Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Miyazaki Mangos

Friday Natsuki made her hula debut.

It was also Jamie and Tomo's birthday.

On Sunday, we played hungover baseball and won....big. I sucked ass.

Miyazaki Time

I have been in Miyazaki since Friday. While the weekend was fun, I have been in a rotten mood the last two days. Write part of it up to rain. Part of it to trying to get a rad house in Kyoto while being two islands south. Part up to being off schedule. However, I think a good deal of it has to do with having grown used to living in a big city and all of a sudden being confronted with a car. I hate it. I hate that I have to get in a car and drive 20 minutes to park somewhere and maybe find something I want to do. It just makes me angry, and I love driving. If I was driving out to the gym or to the movies, maybe it would be okay, but I don't feel motivated to go out my front door and see what happens. This shit be bringin me down. On the upside I have been practicing the ukulele. Good stuff.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mystery Sample

This one sample from Delton 3030's genius album of nine years ago has been driving me nuts since I first heard it somewhere between Miyazaki and Saito in Ed's old van. Finally. Finally, somebody has solved the mystery.

For those not familiar with Deltron, I will include the track: Madness. Two reasons. One, this album, produced by Dan the Automater is genius. It was genius when I first heard it and has lost nothing since. Two, if you have never realized how good sampling can be in the right hands, check out what they did with this bit of a strange little song by a band from Vancouver from the late '60s. Outstanding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

That Time of Year

Well we are three years in and it doesn't get any easier to be the friend of a dead person. I almost hesitated to do this again, or mention anything as I don't want people to think this is about me. I feel as bad about Kumar being gone today as I do any other day. But I decided to go ahead and re-run it because maybe there is someone who didn't know Kumar who will come across it. or someone who did know him and didn't know one of these stories. Speaking of which, a selfish sad part about a friend's death is that a part of their memory of you dies too. No one else was around to see me pass out in front of the convenience store and the throw up everywhere but in the garbage can. No one else will remember the night that we went to the underwater karaoke bar that maybe only existed in our minds. I have been re-reading Paul Theroux's Fresh-Air Fiend and he discusses how adventurous people are sometimes called to justify the way they live their lives to people who are content to do very little. I don't think Kumar ever faced this problem because the force of his personality was such that it defied asking justification. In the end, he gave his life for the way he lived his life, which is noble. If it had been religious and not ideological it would be more than noble, it would be an application for sainthood, but that is silliness. Kumar was a human and a doofus who cared about people and the world that he lived in. He cared about people so much that he endeavored to have sex with and/or befriend the majority of them. He cared about the world so much that he didn't waste time thinking that it could turn on him. Once after we climbed out of fairly large surf at Oura, a heavy reef break, his favorite, one guy stayed in. He was way off the point catching all of the biggest waves by himself, as they crashed into the rocks. "That's a brave guy." I said, meaning that he was doing something which would scare me. I could see it eating at Mar-mar(I called him that because once I called him "Kumi: and he got really angry and said only his family could call him that.). He couldn't let it go. "What's so brave about him?" You could see the whole idea of being scared making him want to go back out and the idea of friends pulling him back like a leash. Sometimes we lost that battle. I guess, in the end, friends both won and lost that battle. Whatever. I still miss that guy and I don't think it gets any better.

Here is the eulogy I read at his memorial. (should I pronounce it "eugoogly"? He did love that movie.)

Kumar,Thank you for being my friend I will never have another one like you and I’ll miss you everyday.Thank you for teaching me that you don't have to be bitter to be smart.That you don't have to be isolated to have integrity.Thank you for being exactly who you were meant to be every moment of everyday.Thank you for your endless dedication to the perfect smoothie.Thank you for single-handedly trying to make the knock-off sleeveless soccer jersey the height of fashion.Thank you for playing the drum on national television at the world cup with the Senegalese flag painted on your chest and a big doofy hat on, just like me andEmily knew you would. I think you still have my tape of that. Speaking of which; thank you for getting your kit off at every imaginable opportunity.Thanks for letting me sleep on your floor.Thanks for talking me into drinking the night before the Nobeoka marathon and then letting me throw up at your house all the next day. Thank you for me you and Kate in Nobeoka.Thank you for me you and Kate at the Aya marathon, you broke out way past me and Gerd and as you doubled back past us at the halfway point, we cheered too, how could we not(your kit was off again by the way)..I think you came in in 18 minutes.Thank you for me you and Kate at Oura.Thank you for me you and Kate. Except when you made her cry, you bastard.Thanks for your ponderous yoga stretches that delayed our entry into the ocean by something that must total in the hours at this point.Thank you for Kisaki and Oura and Shojuen and Tanegashima. Thank you for laughing along with me when I fucked up and cheering me on when I did well.Thank you for taking the time when you didn't have to. "If the goalies off his line kick it." "you need to get your hips around more on those corners""if it's offshore at Kisaki try Shojuen" "if nothing's happening that's when you bust out the beers and get it started!"people who are really good at things are often terrible at giving advice to those that aren't. You could do it without being patronizing. You would have been a great coach.Thank you for my surfboard and its ridiculous two whales swimming in a yin-yang sticker which when I sarcastically said, “cool sticker mar-mar" you responded earnestly “I know huh? "thank you for; “dude there were three of them"thank you for, “boom and bag it"thank you for, “blow blow blow blow” both in the club and in the ocean thank you for “alllrighhhht"thank you for "totally" thank for your laugh which sounded like something popping up from the bottom of your lungs. Thank you for laughing at my jokes, even when they were at your expense. Thank you for all the soccer. I don't have to tell you how good you were. You already know that.Thank you for yelling, “Ed ball!" and me passing it yelling “Fuck you Kumar,I’m not Ed!"Thank you for the move that will forever be known to me as "the Kumar."thank you for that night at CUBE when me and you split a tab of ecstasy (both for the first time) and ended up letting these girls take us to that underwater bar singing karaoke RUN-DMC and slapping each other 5's 'cause wewere such goddamned superstars-then telling the girls that all the ramen shops were closed so we had to go back to ours and make pasta. The two of you quickly disappeared and I got stuck with a boiling pot of water and the friend. You got laid and passed out and I got to drive the girls home. Par for the course. We spent lunch the next day staring at each other and asking,"Did that all really happen?" "What if we go back and that bar isn't there?"Thank you for all the lunches; nobody loves food like your ass. How many times have I listened to your elaborate descriptions of meals I cared nothing about? And your sheer excitement and getting to eat...always releasing a giant cry of “yaaahhh" or some such.Thank you for introducing me to Tomo, Saho,Kris, Rolan, everyone in Tanegashima, and that girl in Tokyo who we went out for drinks with. You said later that you thought she was so cool you couldn’t ask her back to your place…well there’s a first time for everything.Thank you for playing our first show with us. It seemed to be okay to do stuff if it was with you, even if you were wearing a big Dashiki the whole time.Thank you for liking my songs. "I was feeling' it"Thank you for having your flaws too. You were the worst morning grump ever.But if I could get you out the door or some coffee in you it was all okay. You couldn't play the guitar for shit. Your taste in movies was questionable at best. After you went on a date to xXx, I asked you how it was, "It was like James Bond with skateboards!"
You had four things that you would forsake your friends for; food, sleep, girls or waves. But it was okay because you would forgive the same transgressions.Thank you for sitting next to me at the Lord of the Rings premiere and every time there was any reference that could possibly be construed as relating to weed you let rip with a "allllrighhht" "yehhhh dude." Thank you for smoking a brother out. Thank you for your childlike enthusiasm. The first time you got on Todd’s skateboard you kept squealing, “it's just like surfing!"Thank you for getting nervous about the silliest stuff. Like at Kisaki,"everyone is wearing spring suits and I have this full suit on...I just feel so lame!"Outside of that stuff thank you for being fearless.Thank you for you and Peter in the mirror for 30 minutes trying to get your clothes right for the evening. It must have been a trick shirt. It had sleeves. Thank you for the beautiful double meaning in your families naming of your website "ambassador for peace and love" I don't know if they are aware of how seriously you took your "ambassador of love title." I suppose you weren'tkeeping me up at night- and occasionally waking me up in the morning- with the racket from your incessant humping downstairs. You were just engaged in some serious trade negotiations. I should have taken minutes.
Thank you for our last day together at Shojuen. Driving to Nichinan, listening to the Pogues. We talked about graduate school and about how you wanted to get serious about peace studies and human rights but you might drop it all for marine biology. Just the two of us and a few guys at shojuen. I got tired and frustrated as usual and went back in, you kept catching everything. When you realized I was on the beach you would throw your arms up and start waving me back out. I guess that is were you will always be for me, “the king of stoke.” It was enough to get me back out .
Thank you for the following conversation:
“is that mail from the half Peruvian stripper”
“no, it’s her twin sister….oh, man. She wants to be friends”
“you know Kumar, you would win life if you could work something out there.”
yeh, I guess that is something everyone wants to do before they get married.”
Right Kumar, a three-way with half Peruvian/half Japanese twin strippers is just something off the list before you get married. If you are Kumar.
Thanks for trying to talk Chad into splitting the price of a tank of gas for giving you a ride to the airport in my car.
Thank you for the smoked salmon. I’m sorry I didn’t eat it.
Thank you for the funniest Bob Marley impersonation I have ever heard. “True rasta man don’t cut off dem toe.”
Thank you for calling me out of nowhere with the most ridiculous dilemmas and never taking my advice.
Thank you for meeting up with me in Tokyo. We met in Harajuku and you made sure we found a vegetarian restaurant. We wandered around and checked out the bands. We had a drink with that girl and talked about tattoos.
Thank you for the trail mix.
Thank you for covering for me at work. In just two weeks you managed to score one juku teacher and convince all the kids to this day that my name is Kumar.
Thank you for getting drunk at Beat Crap and grabbing me in a big bear hug and saying, “I said, when I met you…’that Wes, he’s a great guy!” All I could think to say was, “really, when we met I thought you were from New Zealand.” What I meant to say was, “That really means a lot coming from you."
At a time when we are told that our heroes should be soldiers, thank you for showing that living for peace can be just as dangerous but far more worthwhile.
Thank you for that time in Tanegashima when we were waiting on a wave and you said, “You ever look at a wave and you can’t catch the wave but you think, ‘man I’m glad I got to look at such a beautiful wave.” John’s response was, “Shut up Kumar, no one ever thinks that.” We got a lot of miles out of that one over the years. But now, thinking about all the times we had and all the times we won’t have, I can say that, yes Kumar, I know exactly what it is like to look at a wave and not be able to catch it but thinking, man I’m glad I got to look at such a beautiful wave.
Kumar, Thank you for being my friend, I will never have another one like you and I’ll miss you every day.

First Year's First Class: Name Cards

Hard to believe it has been a year

Note From Yano

Note From Matsumoto

Note From Kento

Note From Rena

Thursday, March 12, 2009

To Whoever They Find to Replace Me

There is a door around the side of the gym. If you slide the lock out a little on the inside it keeps the door unlocked so people can duck out behind the stage and skip P.E. and then get back in. Please check it if the wrong people seem to be in the wrong places.

Try to get a desk away from the door to the office. Everyone will stand there and yell for teachers. People will take your pens to fill out late slips and forget to give them back. Teachers in a hurry will set something down and forget to pick it up. If you are at an elementary school for the week, this will pile up and you will lose anything you might have come in to look for.

Remember that Kuroda's dad killed himself in their apartment when he was in 6th grade. He came home from school, opened the door, and found his dead father. I know he is bad a lot of the times but please give him a hug and tell him that you are proud of him because his dad can't.

AlPlaza has better bentos but you are more likely to run into students there. Sundy has cheap sushi in the back.

Hashimoto is small but he hits harder than anyone in the school. He just doesn't want them to know that he used to do karate. Let him punch you in the stomach every once in a while. It makes him happy.

Takuma is awful, but one day a wheelchair basketball team came to the school and he helped break down all of the wheelchairs and equipment and stayed until it was all loaded into the vans. Then he said thank you and bowed to them as they left. He was great that day.

Taishi can be an ass, but he is a big baby and can be very sweet. He likes to go fishing. At undokai practice he got in my face so I threw him on the ground and punched him in the ass yelling, "Grow up you big baby!" While he cried in the dirt. We have been fine since then.

Makino is noisy but he is also clever and likes it if you talk to him like a grown up. His parents got divorced last year and his mom won't let him use his dad's last name anymore. Maybe you should learn his first name.

Ide can't pronounce "Ji." It comes out like "Gi." I couldn't understand what she was saying the other day and I felt bad about it. Keep that in mind.

Suguru is stuck in a wheelchair while is two brothers, they are triplets, are fine. Despite that, he is the most positive person I have ever met in my life. Try to say hello to him every morning, your day will go better.

If you stand off the south corner of the gym, by the basketball nets, you can see behind the school and behind the gym at the same time. this covers both smoking areas. At least the ones I know about.

Masumi's parents are drug addicts. He switched schools 6 times before coming here. His father was in jail most of his life. He got out and ran away. Now his mother is in jail. Try and make sure to remember his birthday and get him something. I got him a Tigermask T-shirt. Also, make sure he gets an annual this year, his brother didn't have enough to pay for one but didn't want to say anything.

I think Doma might be a robot. Enjoy her quirks.

Hiroto looks like a bad kid, but he isn't. That goes for Shoma and Yuji and Nagi as well.

Rina is ridiculous, but give her time.

Don't let Yoneda quit on herself. Please. I worry.

If Raito gets that look on his face ask him what he's up to. It's probably not good. His mom gave me permission to strangle him.

Don't ever be scared. Don't ever back down. Don't ever give up, because you are only giving up on the kids and they need you. Make them follow the rules. Make them try. Make sure to care about them because they don't have enough of any of these things at home.

The new first years are my project that I wont get to finish. They could go either way. Try to make them follow the third years, not the second years.

If you catch Ota on her bike, tell her you will forgive her if she tries hard in class. She will.

Remind Sayaka that she is a really great kid.

Aoki's a trip. He is a super genius who loves Hannah Montanna and Indiana Jones in equal amounts.

One day Oto stopped me near the school gate and said, "Sensei, in the world, everything has an order. Numbers. By height. By age. Why do people die at random? Wouldn't it make sense if we died in order?" "But that wouldn't be life." I answered. "Still. It doesn't make sense." Spend some time with that kid.

Fukumoto likes to put his hands all over your face, even when he has a cold. Tell him to stop. His little brother might be a superstar.

When Ueshina is doing good, tell him. When Ueshina is bad, remind him of how happy you are when he does good. Look out for his sister. Everyone says she is awful, but she never shows that to me.

Remember that each kid during the course of a year has a moment that is just about them, when you see how great they can be. Find a place in yourself where you can put that and not let it fade away because life won't be as fair to all of them as it will be to some and they need that little bit of themselves to remain somewhere.

Tell the kids I am sorry. I wanted to be there. But that's not how things work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Said

Yes, I have only been saying this for the last ten years, but it is nice that there are some other people who feel the same way. There are tons of green jobs out there, there is just a strange psychological resistance to it. Even if America, if you offered health care and a place to stay, tons of people would jump at jobs like this, notwithstanding the fact that they paid less than some other jobs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Never Knew

Wow. Eddie George moves 900 places up my football list. Rad.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

UFC 96: Lost at Sea

It was painful for Dana White to get anywhere near the podium while his heart was still floating somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, the show must go on. I must do these predictions in a hurry so I can clean my room and make it to practice. So listen closely, here they come.

Riley vs. Nelson- I support Nelson as he is part of Team BJ Penn. But. But. Riley is the more well-rounded, more experienced fighter. Nelson will try to pull guard after getting popped a few times and Riley will hurt him for top position. 2nd round TKO.

Vera vs. Patt- It is no secret that Vera is one of my very favorite fighters. I hope someone has lit a fire under his ass and he comes out ready to destroy. Patt really has nothing to offer the superior wrestler and the superior muay-thai fighter. Vera hurts Patt in the 1st for a KO.

Boetsch vs. Brilz- We are all waiting for Boetsch to repeat the potato sacking he put on David Heath. He probably won't but his striking is brutal and stone-age. I love his front kicks. He will probably snatch out Brilz's soul somehow. Boetsch by TKO in the 2nd.

Day vs. Grove- I support Kendall Grove. I like how he improves and he has a good, well mixed game. Unfortunately there is no way to compensate for a weak chin. He unquestionably has one. Grove has all of the tools to beat Day but all it takes in one punch to take him out. If Kendall works his grappling he stands a very good chance. The more he stands and strikes the more the odds go out of his favor. I see Kendall doing well and getting caught in the 2nd by Day for a KO. Sorry. I would rather him win.

McCrory vs. Madigan- I know that Tamdan McCrory is far more talented than me. I know he is tougher and stronger and everything. He is a barn cat. I just can&t fathom how he is a pro fighter. And a good one a that. He doesn't look that part but he plays it. Tamdan tools Madigan with some wild striking for a TKO in the 1st.

Maynard vs. Miller- Maynard is a very strong, very big, very bread and butter fighter. Miller is a power-sub freak. I pick the Miller brothers in every fight and I won't get off the bus here. Miller rips something off in the 3rd. It will be a very hard fight though.

Carwin vs. Gonzaga- I am very interested in this fight. Both of these fighters have a lot to show us. It is hard to call. Both are physical freaks with tons of power. Carwin is a better wrestler. Gonzaga is better jiu-jitsu guy. I think Gonzaga gets a sub sometime in the 2nd but it should be a great fight.

Sell vs. Brown- I love Pete Sell for no reason and always pick him. I enjoy the Matt Brown. I think Sell has way to much of a size advantage in this one. Will he finally use his high-level jiu-jitsu? Probably not. Brown will hang tough but lose by TKO in the 3rd.

Hamill vs. Munoz- Two wrestlers. Two very good wrestlers. Hamill is the better striker. I generally back Hamill. I do again here. He lands a big right and wins by KO in the 1st.

Jardine vs. Jackson- A hard one to call. Why? You ask....Because Jardine doesn't fight like anyone else out there and Jackson is a headcase. Here are the two biggest factors: Jardine has a questionable chin. Jackson has outstanding boxing defense. Wait! Here are two other factors: Jardine has insane leg kicks. Jackson doesn't check leg kicks. This fight is going to be awkward. Everything in a Jackson fight depends on his mental condition. I can see either guy winning. I am very impressed with Jackson's boxing defense. I think it will win him this fight when he defense and counters and cracks Jardine on his suspect chin getting a KO in the 2nd.

There it is. Too bad Markazai is packing for spring break...1992. I won't be able to watch as I have press passes for the Shooto event tomorow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

100% Exactly

Whether it be sports, music, food, or politics, just because someone is put on TV to talk about something doesn't mean they have a clue. It sometimes seems to guarantee that they won't.

Korea: Some Pictures

Korea 2009095

Last time I was at Incheon I thought it was the loveliest airport I had ever seen (although Pittsburgh has a Calder over the escalator.) I figured it had aged some in the last 7 years but, no, it is still the nicest airport I have been in. I think Honolulu is a close second even though I began not liking it.

Korea 2009096

It was Natsuki's 1st time out of Japan. We didn't go together but we met up in the airport. Probably my favorite part of the trip, if not of the year so far, was passing through immigration. You might be thinking that that is quite odd. Let me explain. As you get to immigration there are a few lines labeled, "外国人ーForeigners." Next there are lines labeled "韓国人ーKoreans." You may see where this is going, especially if you live in Japan. There was a certain amount of Japanese people who saw the "Foreigners" line and kept walking. They gazed at the signs for "Koreans" and kept walking, only to realize there were no other options. Got you motherfuckers!! I wish they would put in bleachers so that any non-Japanese who has lived in Japan can sit and wait for that moment. Truly breathtaking. You can see the gears sparking.

Korea 2009097

This is Soju. This is not a wine cooler. Drink it, but with great caution. This is yogurt flavored.

Korea 2009100

For some reason we got it in our heads that we wanted pizza. This restaurant was caked in pizza advertisements. Everything, even the stairs said "pizza." The menus said "fall into pizza." Want to guess what wasn't on the menu? Yes. Pizza.

Korea 2009022

These F'ing bikes are everywhere. They deliver everything. At night it was lots of dry cleaning. They obey few traffic laws or conventions. They have these big metal rods that look like they are from Thunderdome. The driver pulls one out and uses it to prop up the bike like a big kickstand.

Korea 2009023

This is Korea. If you go to Seoul, you will see this. Every alleyway, and there are millions of them, looked just like some place I remembered, but probably wasn't.

Korea 2009024

This is Cheonggyecheon, which runs through the city. It used to be concreted over but is now as you see it. Seoul seems, to some degree, to be conscious of its appearance and planning. I, of course, dig that. (although I acknowledge the controversy surrounding this project.)

Korea 2009028

One thing that really strikes you going from Japan to Korea is the difference in color schemes. Korean temples and gates are generally more colorful then their Japanese counterparts, although they don't have Japan's impacting vermilion. Of course, a lot of Japanese temples used to have more of the Pure Land feel.

Korea 2009032

I don't know, I guess this is some Korean actor or something. By the way, this is in Insadong which I highly recommend. If I had more time and could wander there slowly, I would. It also had insanely cheap, quality wood-block prints that I didn't buy. We ate at a Juk (Korean porridge) restaurant that was really good.

Korea 2009034

This is the Starbuck's in Insadong which, abiding with the planning laws, has its name written in Hangul

Korea 2009035

There are lots of kooky art markets in Insadong.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Vote for a camp all-star.


March 4th at Sanjusangendo003

I spent my birthday (and accidental day off) at Sanjusangendo, which I had somehow managed to never visit even though I studied it in college, lived close enough to it that I passed it every day and have had it strongly recommended to me on numerous occasions. I had been meaning to go for a while and always not making it. It was an overcast, windy, overslept day when I finally set out.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo005

It is hard to communicate the scale of the place. It is monstrous. I believe it is at least 120 meters long.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo004

The white door you see in the background would have to be twice the height of a person. Probably more.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo006

Unfortunately, the grounds are the only place where you can take photos. Fortunately, the grounds are lovely.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo010

The name of the building in English means, "The Thirty-Three Bays." So there are thrity-three of these spaces between the beams. It is truly massive.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo020

The site also has a natural spring which is heralded for its delicious taste and has a sign above it that says, "Not Potable."

March 4th at Sanjusangendo037

A cold wind was coming in from the north.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo042

This is the the west side of the building where they used to have archery contests. Competitors fired arrows from one end to the other. They could go for most out of 100, most out of 1,000 or most in 24 hours.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo050

One of my favorite things about this location, as well as others in Kyoto, is that thye are surrounded by normal neighborhoods. So, if you have a third floor apartment around the grounds you have an amazing view all day, every day.

March 4th at Sanjusangendo060

Korea: Band

We came across this band on Saturday night wandering around with RJ. I thought they were quite good for a band of college kids playing on the street. This is the kind of stuff I miss while living in Japan. Just the kind of enthusiasm and spirit, which might be too evidenced in Koreans at times, but too lacking in Japan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Korea was rad. I will write more about it later. It is nice to be able to go to another country for the weekend, and for very low prices and a short flight time at that.

Korea 2009045

attempting to silence the voices in my head.