Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Movies of 2009

I would like to make a list of the best movies I have seen this year, but the way I see movies in Japan makes that almost impossible. The movie that I watched last March might have been your favorite Summer movie of 2008. A late night showing here starts at 8pm and costs $20. Most new movies I watch were recorder on a lopsided camcorder and come through my girlfriend's laptop computer. It isn't the same thing. I looked forward to Star Trek for a year and then never got home from work in time to see it. All of this being said, here are my favorite movies I saw this year.

1. Inglourious Basterds: Seeing Pulp Fiction on the day it came out in the theatre was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. The audience was electric. I saw this in Namba Parks amongst a group of people whose disinterest in what was happening on the screen hung down like rain clouds. Natsuki alternated between horror, boredom and sleep. I was captivated. I have rarely liked a movie so much. Christoph Waltz should have the Oscar delivered to his house immediately. Not only was his performance remarkable it spanned at least four languages. He was off the charts amazing. I found myself trying to explain afterwards that it wasn't just killing that was going on, it was killing Nazis. Maybe that is hard to understand in Japan. I don't want to give too much away about the movie but the entire scene in the basement bar is so incredible, not in that it is something we have never seen, but that it is so very well done. Til Schweiger is also notable as Hugo Stiglitz. This is a movie I see myself going to again in the near future.

2. Up: I saw this less then a week after Inglourious Basterds in an attempt to make the previous experience up to Natsuki. I was taken aback by what I saw. It has been talked about a lot already but the roughly 20 minute montage near the beginning of the movie depicting the course of a marriage is one of the most moving sequences on film. If that was the entire movie I would have been satisfied. The rest of the movie is excellent as well. I don't know if I have seen a film that deals so well with sadness and death in an adult way that kids can also understand. It is also notable in the the secondary character is Japanese American.

3. The Hangover: I never new they were making a documentary about my life in Miyazaki, but... Apparently a lot of people felt that way about this movie as it blew up all over America. Summer drug me to see it when I was home this ...well...Summer and I laughed almost as much at her laughing as I did at the jokes. The movie had me at "Paging Dr. Faggot." See it. Laugh at it. Good stuff.

4. I Love You, Man: I was surprised to see this on other people's lists because I felt kind of silly about thinking it was good. It is nothing that original and it didn't rearrange my thoughts on the universe. This was just a formula movie that executed the formula very well. I don't think everyone will love it but it is a solid little comedy about guys being friends which features a little too much Rush for one to be comfortable.

Best Movie Experience of the Year: Going to the drive in in Rockford with David and Jayden. Watching Harry Potter and eating nachos. It renewed my faith in the goodness of small-town America.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Japanese Songs of the Decade

It happened as it usually happens; I was hating all of the decade lists as it is such a silly and arbitrary measurement of things that don't obey those kind of lines. Then, amidst all that, I thought of a list. Maybe some people didn't spend the decade in Japan. So for you:

Great Japanese Songs You Might Have Missed This Decade!!!!!!!

In no real order.

1. Chisa no Koi no Uta- Mongol 800 (2001)

This is the one song that couldn't be left of the list. It is undebatable. If you lived in Japan you heard this song. No one doesn't know this song, written by three 19 year olds and promoted with no video and little advertising. Why did it explode all over Japan in the 2001? Because it is insanely good.

2. Everything- Misia (2002)

Misia came a different route than Mongol 800. She is a complete product of the Japanese studio system. That being said, her talent is very real. If you like over the top sappy R and B like I do, this is right in your strike zone.

3. Joint- Rip Slyme (2003)

Japan plays host to a plethora of rap pretender parasites. Amidst the infection lay some healthy tissue. Witness Rip Slyme. These guys are good because they cut their own path rather than ape MTV videos with hot cars and big coats. They make good music. I used to DJ this just so see if people could dance to it. Answer? Mixed. Go on and make me laugh you silly bastards.

4. The Great Amateurism- Rhymester (2003)

Speaking of Japanese hip-hop, Rhymester had a 2-3 year period in which they couldn't stop making great songs. This is one of the lesser known ones. It never really got a foothold. I always wanted to use it when I was DJing but I couldn't find the vinyl anywhere. Nevertheless it is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of all time. Pretty bad-ass in my opinion. Look for Rhymester to pop up on here again.

5. Haruka Kanata- Asian Kung-Fu Generation (2002)

This song gained some traction amongst anime fan in the West as it was used a one of the theme songs for Naruto. As I don't watch cartoon I missed out on that, but it is a song that won't really leave you. I included a video with the translation because, for my anyway, it is a strangely hard to understand song even though it is somewhat straight forward.

6. Prism- M-Flo (2001)

In my mind M-Flo is one of the underreported music stories of the decade. A Korean-Japanee guy leaves divinity school in America and forms a group with his friends from international school. This is what happens. M-Flo is still going strong without Lisa, but they don't really do it for me the way their first two albums did. It is worth noting that Lisa has one of the hottest voices ever.

7. Girigiri GanGanGan- The Cromagnons (2007)

Hiroto has been tearing apart the music scene since the mid '80s, first in The Blue Hearts then in The High-Lows. He got it together again with The Cromagnons who released one of my favorite songs of all time in 2007. As usual the lyrics are superb.

8. Tandem- Halcali (2003)

This is probably what people expect out of Japanese music; a little interesting, a dash of underage sexuality and a heaping teaspoon of what the fuck. Needless to say I was in love from the first moment. I turned to Ed and said, "We will probably find out they are in junior high." And we did. Objectively, if I can be, it is a good little song. Weird, yes. But good. It is also my alarm clock tone.

9. Super Butter Dog/Rhymester - This Y'all That Y'all (2002)

Rhymester pops up again for this collaboration with Super Butter Dog. This was from an album of Rhymester collaborations with other groups that I wore out listening too. I believe Super Butter Dog was the dude from Kinki Kids. Either way, they lay it down on this track. I particularly enjoy them rhyming the days of the week.

10. Lifetime Respect- Miki Douzan (2001)

Here it is. The grandaddy of all of them. An insult to call a one hit wonder. No one doesn't know this song. No one knows what happened to this guy. Everyone plays this at their wedding. No one can sing this at karaoke unless they crawled out of the deepest Osaka ghetto. Figuring out the lyrics to this song was one of my most challenging forays into the Japanese language. Result? I now say ええかげん。  Insanely great track about taking care of your spouse when they are senile and watching a movie and then doing it. Also the only love song I know that says "I don't know about getting married, but I sure am gonna get you pregnant." Word. A reggae MC named after a dead pro-wrestler.

11. Sono Nukumori ni Ryu ga Aru- Sambomaster (2003)

Back when I used to have Japanese MTV this song came on. I have never looked back. I love Sambomaster dearly. They have never stopped being good, but this song is still it for me. These guys look like they work in a VCR repair shop and then play music that kick everyone elses's ass completely. I saw them live for free on accident and this is just what they sounded like. Their lyrics are also insane. Insanely good. I have asked Japanese people what they are talking about and not many get it. I won't delve all the way in but the chorus to this song goes, "Me who has lost everything. You who has forgiven everything. The thing that I clutch in my hand now is the scary path called warmth. Tears fall. Love is born. Love is born. The rains of May begin."

12. Scary- The Mad Capsule Markets (2004)

As I have said before, I band that by all accounts I shouldn't like, but they make good songs sometimes. If you have ever seem Takanori Gomi fight, you have probably heard this song.

13. Wadatsumi no Ki- Chitose Hajime (2002)

When some yells out "Amami Oshima Represent!" Who answers? Hajime Chitose does. This song is so odd. No one else sings like her. This will be in your head for a while. If you are wondering what the deal is, she sings in "Shima Uta" style. Something you hear a lot in Okinawan music and many of the southern islands. She was a celebrated folksinger back on Amami.

14. Look Back Again- Yaida Hitomi (2001)

A very Japanese pop song that was stuck in my head for about two years. It wouldn 't be a stretch to call Yaida Hitomi "my type." It doesn't hurt that she has a literature degree from Kansai Daigaku. She wa classmates with my college football teamate and he said no one talked to her because she wasn't cute. Japanese guy fails again.

That's the list for now. I will come back to it as the things I forgot resurface. I will also add some honorable and dishonorable mentions. The "S" on this keyboard is broken. Forgiveness please.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


In a circus tent by a train track a heavy rain fell. Peeking through a gap in the red and white striped canvas one beheld; Strikeforce.

Crispim vs. Fanesca- Don't know, don't care.

Stack v. Douglas- Ibid.

Nakamura vs. Wilcox- Nakamura by flying armbar in the 1st. Enjoy it.

Britt vs. Lighty- Britt gets a narrow decision via experience.

Lawal vs. Whitehead- Lawal is a rare athletic talent coming to the sport. Couple his natural abilities with his mental approach to the sport and you have a future force. I want to buy stock in the guy. Nevertheless he is facing a tough wrestler at a higher weight. I see a decision for Lawal.

Lindland vs. Jacare- Speaking of rare talent, I love Jacare. A freaky grappler that is putting together a triking game. A raw striking game. Lindland used to be a talent but he is going the way of his beloved Republican party. Lindland gets tooled for a 2nd round submission.

Smith vs. Le- Don't believe all of the hype, despite what the commentator will tell you tomorrow, Cung Le isn't a world class striker, he is just a very interesting striker and an occasionally effective striker. I like him. I am just suspicious about someone that has spent so much time off from training to make movies. What level is he at right now? Smith has the ability to win any fight at anytime with one right hand. That applies in this fight as well. What else applies is his strategy of absorbing punishment while looking to use his right and having almost zero lateral movement while moving back and covering. This will not be a good approach against Le. I think Le's kick pile up and get him a 3rd round TKO.

Thomson vs. Melendez- The smart money is with Thomson on this one. He has a load of talent and his striking is far better than Melendez's. Thomson also has enough wrestling to not get tossed around. I worry about his injuries and layoff though. I like the Melendez I have seen lately and I like his camp. I am going with Melendez by close decision.

Lieberman Socks Ass

My hate for Joe Liebrman is a hard thing to define. Hate is a strong word, but I think it comes honest. It might be that too much amateur psychology goes on in political discsussions, but what kind of character adversely effects the well-being of millions based on their own personal grudges? A sad, sad man. I like that Move-on is after him now. Run him off the scene.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

UFC 107: Turn to Stone

Commissioner White pimp walked to the podium in Memphis wearing two Peabody ducks as slippers and weeping for the public option. "How will a new generation of fighters come up with no access to health care? How will extending Medicaid down 10 years cover them until they are punch-drunk and diapered?....Quack!" He blew his nose on his Ted Kennedy airbrushed T-shirt and backed slowly away.

Burns vs. Grant: Burns nickname is "Fire." Almost as clever a "Rock" Quarry. Burns biggest weapon is his cornea death claw punching style. If Grant isn't blinded during the course of the fight he will wrestle and retain top control for a decision.

Johnson vs. Garcia: Has Johnson improved since the TUF finals? I wasn't impressed. He is OK on the ground. Garcia knocks him out in the 3rd.

Palhares vs. Linhares: I like Linhares's size and record. I also like his beard. His non-metaphorical beard. I just don't think his competition has been as fierce as the flesh tank they call Palhares. Tank in the military sense. Palhares has been on my radar for a while and I still expect him to do big things. I think he gets vicious takedowns throughout the fight and pound Linhares out in the 2nd.

Hendricks vs. Funch: Two not so experienced guys here. Although Hendricks has a long wrestling career. Funch is an interesting fighter but Hendricks busts him up with wrestling and some big strikes. Hendricks by decision.

Nelson vs. Wiman: Nelson has the game and background I would like to support. I always bet against Wiman but he is putting together a solid run- when he goes against mediocre competition. Nelson fighting at this level probably has everything to do with being BJ Penn's buddy without having BJ Penn's talent. I think Wiman is the guy to bet on here but I am going to go out on a limb and say Nelson by surprise sub in the 1st.

Belcher vs. Gouveia: Belcher...worst tattoo in sports. One of Gouveia's training partners says Gouveia isn't into training. Both came in overweight. Belcher by sloppy decision via Biloxi boxing.

Buentello vs. Struve: Struve has the game that I support; a giant dude that is all subs. But, and I begin this sentence with a but, I am a giant Buentello fan and I drive the bus for him routinely. Buentello has good-good stand-up and has been in the game too long for a gimmie sub. It worries me that he is a basket case who just severed times with his gym. That is a concern, but I think Buentello gets a TKO in the 3rd.

Fitch v. Pierce: Fitch is one of the best fighters in the world, rotting on the shelf. Pierce is up and coming but Fitch tools him for the decision.

Florian v. Guida: I do admire Guida's heart. I love that he backs his union, but he isn't my favorite fighter. Florian has upped his game so much in every area that he might be one of my favored fighters. Florian's defensive wrestling has gotten good enough and his defensive guard is solid enough that he will be able to stall until he can work his game. Low kicks and elbows plus a jab should be good for the decision. I predict blood in the hair.

Mir v. Kongo: Mir has managed to convince people that he is one of the better heavyweights. Is he? Kongo is one of the best strikers out there. Mir is a smart fighter though and he knows that he has to win on the ground. Two problems- First, Mir doesn't have any real takedowns. Not that good, but Kongo has no takedown defense. Second, leg-locks seem like a good strategy except that Kongo will make Mir pay for being in that position by bustin' up his noggin. The longer the fight goes on, the more chance Mir has of getting knocked out. How do I call this? I am a bit at a loss. Mir by decision?

Penn vs. Sanchez: Please. Is there any doubt of my pick? Once BJ Penn's space capsule make a safe descent to Earth, the deal is sealed. Where does Sanchez match up with Penn? His striking has improved but BJ is better. His wrestling ain't great. His subs are good against humans. Sanchez is going to be big for the weight class. That will be interesting. BJ wait him out and destroys his soul in the 4th.

There you go kids. Mail it off to Santa. Fax it to Markazi. Enjoy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Something I Don't Care About...and Something I Do

This New York Times article on the White House party crashers (a fucking stupid story that illustrates that Washington is junior high with more vitriol and condonement of death squads) makes an off-hand, and somewhat accurate reference to MMA that seems to me some kind of road marker on the way to popular acceptance. That is all.

Climate Gate the F out of My Face

I haven't been talking politics recently. Hell, I haven't been talking recently. It has been all elementary schools and cold medicine for me this past week. But I gotta tell ya, this whole "Climate Gate" bull shenanigans has got me hotter than Tabasco. First, it is stupid in its own right, second it is is illustrative, and pronounce that correctly, of a larger Republican technique, media complicity, and public dumbitude.

Who out there loves science? What? I can't here you? Who out there mother fuckin' loves science? Man, I am gonna ship in a real audience 'cause I don't be hearin' nothin. Exactly. So a bunch of dipshit TV stars pretend to know something about science, which they don't, and translate it to a public who isn't listening. Go back to talking about Tiger Woods' titanium shaft.

It is such an easy technique the Republicans have developed. Is there a name for it? What can we call it? John Kerry is a real goddamned American war hero. What? He ain't your boy? OK, one guy who never met him in Vietnam and got paid by Nixon to take him down says he wasn't. Everybody who was there and knew him says he was. Well, I guess in fairness we have to call it a toss-up and take the war hero status off the table. There. Aren't we fair?

Health care and education are important. Ted Kennedy killed a chick....maybe. Kinda. Ted Kennedy supports health care and education. Well, you can see why these issues are controversial.

Climate change is undeniable scientific peer reviewed fact. 13 years worth of private emails have been illegally stolen and from them we have gleaned 3 or 4 that we can misinterpret. Climate change is a ho-ax. Obviously. Well, at the best it is a draw. If 98% of scientists agree it is real and 2% deny then you must see how fair the TV stars are when they call it.....Too Close to Call! Exciting drama.

It is too bad Tiger Woods didn't print out the emails and the data, put them in separate stacks, cut holes in them and fuck them back into pulp. Then, maybe there would be an in-depth look into the data and the information contained in the emails.

Questionable mail one refers to "Mike's Nature Trick." Well, you see the word trick right there and we all know that tricks are done by those big liars magicians and convince us that bunnies live in hats. There is no other use of the word. "Hey, neat trick, Coke does get the blood out of my carpet!" Shut the fuck up and speak English. That wasn't deception that was an interesting solution to a problem. Trick can never mean that. (Note to entry 5- you lying sack of shit)

Explanation: (via
The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the 'trick' is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term "trick" to refer to a "a good way to deal with a problem", rather than something that is "secret", and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the 'decline', it is well known that Keith Briffa's maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the "divergence problem" — see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommended not using the post-1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while 'hiding' is probably a poor choice of words (since it is 'hidden' in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.[35]

Two other emails aren't even worth dealing with because they are private emails talking about being frustrated with the whole process. They talk about keeping skeptics out of peer reviewed journals or keeping data to themselves. Were either of these things ever done? No. Who cares? If they had been done, while bad personally, does it effect the thousands of people involved? Does it change any of the data? How?

Mail number four. Four out of thirteen years states: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't" Oh my God! He just admitted that global warming never existed! Never. There was no warming ever! By "ever" I mean in one small, geographically confined measurement during one small period of time. Oh no! And the scientist implied that that was a travesty....that they couldn't get an accurate measurement and account for discrepancies.

Horrible, horrible climate change scientists, why did you go and prove climate deniers wrong? We all know that the real forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's a Draw!

Finally the soccer god's look down on the U.S. and smile. In case you didn't know already we- and I say we like I am involved- got put in a group with England, Algeria and Slovenia. I like the odds of the U.S. coming in at least second in that group. The other upside is a rad first match with England. Do I favor the U.S.? No. Do I think they can but it on England? Hell yes! Without Davies it won't be the explosive showdown I would like, but we already know we have a better keeper who isn't scared of English opposition- witness Howard's awesome penalty stop on Defoe this weekend. Also, the prospect of Onyewu-if healthy- getting in Rooney's head is cracking me up already. One point, I have often spoken of the force that was Tony Sanneh at the 2002 World Cup. I don't know who on this team can be that, but I would like them to include Kyle Beckerman in the team. I could see his work in the midfield really frustrating the English side.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Late to the Game: Bow Down!

Being out of the loop, both fortunately and un, I was unaware of the brouhaha caused by President Obama's innocuous bow to a random old couple in Japan. What you say? It was no random old couple but rather those evil villains the Emperor and his Empress? What scandal! Why those two rapscallions control absolutely nothing in Japan. Has Mr. Obama pledged his loyalty to their powerlessness? One wonders. To judge the severity of this dark(hint hint) infraction I will compare this breach of decency with my daily life-itself a compendium of the upright.

People I have bowed to this week:

Every teenager in my school.
The principal.
The vice-principal.
Every instructor in my gym including the otaku who doesn't like me and kicks me.
Every person I have passed on the trail while hiking.
An old lady who couldn't find the entrance to the Hankyu station.
My girlfriend's brother and his fiancee.
The phone.
The guy behind the counter in the store when I paid for something cheap with a $100 bill.

You can see where this can lead. They all control my life in a dark plot just like the undercover Kenyan. I once accidentally bowed to a cat as I exited a store after bowing to the staff. You can see where it got me. Predicament some say, I say pickle.

What do the experts on bowing say? I would imagine something like this, "Don't listen to my absurd nonsense because no one can be an expert on something so nebulous. Just walk past me and ignore my drivel." Is that not how it transpired? Did someone discuss gradients in height and angle? Did I mention that when we begin kickboxing class I sit on my knees and place my head on the ground in reverence to the other black belt that I teach with? Forsooth! Is it not minutes later that I make fun of his clothes or his taste in music? Is it not together that we go drinking and further "josh around." Behold the horseplay! Beholden I am.

To paraphrase the Smothers brothers:

I am wearing this chicken suit to protest U.S. involvement in Central America.

What does that have to do with anything?


Friday, November 27, 2009


Down to the last weekend and the block that had been on the NanoWrimo website all month comes off. I have been doing little writing this month but I had enough on reserve to crooss 50,000 in one button press. Here is a link to my page. Here is a link to David's. You can make it!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taibbi on Palin

Not to steal everything from Atrios today....but... This Matt Taibbi article is a very good take on the Palin implosion/explosion that I have very little interest in outside of its spectacle as a social phenomenon.


Is this the worst political website ever? Or have we just forgotten how bad websites can be?

Krugman on Debt

Here is Krugman on concerns about the national debt. Even though they won't let me in school as an economist, even though I don't even play one on TV, I would have to go with Krugman on this one. You know the interesting thing about Wall Street? They are wrong a good deal of the time. Even when they are right, their thought process is based on different scales than anything I am interested in. If you care about fantasies and impressions and imaginary goods being moved with imaginary money, then listen to Wall Street. But The Economy and Wall Street are two different things. What is good for one is necessarily linked to the other. I think it is without doubt that President Obama's economic policies lean Wall Street. Ditch Summers and Geitner. Get Krugman. Get Reich for Christ's sake.


I agree with this pretty much exactly. I have only been advovating a new CCC for more than the last decade. People want to participate in their country and a lot of them don't find getting rich to be thier priority. If you give people a wage and insurance they will work to make the country better. Unfortunately, our way of defining economies and growth doesn't count these kind of things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

English Edumucation?

I have been meaning to write a long post declaring that I have thrown in the towel on English education in Japan. Not that I am quitting my job, but that I am quitting on the idea of my job. I just haven't found the time to write it, and I don't have it now.

The decision that I have reached can be summed up as follows: If Japan isn't committed to doing English education correctly and completely than it should stop doing it at all.

Now that is vague. I will try to make some point in the ten minutes I have before I have to mop this office. I teach kickboxing to teenagers on Fridays. What if every Friday I told them that you punch by holding your fist as high over your head as possible and jumping on one foot? What if I told them that, and other absurd things for three years? Over and above this being absurd, what if part of the reason I taught them this was that I suspected it might be absurd but all I had to go on was a description of how to punch that I had been issued and that my students would be tested on and it appeared to suggest that this was how you punch? The answer to these what ifs is that I would be a ridiculous excuse for a teacher and doing a disservice to and student with a real interest in punching anyone. This isn't far from the reality of English education in Japan. I constantly teach from textbooks with incorrect English. I tell the teachers, the Japanese teachers who at their very best are non-native speakers- that what we are teaching is incorrect. "Oh well," they will say, "What is in the textbook is on the test." This means extensive use of the passive form, beginning sentences with "and", "but" and "so, and serious infractions on sensible writing. And that is just the textbooks. The workbooks are comical and teacher's worksheets are tragic. Recently a new English teacher, a full time government employee who is now guaranteed a job a paycheck and bonuses, made a worksheet with these sentences:

"I want to go to Tokyo Disney Land. There is the most popular amusement park in all of Japan."

This is after my proofreading the sheet, taking out the worst parts, and correcting this mistake. I don't mean to be too rough on her, but this is everyday. Would these mistakes be acceptable in another subject? Is 2 plus 2= equal to 5? The English my students learn is tortured and unnatural. It does nothing to improve their speaking and communicative abilities. It is only a detriment.

I am looking through the 2nd years textbook now and I see the infamous, to me anyway, sentence: "They think that the life of a people is in its language. When a language disappears, the culture also dies out."

Hmm. Profound. Thoughtful. Today I asked a typical 2nd year student "How are you?" The same way I have asked everyday all year. I translate his response for you; "What? I don't understand. How could I possibly know what you are talking about? I don't know. Ask somebody else." That is the rule, not the exception. Who in their right mind thinks they will be able to process this though experiment on Ainu language being the basis for their culture? I have been in a few meetings with professors of education giving us suggestion on how to teach. I never thought that I would be one to crank that well worn handle on the anti-intellectual music box, however, what self-serving, jack-off office have you been sprawled out in, drinking hi-balls and staring at your bookshelves? I am a fan of multiculturalism, but my students can't even count to ten, much less contemplate the implications of an Okinawan folk music revival or urban heat islands.

I say in complete seriousness that my students would be better off reading Hop on Pop and watching Sesame Street reruns. Ask any Japanese English teacher for one word that rhymes with "cable" and see if it is possible to time a blank stare. I feel bad lambasting these teachers because they are some of my better friends and allies but you can find better speakers of English waiting for the surf to break in the backs of their broken down vans or working part time washing dishes in a restaurant. The education system imports native speakers and then precedes to undermine our position and never solicit our opinions. I can't think of once in eight years that I have been asked to help plan curriculum. I would challenge the system to give me one class for a year and compare their test scores to those from around Japan, but we all know what the likelihood of that is.

As I am writing this I can hear a kid in the hall calling "Tanaka teacher! Tanaka Teacher!" At how many schools, how many times in how many ways have I told people that that isn't English? That we don't use the construction "Last name -teacher." I sound like a killjoy saying this but it is a symptom of the problem. Of all the times that I have said this, how many times has the information been processed? I would wager none.

If I were to develop this text further I would make the surprising declaration that Japan isn't culturally mature enough to do English right in junior high schools. That would seem like a terrible, jingoistic thing to say. That would seem paternalistic at best and coldly racist at worst. It would sound that way, and I am sorry to pull rank, to anyone who had never worked in a Japanese junior high school. I don't want that statement, coming from an American to be construed as contingent on the with the suffix "as compared to America." I don't intend that, and I would have no basis for saying that. I would merely contend that if I was given a new class of 1st year students I would spend the first month or so with them making them understand that Japan was one nation among a community of nations. I would want them to accept that being Japanese didn't make them any more or less predisposed to speaking English than anyone else in the world. But it isn't the kids faults, TV is the main cultural driver in Japan and the only thing, repeat, the only things it feeds the public is that Japan is a special kingdom and everywhere else in the world is absurd. As an American reading this, I think one might be predisposed to caution, "America also thinks it is the center of the universe and...." Yes. Believe me I understand that. The situation in Japan is different however. Most people I know in America grew up knowing someone who didn't look like them. They have probably heard people who don't speak English as a first language speak before. They have probably not thought anything of it in a while. Of course there are racists and bigots in America but......The buts would take a treatise to clarify. All I want people to understand is that their is a barrier to overcome here to arrive at the point were people who speak English aren't comic buffoonery. Could you conduct a science class were people broke down laughing every time you used the metric system.

Irony of ironies I have to go to English club now. Which might not actually count as irony, come to think of it. The point that I am making is that Japan should sing an armistice with junior high English. It should offer foreign languages as electives in high school and majors in college. If it decides to do education for real, then maybe it can give it another try.

The Big Tuna

I meant to post this when it came out but I was sitting back here at the computer and felt compelled to work. Those bastards. I have been following depleting world fisheries for a while but it is all too depressing. I stopped eating meat over 15 years ago but I still eat fish. That is more and more becoming an untenable position. Add to it that tuna is the big one to go, mainly because of Japan. I was also a Florida Nader voter. What will I do without my tekkamaki and negitoro? It is going to be rough but it looks like the seafood era might be drawing to a close. Thank you overpopulation.

Poll Dancing?

Again this junk makes me nuts. It is bad enough that most Americans working knowledge of statistics is almost comparable to their working knowledge of Mongolian. (excepting Mongolian Americans, like John Gombojab Hangin, of course.) To compare someone's favorability rating and another person's job approval rating brings us back to the old equation, yet to be named- I think , that we have been running through our old supercomputers for more than eight years: If they are that stupid they should be fired/If they are that deceptive they should be reviled. This is like that the "study" a few weeks back that proved that the Obama White House's feud with the Fox comedy network had improved said network's ratings. Had it? Well it had if you excluded the weekend numbers from a two week sample. You know what? I work 9 hours a day. There are 7 days in a week. I must work 63 hours a week. What could be wrong with those numbers? I am the guy that failed math so hard that I had to beg to graduate from every level of schooling. Can I work for a major publication too?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

UFC 106: Cat Food

UFC Commissioner Dana White walked to the podium with astonishment. "What the fuck do you mean Captain Lou Albano died? Why did nobody tell me?" Hurt wrenched his face as tears fell softly on his Erik B and Rakim vintage t-shirt. The show must go on.

Sotiropoulos vs. Dent: Sotiropoulus trained at Purebred Tokyo so I am going to go with him regardless. He is also a phenomenal grappler. Sotiropoulos by decision.

Uno vs. Camoes: Uno is a pioneer in the sport. A hero with a rad single leg. If the single leg is working for him I see him getting a decision. I don't know that he can sub Camoes but I think he can out box him. Uno lacks power however. Look for his wrestling to earn him a decision.

Larson vs. Foster: He is from Minnesota and named Brock so I am reflexively against Larson. I shouldn't be. A great grappler. He wins by sub in the 1st.

Grove vs. Rosholt: Grove is not someone you can predict anymore. He has outstanding reach but fights out of the clinch. He love to trike but has no chin. His clench work on the fence isn't bad but Rosholt is a real wrestler. I think Grove is good on the ground. I think he is good on the feet. I still think he loses by TKO in the 3rd.

Saunders vs. Davis: I want to pull for Saunders. He seems like a rad guy and his Ft. Bragg demolition of Wolffe was a thing of legend. However he really isn't that experienced a fighter. Davis has some of the best footwork in the game. Great job with the distance. Great hands. Great hands that transition into solid takedowns and submissions. I think it should be an interesting fight but I think Davis takes it by sub in the 2nd.

Thiago vs. Volkmann: Apparently Volkmann is a takedown machine. Thiago is still somewhat of a mystery. I like him though. He is a tough striker a rugged grappler. Volkmann might be able to control the fight for a decision but I see Thiago hanging in for a chance and getting a KO in the 3rd.

Sadollah vs. Baroni: Baroni. The best 'evah! But really not so great. Not great at all. Lot of punching power. A little wrestling and no gas tank. None. Can he knock out Sadollah? Sure, in the first 2 minutes. What does Sadollah really have? I don't know but we will find out when he beats Baroni after he gasses in the 2nd. Sadollah by sub.

Nogueira vs. Cane: Cane is a meat grinder. Nogueira has been through the meat grinder. Nogueira is a lot like his twin brother. He has solid boxing and savvy grappling. Cane is the more explosive. I see Cane getting the clinch and kneeing Nogueira into oblivion in the 3rd.

Koschek v. Johnson: Will Koschek wrestle? If he goes out there and takes the single. Explodes through the double, he wins. The more he stands up, the more chances Johnson has to land a huge right hand. If Koschek goes out and strikes, start betting against him. I think he wises up and wrestles to the decision.

Ortiz vs. Griffin: What do we know about Ortiz at this point? Maybe his back was that bad and surgery rolled back the clock. Maybe his back was just part of the aging process and he is just a so-so used up fighter. I like Ortiz. I like that he fights to his game plan. It is a good plan for him. I like his defensive boxing. Both of these fighters have great gas tanks. Forrest has better striking, although little power outside of his leg kicks. Ortiz has little power striking, but Forrest has little beard. Does Forrest really have the ground game we keep being told about? This one is a toss up, but I see Griffin getting the decision off of leg kick and defending the takedown.

The fight that I wanted to see was Parisyan vs. Hazelett but alas, Karo is a headcase and we will probably never see it. Parisyan vs. other grapplers are among my favorite fights of all times. Parisyan vs. Diaz. Parisyan vs. Sanchez. Great stuff. Too bad. Too bad Arash Markazi has given coverage duties over to Amy Chavez. Take it to the office.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Urban Harvest

This, is also rad.

I like the idea of diversified food production that is close to home. Even if it isn't an overarching solution it is a small contribution. I also like the idea that people know where food comes from and understand the difference between what grows in a real garden and what is chemically enhanced and food colored and dumped on you.

Monday, November 16, 2009


A very interesting series on foraging. That's all.

In a similar vein, this is kind of rad and Florida-centric.

The Real Story

This story seems important to me. Mainly because it shows so plainly what happens to news stories and how much the "story" part is the real influence over the reportage.

Onward Christian Soldiers

For all of those people who don't think a change in administrations matters. That this viewpoint was in power is sick and stupid and a disservice to people who were attempting to be of service. It isn't even Christianity in any recognizable form that they are advocating, it is servitude to their narcissism. The people involved in the Bush regime seemed to roll around in power the way a dog splays himself on animal remains; wallowing in the stink. This article is pretty sickening.

There are other things going on here to. I don't really want to dissect anyone's faith, however it seems that some of these people's belief was rooted in a shallow insistance that beleiving in God was believing in something nice and clean. That they insulated themselves with religion and were left in the cold when what they thought to be the case was all ripped away.

In anycase it is a sad situation and the fact that money comes into the equation for treatment is the real sickness here. If you are willing to pay for the war, pay for its effects.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

UFC: 105 Drama of Alienation

I haven't made pick in a while. Why? I could think of lots of reasons, but the first would be explaining to your girlfriend why you need to use her computer for an hour to spout undauntedly about something that isn't that important. Also, I still don't have internet on my computer. However, in my last day of making weight I need to do something that isn't eating.

UFC Commissioner Dana White, hand clenched in fury over the Stupak Amendment stepped to the podium and vowed the European mission would continue.

Gustaffson vs. Hamman- Don't know. Don't care. Hamman by smashing 1st.

Riddle vs. Osipczak- Riddle is too much the athlete. His left hand hasn't got a chance to shine since TUF tryouts but he will get takedowns at will. A beat up. TKO for Riddle in the 1st.

Winner vs. Delgado- It is fun to see Delgado in the UFC. It makes you think one of your buddies could make it. He is sporting a lovely Jesus beard as well. Maybe it is a Tanner throwback. Delgado has a good guard but Winner is too physical. Winner by decision.

Kelly vs. Siver- I have never been impressed with Siver, outside of his physique. Kelly is a game fighter and will get the better of Siver in most aspects. Kelly by decision.

Etim vs. Gugerty- Etim has been nothing but impressive since he entered the UFC. Even in his losses. He has excellent kickboxing. He judges distance well and he is skilled on the ground. Etim gets a TKO in the 3rd.

Taylor vs. Hathaway- I like both of these guys. Hathaway is more a rising youngster than a posible product. I think Taylor has the experience to take a decision, but I am interested to see how Hathaway is coming along.

Wilks vs. Brown- I have said before that I loved Mike Brown's status as a folk hero among his peers. His tattoos are awful. I wonder how ironic having "Immortal" tattooed across your stomach will seem when you get diagnosed with cancer. I didn't have any faith in Wilks on TUF, but I was wrong. He is skilled. Brown is a much better striker and hurts Wilks in the 2nd for a TKO. I am worried about Brown's stamina, as usual.

Pearson vs Riley- Similar fighters. Tough guys. If Pearson's time aways from being a professional bricklayer has made him a 5-10% better fighter than he can take this. Riley has made his bones being a tough guy. I think Riley's change of camps earns him a decision.

Swick vs. Hardy- Hardy is my kind of fighter and I keep betting against him. He keeps winning. Still I think Swick is more physical and has more speed and toughness. I think Swick take him down and rough him up. Hardy tries to work the rubber guard but Swick pushes though it and hurt Hardy for a 2nd round stoppage.

Bisping vs. Kang- I say this about Bisping every time; He isn't a great athlete, he is the most athletic guy you know. Dan Henderson completely outclasses him. Dennis Kang is one of the most talented fighters out there but he is a headcase. He loses fights he should win in really ridiculous ways. No one seems to mention that his losing streak started around the time his girlfriend, and fellow fighter, killed herself. That might make one a headcase. Still, Kang outstrikes Bisping and takes him down at will. Kang by TKO in the 3rd.

Couture vs. Vera- Has betting against Handy ever paid off? Sometimes, but I usually go for him when I should go against him and vice-versa. I have bought the Vera hype since the first time I heard of him. I still do. However Vera is, like Kang, subject to mental pitfalls. How does this match up against Couture's slipping skills? Will those skills resurge? I like Vera to keep the distance and land strikes. His stunning low kicks will be hard to work against an opponent like Randy who has excellent takedowns. Both of these fighters were skilled Greco-Roman wrestlers but Randy is clearly more experienced in fighting in the clinch. If Randy can end it it will be by boxing in the clinch, getting the takedown and doing his usual half-guard destruction. Still. I have Vera by controversial decision.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Forgets

I forgot that it was National Novel Writing Month. David has already got started and I just made a page. I will get thie links up tomorrow. In the meantime here is something ridiculous I wrote about a funny story David told me about the first time he ever heard about internet porn. Behold!

A Letter

Here. I printed this out for you. Pretty good huh? It looks better on a monitor but there is no way I can send it to you. I don’t even know if you have a computer. Do you know how to find this stuff? I didn’t until my buddy showed it to me the other day. He knows all about this stuff. I mean how to find this stuff. I know all about this stuff in real life. You know what I mean! Sorry about the edges. I started to tear off the part with the …what do you call it? Where it has the hole for where the printer pulls it through. Anyway I started to tear off one side and then it ripped so I just said fuck it and gave up and stuffed the rest of it into the envelope. Did you like the envelope? I wanted to print it out too, like the address and stuff, but it got all bunched up, like a car ran over it so I just wrote in your address where it was smudged. Is that still your address? If it isn’t it would be pretty funny if your dad opened this big-ass picture of a dude getting a blowjob right there in dot-matrix! I can see him staring at it like a puzzle and turning it upside down and then realizing that it is a picture of a big old cock right there in black and white. Well, kind of gray I guess. What if the dude’s cock was gray in real life? Do old people have gray cocks? What about Mongolians? Fuck it. I ain’t never going to find out. Maybe we could start a business making envelopes that look like they had been run over by a car. Like paint on ‘em like a tire track. That would be nuts. I bet people would buy them. Would they let us mail envelopes with pictures of dudes getting blowjobs? That would be awesome! People could mail them to people like their dad or something and freak them the fuck out! “What the fuck is this! It’s a big cock!” And then like their moms would find it and be like “What the fuck?” Maybe we could drive a car through paint and then run over an envelope. Or like a bunch of envelopes: like a row of them. Too bad I have a gravel driveway. Is yours still gravel? Or was it oyster shell? Do you guys even have oysters up there? I remember when your dog went running through that tall grass out behind your house because we rolled a bowling ball down the hill and he thought it was a rabbit or something and took off after it and then crashed into it and went flying. That was rad. Didn’t he die? That’s too bad. I am sorry about that. I really like dogs. One of my friend’s moms died from eating oysters. She ate oysters and like an hour later she died. It was in the summer. I don’t know if it was in the summer, but you shouldn’t eat oysters in the summer. They have bacteria in them. Bacteria from when it is warm. There aren’t so many oysters now that we have golf courses. The fertilizer runs of and kills the oysters. Graveyards too. Graveyards kill oysters. Anyway, she died right after she ate them so don’t eat oysters in the summer. I know I sure stopped. Do you think that chick knows that dude? That would be pretty funny if he didn’t. He just showed up and some guy is like, “Hey, blow this dude for a picture.” And the chick is like, “Ok.” That’s fucked up. Or what if they know each other and the dude is like, “Hey, I’m gonna take a picture.” And the chick is like, “Whatever.” But she doesn’t know anything about computers and modems and stuff. But my buddy does. And I guess that dude did too. That’s rad. And now I’ve got a picture of his chick blowing him. Funny. I wonder if I can get a chick to do that. Pose for a picture I mean! I can get plenty of chicks to do THAT! I can hear you now man. Being like, “Yeah, I wonder if you can get a chick to do THAT too!” Haha. Pretty funny. Shut the fuck up mother fucker. Well, let me know what you want to do about this envelope printing thing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Native Son?

This is a rad poll that says that Southerners support Obama's performance over Bush's. Tow problems:

One- It refers to Bush as a "Native Son." Of Connecticut? Yes. Of Texas? Marginal. Southern? F' that.

Two- This will change the press narrative zero percent. Bush will always be treated as if he was popular but embattled and any Democrat will be treated as controversial and divisive.

Statistics for Dumbo

Again, is there anything more important to understanding journalism than knowing how to view statistics? Not really, but you wouldn't know that by reading journalists. Behold!

This is frustrating and dishonest. It is like saying we have examined NFL viewership and found it declined sharply. We looked at data from Sunday and Monday and then took the numbers from Tuesday and Wednesday. It is clear the NFL will go bankrupt in the next few weeks. Well, if I knew absolutley nothing, then maybe that would make sense. Problem: Most people know absolutley nothing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is Halloween

Apparently I wasn't the only one up to a whole lot of nothing for Halloween.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

It's my favorite holiday and I have done nothing. Well that isn't completely true. I got revenge on Atago-san to Takao hike. I had a very Halloween moment of being stuck in a long, narrow car tunnel while walking and hitting a section where there were no lights and I could here cars entering the tunnel somewhere behind me and I took of running for the next light. I made it alive. The hike to Takao was exceedingly beautiful. Mainly my dieting down to 73kg is destroying all of the fun in my life by making me a real Halloween zombie. I missed the Origami Girls show I had been looking forward to for months due to exhaustion. 2 weeks and 8 more pounds to go. You know what is fun about dropping weight? Nothing. Shut up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Used to Think You Were Crazy, Now I Can See Your Nuts!

In the midst of trying to cut weight for next month's match, I turn again to nuts. Which are good for you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amy Chavez is a Terrible Writer

I picked that title not because it is a conclusion that I just came to - as you well know- or a revelation, but because I hope that Ms. Chavez, much like her compatriot in unpowerful writing Arash Markazi, frequently Googles her own name and feels a slight pin prick of pain over her remarkable lack of talent coupled with her relatively broad exposure. That sounds mean. I admit it is mean. But Ms. Chavez isn't poor Amy in the back of class that we really hope raises her hand and speaks one day. She is someone who is presenting herself, or at least being presented by the Japan Times as a writer. One assumes she is being compensated. Has she turned out anything that has crossed the Mendoza line of mild retardation yet? Recent evidence states no. It might be alleged that I am a jealous person. That watching other people get paid for something I think I can do better leaves me angry and vengeful. I would agree with the latter but not with the former. It isn't jealousy to recognize incompetence. In the same way that Arash Markazi should never have been assigned to cover an MMA event, Amy Chavez should never be asked to write anything that isn't a kitchy recipe book printed on a home computer and given to her neighbors as a Christmas gift.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More People Do This

Congressman Grayson on the Constitution.

and This.

The one thing I hate in any discussion of Sen. Franken is the "Well he may be a comedian but he sure is smart" dynamic. Sure there are some dumb comedians out, but it is very easy to see that through their schtick. To be the kind of comedian that Franken is/was would have been absolutley impossible for someone lacking intelligence. I don't know how we would be less surprised if he was a lawyer, the fallback occupation for those of average intelligence. What about being a comedian and a comedy writer at a high level for decades would makes us think someone is dumb? Maybe that is why most people are so bad at comedy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unpowerful Writing

I have found an ally in the wet roped struggle against, around and amongst bad internet writing. Not that I hold up many recent posts of mine as great writing...although if someone employed me.... In any case, I thought this was well done.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have mostly been following the Savoie case through the vernacular press, and not very closely at that. The impression I had was of a renegade American causing trouble in a quiet neighborhood. I did, however, make the point several times that a big issue was that Japan doesn't participate in the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Also, the way divorces are handled in Japan is somewhat absurd. Usually it goes like this: Couple splits up. Father never sees the children again. I didn't realize until I read the article above that the father had been awarded custody in America and the mother had run back to Japan with the children. I have yet to find any sympathetic ears in Japan. I believe I heard a TV commentator say- and don't quote me because I just caught he saying it while I was doing something else- that it would would be difficult for Japan to sign the treaty because it might interfere with raising Japanese children. I don't mean children who are Japanese. I mean that she implied it would be hard to make them Japanese if custody was divided.

On the domestic front, this story was on the news and I said it was a real issue that Japan refuses to participate in this treaty. I was met by; "Wow foreigners like to get divorced." I would imagine that anyone who has been in Japan long enough can tell you that a divorce is preferable to many of the marriages here. Nevertheless, that is all apart from the issue of human rights and Japan's continued penchant to opt of treaties that don't seem Japanese enough.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Agree.....

Here is something new from Debito Arudou about the new McDonald's campaign that I have completely missed out on. Especially considering I am trying to drop 15 pounds for a grappling competition. The part the Debito gets absolutely right is the part about speaking to Japanese people being harder than speaking Japanese. Case in point. A week or so ago, I caught the last train home after kick-boxing. It was late and I was tired and carrying a big gym bag. As I got up to leave the train - I live at the last station- my phone fell out of my pocket. The train employees began running through the train waking up the drunks and telling everyone to get off. I said, in Japanese, "Wait! My phone just fell out of my pocket. It is in that seat." The man looked at me as if I were a dog trying to bark and kept motioning for me to get off the train. I repeated myself several times and then stepped out of the train, bewildered and checking my bag for my phone. I kept saying, "My phone is in that seat!" I guess I should explain that when a train reaches the end of the line they flip all of the seats over so they will be facing the right way going backwards. Even as I am insisting my phone is in the seat, they slam it down the other way. A man in a mask came and shoved my broken phone in my face without saying anything. Not only was it unfortunate and made me angry, it hurt my feelings-which sounds ridiculous- but it did. I wasn't drunk and I was speaking completely coherently to people who were conditioned not to listen. I think most Japanese people I know, especially my girlfriend, think of me as a complainer about all things Japanese. But as I often say, because I believe it, complaining is the first step to democracy.

So much shit gets shitted out of the Japanese media about whatever some moron's idea of being
foreign is, and we, at the street level have to act as the filter. I have taught at 8 junior high schools and a 22 year-old student teacher the other day asks me if I can use chopsticks. The kid who can't remember your name now because you aren't Japanese will be the adult who doesn't give someone a loan or housing. It's a problem.

As usual, the disagreements with Mr. Arudo were numerous.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ha Ha Rusty

More Limbaugh stuff here and here. I think the important question in this article is "Who is Limbaugh going to blame?" It is always somebody and it can never be him. It is nice to know that people are on to his garbage.


I know this might not make the outer ring of you black-light disaster mandala, but Charlie Davies-rad forward for the US National Team- was seriously injured in a car wreck today. His prospects are iffy. Davies is one of my favorite new players and I had ironically just got him for my new Winning Eleven team today. Clearly this is what makes it tragic. No. Anyone injured is upsetting, this one is just coincidental and I hope the guy is okay because he is a tremendous athlete with lots of potential.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


If you care about statistics...and environmental statistics...and the misuse of statistics and numbers and information in general than....this.

That's how this stuff enters the dialogue and becomes fact. Someone says "5,000 polar bears in the wild" and doesn't remember where the number came from. Meanwhile, someone who needs to make a point about polar bears takes the number and incorporates it into their world view. But they have a source! A source who said a number with nothing underpinning it. Hmmmm. But it fits the world view and now everyone must incorporate it or deny it, even though it is a number with no real meaning. Great.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.