Saturday, April 30, 2005

Honyaku Friday

Otaku Friday has become tiresome. Since I refuse to scrape the bottom of the barrel of laughs (that being the task of making fun of obese girls in Shiranui Mai costumes, which is easier than shooting fish in a barrel of laughs), I am forced to replace Otaku Friday with something more interesting. I haven't decided yet what that will be, but here's one possibility: I will feed some English into the Yahoo Japan Translation page, and then feed the Japanese results back in to get some interesting English. If it goes the way I think it will, we should have some high-quality weird Japanese t-shirt English. Why don't we try it out with this paragraph? Let's English!!!

Double-Translated Results from Yahoo Honyaku:

The otaku became troublesome on Friday. Because I refuse to rub against a bottom of a pipe of a laughter (being work to make fun of an overweight girl in simple Shiranui my costume than shooting a fish in the a lot of laughters), it is forced that I stop, and I exchange Otaku for anything which is interesting on Friday. I did not yet decide it what it is about, but there is one possibility here: I feed British one part on Yahoo Translation page and then feed back a Japanese result inside to make interesting one part the U.K. If it goes by the method how then it thinks of me, British, we must do a doubtful Japanese T shirt of some high quality. Why do not we make a try of it in this paragraph? English is changed!

Yes, English is changed. Honyaku Friday...a new tradition is born!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Jim Davis Has Lost His Mind

So I open my net browser of choice today, and the familiar My Yahoo! homepage comes up, complete with the always-not-funny Garfield strip of the day. But today, something about Garfield is amiss.

In the first frame we see a horrifying scene of Garfield shoveling food into his mouth, although at first glance, it looks like he's vomiting. Well, now I'm hooked. I cant wait to see how this one ends. In frame two, Garfield is putting carrots in his ears. KIDS! DON'T PUT CARROTS IN YOUR EARS! And in frame three, John shows up with a terrible demonic expression on his face and delivers the greatest Garfield punchline to date:


Ha ha ha ha haaa, I get it! Jim Davis, now 240 years old, finally lacks the faculties to complete a strip. I would say something about hoping that he died before he had a chance to write the punchline to another unfunny Garfield comic, but that would be mean.

Monday, April 25, 2005


I was mistaken; the Calorie Mate TV spots with Kiefer Sutherland do show him chomping on the balanced food block, in between phoned orders. (They don't show the scene that presumeably happens next: Kiefer asking for a glass of water. Those Calorie Mates make you thirsty.)

Friday, April 22, 2005

Jack Bauer for Calorie Mate

Marketing minds behind the popular Calorie Mate energy bar seem bent on creating a new image for their product as hero food.

In contrast to last summer's low-key TV spots for Calorie Mate (featuring a too-cool-for-school young man and a spoken-word jingle, not nearly angry enough to be called "rap"), more recent ventures have placed the product in the video game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (how many times can I mention Metal Gear in this blog?), and now, in TV and print ads starring Kiefer Sutherland.

The ads, inspired by the TV drama 24, doesn't draw any specific connections between Jack Bauer and the "balanced food block." We can guess, however, that Jack Bauer is yelling into his phone, "Give me some Calorie Mate right now! Just do it, Tony!"

This picture is of an ad board in the Ginza subway station. I did a little checking around online and found that most non-Japanese websites that talk about Calorie Mate are quick to call it "apparently disgusting," and "oh grody, I mean balanced food block, what EVER." The truth is, it's not bad. It's designed as a rudimentary energy source, and it does the job. You could do much worse...for example, this.

Otaku Friday

I'm not sure, but judging from his facial expression, this cosplayer must be emulating Alan Rickman in Harry Potter. Only problem is, I don't remember Alan Rickman making this face in Harry Potter, or any other film.

Oh, wait! Now I remember, in the Special Extended Director's Dut of Die Hard, after Hans Grueber falls from the 30th floor, the camera zooms in on his face and he looks like this.

No. Not really.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Big Walk: Results

Start time: 10:11 AM

Finish time: 4:41 PM

Total time: 6.5 hours

Distance traveled: 20 km

Wards traversed:

Fluids consumed:
Pocari Sweat (0.5 L)
Aquarius (0.5 L)
green tea (0.5 L)
water (0.75 L)

Casualties: Pen (1)

Helicopters destroyed: 7

Times killed: 0

Continues: 0

Total rank: S

The Big Walk: FINISH!

And then I walked back home. Just kidding, you silly billies! I rode the subway. I had originally planned to take a Sumida River tour boat to Hamamatsucho, but A) I couldn't find the ticket window, B) Well, actually I could find the ticket window but I just didn't really care, and C) Well, actually I did care, but I was just really tired and wanted to get out of the sun.

Little Girl: "Holy ****, Jesse!"

I sat down on the temple's front steps and took a moment to bask in the aforementioned glorious personal triumph. I can't believe I'm done with my walk, and neither can the little girl behind me.


There's a smile! And why shouldn't I? I finally reached the end of my trip. I tried to use the magic healing smoke from the temple's incense pot on my legs (now nearly useless) and some people looked at me strangely. Apparently the smoke doesn't work that way. Maybe I should have tried to use it on my nose. I remember reading the blog of a tourist who said, "I bet you can walk all the way across Tokyo without seeing the sky." To him I say, "Tell that to my sunburn, fool."


Tourists. Pigeons. Rice crackers. Fun. Nakamisedori is simultaneously so Japanese...and so not Japanese. Where else can you do a half a million things, all at a quarter to three? Thanks for that insight, Huey Lewis.


Check it out, I didn't die. Here I am at the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), now truly on the final leg of my journey. And on the final leg of my...legs. Because they hurt. A lot. At that time.

Now all I needed to do was make it all the way to the end of Nakamisedori without spending all my money on fake katanas, overpriced wall scrolls and ugly t-shirts with the kanji for "samurai" on them.


This sign could have said "THIS WAY TO YOUR CERTAIN DEATH" and I still would have followed it, because it showed the way to the end of my walk. All I had to do was follow Asakusadori less than two kilometers through Tawaramachi and then fight my way up the Nakamise shopping street to Sensoji Temple.

Little did I know that Tawaramachi would be yet another exercise in boredom. The entire length was lined with butsuguya, shops characteristic of temple neighborhoods; they sell Buddha statues, family altars and similarly morbid funeral items. Maybe it's not so morbid to your average Japanese, but to me the shops seemed to say, "THIS WAY TO YOUR CERTAIN DEATH."

Ueno Park Yeah Whatever

To be honest, by the time I got to Ueno Park I really didn't care about cherry blossoms anymore. I just wanted to finish my walk, bask in my glorious personal triumph and then go home. So here's a picture from Ueno Park, just to prove I was there.

Goodbye, Pen...I Wuv You

Upon reaching Ueno-Hirokoji Station, I was getting excited because I knew Ueno Park couldn't be too far ahead. But in this picture I look unhappy (that is, I look slightly more serious than in my other pictures) because of something that happened while I was dragging myself through Akihabara a few minutes earlier. As I was reaching down to grab the bottle of green tea I had just bought from a vending machine, my note-taking pen fell from my shirt pocket into a sewer grate. Not that the pen was essential to my trip. It was just a really nice pen.

Klaatu. Verata. Ochanomizu.

After Chidorigafuchi was Takebashi, then I veered north into Kanda (don't say "Kanda" out loud unless you're interested in summoning deadites!).

This is the Kanda River. To my front is college town and music instrument store haven Ochanomizu. To my back is the squalid den of Tokyo's unhealthy geek culture, Akihabara. I know it's not picturesque, but I took this shot because seeing the Kanda River reminded me of my early days in Tokyo, when I would ride the train over this bridge to get to training in Shinjuku. Also, with the translation "Tea Water," Ochanomizu is quite possibly my favorite train station name in all of Tokyo. It's right up there with Bakurocho ("Horse-Eating Town").

Chidorigafuchi 3

This is one of my favorite pictures of the entire day. If I remember it right, this is looking south over Hanzo Hori.

Chidorigafuchi 2

Here's another nice one, looking up through the branches.

Chidorigafuchi 1

Isn't this nice? From this picture, you'd never guess how incredibly crowded with sightseers and picnickers the area around the Kokyo was.


Around 2:00 I reached the west border of the Kokyo and things started to get more interesting. Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to enter the Kokyo East Garden as per my original plan, as all parts of the inner Kokyo are closed on Monday and Friday. This is the east-southeast view from just outside the Hanzomon (mon means "gate"; Hanzo means "the coolest ninja in history").

FUN FACT! Right before I took this picture, a dumb lady on a bicycle with a little dog on a leash passed behind me as I was trying to line up a good shot. I accidentally stepped on her dog and then dropped my lenscap into the shrubs visible at the bottom of this photo. The dog was unharmed, but the woman made a big fuss while I searched for my lenscap. It's her own stupid fault for dragging her dog through such a crowded place. On a bicycle, no less.

12:50 - 1:55

So with no intention of entering Shinjuku Gyoen or Meiji Gaien (and no ability to enter Moto-Akasaka, since it is guarded and virtually ninjaproof), this section of my walk was pretty dull. To summarize, I walked and walked and walked until I reached Chiyoda Ward, where I ate a quick lunch and prepared to fight through flocks of tourists at the Kokyo (Imperial Palace Grounds, not to be confused with the Imperial Residence).

By the way, one of the reasons this area is so boring is that, despite all the green on the map, all you can see around you are post offices and hotels. There are not even any restaurants in the area immediately surrounding Moto-Akasaka, which made my efforts to eat lunch all the more desperate.

Gaien Mae

At 12:36 I made my second departure from the original plan and decided not to enter Shinjuku Gyoen. From the gate, it looked crowded and not very interesting. Instead I continued east along its south border, reaching Meiji Jingu Gaien (Meiji Shrine Outer Garden) at 12:45. My expression here is one of confusion about why this place, not at all near Meiji Shrine, is called Meiji Shrine Outer Garden.

Deep and Artsy

My real-life foil and high school buddy Kennan used to overuse the phrase "deep and artsy." Here I am showing how deep and artsy I can be. I sat down in front of the NTT DoCoMo Yoyogi Building and took a picture of my nostrils.

Yoyogi Station

I reach JR Yoyogi Station and the crowd goes wild. "Yay." Behind me is the NTT DoCoMo Yoyogi Building, better known as That Big Lone Skyscraper In South Shinjuku, the One With the Clock On It.

They'll Need a Cane

So I circumnavigated clockwise from the west gate, about a third of the way around the park, to find myself in the Sangubashi area. By this time my lungs were aching for air. No, my lungs were fine, but the muscle pain in my legs had been increasing steadily. Shown here is my grimace of pain as the Odakyu Line train whizzes by, somewhere between Sangubashi and Yoyogi Stations.

Just Enjoy It, Stupid

Here is where I first compromised my originally intended route. As it turns out, you can't just cut through Yoyogi Park and head straight to Meiji Shrine. My map book didn't show the wire fence and impenetrable woods that block the way. Realizing that I'd have to walk all the way around to the east side of the park to get there (and thinking this would be a hassle, even though I would pass relatively close to the Meiji Shrine entrance later in my travels) I decided to skip it. Instead, I did a weird double-back to the west entrance, since it was the only way out of the park I could find at the time. The net result was, contrary to my intentions, a rather large addition to the total length of my route.


I apologize for the small size of this photo. It's about half of a 4-shot panorama I took on 35mm. The view is from the middle of the open field in the center of Yoyogi Park (facing south, I think). I made slight alterations to hide the seams.

Same Spot, Different View

Beware of Caterpillars

Here's a cherry blossom close-up near the west entrance of Yoyogi Park. Girlfriend advised me, before I started my walk, to be cautious when standing underneath the trees. She said that when the wind blows and petals flutter to the ground, sometimes so do caterpillars. But I managed to get through the day without any unpleasant caterpillar-related incidents.

Arrival at Yoyogi Park

Sorry about the delay. I had to get my 35 mm photos developed. It won't happen again.

I reached Yoyogi-Uehara Station at 10:45, and continued east, arriving at Yoyogi Park around 11:00. I entered on the west side of the park and took this close-up on my 35mm camera. I don't know anything about flowers, so I don't know what these are called.

First Catch of the Day

Here's a nice couple of trees in a residential block of Shimokitazawa, to tide me over until I get to the really nice trees in Yoyogi Park. Sorry about the power lines; they came with the trees.

The Big Walk: START!

Yes, the Big Walk happened, more or less according to plan. Despite waking up with incredibly sore legs due to exercise I did two days earlier, I forced myself to do what I had said I would do.

Since I haven't developed the photos from my 35mm camera yet, I won't be able to post my entire account of the walk in one shot. Instead, I'll "serialize" my adventure, setting my blog's time stamps to match the actual time at which the picture was taken.

So we begin at 10:11 AM, in front of Setagaya-Daita Station on the Odakyu Line. If you could see my eyes in this picture, they'd be saying, "There's no way I'm gonna walk all the way to Asakusa today. I may as well give up now." But the warm, sunny weather was enough to convince me it was at least worth a try.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Otaku Friday on Thursday

Looks like my long-anticipated Big Walk will transpire tomorrow, based on favorable weather forcasts (and the fact that I have the day off). Since I'll have lots of posting to do after the walk is done, I better get Otaku Friday out of the way. But I gotta say, Otaku Friday is becoming a hassle. Every week is a test of my ability to resist the temptation to make fun of fat cosplayers.

Anyway, look at Mario. He's the new weapon in the War on Terror (where terror is equal to bouncing turtles with wings).

Sunday, April 03, 2005

"Meteorology" Is a Made-Up Word

Well, both MSN and Yahoo's weather forecasts for Tokyo proved to be misleading, and today was, for the most part, gorgeous. The promised rain finally began about five minutes ago. I stand by my decision not to walk yet, however, because the cherry blossoms aren't quite in full swing. I'll keep a close watch on the weather and do my walk on Friday, Sunday or the following Wednesday, which ever is the first of those to have good walking weather.

Big Walk: Postponed

Due to both tomorrow's unfavorable weather forecast and the slow progress of this year's cherry blossoms, I have postponed the "Big Walk" until next Sunday, April 10 (or possibly Wednesday, April 13). One way or another, I will do this walk.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Orange You Glad It's Otaku Friday

The only thing more disturbing than Battle Royale is people pretending to participate in Battle Royale. Actually, I'm not even sure this is a cosplay photo. It might just be one Otakon patron getting fed up with another. It's almost too uncomfortable a photo for me to make jokes, but I'll do my best anyway. Stop me if you've heard this one:

Q: What time is it when your hostage is pointing a gun at herself?

A: Time to get a new hostage.