Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Should We Talk About the Weather?

The rainy season must be upon us a little early this year, because as of this minute it has rained on Tokyo non-stop for the past 35 hours. Japan's rainy season affects the entire country, except the northern island Hokkaido, for about a month and a half as spring changes to summer (not all at the same time nationwide, of course).

During this season, called tsuyu, one comes to understand the fleeting nature of umbrellas in Tokyo. An umbrella can be gotten for as little as 100 yen -- I've never seen an umbrella for sale in the States for under $5.00, let alone under $1.00 -- and rightly so, because the chances of you holding on to that umbrella indefinitely are compromised at every turn. Either you end up leaving it on a train, or it gets wrecked by a strong gust of wind, or somebody just swipes it when you're not looking. All three have happened to me at least once.

You won't likely find people in Tokyo saying, "I wish the rainy season was over," however, because after the rainy season comes the worst summer in the four main islands of Japan. The tall buildings in Shinagawa and Mita that block the wind, the concrete coating the city and the hot exhaust of a zillion air conditioners combine to make Tokyo's summer reach temperatures even hotter than the southernmost island of Kyushu.

Hold on, I just remembered...as a Wisconsin native, it is decidedly bad form for me to complain about the weather in Tokyo. At least here I don't have to worry about my face falling off from frostbite.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Here Come the Men in Suits

I would call this a special post for my family, except my family are the only people who read my blog. My mom expressed interest in seeing me in my recently purchased suit...the first suit I've ever owned. So I took this dorky cellphone-pointed-at-bathroom-mirror picture to illustrate. I look dapper and/or smashing.


Impeachable offenses? Show me where to sign!


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Buy Somethin' Will Ya!

After months of "encouragement" by Girlfriend, I have started the first of what will be several eBay auctions. These auctions will share a common purpose, which is to wear down the mountain of nerd merchandise that has accumulated in our apartment as a direct result of me saying, "Oh I've just got to have it!" If you know any nerds, tell them to have a look at this lot of video game posters. (Getting rid of the posters is only the first step...then comes what I'm sure is Girlfriend's paramount goal: to get rid of the sexually suggestive character figurines cluttering up our loft.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Honyaku Friday

Looks like I can strike another item from my list of reasons I prefer living in Japan to living in the US

Reason #87: I don't have to see Paris Hilton on TV in Japan.

No longer! Sleepy-eyed Paris Hilton, who dominates VH1 specials stateside, has been refreshingly absent from the Japanese media until now. But the other day, Girlfriend was watching a morning gossip show and BOOM! There's Paris Hilton on the screen, rubbing a hamburger on herself. The hosts of the show exchanged some comments about the issue of the commercials alleged "sexiness," but the discourse ultimately wound up in coincidence with my own opinion: Paris Hilton cannot make fast food sexy.

This is not only because nothing can make fast food sexy, but also because I find Paris Hilton's tranquilizer-induced facial expressions completely unappealing. Seeing her bite into this six-pound hamburger (in her sleep?) isn't exactly a recipe for eroticism.

I hesitate to completely remove Reason #87 from my list, because this Japanese TV Paris mention could have been a one-time thing. Or, it could be the catapult that launches Paris Hilton to a Bob Sapp level of Japan fame.

Double-translated results from Yahoo Honkayu:

Japanese, I live in my living in U.S.A. and can seem to beat another item from my list of a reason to like.

Reason #87: I do not have to encounter Paris Hilton Hotel on TV in Japan.

No, I am longer! The Japanese media did not have Paris Hilton Hotel (the person influences VH1 special in U.S.A.) which had sleepy eyes refreshingly till now. However, Girlfriend watched gossip show and BOOM in the morning the other day! There is Paris Hilton Hotel to a screen. And I rub the surface of her own with a hamburger. The host of a show changed some comment about a problem of "the seductiveness" that it took of commercial suspicion, but the statement was finally over for agreement of accident in an opinion of my own: Paris Hilton Hotel cannot make fast food sexy.

Because the expression that I say that I am sexy, and anything can do fast food, and I was completely caused by a tranquilizer of Paris Hilton Hotel discovers what unappealing does, there is this. She a hamburger (in her sleep?) of these 6 pounds Is similar, and bite it, and seeing it being accompanied of eroticism is not always a recipe.

Because this Japanese television Paris mention was able to be an old thing, I completely hesitate in removing Reason #87 from my list. Or Bob Sapp level of Japanese fame was able to be the pachinko which started Paris Hilton Hotel it.

And I Call Myself a Tokyoite

Can I name all the stations on the Yamanote Line in order?

Shibuya, Ebisu, Meguro, Gotanda, Osaki, Shinagawa, Tamachi, Hamamatsucho, ummm.....Yurakucho....Kanda?

Guess not.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Honyaku Friday

This week Tokyo news outlets are all abuzz with talk of a lesser panda at the Chiba City Zoo who has the unusual habit of standing on his hind legs for extended periods of time. It seems that, every time I turn on the TV, I am seeing new footage of this little guy standing up (and looking very much like a little kid in a Halloween costume), with the correspondent's voice whispering, "Tachimashita! Ima tachimashita!" ("He stood up! He's just stood up!") That's usually followed by footage of little Japanese kids being interviewed after seeing watching the animal stand there for 30 minutes, and they always say something anticlimactic like, "It was cute. He stood up."

But look at him! Can you honestly tell me this isn't the cutest little animal (that looks like a kid in a Halloween costume) you've ever seen? Girlfriend thinks this little guy's got a shot at becoming a new playable character in Tekken 6.

Double-translated results from Yahoo Honyaku:

Tokyo News outlet is turbulent by a story of a lesser panda this week at Chiba-shi zoo doing a different custom standing on his hind legs during a long-term period at all. Whenever I attach television, I seem to watch that I stand in a voice of the correspondent whom a new scene whispers it to of this small person (and looking like a very small child with Halloween costume). And "He stood up! He stood up this very moment!" That posture writes it down for 30 and and, after that, they usually look at the animal which says what of a gradually-descending method is always in "it was cute". The boyfriend whom a scene did not follow of the almost Japanese child that it was interviewed after having watched it stood up.

However, please watch him! Can you tell me that there is not it with the dearest small animal (the feeling like the child who put on Halloween costume) that you saw this till now honestly? A girl friend thinks that a thing of this small person got an aim to it being it to the new character whom it is possible for of fist 6.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nobody Tells Me Anything

Living in Japan has wreaked havoc on my Western pop-cultural awareness. For example, I am vaguely aware of the release of Star Wars Episode III today in the US, but can't personally partake in the all the Jedi what-have-you until the movie is released here in July. This morning, however, I was very excited to learn that Universal Pictures will release a movie based on the video game Doom starring The Rock this fall.

Granted, this probably isn't news. I only found out about the movie by watching a Daily Show interview with the wrassler-turned-space-marine, in which Jon Stewart's excitement about the film is readily apparent (he responds to The Rock's answer about what character he'll play with an enthusiastic "you're the dude?").

I'm hoping Doom's script allows for a cheesy self-referential bit (specifically, Rocky throwing The People's Elbow down on an undead zombie demon as shown here). In fact, I'd be lying if I claimed not to want to see The People's Elbow in every single one of The Rock's movie appearances.

Monday, May 16, 2005

News Weak

The (previously) respected news magazine Newsweek has had to resort to the same emergency tactic as so many dim-witted internet message board patrons who find themselves the target outnumbered by opposition.

After running an article that BLEW THE LID OFF!!! the desecration of the Koran by US interrogators at Guantanamo Bay (and the predictably bloody, devastating protest that followed), Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker has done what I like to call the Clumsy Retraction Escape Maneuver, or CREM. This is a sudden reversal of previous contentions, borne of the pressure put on by angry masses. Take, for example, this instance of the CREM being used on a Tekken 5 discussion board:

KazamaFaLife03: I think Dead or Alive is better than Tekken because it has more interactive environments.

trueking: ummm you are stupid. how could you like a game like DOA, which has no depth and so many balance issues. DOA is broke.

00redfalcone00: trueking is right. Tekken is much more balanced. Therefor you phail.

mitsuyoshi: OMGWTF you just like DOA for the BOOOOOBS! ur a boob noob!!!!!!!!111 get a girlfriend

KazamaFaLife03: Couldn't you tell I was just kidding? Some people need to learn what sarcasm is o_O

supahFINE1: pwned.

As you can see, the user called KazamaFaLife03 decided to do a CREM, suddenly pretending that his original post had been sarcastic in order to save face with his fellow netizens. Newsweek has apparently seen fit to use a similar strategy to curb the wrath of the Muslim world. Unfortunately for Newsweek, this strategy never works.

Now Newsweek finds itself in the catch-22 of being seen as both unreliable (because it has admitted to printing supposedly erroneous material) and untrustworthy (because it has suddenly done a CREM, which most observers can recognize as complete baloney). Their emergency about-face doesn't fool the people (myself included) who find the idea of US interrogators putting a Koran in the toilet totally plausible and probable...on top of that, it makes them look like idiots.

I think supahFINE1 said it best: "pwned."

May 20, 2005 Addendum: Some people misunderstood the title "News Weak" as an attack on the magazine's integrity. While most of the actual article was an attack on Newsweek's integrity in this particular case, the title was meant more as a condemnation of the news magazine for allowing itself to be bullied by Washington (which obviously seeks to divert scrutiny away from itself on the highly believeable concept of the Koran in a Guantanamo Bay latrine). My initial beef with Newsweek was that it instigated violent riots with its irresponsible reporting...but since there's no "good" way to report a story like this...and since reporting a story like this is always better than burying it...and since it would be equally irresponsible to believe that world Muslims' anger really stems from the actions of Newsweek...yeah.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Honyaku Friday (Sunday)

I apologize for not posting Honyaku Friday on Friday. You see, I was hypnotized by the sleepy gaze of the sea turtle in the picture I posted below, and I fell asleep on Friday afternoon, not to wake up until Sunday morning. I'm not very good at lying.

It has been put forth that little Aiko-sama (the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako) has the right to the Japanese Imperial Throne, which would make her the nation's first-ever empress (not counting the widows of previous emperors who filled in for their dead hubbies).

The issue previously hinged on whether or not the 1947 Imperial House Law, which ignores the postwar Constitution "banning discrimination in political matters based on gender" and limited the throne to male offspring of imperial blood, was unconstitutional. It is, obviously, but a final decision has yet to be made.

The Japanese press is in love with Princess Aiko's chubby face, and the poor girl can't even play Tamagotchi without a camera crew showing up. I'm sure her future appointment as empress would thrill the media, not to mention the millions of Japanese who would gain a new national holiday on Aiko-sama's birthday.

The Emperor (called Tennou, or "heavenly king") lacks political power, but is always first to be considered for appearances in movies where Tom Cruise plays a samurai.

Double-Translated Results from Yahoo Honyaku:

I mail you Honyaku on Friday on Friday and apologize in a lost thing. I that you watched it was hypnotized in the picture which I posted below by sleepy eyes of a sea turtle and I fell asleep at the afternoon of Friday. And I do not get up until the morning of Sunday. I am not many good liars.

That Aiko -sama (a daughter of Prince null Homo sapiens and a Masako princess) did not have the right to Japanese empire Throne was almost taken out. And it makes her the first Queen (I do not count a widow of their emperor before having substituted for a dead husband) of a country.

The problem was decided whether 1947 Imperial Family method (it ignored the postwar constitution which "prohibited discrimination in a political issue to be based on sex" and limited throne to boy attendants of blood of an empire) was against a constitution previously. Sure does so it, and the last decision is not yet done.

A Japanese press does a face and love doing completely of Princess Aiko and, as for the poor girl, doing it cannot do Tamagotchi without an appearing camera worker. I am convinced that her future appointment to Queen thrills the media not to speak of the Japanese public getting a festival day new on a birthday of Aiko-sama.

The Emperor (called tenno or "King like heaven") lacks the political power, but it is always a beginning so that it is considered for the appearance in the movie that Tom Cruise plays a samurai.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Big, Huge Turtle

This is certainly the best photo from the scuba trip: the sleepy-looking mug of a huge sea turtle. This one, about four feet long, was the biggest of about four turtles we saw hanging around.

I know I said something about snorkeling pictures, but after getting them developed I decided that none of them are good enough to take up space on this blog. At least, none of them are as good as this one.

Scuba Pictures, As Promised

The pictures from those cheap throw-away underwater cameras usually turn out okay, if you ignore the fact that they end up washed out to the point of total blueness under the pretense that "it's the ocean, so of course it's all blue." I can assure you, however, that the spikey echinoderm Girlfriend is holding in this picture was bright red, not black.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Military Intelligence

During my stay in Hawaii I had the misfortune of witnessing a Fox News gush-fest about the apparent capture of Al-Qaeda's number three guy by the US military. Sadly, however, I was not in the US long enough to see their subsequent embarassment at the revelation that the US military had actually captured an intern.

From Pakistani interior minister, Aftab Khan Sherpao: “The capture of al-Libbi will have made [Al-Qaeda] very apprehensive. Whether big fry or small fry, they’re on the run, I can tell you that.”

Yeah, Aftab. When they're done laughing, I'm sure they'll get around to doing a little running (or brisk walking).

[the story]

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Umbrella symbolic of world situation

Here's an idea: Bush needs one more person added to his cabinet. This person's title would be Secretary of Muted Trumpet, and their duty is to follow Bush around with a muted trumpet wherever he goes. When the president does something stupid (like unintelligent UN nominations or the wacky umbrella reversal pictured here) our new friend Mr. Secretary lifts his muted trumpet to his lips and lets loose an appropriately comical "wah-waaaaah."


One of the Blogspot blogs I used to read on a semi-regular basis, One Pissed-Off American, has vanished. In fact, it seems so completely gone that I'm not even sure why I included a link just now. It was a daily roundup of socio/political news items (many of which deserved more press than they got), all nicely grouped together in one seething column of well-founded anger.

Usually websites on free hosts like Blogspot don't disappear like that; rather, they stop being updated and just sit there for years and years, collecting dust and taking up disk space. Yet, One Pissed-Off American didn't seem high-profile enough to garner the attention of the federal government and suffer subsequent censorship....so what happened to it?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Carey Gets It

Holy vermiscious k'nids, I didn't get the Garfield comic. Now that my friend Carey has shown me the error of my ways, it's so obvious. He can't hear his owner's voice because he has carrots in his ears. I'll have to put my foot in my mouth now. I owe Jim Davis a pat on the head and a beer. A cold, refreshing, poison-laced beer.

How embarassing.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Honyaku Maui

We now return to the contest at hand. Which was a better vacation experience, Hawaii or Thailand?

Point 1: Thailand is cheaper. Moreover, Hawaii is rather a rip-off in many ways, especially regarding food. Thailand has shopkeepers and taxi drivers who might try to rip you off, but you can avoid such treatment if you're not stupid. Hawaii doesn't have that flexibility. And unleaded gas was $2.78 per gallon on Maui. Thanks a heap, Mr. President.

Point 2: Hawaii has the unfortunate distinction of being a US state, with which comes a whole slew of complications, such as extra-long waits at immigrations, rude service workers, annoyingly large cars being driven by annoyingly bad drivers...oh yeah, AND unleaded gas was $2.78 per gallon on Maui.

Point 3: Hawaiians speak English. This is a double-edged sword; it makes your dealings easy, but living in Japan has made me appreciate the luxury of not having to overhear everybody's dumb conversations involuntarily.

Maui had better coastal snorkeling, slightly less brutal sunshine, better indigenous dance and less mosquitos...but I'm leaning towards a preference for Thailand. At this point it's moot anyway, since I'm pretty much broke after my trip to Maui.

Double-Translated Results from Yahoo Honyaku:

Now we return to a contest at hand. Which was the better holiday experience or Hawaii or the sea bream?

Point 1: A sea bream is cheaper. Furthermore, rather Hawaii is fraud in various points. And I am careful to food in particular. There are a retail store manager and the taxi driver who may be going to cheat you to a sea bream, but you can avoid such measures if you are not stupid. Hawaii does not have the flexibility. And the lead-free gas was 2.78 dollars about a gallon on one Maui. I thank for sedimentation (His Highness).

Point 2: Which which lets describe the unlucky distinction that is US Hawaii comes the whole of complexity (so as to be noisy, big car which is gone for a drive with a poor driver so that, for example, the service worker who is long waiting outside the immigration control, rudeness is noisy) killed it. Yes, so (AND which no lead gas was Maui, and there were 2.78 dollars about 1 gallon).

Point 3: Hawaii person talks about English. This is by double-edged sword; It simplified your relation, but it let you evaluate the luxury that it was not necessary to hear the conversation that an entrance of all cannot hear me without a way to live in Japan. Mosquitoes a more little than snorkeling of the shore where Maui is better, the sunlight which are not brutal by the few, a better native dance. lasted, but I like it towards Thai choice. At this point do it in which, and there is room of an argument since I was almost penniless after my trip to Maui.

* The Japanese name for Thailand is Tai, which is also the Japanese word for "sea bream." Apparently Yahoo Honyaku couldn't decide which word it liked more, because its translation was inconsistent.

And You Will Know My Name is Maui

As mysteriously as it had begun, our Maui vacation came to an end. Girlfriend took this sunrise picture from the window of the rental car as we drove toward the airport.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Maui in Every Garage

The day after that we went snorkeling at Black Rock, but those pictures aren't developed yet, either. But here's a nice substitute for the time being: palm trees silhouetted against the sun in Ka'anapali.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Honk If You're Maui

The next day was what we had been looking forward to most of all: scuba diving at Molokini Crater. We took a bunch of underwater pictures during that, but until the film is developed, all you get to see is how funny my hair looked after we got back to the hotel.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Maui Zowie

The luau was excellent, even though I was running on fumes from waking up at 3:30 AM that morning. But I had just enough energy to take something like 48 digicam pictures of hula girls. I must have been a bit over-tired, because when the waiter came to ask if he could take our plates away, I answered "Dude. I am pau."

Maui Is As Maui Does

After four hours of careful driving and gawking at waterfalls and giant, prehistoric-looking ferns, we reached Hana itself and felt unsure about what, exactly, we were meant to see or do there. Charles Lindberg is buried there, but we didn't want to incur the aviational wrath of his ghost by distrurbing his eternal sleep, so we ate some loco moco and turned around to start the trip back.

What kind of euphemisms can you make about dead pilots? "In life, he flew airplanes...but now he's flying that big airplane in the sky." It doesn't really work.

Maui At Your Own Risk

On the first full day of our stay, we had reservations for a luau dinner, but needed something to do before that. So we caved into pressure from travel magazines to drive the Hana Highway. The "highway" leading to the East Maui town of Hana includes 30 miles of mountain road which must be driven at less than 20 mph, due to their very narrow and winding nature. But if you stick to your steering wheel you are rewarded with some nice views, like this black sand beach.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Maui No Ka Oi, Brudder!

Whoa, I so totally went to Maui this week. Girlfriend and I flew in, rented a car and did a bunch of touristy stuff over a period of five days. It was fun, but did it stack up to our 2004 trip to Thailand? Read these Maui-related posts and find out.