me or the old man behind me, but I found myself kind of bowing while I was on my bike. She was the real god-damned deal.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Racial Segregation

Here is an interesting list. This is exactly the point I was trying to make to someone who shall remain nameless a little while ago. They throw out the notion because they had heard someone say something racist in the South one time. Fuck that shit. Being an exchange student, and now living in Japan and meeting people from all over, I am struck by how racially segregated their up bringing was. I think I am fortunate that despite being reared in the belly of the beast, we had a really racially diverse community. I try to tell people who oddly and definitely segregated NYC is, but they don't really believe me. Look! I don't take this study as a way to say 'The North is more racist." That is silly. But I do feel they are more separate.

Let's Bike Race Go!

I rode my bike from Kyoto to Osaka and back today. It was the back part that got to me. It took 2 1/2 hours to get there. I was actually trying to see if it was feasible to ride myself to Imaichi-Chu, where I work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 2 1/2 hours might be a bit extreme. I was also trying to see if my trip across Shikoku is going to be possible. It was around the 3rd hour that I began to feel it. I think mentally, it is more tiring to retrace your steps. I ran out of water around the 4th hour and felt like garbage. I should also say that, being broke until payday, I have no money so I couldn't stop to get anything to eat. I think if, on my big trip, I stop every 3 hours and eat a bit I will be okay. The bike paths are spotty. They are really good in a few places but don't link up. There is a stretch around Kuzuha where I was forced to ride on the big, busy road. Not cool. Once you get to Makino/ Hirakata, there is a park the whole way down the river. The down side of this is that every few minutes you have to go through these absurd bike turnstile fences. A lot of the bike trail in Kyoto, down the Katsura River, is really lovely and surrounded by small farms. I am thinking of going back to steal eggplants and tomatoes. Is that morally acceptable when you are broke. I got a wicked sunburn to. But it was on purpose.

Happy Tanabata!!

I am usually getting ready to go back to America around Tanabata. This involves-generally-one uncomfortable date with Shiho that goes nowhere and me deciding to forget the whole thing and getting on a plane. I am trying not to think about no camp right now. I am going to miss the drive up a lot. Just me and dad's truck and some boiled peanuts...oh! and the Jim Rome show all the way to Montgomery.

UFC 73 Picks

This weekends UFC card "Stacked" is the first real, decent card of the 'UFC done blowed up' era. The card is strong from top to bottom and features a significant import of talent from Japan. Here are my picks.

Mark Bocek (154.5) vs. Frank Edgar (Pictures) (154.5) Frank Edgar by virtue of his battle with Tyson Griffin. I didn't actually get to see that fight, but I heard a lot about it. I pick Edgar in the second by fury.

Jason Gilliam (Pictures) (171) vs. Chris Lytle (Pictures) (169.5) I rather like Lytle and his fighting style. I think he can fight just about anyone to a decision. If their talent level is notably higher than his the decision will usually go the other way but I see Lytle taking this one by decision and firemanship.

Diego Saraiva (Pictures) (155) vs. Jorge Gurgel (Pictures) (155.5) I have heard about Jorge Gurgel, but never seen him fight. He has a grappler's name, but I have heard it is his stand up that sets him apart. Saraiva is supposed to be a sick grappler. Gurgel by the fact that I have heard his name more and he is looking ripped at the weigh-ins (which means nothing).

Mike Nickels (205.5) vs. Stephan Bonnar (Pictures) (204.5) Nickels seems like a cool guy and I would like to see him do well. Bonnar has shown that he is probably just at the upper end of average. Neither of these guys have elite level talent. I have heard that Nickels ground game is really strong, but I have never seen it. I think Bonnar takes a decision with strong stand-up and good conditioning.

Alvin Robinson (Pictures) (156) vs. Kenny Florian (Pictures) (155.5) Ken-Flo is another guy that you don't bet against. I really like his skill set. Everyone knows how sick his jiu-jitsu is and his Muay-Thai is really coming around. Florian by submission in the third.

Heath Herring (Pictures) (259) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) (240.5) Big Nog in America...It is just so weird. Herring is a wild card lately. While he is best know for his battle with Fedor-as well as not being a homosexual- his recent fights have looked like a big night at the tough-man competition. My spider senses are telling me that Herring gets an absurd knockout from his knees while beaten and bloody and screaming. However, I say extra-big Nog by sub in the second. Americans don't even know. You don't even know. The boy ain't right.

Rashad Evans (Pictures) (204) vs. Tito Ortiz (Pictures) (205.5) I haven't seen a lot of Rashad Evan's fights but I keep hearing that he might be the real deal. I don't know yet. I admire Tito, especially after his coaching stint on TUF. He is really dedicated and knows how to win. Chuck has Tito's number, no doubt, so it is hard to guage where he is right now. This fight wil be a good ruler for if he is on the up or down swing. Tito by ref stoppage in the third.

Hermes Franca (Pictures) (154.5) vs. Sean Sherk (Pictures) (154.5) I loves the Hermes Franca. Sherk is an animal. Franca drops the bomb. Sherk is a bad-ass wrestler but Franca's jiu-jitsu is miles ahead. Franca's stand-up is ahead. Sherk is hard to submit with those dinosaur arms. Franca by third round KO.

Nathan Marquardt (Pictures) (182.5) vs. Anderson Silva (184.5) Even though Marquardt fought for years in Pancrase here in Japan, I have never seen him fight. We've been hearing the legend for years. I think Silva is one of those guys who is just born to fight. Don't be fooled by his slim build and soft voice, the guy is a killer. I love that he works the body triangle. I love that he destroys from the Thai clinch. Marquardt will earn some takedowns, but he will pay. Silva by third round KO.

there you are..take it to the office....

Friday, July 6, 2007


I just watched Sicko and must say that it is easily Michael Moore's best movie since Roger & Me. I was kind of avoiding watching it because I knew I would get angry. I have been a prisoner of the bullshit American insurance system since the Post Office stopped covering me when I turned twenty-one. I think it is hard for people to comprehend what it is like to go from being uninsured to being completely covered. It is such an extreme relief I don't think I can accurately describe it. I can remember ripping my meniscus to shreds and having to bang my knee back into joint by propping my foot on a bed post and hammering my knee with my fist until it went back in. I went back for Christmas shortly thereafter and was reduced to rolling around on the floor with clinched dreading repeating the process, as I would have to frequently, and arguing with my mom about whether I could go to the hospital or not. I don't know how, but I was fortunate enough to have parents who could come up with the money to cover my surgery. What absurdity. Americans get sold on that just being the way things work. A month ago I went to my neighborhood office here and told them I had just moved to Kyoto and wanted to get insurance but I still owed money in Miyazaki. They asked for my birthday and my address. About fifteen minutes later they handed me a card. "What else do I need to do? When do I pay?" I asked. "Don't worry about it." They told me. That was it. I don't have to argue with someone in an office somewhere. I just go where I need to go. But millions of people who have never left the U.S.-except to live on military bases where they are covered by government insurance-will tell you how terrible it is to have that system. I usually say it as a joke that that is why I don't go home, but really, why should I settle for the American system? It kills me that people aren't in the streets over this and I don't know how to deal with that. Anyway, Sicko does a very good job of showing us what we could have and how absurd what exists now is. The Cuba scenes are overwhelmingly touching but I won't spoil it for you. There is no way to disconnect this argument from an overall observation about the debt that our generation is having dropped on it. I am certainly a prisoner of it. Almost everyone I know my age is. I don't see any hope for it. Our parents grew up in the benevolent shadow of FDR and Truman and Eisenhower and other people who believed in government and society. We are saddled with the carnage of Nixon and Reagan and -to a certain extent- Clinton and now Bush. We don't deserve this society that has been thrown on us. Americans are so ready to do good and they throw up so many barriers in our way. They won't let us come together and build something better.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Unaji Showdown.

If you don't know what unaji is, I ain't going to explain it to you. On my way home from Mikuni, instead of changing trains at Juso, I have started riding the local to Umeda and switching to the Limited Express so I can get a seat. For some reason, on Monday, there were all of these girls in yukata. I don't think there was a matsuri in Kyoto on Monday, but it is Kyoto so you never know. I think they were probably working somewhere though. I got on the train and ended up in the seat behind these young ladies. For a man hooked on the unaji, it was a trying ride as they spent the hour redoing each others hair and makeup. Help me. Help me.

Another Reason I Love/Hate America

Not only does this guy decide to run on camera during a story about a mob murder. he decides to crip walk through it! I don't know why this cracks me up so much. If they ask me at school to teach the kids something about American culture I am going to show them how to crip walk. The weird thing is; for being a hip/down dance it is eerily similar to the Breakfast Club, which I am known to do when drunk.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Impeach Now!

They are laughing at you. They are sitting there and laughing at you. Mumia Abu Jamal is still in jail. Leonard Peltier is still in jail. Genralow Wilson spent years in jail for a blow-job. Thousands of people who were holding weed are still in jail. Tons of people who were on the wrong side of mandatory minimums are still in jail. Even Paris Hilton did her time in jail. What do you think happened to Valerie Plame's contacts in foreign countries the day her name came out? Do you think they got $250,000 dollar fines and probation? People died. People died. And right now, everyone in the White House is sitting there looking out laughing and waiting to run out the clock. With Scooter Libby's pardon they have announced that no one will be held accountable for anything that happens under the Bush reign. This is a disaster and a farce. How many more people have to die? It has to stop now. Impeach!

Happy 4th of July

I almost forgot it was the fourth, but I managed to get it together enough to wear my limited edition, pre-World Cup, limited edition "Don't Tread on Me" jersey to work. Anyway, I thought I would post this because there is an America that you will hear talked about a lot today. It has something to do with TV and Lee Greenwood and the Army. It has to do with flags and presidents and bullshit. There is another, better America out there. Here, in one version of it, a pot smoker, two heroin addicts and a Rhodes Scholar sing a song about a train. I like that America very much.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Florida Accent?

I get asked a lot in Japan if we have an accent in Florida. I don't know, but I hope to god we sound like Carrabelle's own Buck O'Neil. Possibly the most beautiful human being who ever lived.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Japan Story of the Day: i hate milk

I put a great amount of care into not being found out. I mean, I am found out from the beginning with dirty-brown hair, conspicuous blue eyes and one-hundred eighty two centimeters. But I labor to have the casual observer glance and say, "My he is refined in spite of himself. In spite of this avalanche of arm hair and that rounded head." I will pay $150 for a commuter ticket when paying each time at the machine with loose change would cost me maybe half so that people won't think, "Look at that foreigner, I wonder if he knows where he is going?" I stand up on the train when they announce my station in Japanese. I scoff at the English announcement or pretend not to hear it. I never get up and run to the yellow line with false hope when the out of service train rolls through. I laugh at those who expend their energy on such folly. I settle back in my chair and wait to feel some subconscious congratulations emanating from my fellow commuters. Today I began putting my book back in my bag when they announced we would soon be stopping at Juso. I didn't run through the station because I knew it was the local that I wanted, not the rapid. I didn't get in line because the semi-express would come first. When I did board the local, I knew that even though I had gotten in through the left doors I would be exiting in one stop from the right. I think there must be a design school in Mikuni because girls with cropped and dyed blonde hair and wearing unusual clothes while carrying portfolio tubes stream from the train as I get off. I easily walk to the escalator, letting all of them flow in front of me and wondering if they notice just how much I belong in their world. I walk slowly down the escalator with the crowd thinking about how, from Osaka down, we walk on a different side than those heathens in Tokyo. I reach the end of the escalator and take out my wallet to produce my computer pass that emphatically, quietly proves that I do this every day. That I am nothing out of the ordinary. That I belong. The change purse on my wallett comes apart at the edge. I hadn't been buying single tickets lately so I haven't used much loose change. It all spills down the escalator accumulating where the steps submerge, fold, then repeat. I keep walking as there is a press of people behind me and it would be unseemly to dive on the ground for money. My commuter pass, flimsy recycled plastic, is stuck in my wallet behind my bank card as the humidity has clung to it. A nervous, tall man hands me some of my change. He mumbles something in English but I don't catch it. I am out of the flow now. I have to wait to get through a ticket gate. I stand to the side and try to dart into openings. It wasn't until after lunch that I realized that my fly was down.


for the first time in years I ate a snickers bar today. it was terrible. what was i thinking? don't do it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

ed. susan. any other grace park fans. anyone with a pulse.

sorry to contribute to your downfall.

Kyoto Fashion Show

This is late but... Two weekends ago my friend Miho, who likes to dress in kimono and go places, drug me out to this kimono fashion show at Kyoto Eki. The first group to come out was hideous. All of the clothes looked like someone had stolen their grandmother's drapes and hastily affixed them to her couch covers and then laced them with gold jewelry. The designer, an uncomfortably comfortable man in a black cowboy hat, was also a model. He sported man-capes. It was terrible. Second to go were these really cute chicks in Yukata. I don't know if someone coached them on their walking but they were doing this odd geta bounce that was, dare I say, pretty f'n hot. Some very elegant kimono followed but I pined for the yukata girls and didn't take much interest. The whole affair was hosted by this skanky looking lady in paisely hot pants who I was assured many times was "very famous in Kansai." I grew tired of looking at her skinny kneecaps, with their folds of soft fat overlapping from above.
The first show ended. The audience had been made up of rancid looking old women who were there because, "old ladies like kimono and things that are free.". We had front row seats because Miho and her friend were wearing kimono. I was a foreigner with a camera so maybe someone thought I was important. The rancid old women started to be replaced by nicer looking young women in an assortment of clothing ranging from 'nice but weird' to 'hootchie.' I soon realized it was because the second show (by the way, if you don't live in Japan, you have to figure this stuff out as it goes because no Japanese person will ever think to explain what is happening or is going to happen to you) featured ladies who work in the clothing stores below the station as models, and was hosted by this dude, who is not funny in the least. I should also point out that this show was taking place at the bottom of the giant stairwell in Kyoto Eki so anyone who gathered to watch was looming over us in our small grouping of chairs and I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the only foreigner in the front row with a camera and two girls in kimono. At the end of Ueda Ken's not funny show, during which photography was prohibited and young staff members would charge up the staircase throwing their hands out in front of anyone who lifted a phone-how degrading for them, a raffle was help in which you could win the outfits that the models were wearing. When they called your number you had to go stand on the stage with the model whose clothes you wanted. I had wisely chosen not to get a ticket. The first person to win was a little girl and she went straight for the model in the god-awful pink overall hotpants/ Mickey Mouse hat ensemble. Go figure; a child chooses a cartoon character. Two guys had their numbers drawn and they were really creepy and wore sunglasses and made the models uncomfortable. I think it would have been a good event for Susan because she would have hated all of the clothes and still really wanted to win. Miho proved that we have very different taste in fashion as all of her choices disappeared and then she finally didn't win anything. I wished Kumar was around so we could try to pick up models the way we had with the Miss Miyazaki ladies after the Erekkochya Matsuri. Instead I drank coffee with chicks in kimono. Bought a stupid playstation game and went home.

Kamogawa date time

If you have a date in Kyoto (unlike me; captain hitoribochi) I will give you some info. They just mowed all of the grass by the river between Sanjo and Demachiyanagi, and the fireflies are out. I only know this because I run at night now. While this prevents ketosis, it does force me to watch other people make-out. At Nijo there are a bunch of nice, big rocks in the river and a little further up some shaped like turtles. Go kids. Have fun.

basbeall team that will never be called great

Here is my all-time team of baseball players who will never be called great.

1st- J.T. Snow. I like first baseman who can play defense. Snow was exceptional. I also like that he was a switch hitter who gave it up and went lefty; an interesting choice.

2nd- Mark Lemke. The man could turn a double play. I think the times have changed greatly. A guy like Lemke could start up the middle for a championship team. He also tried to become a knuckleball pitcher. Props.

SS- Rafael Belliard. Again, remember there was a time when guys like Raffy could play in a World Series game. I remember watching his second, and final, career home run. I think it was against Pittsburgh. The guy could field like a maniac too.

3rd- Rex Hudler. I didn't realize Rex was doing so well after his playing career until I looked him up just now. I just remember him as the crazy dude who always showed up on This Week in Baseball yelling about something.

LF- Brady Anderson. The 1990s at Camden Yards were great times. Brady, with the posters of him in his underpants, was a rad left fielder with no arm to speak of. He had speed, and a little pop in his bat. His aberrant home run season makes me like him less actually. He had great sideburns though.

CF- Brett Butler. I still remember the day he got traded by the Braves. You would have thought someone had died, or we had lost a war. I loved his giant glove and his wicked bunting. That's awesome that there was a dude who just set around practicing bunting all of the time. I understand that he is a crazy born-again, pro-life Christian now. Again, an outfielder with no arm.

RF- Michael Tucker. I went to a Braves game one July on the way up to camp with Brandon. Maddux was pitching and the game was on Fox. Tucker got a home run and was awesome in the field. Baseball is weird like that. If i had only seen him that day and someone had told me that he was one of the legends of the game, I would have believed it. When you see him play in person, he just so much looks the baseball player.

C- Javy Lopez. He was going to be the player of the future. Does anyone remember when he was in the minor leagues and was known for his base stealing? He had that flick throw behind the runner at first and his home runs would hang up in the air like massive pop-flies. Still kind of sad that he only turned out to be a little better than average.

P- Bill Lee. Probably the closest to greatness. "What was your best pitch?" "A strike." Put weed in his pancakes and ran to the ballpark. Was also a bad-ass pitcher.

I love my dead gay job/I studied latin what did you ever do?

This week both of my schools were undergoing the national tests. Thursday and Friday I had nothing to do at work so I finally started studying Latin, like I had planned to do for the past month. I highly recommend this site if you are interested in doing the same. I am sure it will get much more difficult but after being hung up on kanji for the last half decade, studying in normal letters seems like a relief. I can already say Diana feras silvae necat. 'Diana kills the beasts of the forest.'

One school let me go after two hours because there was really nothing going on. Mikuni told me to show up late. I went to English club which was three girls that can't speak English and one who could who translated everything for the others. One of the girls is nuts and only cares about the Biohazard movie and whether sharks eat people in America.

The good part was I went to the judo club's practice. Mikuni has a pretty nice martial arts room up on the third floor. The kids, after having tests all day, practice insanely hard for over two hours. Their ne-waza (grappling on the ground) was garbage though. I tired to give them some advice but I really have no idea what you can and can't do when it comes to junior high judo so I probably just confused them, I wanted to get in there and start gogo-plataing some teenagers but....Of course, I think the way they go about practice is self-defeating but that applies to most Japanese practices of anything. After practice, the judo coach, who had earlier invited me to the male staff drinking party and who's teeth are rotting out, showed me his secret room in the school. Apparently he teaches first year students computers, so they built a computer room for them. There was an empty room left off behind the classroom so he brought up an old refrigerator, some couches and a weight bench. He told me I could hang out there if I wanted because the office was probably boring for me and that I could drink the tea out of the fridge. He also told me he has to drink a beer and three glasses of shyochu just to go to sleep every night. "I'm an alcoholic." He told me. Crazy how frank you can afford to be about these things here. Alcoholic is just another thing you can be.

In any case it is the first time I have had a job that I liked since I left JET. I liked the hospital but it was only one day a week. There were times at Kingsbury were I was able to go surfing everyday and got along well with all of my students. But as for actually enjoying the job.....I'm sure something will happen to change this....maybe....I don't know.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.