Thursday, December 08, 2011

Jesse Jace (P)resents TNB

With close to four months since my last post, it has come to my attention that resuscitating Chorus, Isolate, Confirm will take more than just a couple of paragraphs about how much I like tea, or a photo of a goofy sign, or even a detailed essay on the differences between Hoshino Aki and Inoue Waka. (There are differences, by the way.) That is why I decided to make a comeback post out of the strategic demolition of three especially bad Tokyo Notice Board submissions.

In violation of my previous promise not to refer to the authors of said atrocities by full name, I have decided that there's no reason for me to be delicate with their identities. After all, Tokyo Notice Board prints the author's name at the top of every horrible, tedious essay they run. So no more pseudonyms to protect the guilty. From now on, I operate on a basis of glasnost, comrades.

Let's get this party started. My first target is called "Black Jack" by Hayden Bigree, appearing in the September 16, 2011 issue of Tokyo Notice How Bored I Am:

My friend Jane was staying in Tokyo for 3 months to learn Japanese, but the end of her stay was coming close. She loved Japanese manga and every time we went out she was always talking about Japanese manga. Please do not ask my why manga was so important to her...

After a number of these horrendous essays I've gotten quite used to native English speakers who can't spell brain-busters like the word "three," but Hayden's mysterious ellipsis at the end of his first paragraph fools me into thinking that this essay is going to be all about Jane and her manga. Unfortunately for mankind, it starts to be all about Mr. Bigree in a hurry:

Ladies and gentlemen, let me take this opportunity to declare that I do not care if somebody chooses manga over me. From the bottom of my heart, I do not care.

Hayden, your repetition of "I do not care" betrays your efforts to hide a deep sea of bitterness stemming from the rejection of your otaku friend. And your reluctance to use contractions reveals that high school English class is a memory not buried very deep in your mind. On the one hand, I'm glad you learned something in school. On the other hand, your writing comes across as sounding more posh than a cartoon butler.

I respect Manga. I really do. In particular, I have enormous respect for the legendary "Black Jack" by Osamu Tezuka. It is simply amazing. So When Jane told me she does not know "Black Jack", I was not even drunk and told her: "How dare you call yourself a manga fan when you do not even know 'Black Jack'? Do not make me laugh, that is just ridiculous. Before you leave, go to Tsutaya and buy the whole series of Black Jack you fat idiot [sic]."

A number of issues here. Hayden can't decide how to treat the title of a comic book (it should be italicized), so he alternates between quotes and no quotes. And he robs needy sentences of their commas, instead using them to splice other sentences together, which is really exasperating. But I'm glad he quoted himself, because now we know that he's not just removing contractions because his teacher told him to. He actually talks like this. And the British tendency to put his punctuation outside his quotes (you know how much I hate that) reveals that he might just be the cartoon butler I've imagined him to be. Then again, most butlers would be too polite to call their female friends fat idiots.

Composition aside, "I was not even drunk?" Quit bragging.

"How dare you speak like that to a lady!" Every beautiful female reader of TNB, I beg you. Please understand my rage. My feeling right now is like this: "Ohhhhh!"

My feeling is like that now, too. Consider your rage understood.

When I talk about Black Jack, I can not help screaming. I just can not help screaming.


Black Jack was the coolest Japanese man in the whole wide world. There is no doubt about that. He was the world's best surgeon, and he could cure any disease. He could even do surgery on himself. And he could undress any woman and insert a knife into their body. So Black Jack could have had any lady.

At this point, the realization that Hayden has idolized a fictional character based on his ability to cut women open hits us like fifty kilograms of fresh fish and we politely decline to read any more about Black Jack, thank you very much.

Moving on, then. Next we have an essay dated March 2011 by Curt Neilson, cumbersomely titled "See! Hear! And Speak Purely! Nikko Mountain Awaits!" Apparently this is going to be about the famous monkey carvings that attract tourists to Nikko. One can only hope Curt has exhausted his supply of exclamation points by cramming four of them into the title. History has taught me, however, that hope is wrong.

So, after monkeying around for nearly 2 years


So, after monkeying around for nearly 2 years, I finally went with my girlfriend in her car to Tosho-gu, Nikko, Japan. The place of the "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" Monkey carving at the sacred site of Shogun Tokugawa's mausoleum. As we marched upwards and upwards like some holy rite to an ancient shrine

(Curt uses an ancient shrine as a simile for an ancient shrine.)

...we saw groups snapping photos under 3 panels of wood carvings. Oh cute, I thought, monkeys. Then I looked at the center panel and it was THE ONE. Shock. Surprise. And a little disappointed.

And a lot of sentence fragments.

So small!!!

Curt produces three exclamation points from his bag of tricks to punctuate yet another sentence fragment (one that suggests Curt might be spending too much time around ESL students, their broken English perhaps rubbing off on him).

But I was also pleased a moment later as I appreciated its artistry and lack of souvenir-store. After shooting up the 3Wise Monkeys sufficiently, we visited the Sleeping Cat (maybe more famous in Japan than the 3 Wise Simians). And it was even smaller carving and it was placed over the doorway of the Temple Interior!

I have no idea why that last sentence deserves an exclamation point. It doesn't even really deserve a period.

Where hordes and hordes of pilgrims smashed it was comedy as people tried to get quick pics of blocked the way cluelessly or rudely.

My computer doesn't recognize "cluelessly" as a word, Curt. Nor does it recognize a "where" clause as a sentence. Nor does it recognize your story as entertaining.

After the Sleeping Cat we proceeded to the lair of the Crying Dragon (I guess animals need adjectives here).

Why do I get the sinking feeling that this whole essay is just a vehicle for that observation?

It was a big painting on the ceiling, think Michel Angelo).

Michel Angelo? Who's she? She sounds hot.

Pretty cool, I gotta' admit, but that damn bell/knocker thing the priest kept gonging can really rattle your brain.

Frustrated with Curt's inability to pick a noun, I leave him by the wayside and move on to my final target. And what a target it is. This essay from the November 4, 2011 issue of Tokyo Novice Blurb is called "EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE ON TELLY!" (yes, with capital letters and an exclamation point, just for good measure) by Jan Niemand. I saved the best for last. Get ready to wish you were dead.

I woke up, correction, I was woken up by a noisy japanese TV crew the other day. These kind of places seem to light up a very special interest in them, as they already visited the last place I was staying in. Both times I've kept myself out of sight, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been bothered by all the fuss. There have been some differences between these two unpleasant encounters with the mass media though [sic].

Thus begins Jan's complicated relationship with the concept of tense. Her apparently random shifting from past simple to present perfect suggests she is trying to make herself sound more intelligent than she really is (ironically succeeding only in sounding dumber than anybody ever will be).

First time [sic], back in October, they interviewed my room mate Masa inside his 2 meter long, 1.50 meter high, 1 meter wide crib. I think there was some money involved, but nobody else accepted to be in. I was locked next door, panicking they would slam into my room with TV cameras on, but they were respectful of my denial to be part of the show. Being there, and although I didn't quite understand the language yet,

"Yet?" You still don't! (We are talking about English, right?)

it seemed to me it was a sort of informational kind of interview, the classical one question one answer interview thing.

The word you're searching for is "interview."

Pretended serious journalism. Maybe it was, but talking about television, please let me doubt it. It annoyed me that I couldn't get out of my room because they were there and I didn't want to be on telly. I might be about the only one, I know. But crib and all, it was my home at that moment and being trapped in your own home, not being able to open the door
Yeah, I know what "trapped" means! God, these run-on sentences are long enough that they'd reach the Moon if they weren't so completely aimless. Point is, Jan had to go potty but the scary TV people were in the way. Next paragraph.

Second time [sic] has been this morning. I woke up to the noises and chats of somebody at 8 and I automatically cursed some crib mates for it, this time mistakenly so. A couple of days ago I found a note on my door

Oh, bad luck. Jan could have used past perfect tense just there and impressed the bejeezus out of us all, but instead she used up all her fancy tensework in all the wrong places. Shame.

A couple of days ago I found a note on my door reading that today a TV crew would be here, a note I thought similar to all the others hanging on every single door in the corridor.

I know, right? Notes. Peh! They're all the same.

Last time the cameras popped in in the evening so I thought, fine, I won't be here in the evening. But they came at 8 in the morning this time, it was them, it was TV!

Jan needs to settle down and take things one sentence at a time.

Pissed for the noise and violent awakening as I was I am a pretty polite person after all, but it didn't hit me until he said the word terebi. Do I speak Japanese? Well, chottou.

Here's where I run out of patience. Jan's eternal sentences that go nowhere are one thing. But "chottou?" That's not Japanese. That's nothing-nese.

After this, Jan goes on to make all kinds of educated observations about the sad state of Japanese television, the predictability of entertainment in general and the cultural ennui that has gripped society as a whole. Also, she types "finnish" instead of "finish," and that's when I fling my copy of Tokyo Notice Board into the night like a boomerang that I hope will never come back.
A man can only take so much.