Friday, April 29, 2005

To pack the beetle or not?

Packing for trips has never been my strong suite. I figure as long as I have my ticket, passport, some string, a few crumpled currencies hidden in my earlobes, safety pins, colored pencils, a lighter and a change of clothes, I'm ready to go. And this has, thus far, worked brilliantly for year-long trips, three or four-month trips and two-week excursions.
Only, this time, I'm off for only five days to a music festival in Aso, Kyushu, Japan. I've attended this fest (Nijinomisaki) for the past two years.
The first year, I brought a change of clothes, some rattles, a flute, a tent and a sleeping bag.
The 2nd year, I brought a change of clothes, some rattles, a flute, a tent, sleeping bag, a tarp, a hacky sack and toilet paper.
Now, here's where it gets complicated. THIS year, I'm bringing a change of clothes, some rattles, 2 flutes, 4 tents, 3 sleeping bags, 2 tarps, 2 toilet paper rolls, 2 collapsable chairs, 1 second-hand guitar, 2 sets of guitar strings, 34 books, 3 gigabytes of coffee, enough clay to build a complex in SW USA, enough paint to deface 2 Tokyo apartment walls, a frozen orangutang, a crate of ramen and 30% of Korea's kimuchi.
Though, I'm still waiting for the proposed grant processing to go through, I think I may have a new scientific break-through on my hands here. Namely that:
1)The increase in hippy luggage over time corresponds directly (or maybe kind-of slantedly) to the misinterpreted trend of global warming. And,
2) What we pack is inevitably determined by what we have lying around our house.

If you don't believe me, go and have a look at the residence of someone who is packing. If they own 24,000 unique Indonesian beetles, just call me an ass if they don't throw a few beetles into their luggage! And if they own 8 guitars and 3 frozen orangutangs but don't toss even one old six-string and one chilly long-armed ape into their pack, then I willingly abdicate governorship of this hypothesis, and I might even buy you a pint!

Until then, I just remembered I have to go pack Tobasco sauce and chopsticks...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Selfless Ascetic Gets Laid

Before I came to Japan a few years ago, I harbored the stereotypical image of a densely-populated island where Mr. Selfless Ascetic held hands with Ms. Dignified Kimono Goddess who served tea to Mr. Honorable Samurai whose brother was Mr. SalaryMan who owned Mr. high-tech Robot who answered calls from Ms. Hot Highschool Sailor Girl who flirted with Mr. Unintentionally-hilarious Game show Host who…
Well, hmm…
I DO know a Selfless Ascetic (he runs a rice field and a liquor shop and sings Beatles songs). I know a Dignified Kimono Goddess (she's a secretary, flower -arrangement artist and she hides her car from public-view when she takes a day off work). The Honorable Samurai I know likes comic books, painting and has a sword collection. The SalaryMan is a closet-Musician, and the Hot Highschool Sailor dreams of hiking in New Zealand.
As for Mr. High-tech Robot… I haven't met him yet. (assuming, of course, that elaborate sex toys don't count). That's why I'm looking forward to the Prototype Robot Exhibition coming June 9th-19th.
I'm especially excited to see the “Partner robot with artificial tongue”, the “Robot that decorates ceramic tableware and drinkware” and the “Dance Partner Robot”!
In an ideal world, I could also see Mr. Selfless Ascetic getting tongue from the Partner Robot, Ms. Dignified Kimono Goddess learning to decorate tableware, and Mr. SalaryMan doing the tango with Dance Partner Robot!
Hey… can't blame one for dreaming!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Toilet Paper Felons

On Friday, we had to call a serious assembly meeting at school. Apparently, some of the students have been tearing toilet paper incorrectly.
Toilet paper usage is a delicate matter, you see. If hasty hands grab only one out of two plies,… well, the roll is shot. (Just imagine the inhumane trials of the next user who has to work out which ply goes with which when needing only a quick clean-up!) Or, imagine the resulting nation-wide confusion when someone tears three layers of the toilet paper off in one go! It's absolutely and hideously unthinkable.

The ridiculous thing is that I'm not joking! My junior high school really and honestly held a whole-school assembly in the gymnasium to address the toilet paper issue!
Evidence presented: two rolls of abominably mis-torn toilet paper and one bag of excess toilet paper scraps collected at the scene of the crime.
Opening statements: “Bad! Bad! Bad! Don't do this!”
Closing statements: “Bad! Bad! Bad! Please try harder tomorrow! (And, wear your helmets while riding your bike home because there are convicted, poor-toilet-paper-users out there!)”
God, how I love my school of employment! And how I love that no creativity is required to find humour in its operation!
Check this out for toilet paper algorithms and further thoughts and experiences on the subject of toilet paper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Of burning, cocks and omelelettes

So, my eyes are burning. Though I wish I could explain this burning with a few good clichés (like: “they're burning with desire” or “they're burning with unfaltering idealism” or “they're burning 'cause grandpa just asked me to re-light his pipe seven hundred and twenty-two times”), I just can't.
They are actually burning because I spent the entire day, correcting junior high kids' tests.
But, fear not. Such a burning does not necessarily require flaming, horned, outcasts from above or South-Parkian gay Husseins. In fact, there were a few wicked results of this burning that made it quite a pleasant burning, indeed.
One student, for example, wrote:

“I am good at frying. I can fry everyday in the sky. Noguchi is my friend. He likes frying too.”

And another:

“I am a good student. I like study. I am also a good cock. I like cocking very much. I often make omuraisu (omelette with rice). My families likes it very much.”


“Are you study yesterday did he doing?”

What did I tell ya?! You just can't beat this eye-burn with a stick! …Or, a flying pan!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Where's the shrimp salad?

Oops! I had absolutely no intention of changing the background color of my blog! But, now that it's done, I'd like to passionately and vehemently claim that it was done in a deliberate and pre-meditated effort to illustrate the transient nature of the universe (and it had not a lick of chili-salt to do with the fact that I'm lazy and refuse to touch anyone's code late at night).
Besides, if my local grocery store can suddenly stop offering my favorite, pre-made shrimp salad (the faithless heretics!), then I can certainly be allowed a harmless change of template color! After-all, the Institute of Believable Research recently proved that forcing a single salad-consumer to purchase all the necessary ingredients for one salad, led 90% of buyers to spend more money than necessary and, in turn, unwittingly change the background color of their blogs. I lie not!
Now, I wish I had the chemistry background to knot lye…
Or... catcha shrimp, lying down nautically...

But, unfortunately, all I have is delirium before bed...

Friday, April 15, 2005

MS: Development of New Religion

So, I'm pretty sure now that I'm ready to start my own religion. I've finally taken and passed most of the pre-requisite classes. The easiest course, by far was “Analysis and Implementation of the Seven Techniques of Bar-patron Persuasion”. (In fact, my professor even claimed last night that he was finally pursuaded to see, in a simple cylinder of hops and yeast, SEVEN micro-cosmic visions of the universe -all represented in the form of seven identical glasses- ). Now, if that's not mastery of religious persuasion, then just call me the illegitimate son of Sancho Panza!
I also kicked ass in: “Theories of Modern Illogical Rationale”, and “Brainwashing the Non-critical mind”.
But, the most difficult, intense and pride-worthy seminar I conquered with flying colors was: “Affective Avenues of convincing your boss that the Happiness of all his Employees hinges on Your getting more Vacation Time”... That "A" is definitely going at the top of my c.v./resume!
The reason I bring this up (aside from my plan to start my own subservient, religious cult following) is because I had a beautiful and philosophical discussion yesterday with my boss. (… well as beautiful and philosophical as any discussion can be when the two contributing conversationalists cannot speak each other's language and are constantly interrupted by their own gorilla-like, dramatic gesturing and verbose circumnavigation of words). The conversation went something like this:

Boss: “So. We in Japan are like ants.”
Me: “OK..”
Boss: “We work very hard all seasons but sometimes get cold.”
Me: “Ok...”
Boss: “But you… You are like the….”
(a lot of gesturing, picture-drawing, and hopping up and down…)
Me: "A slinky?"
Boss: "No. -well, maybe on Saturday nights-" (more charades..)
Me: “A grasshopper??”
Boss (consulting a dictionary): “Yes! The grasshopper is very happy but works only one out of four seasons. For most of the year, the grasshopper just hops around, enjoying the beauty of the world. And, he rarely gets cold. But, still, all ants envy the grasshopper's happiness.”
Me: “Oh. And the ant?”
Boss: “He constantly works very long and hard hours and thinks his work everyday makes him very happy.”
Me: “Happy?”
Boss: “Yes….. But, I don't know if it's really happiness….”
Me: “Oh.”
Boss: “I worked like an ant for many years so that I could live like a grasshopper now. And now I am very happy.”
Me: “I see…”
Boss: “But you… you started as a grasshopper… “
Me: “Uh huh…”
Boss: “But, we just don't do it like that in Japan.”
Me: “Oh. I'm sorry.”
Boss: “No, I'm sorry.” (translation: please enjoy your free vacation days allotted to you under new bureaucratic words, and you DAMN WELL better have something interesting to share with everyone when you get back!)

Yippeee!! I passed my course! When can I start my own religion, mommy?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Now, I don't often like to wax honest (because Sarcasm is my closest bro - and he's got a brutally strong, right upper-cut-), but, intervention has to come some time so, I'll just say it:
My Country has a serious Oil-cohol problem. So, There.
I've said it. It's out in the open.
No more need for oil-binge denial or embarrassment about clear-cutting and re-piping your neighbor's garden! I say, it's OK. I like a good fix of unnecessary death, chased by extinction in the morning too! Doesn't everyone?
And, REALLY, just what is Japan (this oil-less country) thinking when it pursues progression and development of Hydrogen energy for use by fuel cell vehicles?
Have a look at this Fuel Cell Bus , for example. I mean, there's gotta be some threat of international terrorism there, don't you think?!
Well, that's enough joking and oil-soil for tonight. Don't forget to visit the
First Oil-coholics Anonymous meeting to be held Friday at 7pm, D.C. National Standard Time. (Hybrid transport available: first ride: a few bucks: second ride: “you're clean!”)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Salty blossoms

Though I could blame my week of absence on the visit of my family to Japan, I think I'll allocate responsibility to a more humble criminal: THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS. These sneaky delinquents maneuver through the crowds, smile like morons, and capture the heart of every keitai camera. They can easily take away blogging impetus, drive you to open a new book, and threaten you if you don't go out to enjoy the Sunday afternoon. If you can't check out these beautiful corruptors in person, you can detain them as a screensaver or write me and I can send you some salty, cherry culprit tea for the drinking.
Now... I'm simply eagerly awaiting release from their beauty. I hear that outside of these flowery chains, they still play things like soccer and talk about odd subjects like politics and twisted ligaments.