Thursday, August 14, 2008

When There's Nothing to Write About, I Make Fun of Other Writers

It's come to my attention that, despite being in the midst of a two-week summer vacation with very little to do, I haven't updated this blog since before Soul Calibur IV came out. (Hmmmm....Soul Calibur IV. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.) As happy as I am to be on summer vacation, however, something is missing. You see, as a blogger, I cannot be truly happy unless I'm making fun of someone who can't defend himself. If you recall, one of my most celebrated conquests was that of Japan newbie Erica Belling, a young Australian who came to Tokyo and allegedly had Japan all figured out within six to eight days of her arrival. I dissected her overly excited Tokyo Notice Board essay with a zweihander battle axe, leaving no paragraph un-cleft.

Her destruction was delicious.

Fondly remembering that day of reckoning, I began to show signs of "writer ridicule withdrawal syndrome" (WRWS) and found myself reaching for the latest issue of TNB to quench my proverbial bloodlust. Walk with me through its pages, won't you? A-destroying we shall go.

First I open to an essay entitled "Span in Japanese!" (yes, with an exclamation point) by someone who calls himself Harvey. Span? What does that mean? My curiosity is piqued. Little do I know, I'm in for trouble:

I've got another item for the "you know you've been in Japan too long list". [sic] You know you've been in Japan too long when you start getting tons of Japanese language spam (meiwaku mail in Japanese) in your email box!

Oh, spam? Not span? OK, my curiosity is now un-piqued. And Harvey goes the extra distance to annoy me by putting his sentence-ending punctuation outside his quotation marks. Worst part is, this dumb slob is probably an English teacher. I scan quickly through this five-paragraph essay and see that four of the five paragraphs contain at least one exclamation point each, in addition to the one in the title. This Harvey is one emphatic son of a bitch.

Skeptical that Harvey will be able to tell me anything I don't already know about....anything, I flip to another page and find an essay by Michael Curley called "To Bow or not to Bow, that is the Question." The seemingly arbitrary capitalization is not mine; it's printed like that. Once again, paragraph one does to my interest what penicillin does to an ear infection. First, he repeats the title (just in case you've blacked out since reading it):

To bow or not to bow, that is the question. This is how the honourable William Shakespeare would undoubtably have modified his most famous "to be or not to be" quotation from Hamlet, had he ever had the good fortune to visit Japan.

Thank god you explained the title like that, Michael. But I disagree. If the "honourable William Shakespeare" (what is he, a judge?) had indeed written anything about Japan, I'm pretty sure he would have come up with something more clever than just a rehash of his most famous line. On to paragraph two, if you dare:

The Japanese tradition of respectful bowing is a source of never ending and unfathomable fascination to me, and I feel sure that "the bard" himself would have been equally intrigued.

Continuation of this nonsensical Shakespeare theme notwithstanding, Mr. Curley is right about one thing: I, for one, cannot fathom his fascination with bowing. Six completely uninteresting paragraphs later, the author delivers his killing blow:

These are the questions, but alas, dear reader, I have no answers. Would Shakespeare have faired any better?

That depends. Do you mean, would Shakespeare have faired any better at understanding Japanese bowing tradition? Or, would Shakespeare have faired any better at writing this essay? Because I think you know my answer to the latter. I can't take any more of Michael Curley, so I jump backward a few pages and find Mathew Chromecki's opus magnum entitled "Right so, what am I doing here?" God, it hurts just to think about what might be contained in this essay. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I go in for a closer look.

Ever feel like you've wandering [sic] through your life with no real sense of direction?

Sometimes, yeah. But at times like those, I do the world a favor by NOT WRITING ABOUT IT, DUMBASS. I want to offer a more constructive analysis of this essay but I just can't. It's depressing and clich├ęd. At one point, Mathew writes:

Weekdays, work work work. Weekend, Roppongi or Shibuya or Shinjuku or some other busy place. Somehow, you always end up going to Roppongi, claiming you hate it but you go anyways.

Stop, Mathew, before you get stomped on. Somehow the fact that this moron is telling me what I do is the most offensive aspect of this foray into life-threatening stupidity. And he's dead wrong because my dislike of Roppongi results in me NOT going there. Why don't I like Roppongi? Because it's full of people like Mathew Chromecki.

I have to stop. Writing this blog post has been an exercise in rage-fueled self-destruction, and has probably shortened my life by about five years.

Tokyo Notice Board, I blame you.

ADDENDUM (April 12, 2009): It's a conspiracy!


guffin said...

Hello Jesse,
Sorry for this spam a lot.
I was looking for news from Sir Chromecki ( about whom I have a lot of fun stories to tell too)then found your blog.
I really enjoy reading you.
I am a musician and composer looking for a story-teller, singer, entertainer, poet and thought you might fit in, and may be interested ?
Is it possible to write to you directly ?

Thank you for all the good smiles reading you,


P-s: Feel free to strike as hard as you can my poor english, I'm French.

Jesse Jace said...

You're safe, Guffin. I don't make fun of people who speak English as a second language. I only make fun of native English speakers who write rubbish and then publish it.

You can write to me directly at americandodgeball [at] gmail [dot] com.

I'm glad you enjoy the blog!

Mathew said...

Dear Jesse,
I've enjoyed reading your blog. I'm new to making Web logs. I found yours when I was surprised to find it on a search engine list with my own name. I was then further intrigued as to quotes assigned to me I never made. After opening your page and read your comments from something I never wrote, I chuckled. You could never know that TNB accredited the article to the wrong person, could you? But this is not the first time. Imagine receiving a check in the mail for something you didn't write? It's a small publication house. Now, I wish I could tell you who wrote the article, but I don't know myself. I do, however, sympathize with your sentiments. Where there is too much "I" in an essay, it begins to sound like depression writ large; somethings are best left unsaid.
As a happy coincidence, I, the real Mathew Chromecki, am pleasantly acquainted with M. Guffin who, by my humble account, is a fine bassist and accomplished music teacher. Guffin, if you happen to read this, I hope all is well you.
Thank you for your attention, Jesse. All the best for your blog.