Monday, August 30, 2010

A New Challenge?

Japan never fails. Monkey disaster again. Oh, and it gets worse. This was the big news this week, prompting Ed's wife to state, "Japan is a peaceful place." Indeed. My favorite quote was the old lady on the news saying, "Then there was a monkey in my house and I thought 'Why is there a monkey in my house?' And then it bit my leg, so I hit it in the head, but it kept biting me." Quality.

In other Japan news, This shit about pissed me off. I won't go on about it for too long, but with all the bullshit that foreigners ge there about their manners and lack of them and their general barbarianatude, some conduct that would never be acceptable in civilized countries is completely okay here. Number one on my list, being a drunk guy in public making a big nuisance of yourself and having nobody say anything about it. It doesn't always result in needless death, but it could. Sometimes America being violent and having dangerous consequences seems like a good thing to me. Oh, I'm going to go hang around downtown shit faced and sleep wherever I fall down and stumble around the train station and see how that works out. At best, it works out in having no wallet anymore. And it fucking well should.

I Can't Say It

There was a super rad article in the NYT today on language. I am not going to comment to deeply on this as it is not really my field and there other people much more knowledgeable o the subject than me. I decided on this policy when I said to a tall blond lady at a party over a beer that I was interested in linguistics and had a fondness for Chomsky. She proceeded to destroy my brain with contrary evidence from MRI imaging and a funny thing called science. Who knows, she may have been full of shit, but I would have had no way to verify that. I think that the author of this piece is largely right, of course he is, in saying that language is a thing in your brain that is constantly effecting how you perceive things. It has to be. In my experience I know that I am not the same person in Japanese that I am in English. I would never dream of telling someone to "ganbare" in English. Or that they must be "otsukaresama." Those things are ridiculous to even contemplate in any other setting.
Articles and papers and books will often prattle on about how the distinctive element of Japanese is its hierarchical structure. I care as much about this discussion as I do about every book on Japanese architecture that talks about how gloriously "vague" everything is. (insert empty hand making masturbating motion here.) Vague is just a word that was thought up to make something boring and common sound like a topic for discussion. Yes, your futon can go in the closet and then it isn't really a bedroom is it? There, we settled it. That isn't vague, it is a closet with a futon in it. Now it is out. Now it is in again. Get it?

I also spend a good deal of time explaining to Japanese people that English has a hierarchy too, it just isn't taught to us concretely in our school systems. Or, more importantly, isn't taught to them in theirs. But everyone knows that you wouldn't say to one's boss, "That's some fucked up shit right there!" Rather you might suggest, "The quarterly reports seem to indicate a downturn." I can remember being firmly scolded for telling my neighbor "bull" when I wanted to represent the opposite side of an argument to them. Of course I didn't know that I wanted to represent the opposite side of an argument, I thought that what they were saying was "bull" until my mother corrected me.

But where were we...Oh, yes. My two favorite tidbits of Japanese that I think say a lot about the country and its people are:

1. The grammatical structure for "making" someone do something and "letting" them do something are exactly the same. (。。。させる)  For example, a teacher will often say to me about a lesson plan, "Then you will let the students pronounce the vocabulary." Okay, I'll let them do it all they want.

2. The word for being "wrong" and "different" are the same word. (違う) If you ever wanted something stereotypically Japanese, there it is right there.

I was trying to explain this article to my wife, who is Japanese and speaks no English. I was having to convert everything into Japanese and then flesh out the arguments. "For example, people say different words for the same colors or the same words for different colors." "What do you mean?" "Well, in Japan you call the traffic light for go 'blue.'" "And?" "Well, it is green." "No it isn't." And so on.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

UFC 118: Walking to New Orleans

As Fats Domino played over a montage of Shep Smith weeping on an I-10 overpass, Commissioner Dana White pulled his nuts out the side of his replica 1980's soccer shorts and laughed at you.

Pierce vs. Alves

As Alves fights out of Nova Uniao and has a stellar record, I would love to see him win, I think Pierce's wrestling and top control will get him the decision.

Osipczak vs. Soto

Osipczak has been a complete surprise to me, but I very much like the way he fights. Neither of these fighters has a record long enough to make any real judgments. I think Osipzack has the better package and I go with him for the decision.

Miller vs. Salter

Every time I swear that you should never bet against a Miller the way you should never bet against a Diaz, and here Dan Miller has given us three straight loses. He has fought some good competition, losing to Maia, Sonnen and Bisping, but he has lost by fighting with his head up his ass. Does anyone believe that Bisping had much to offer him on the ground. I very much want Miller to right his own ship here, but Salter, also a wrestler, is a rough match-up for him. Salter also fights out of Birmingham, so I should be yelling a big roll tide for him. Still, desperation is the mother of the ass-kick and I call Miller by violent sub in the 1st.

Winner vs. Lentz

I am a fan of Winner's striking and I somehow feel like he is more of a known commodity, even though his record is sparse. But look at Lentz's record. The Carnie has been rolling. I feel that I must take him for the decision here. Should be a well fought fight, I am looking forward to it.

Lauzon vs. Ruedigar

I have always been a fan of Joe Lauzon. He illustrates one of the truths I have learned in MMA, sometimes the goof looking mother fucker will rip your head off. Lauzon is a very talented grappler. Is Ruedigar a fighter who can move beyond his ridiculous and embarrassing appearance on TUF? He has a surprisingly robust record as of late. Of course, the competition hasn't been top level. I don't see Lauzon losing this one. I think he gets the better of striking and the scrambles and subs Ruedigar in the 3rd.

Diaz vs. Davis

Again, two fighters I like. However, you know the rules, Never bet against a Diaz. And I won't. Nate's boxing isn't quite where his older brother's is, but it is good. No doubt Davis is more technical and Diaz can be obtusely flat footed and will commit to wars that aren't his to fight, but I don't think he will be knocked out and I know he won't be subbed. I think this is a hard fight for Davis and Diaz's reach will wear on him and he will fall to a sub in the 3rd.

Maia vs. Miranda

It will be interesting to see how Maia bounces back from the oddness that befell his title tilt with Anderson Silva. Miranda is no slouch but Maia is one of those guys whose main skill is so far beyond everyone else that I have to call him for the sub in the 1st.

Florian vs. Maynard

Maynard is a strange case, he isn't a super fighter in any respect but he is good enough that I could see him beating anyone in his weight class. Yes, that includes Penn. Maynard is very big for the weight and strong. He punches hard if not well and can control from the top. In the end, I think that Florian's package of skills will be too much for him. Florian can take angles and work form the outside. He will hurt Maynard with strikes and fight through his wrestling. Florian should be able to hurt Maynard enough that his stamina will become a problem. I see Florian taking a bloody decision.

Couture vs. Toney

What is there to say about this really. Toney was a great boxer. His actual punching is probably better than anyone who has ever stepped in the octagon. No, I know it is. But has he showed any real dedication to this fight? Look at him. Look at the guy training him. The second he was introduced as "someone who trains the government and the FBI in defensive techniques" I knew Toney was done. Their is nothing to be gained in a pre-Royce Gracie mindset. The ground work they showed him working was amateur level and won't even buy him a second in the big leagues. Can anyone win with a good (or bad) punch in four once gloves at any second? Absolutely. Is that the only chance Toney has? Absolutely. He isn't even a real boxer anymore. I will be interested in this match, but strictly for laughs. Couture by Toney surrender in the first.

Edgar vs. Penn

Let's get this straight from the start, in no way to I believe Frankie Edgar one their title fight. I don't even think he came close. It was an exhibition of judging at, if not its worst, its very bad. I was an Edgar supporter, and I suppose I still am, but the whole thing seems fake to me. The idea that we have to accept something as real which we can see as wrong. So, in the sense that Edgar can repeat his(admittedly sensible) strategy of saying outside and dashing around firing at volume, and if the judges again ignore effective counter striking, then Edgar has a chance of retaining his title. It should also be noted, and not to make excuses for him, that Penn came out flat in his last fight. Who knows what happens in the mind and training of BJ Penn, but I think he comes out and Fs up Edgar and hurts him and gets the sub in the 4th.

But what do I know.


If you know me, and there is a small chance you might, you know that I uphold the grand tradition of Kanto/Kansai static. And not without a basis, I have seldom had a good experience in Tokyo. No CHUDs have ever approached me, but I am quick, elusive, and crafty. This time however, the benefits of marriage came to fruition and I had a bit of a better experience with my native tour guide.


People ask about the fights when you are married. We don't fight much, but a recurring one goes something like this, "I don't care where we eat, I just don't want to keep walking around talking about it in this 100 degree heat." So that is how two Kansai residents found themselves in an all you can eat okonomiyaki place in Harajuku.


It was a good call.



This is Harajuku



Gwen Stefani nowhere to be found.


The Tokyo subway map in all of its glory.


Tokyo tower versus the moon from Roppongi Hills.


It is Japan after all.


Usually the crowd attracts itself and you just have to move somewhere that they forgot.


I think this sentiment is both accurate and says a lot. This approach will get you far in life in Japan.

The National Art Museum

I had to run up to Tokyo earlier this week. The up side was that I had some free time and got to go to The National Art Center. I had been told that it was an Ando Tadao creation. It was only after I had gotten home that I found out it was designed by the late Kurokawa Kisho, whose books had propelled me through my college architecture classes. One of Kurokawa's quotes that always stuck with me was his saying that when he sits down to conceive of a building he draws out the door handles at the same time he plans the overall layout. That attention to detail shows in all of his buildings including this one.




This fairly normal apartment building is directly next to the museum complex. It looks like it was probably there since before construction began. Can you imagine your good fortune to have this be the view off the back of your balcony?


The museum is part of a larger complex which features a policy school.


The majority of the building has this curved texture that has the natural feel that Kurokawa went for.



Fortunately they were having a Man Ray exhibit as well.



This are actually transitions well into the Roppongi Hills complex. My main concerns when writing papers for my urban planning degree dealt with what is an area when it wasn't built for consumers, and how can it be approached. Strangely, this section of Tokyo does a good job of addressing that question. Roppongi Hills is essentially a shopping mall with a tuxedo on it. But it works. It is an interesting place and can be experienced without being a consumer. It also lends itself to the neighborhood as a whole.


I believe that all of the chairs in the museum where designed by several prominent Scandinavian designers. They sit nice.

Kurokawa, you are dead, but lots of dead people built less good buildings than you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fujinomiya Gogome 6PM

This is the sky from halfway up Mt. Fuji.


I would have to say that the sky, both night and day, was the greatest thing about the hike. The peak and its eerie fog that shrouded everything like a thought starved horror movie and thinned to reveal a giant volcanic crater, and the way the light showed that every dark barrier you had been pitted against was actually red volcanic sand, would have been moments of epiphany if not for the onset of hypothermia, real or imagined, and the insensitivity of my travel companions. Climbing a mountain is a truly revolutionary folly.


A Little Arjy-Bargy Goes a Long Way

I have read and watched a fair amount about hooliganism, yet I don't feel that it is something that I can really get a handle on. It is a discussion that I have frequently with my British band-mates, who are fellow fans of the footy. America is a terribly violent nation in so many ways and our sporting culture verges on the cromagnon at times. How then have we seemingly avoided this tumor of numskullery? Is our senseless violence already sated in gang warfare, racial hatred and school shootings? I am not going to pose any theories just state the question. I had the good fortune to attend the University of Alabama, whose football rivalry with Auburn University is often described as the largest sports blood feud in America. I attended several Iron Bowls, and while they were raucous affairs, complete with a temporary jail within the stadium, neither team had factions seeking out violence. Most of the police presence was to protect drunken fans from themselves. I don't know if I am more surprised that this dark undercurrent lies in British society or that it has never reared its head in ours.

Sunday, August 22, 2010



Florida requires lots of dredging equipment. It is what makes a barrier island into a harbor.


If all you looked at was this photo, not much would have changed since I was growing up.


But then you have this "Peter Boss abortion." As Wes F. put it.


This line of waves is just from the tide running. This is about 10 feet off of the beach, at most. And people wonder how tourists drown every year.


Deep Water Horizon power pack.


When I was a little kid, I though the jetties were a natural formation.


Sea life with oil?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Campamus. Scenes from AICL 2010

I got a new camera as a wedding present. I am trying it out. I am sure it will change my life like the new J Crew catalog.


Two super geniuses at work.

Commander Dan

Captain Mustache

Ms. Mustache


Princess Hotstuff


Ghost of Dave Kyser


The Mush


Micah and John


Old Yankee



Dr. Foxy


Dance Wars




IMG_2558 - Copy




DJ Wooly Willy


Our Mikoshi


Dirty Hippy


Eco Dorm


George Going Beefcake




Jeff and Juno


attempting to silence the voices in my head.