Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I used to hate New Year's, now I just don't care. To be fair Japanese New Year has it all over the American one. We have K-1 and jinjas. Can't beat it with a stick. Everyone does these year end round-ups and I feel the need to play along, but I never had a good sense of what happened within the confines of a year, and living abroad makes it even worse. Your best movie of last year might have just rolled in on Betamax here. I don't know.
Album of the Year: I looked at other people's lists to figure out what albums came out this year. And the only one I had was Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static." Which I don't even like. I can't find anything that I listen to that came out this year.
Song of the Year: See above. The only song from this year that I know is A Mili. Maybe we'll go with that.
Movie of the Year: Hands down The Dark Knight. It absolutely lived up to all of its hype. I wasn't as nuts about Heath Ledger's performance as most, but it was very good. An action movie that was about moral choices and their ambiguous results. I liked it far more than I thought I would and I love Batman. I also got to see it in IMAX with Susan Goslee, whom I like watching movies with, so it was rad. Honorable mention: Tropic Thunder, which I also liked far more than I thought I would. I am sure I am forgetting something.
Fight of the Year: Conventional wisdom says Maeda vs. Torres. Probably. I am going out on a limb and putting in for some short fights. I will say Hazelett vs. McCrory. Penn vs. Sherk. And Le vs. Shamrock.
Wave of the Year: Not many to be had this year. However, I had a few hours at Waikiki, which, despite everything; the tourists, the crowds, the angry locals, the rented shit board, the time restrictions, is still one of the greatest experiences in life. I have said it before, they don't let you shag flys at Fenway Park. They don't let you play quarterback for the Packers, but anybody can paddle out at Waikiki and soak it all in.
TV Show of the Year: The Wire was on, so of course it was The Wire. That being said, we are in the golden age of television ladies and gentlemen.
I guess that is all I have. Hmmm.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I am cutting out all the K-1 Koshien fights, because I don't follow 15 year-olds.
Minowaman vs. Zimmerman: Seeing Minowman live last year made me go from unyielding hate to unrepentant affection. He warmed up a cold crowd. Still, he is low on real talent, especially striking and he gets kicked around in this one. Zimmerman. TKO. 2nd.
Sato vs. Kyshenko: Toss up. Kyshenko by toughness.
Tokoro vs. Nakamura: Oh, Tokoro! How I do love the. The scrappy floor scrubber. He bathes in his sink and kicks ass by night. If you had never seen a fight, I would show you Tokoro. I loves him. Tokoro by leg-lock at the end of the 1st.
Sakaguchi vs. Ologun: I don't really care. Yet, Bobby's little brother is actually rather talented. Ologun, decision.
Sapp vs. Kinniku Man: Fight's a joke. Kinniku Man is being played by an actual wrestler. He takes Bob down and beats him up. TKO in the 2nd. Unless Bob Sapp has some residual talent and drops a hammer fist from the sky....
Schilt vs. Mighty Mo: Nobody is really giving Mo a chance. I see Schilt winning too, especially since it is a MMA bout. However, a big Mo hook can take anybody out. I see Schilt getting a late TKO from being a giant.
Sakurai vs. Shibata: If Sakurai still cares about fighting, he walks through Shibata with a KO in the 1st. Too much talent.
Kawajiri vs. Takeda: An MMA fighter fighting a muay thai fighter under K-1 rules. Takeda is a little old. Kawajiri is on a roll and has great stand-up. Kawajiri by KO in the 2nd.
Overeen vs. Hari: Hari is a headcase. Despite his horrible conduct I love watching him fight. I think he is the best straight-up kickboxer going. I think he is enough of a headcase that his recent troubles don't even phase him and he goes right back to work. If it were MMA I would not hesitate t go with Overeem, but it isn't. If Overeem can get the clinch, he wins. I think Hari is too big and strong for that. Hari by KO in the 2nd.
Cro-Cop vs. Choi: Choi had a brain tumor removed. Cro-Cop fights like he has a brain tumor. Cro-Cop from 2 years ago was a human wrecking ball. Cro-Cop now? Choi ever? Cro-Cop cuts down his front leg and Kos Choi in the 2nd.
Mousasi vs. Musashi: I get it! Their names are the same in Japanese. I want to name my kid Musashi. Plus he is from Osaka and good. Mousasi is this year's MMA revelation. This is a K-1 fight. Musashi by decision from K-1 experience. It will be a sweet fight though.
Hunt vs. Lebanner: MMA rules? Are you kidding me? Sweet ass. Hunt is one of my favorite fighters of all time. He weighs 300 pounds and has a head made of wrought iron. Took Cro-Cop kicks like they were Nerf balls. Hunt wins by Atomic Butt Drop. Whenever.
Aoki vs. Alvarez: Call Donkey Kong suckas, 'cause it is most definitely on. If you grapple, it is very hard to not pull for Aoki. He is to submissions what Jesus was to Nazereth...Pennsylvania. That being said, who is more on fire than Alvarez? What a great fighter. While Aoki's sub ability is out of control, he has always been a bit fragile. Reality called and told me that Alvarez will out wrestle Aoki and the beat him silly. My personal reality sees Aoki taking the back and strangling the muhfuh. Reality via reality.
Hansen vs. Cavalcante: Hansesn is one of my all time faves. His striking is good. His head is steel. His heritiage is Norwegian. What is really impressive is his ability to get back to guard, no matter the circumstances. Cavalcante is like a small tank. Or the Batmobile. He is a talented brickhouse, who just keeps coming. I don't know with this. I will say Hansen by decision, but it could go a myriad of ways. It will be a great fight.
Sakuraba vs. Tamura: Bad blood that somebody forgot to put in the fridge. Fights that would have been great 5 years ago. I actually shed tears seeing Sakuraba in person last year. He is in my top 5 of all time and is truly, truly one of the best ever. Tamura is also a legend in the sport. This is really a battle of who is more damaged. The answer is Sakuraba, but he is also more talented. If Tamura can punch Sakuraba really hard in the face, then he can win. If Sakuraba can get on top of Tamura on the ground, he can wrench his shoulder off. I go for Sakuraba by destiny. Watch for Tamura's sick leg kicks though.
Put it in your piggy bank. Arash Markazi probably doesn't follow k-1 so...screw it.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Hardonk vs. Wessel: Same old story. Hardonk is supposed to be a jiu-jitsu purple belt, but, still, take-downs result in a Hardonk loss. His leg-kicks, appropriately hyped by Rogan, result in a Hardonk win. I see Hardonk destroying Wessel's legs and winning by being a legit, heavy-weight striker in the 2nd.
Evensen vs. Barry: Barry by Hoost powder rubbing off on him. TKO in the 2nd.
Okami vs. Lister: If you want to sound smart, talk about how Okami's anti-grappling and clinch work will win the fight slowly and deliberately. If you wan to be me, wait for the inevitable Lister submission. Okami will probably win as Rogan goes on about his strange body shape which is know medically as "being Japanese." But I am calling an upset of Lister by sub in the 2nd.
Chonan vs. Blackburn: His easily pronounceable name terribly mangled, the unconventional Chonan wins by something interesting in the 3rd.
Hamill vs. Andy: I am still manning the handbrakes on the Hamill bandwagon. Hamill gave up sometime before his fight with Franklin. This time he reverts to form and mauls Andy in the dirty boxing department. Hamill by TKO in the 2nd.
Kongo vs. Al Turk: I normally back Kongo, but this is my upset special. It is evident that Kongo has very little in the ground department. Al Turk is a little unknown, coming from Cage Rage. I think Al Turk takes him down and works him over. TKO 2nd.
Jackson vs. Silva: Well here it is. Pride revival. Pride lives almost as much as Eartha Kitt. If you don't know, these guys have fought twice in the past, resulting in two of the most notorious knockouts of all time. Both for Silva. Both of these guys are infamous headcases. How they fight is determined largely by how they feel. Silva at this point, is the more known commodity. There are technical aspects to these fights, but I think these are secondary to where they are as humans. Who knows what is up with Jackson. He could be on fire. I think Silva comes in and closes the distance and bullies Jackson. People talk about how there are no kicks on the head on the ground. But there are also elbows. Silva hurts Jackson. TKO in the 2nd.
Dollaway vs. Massenzio: This fight is on the main card? Massenzio by no one caring in the 2nd.
Griffin vs. Evans: A really good fight. I am sold on Evans, but I am picking Griffin. Evans has the speed, power and wrestling advantage. Griffin has size, submission and stamina going for him. Griffin doesn't just have size by a little, he will probably be 20-30 pounds heavier than Evans and much taller. Evans has good takedowns, but the aren't quick takedowns from the clench, they are ponderous, grueling takedowns that wear him down. Griffin doesn't have real striking power, but he is very solid technically and defensively. Evans can win on one punch or kick, but Griffin is very good and not taking that one punch or kick. Also, to what end will Evans takedowns be, when I am not sure he can effectively ground and pound Griffin? I like both fighters and think this will be a great fight. Griffin by decision.
Noguiera vs. Mir: In what department is Mir better than Nogueira? Some people say raw strength, but is that actual? Noguiera is a legend in the sport. He has fought and beaten all of the big names in the sport-his face shows it-only losing to Fedor by decision. He is a part of the sports history and he is younger than me. Scary. Noguiera is a top level boxer and probably the best top-position BJJ guy in the sport. His transitions are perfect and he is also great off of his back. What is Mir better at? Kicks? Ok. Great. I like Mir ok. I loved him leg-locking Brock, but do you really see that happening against Nog. I don't. Nog by top position TKO in the 3rd.
There it is. Put it in your stocking. If you want the K-1 picks early, Arash, give me a call.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
My company.... didn't handle things poorly. I am not angry at them. Their initial reaction, assuming that I was guilty of something and lying about it, was stereotypical, but I give them credit for believing me once I explained myself. It occur ed to me yesterday that I have far more experience in the school system, even in the board of ed. than anybody who supervises me. I think they don't really know how things work and see themselves as adversaries to the education system. They are just foreigner wranglers. I hate that dynamic.
I have also forgot to mention how much I love the Japanese insurance system. Even though I haven't paid in recent memory, I went to the emergency room, was treated and given medicine all for the fee of.......................wait for it......................Americans, wait for it.........................13$. A trip to the emergency room!! Any hospital I want, without referrals or hassle. Suck on it America. Get with the program.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Vinnie should not have allowed himself to believe he was a kick-boxer.
Professional fighters (Browning/Kaplan) can have a sloppy grappling match.
Anyway, it was alright.
Let me pause here and say that I have though about this one at great length. Is it possible that I am lying to myself and was a victim of by own debauchery rather than food-poisoning. That I have let food-poisoning become a convenient excuse for my conduct even in my won mind. Here are the questions I have formed around that:
1. Drunkenness won't explain the strange and very noticeable swelling of my face which was witnessed and commented on by my housemate, without being asked about it.
2. When I awoke, I had no sense of a hangover or headache or any feeling associated with heavy drinking. I merely had the severe need to vomit.
3. If it was from drinking, why was I still throwing up at 7-8AM when the last drink I had was at 11pm? That seems a bit of a stretch.
4. This is subjective, but I was on my way home at 11:30pm after beginning drinking at 8pm. This signifies to me that it was something other than drink. This wasn't a night where I staid until morning at shouter drinking cuba libres after a night at Beat Crap drinking whatever is in those cardboard boxes. Subjective, but nothing to indicate the level of drunkenness needed to propel the story forwards.
5. When I was treated for food poisoning, I got better.
6. I lost 4kg over the span of Saturday. That doesn't happen from drinking.
I have gone over it again and again and I really don't think it was drinking, although that definitely didn't help. I also am realizing that I did try to communicate what was going on with the station staff, saying to them, "I really don't feel good. Please let me rest." While they kicked me out of the station, leaving me no way to get anywhere. I don't really blame them.
In any case, the reason I am ruminating on these matters is that the board of education is very angry with me and demanding that I come in and apologize to them and the city hall. I am not really sure what to apologize for. If I wanted to think about it like an asshole I could say that I got food poisoning at a school function arranged by the school with food selected by the school. When I was in need of medical care after eating this food, no city or school employees came to help me. In reality I blame no one, but I also don't know what blame I can accept. I ran through the scenario if I had been perfectly sober. I would have still gotten of the train to vomit. I would have still had no train to take home. I would have still been stranded outside the station. The only difference being, I would have probably asked to go to the hospital.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
That being said, I will attempt a brief, food poisoning addled prediction.
Polakowski vs. Delgado- I don't know. Don't care so much. Polakowski by KO in the 2nd.
Lawlor vs. Kingsbury- I don't remember who they are.
Roop vs. Nelson- Hmmmm. Maybe Roop?
Bruchez vs. Marshall- Marshall by being a better fighter in the 1st.
Primm vs. Soszynski- Soszynski is a much better striker. I think he will sprawl and brawl and then get a TKO in the 2nd.
Kaplan vs. Browning- Junie's first fight on the show was rather good. His top position grappling was superb. I like that he throws body shots. His last two fights were average to bad. He is training out of Xtreme Couture now, so I am sure his cardio will be better than it was on the show. Kaplan, I don't know if he has much room to improve. Not that he is great, but I think his ceiling is pretty low. If Junie can get on top, he takes the fight. If his cardio is still garbage, he loses. I say Browning by sub in the 2nd.
Johnson vs. Burns- This is a rematch of an earlier fight that ended in a vicious eye poke. Johnson had surgery and is coming back. If Johnson isn't hesitatant in the striking game he wins by TKO in the 3rd.
Gouveia vs. MacDonald- I usually go with the Gouveia win. I don't know on this one. He is coming in not being able to make weight. What does that say? Gouveia could easily get a surprise KO but I am taking his inability to make weight as being significant of something and pick MacDonald by decision in an entertaining grappling match that sees MacDonald pushing for takedowns.
Magalhaes vs. Bader- I didn't really like Magalhaes at first, but his BJJ is the real deal. When all that Bader really has to offer is wrestling. Very good wrestling, I see Magalhaes getting the win. However there is a video floating around out there of Jake Shields, who weighs 170 pounds, handling Vinny in a submission grappling match. But Shields' jiu-jitsu and Bader's wrestling are two different things. Unless Bader has picked up great top position grappling and guard passing in recent months, he loses by sub in the 2nd.
Escudero vs. Nover- Escudero could wrestle this to a decision but what else does he have? I think Nover out strikes him and also has better submisiions. I think the bout is an entertaining back and forth with Nover winning by decision.
There you is. Call me in the emergency room Arash.
In story one, I woke up in a police station with a terrible taste in my mouth and a coating of vomit on my shoes and in splotches on my clothes. Replacing a headache in the back of my mind is a memory of being a hopeless public drunk in a train station until I was kicked out on to the street where I passed out and was taken in by the cops. I threw up in the police toilet and stared at myself in the mirror wondering what I had done. I signed for my property and caught a train home, periodically throwing up in stairwells and all over my hands. I made it home and passed out in my room failing to make it to Tokyo. Shameful.
In story two, I managed to get food poisoning at the school end of the year party. Trying to make it home, I found that I couldn't ride the train without puking. Not wanting to be a public menace, I got off the train. I sat down in the station and couldn't stop throwing up. I got weak and dizzy. Appearing as another drunk, the station closing around me, I was told to leave. I collapsed on the street and was assisted by the cops who allowed me to sleep on their couch. When I woke up, throwing up bile with out any trace of food left in it, I looked in the mirror and noticed that my face was swollen, especially around my eyes. I struggled to make it home and kept getting waves of nausea. I drug myself to the emergency room, was diagnosed with food poisoning and given medicine, which helped greatly, but left me feeling that all of the liquids had been sucked from my body.
The moral of this story, well not really a moral, the nugget of information in this story which might be helpful, is that food poisoning and being helplessly drunk are very similar to look at but feel subtly different to the sufferer. It was terrible.
Compounding all of this, in their concern for me, while I was asleep, the police found my ID and called the board of education. The board of education was upset and called my company. My company contacted me under the impression that I had been picked up by the police. I have to talk to them again tomorrow, but the hospital says they will write up an explanation on Monday.
This meant that I couldn't make it to Tokyo where my two friends where fighting for the Shooto rookie championships. They both won and I couldn't be there. If I had just been drunk, I would feel worse than I do about it. This weekend has truly sucked. Thinking back on it, it was actually kind of scary.
Friday, December 12, 2008
At school I have grown to hate first-year Takuma. He was a great student to begin with. Then he became a troubled student that I tried to talk to. Now he is full on stupid. He skips class and plays outside. Asked where he was, he laughs and says, "Playing." Why is he laughing? I don't know. I go to sleep seeing his stupid smiling face. Full on stupid. He is making me nuts. Although he enjoyed making Christmas cards.
Tonight is the school end of the year party. I have to stay out and drink all night and then leave to ride in a car for 7 hours at from 8 in the morning to Tokyo for the Shooto rookie finals. Sorry Ed, I meant to call, but I will only be there for the fights.
I want a doughnut.
My new band, Unvisible (tentatively) was supposed to play a show on the 20th but we can't because one guy will be in Hong Kong. This is the way it begins. We won't play until March and then something will change and we will break up leaving behind good songs for another 3-4 years.
I don't need doughnuts.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I was surprised by how good a movie this was. The cinematography was enrapturing throughout. At times it can seem a little forced, but I don't know what other choice you have when you are trying to do something new and interesting. Every performance in the movie was at least solid. Sam Rockwell was outstanding, as I usually find him. I was surprised and impressed with Casey Affleck. It would have been easy to go overboard and play up creepiness or nuttiness in the character but he was able to make it very real and weak where he should have been and angry where he should have been. Really solid stuff. Brad Pitt walks that odd line between good and bad that I often find him in. I generally like his movies. I also think he is very skilled at being physically present in a movie the way Steve McQueen was. I don't mean that he is nice to look at, I mean he is good at making his character present through his stance or his small movements. He is underrated in that sense. He does the little stuff well in this. The subtle stuff. He has moved beyond his over the top job in 12 Monkeys, which I actually liked. , but which wouldn't have been appropriate here. Unfortunately, Pitt just doesn't do authority well. I think it is something about his voice. He sounds really bad yelling and has no real sand as a threatening force. He certainly isn't bad in the role, he is good. Just a small thing I have noticed in several of his movies. I don't think he is good at playing leaders.
I set down thinking I would watch the movie in segments but I got sucked in for the whole two and a half hours. I became emotionally invested in it in a way that I didn't expect. I also found the personal story of Robert Ford more disturbing than I knew that it was. If you haven't already, you should probably check it out.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Last week at Koya-Sho we were practicing Christmas vocab. One of the words was "gingerbread man." We were reviewing the words asking the kids to raise their hands if they could remember them. When we pointed at gingerbread man one boy earnestly raised his hand and was called on. "The ginger gentleman?" He said. Priceless.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
To go further, I don't even have a problem with Gates as SECDEF. I think he is doing his job effectively. I completely and totally disagree with the mission of the Defense Department right now, but that isn't going to change immediately so why not leave him to handle it. My main concern was the other neo-con lackeys on the loose in the Pentagon, but it looks they they are going to go, so.... I don't like the image that SECDEF is a tough position and therefor left to Republicans, but I don't think that is what is being projected. I kind of feel like it is a Republican war and that they can pick up after themselves. Plus, as I said above, with Obama as the boss, we can assume (always a precarious proposition) that the fundamental idea that government should work will be back in place.
Most of the time you don't get OPIV you get No Doubt. Instead of Daniel Johnston you get Jack Johnson. Sorry.
I started to re-insulate my room by putting bubble wrap over the jury rigged window that is one end of my bedroom come hallway. That is actually pretty effective, but considering that my one heat source is a kerosene heater, it might not be a good idea to make the whole thing airtight. That is the Japanese heating dilemma. Since most houses aren't insulated, heating a room usually involves first opening a window. Countrerintuitive? Welcome to my world. As I succumb to low levels of carbon-monoxide poisoning, I made this small documentary about my dilemma.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Jumping briefly back in time two weeks. Natsuki was in town and we hiked to the top of Daimonji Yama in perfect late November weather. It being a holiday weekend there were a good number of people on the mountain. One couple in normal clothes and normal shoes kept speeding past us. Also, many hiking old ladies in their mountain gear who got lost and had to get directions from me. This was the first time that I was able to see Osaka Bay, far to the south, from Kyoto.
I almost hesitate to comment, not having the clinical language or training to do it properly, but it seems, as I said before, pathological. I realize a lot of what I describe can be written off as "That's just kids." Or "That's just that age group." But I have spent a lot of time with a lot of kids, and this is just strange. Let me list out a few characteristics:
1. Refusal to accept responsibility for anything.
2. Willingness to lie beyond all reason.
3. Propensity for violence.
4. Complete inability to treat anything seriously.
5. Disrespect for property.
6. Anger without a clear source.
7. Inability to read the mood or social atmosphere.
8. Complete inability to follow directions (from rules to simple game instructions.)
A brief note: Today at school a particularly bad fifth grader was walking in front of me in the hall he turned and said, in English, "Die." I asked, in Japanese, "Do you really want me to die?" "Yes." He responded in English. I am not sure where to put this in the list, but kids from this school are obsessed with saying "die" both in English and Japanese. I hear it, easily, everyday. I tried to explain to some second years at the junior high that it really doesn't have the desired effect when said in English. That "Die!" isn't really that much of an insult. That it would just be kind of confusing unless you were saying it while plunging a letter opener into someone's neck. I am not sure exactly what response they are going for. If I think the kid is trying to provoke me, I will laugh it off and ask if they will come to my funeral. Or tell them that I will get around to it sooner or later. This seems to catch them off guard. If I think they are trying to show me up for the benefit of their friends I will tell them that if they really want me to die they should probably kill me, barring that they should shut up. They usually have trouble with that logic. Anyway, the oddness to me is the particualr obsession with this word from this one school.
There are good kids, and bad kids who have good moments, but the behavior is really curious. Again, I am telling you. I realize that the above list might strike you as kids anywhere, but it is beyond that. It is very strange behavior.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
attempting to silence the voices in my head.