Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Illegitimate arachnid Brothers

I've got a theory. Tell me what you think.
Spiderman had a sex-crazed brother with a few quirky habits and an eye for interior home-decorating. He was cast out by his family in order to protect Spiderman's heroic image from the cruel and overly-imaginative press. But, since it was difficult to determine the sex of a fly by the color of its curtain colors, this arachnid brother decided to go for humans instead. So, this mysterious, ex-spider brother swung from building-top to building, devouring female-looking apartment adornments (which, sometimes, included the females themselves.)

Ok, so the theory is a little shaky and more than absurd.
But, there IS a man who has been indicted on charges of raping 70 women in Hokkaido by entering their high-rise apartments, based on the flowery-ness of their curtains. (see this article )
Now, though I know better than to trust admissions of guilt made here within the Japanese justice system, I'll definitely believe Spiderman should he decide to step forward and make a statement against his crazy, building-scaling and wall-repelling bro!

(Sidenote: I wonder what color curtains Bionic-Woman had...)

Monday, May 30, 2005

What else is in that micro-chip?

I think when a child is born in California, it automatically comes with a rechargeable battery pack (or sometimes, solar panels),?a bottle of Crystal Guyser water (or Evian, depending on the neighborhood) and a “Chill, Kick-back Cali” micro-chip implanted behind its ear.
So, it’s no surprise that I haven’t lost my laid-backness, even though I’ve spent less than 10 months in the state in the past 9 years.
(then, again, ... I HAVE heard of the odd Californian who removes the "laid-back micro-chip" and replaces it with a flagpole up their rear orifice - So, nothing is certain in this world of impermanence.)

But, I still have the Cool Cali Vibe.
In fact, I probably have it worse than many.
Unfortunately, what I now seem to lack is a real FEELING for the predominant sentiment currently spiking the attitudes of my fellow statesmen. (states-folk? State-people? My state-sharing cool-cats.)
I can look at the polls and see that the majority of my Cali-Dawgs are Anti-this-war, but.. where are they? Where are all the demonstrations and rallies one would expect from so many polled, “Anti-war” peeps? And where is the outraged and disgusted youth? Why is it mostly the same people who were chanting down the Vietnam war who are now hitting the streets in my state? What’s going on in the collective head of my generation?

Basically, what I’m very inarticulately trying to say is that I understand my psychotic, Japanese washing machine (that alternates between doing the opposite of what I tell it and doing exactly what I tell it- only in a parallel dimension) much better than I understand the minds of my fellow Californians (especially, the young cats). I hope that going back there will change that.
But, thank (insert deity of choice) for technology and micro-chips. At least we know that, no matter what, you can never take the “Cool” outta this “Cali-Cat”.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A hump and a fag, please!

Sitting around the Camel cigarette pack with friends, baked, looking for hidden phallic symbols was a common pass-time for me in high school.
Yeah, I'd say those tobacco companies sure had some clever marketing geniuses puffing away in the think tank!
Or, were they just coughing?
This site Fair Enough is really funny and offers old-school, comedic sitcom-style episodes of clever, marketing Tobacco company geniuses brainstorming. And, they are all based on real Tobacco company meeting notes and implemented campaigns! Really good stuff.
In fact, I think I'll go dress up like a smoking camel now.
Does anyone know where I can get a hump?

(*Update/edit: So as not to be misunderstood and make enemies, I should mention that a "fag" refers to a cigarette in Britain.
*Udate2: And in Canada - thanks Canadian Dude !)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Tom-Boy can't Fight

So, I admit it. I played with cars when I was a child.
I built forts in the bushes.
I laid siege to the jungle-gym.
I threw punches in order to wield the pine tree branch.
I was a regular Tom-Boy.
I still find more meaning in my contraband bag of microwave popcorn than I do in a senseless fist-fight.
Ok, so I despise the direction and actions of Dubya and his outrageous (..er…courageous?) cohorts, picking a kid in class and calling him a “dumb-cum-stupid-head” and throwing dog poop at him. But, at least I understand Why. There is a clear, selfish and very-wrong reason that pokes through the biased media on the head of a chopstick.
But, what I DON'T understand is:

What reason my friends had last night when they decided to throw a Fight-Club-style punch at themselves that led to a minor explosion of an ex-pat war in town..?
I just
This Tom-Boy can't think of anything.
Maybe one of our friends in town had clandestinely filled his water tank with valuable oil. Or, maybe they had obtained a secret Biological Weapon to combat Superior English Teaching? Or, maybe they had been posting lies about depleted Uranium on their Conversation School List bots.
Or, maybe they didn't play with cars as a kid.
Or, throw dog poop.
Or toss bottle rockets.
Or eat dog biscuits.
(Oh man... I swear I only tried it once and didn't swallow!)
I dunno.

But, I gotta go because I think someone's about to snatch up my pine tree branch!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Yellow Press

A friend of mine and local, long-time resident Guru coined a witty nickname for our small, Japanese city with his great, recently-birthed blog: Notes from the 'Nog .

And, back in the day, when the cool kid with a skateboard in the neighborhood started using the words “dudical” and “jizm”, I wanted to start using them too, so….here's my attempt:

Today's Breaking News from the 'NOG

PORT-MOUNTAIN-PARK- Three first-year high school students allegedly spotted their old English teacher talking to herself, rocking back-and-forth on her bench and staring blankly into the monkey cage.
The students had just finished participating in their club activity and were on their way home.
“I thought maybe she had lost it,” one bright-eyed student reported as she finished writing a text mail on her cell phone, “but then I remembered that that was the kind of odd, foreign behavior she had always exhibited.” Click here for full story

LAWSONS - Foreign woman approached local police box with allegations of Unsolicited comments about her height and nose-shape.
She has not decided yet whether to file claims of Discrimination and Silly, Verbal-Observations Abuse. Click here for full story

ASAHI TOWN - Local resident accused of trying to hide a Styrofoam natto container and a plastic toothpaste bottle inside his 'burnable' trash on garbage collection day.

Don't cancel your subscription! More, breaking News coming soon!

(*Update: But, to be completely honest, when the local cool hoodlum on the block started saying “dudical”, I really tried to get everyone to say “tripical”. Looking back on it now, it's no wonder it didn't catch on …)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Meet the tomato

We were practicing the Past tense today, and the students made their own short dialogues and performed them.

The little tree-huggers wrote:

A: What did you do yesterday?
B: I gived the money to UNICEF. How about you?
A: Oh, really? I saved the Earth too!

The little economists with a sense of humour wrote:

A: What did you do last year?
B: I lost fifty yen. How about you?
A: Oh! I got fifty yen.

The little Bible Zealots wrote:

A: What did you do on Sunday?
B: I walked to Onigashima. How about you?
A: I walked to Ryugujo.
(this was accompanied by a drawing of a smiling girl in a school uniform, walking on water towards an island with horns).

And the little, we've-either-tested-hallucinogens-at-a-very-early-age-or-we've-been-unfairly-subjected-to-too-much-of-our-English-teacher's-over-the-top-randomness wrote this:

A: What did you do after school very well?
B: I washed my dog at home. How about you?
A: I met a bear and a tomato in SATY.
B: Oh!

(I think I'll ask this last group to post weekly on this blog!)

Advice from Blister-gal

One more reason not to stick your hand into a burning fire:

The hand you use to pick up burning wood, is the same hand you use to wipe your...well,... to sweep up after you read the paper in the 'loo.

(Damn, I hope Lucifer is already backed up with paperwork and new ideas..!)

Deep Fears and Playing in Traffic

There's nothing that frightens me more than U.S foreign policy, Burger King advertisements, really long tunnels, suicidal sparrows, over-consumption, “faith-based” accusations and, excessive talk of banal, T.V. programs I have never seen.
So, it's always a motivating, heart-rocking High that hits me when someone offers a positive kick from the States (lacking any of afore-mentioned fear factors!).
I was lucky that my mother (a beautiful and passionate woman, who works at a community college library, fights weekly battles against censorship, administrative bullshit and state budget cuts) just filled this roll and sent me the link to her new buddies playing music in Los Angeles: Playing in Traffic
They inspire quite a bit of Deja-Vu (musically and sentimentally) But, they also offer a much-needed slap of motivation for those of us who are still scared of going back to play and do summersaults in the land of United Snakes… er, I mean,… States.

I suspect there will still be a few over-dressed Burgers dancing on the tube, a few, long sitcom-conversations, and some tongue-extending tunnels, but, I'm pretty sure, now, that there will be some good peeps, with intelligent opinions. And, maybe someone's got the linguistic and psychological skills to talk my pigeons down off the nest-Plank!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Young inquiries and Blisters

Remember as a kid when you used to run your hand through the flame of a candle and impress all your friends with your bravery and super-hero, burn-threat immunity? C'mon… we all did it! (How else would our ancestors ever have come up with the idea for those classic, block-buster hits: “Physics” and “When Larry met Allie to discuss Gravity and Flame-Temperature”?)
And remember how you used to throw a crying tantrum, complete with circular-breathing, and whimper harmonics just to get some attention…? And how sneaky you felt when you first flipped through a porn mag. and saw taboo, human-potential?
And remember how your first geography teacher knew everything about Everything, and lemonade was the Greatest thing Summer ever invented..?
And, remember how you used to pick up burning logs hotter than the west coast of the Sun's atmosphere, and hold them in your hands until you had blisters the size of Calcutta adorning your fingers…?

Well..., I guess that last one's just me. And it was way back in the halcyon days when I was just twenty-six years old and camping on the beach the day before yesterday…
I think I'll get a tattoo on the wrist of my beer drinking hand: BEWARE! Fermented yeast can severely hinder self-preservation instincts while fire-tending! Take necessary precautions! (like wearing astronaut cooking mittens or hand-cuffs!)

And, remember when you used to, incessantly ask “why?”… Why is grass that color? Why are those people so funny-looking? Why does my mom wear WMD-repellent, oven mittens 'round the campfire…?
Ahh, yes the honesty of youth…
But, REALLY, if I could be five again and ask Gaud a question, it would be: Why do monstrous finger blisters have to make it impossible to eat fish with chopsticks..?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Shrimp Boats

A friend offered to let me use her cat's skin to make an instrument if I wrote about shrimp boats. I always wanted an instrument that could drown the entire band with its purr-nicious voice, so… here we go!

Well, they're not actually shrimp-seeking, but rather squid-searching. And they're not actually boats. They're more like small fortunes (about US$190,000 for a new beauty).
But, they certainly ARE magnificent when seen, dotting the horizon of the sea in between rocky, cliff breaks!
…Which brings me to the first of my two theories about squid boats off the coast of Tottori:
1)These are not ordinary fishermen you often see in rural, costal villages, untangling ropes at 5 a.m. They are, in fact, entrepreneurial tools, subsidized by the Cliffs, Coves & Ocean Beautification Corp (CCOBC). They sold their reeling-in hand callouses long ago and are just there, lighting the horizon so that viewers can ooh and aahh at their radiance, and bring more tourism to the area. Those gold-digging squid-figgers!
2)Those squid fishermen stole that bright, sequined horizon-line idea from my grandma who used to use that same pattern on her crocheted pot-holders. Those, gramma-copy-right-infringers!

(Well, guilt has wrapped me up in one, really big rubberband, so I want to clear my name of muddy lies. I admit it.: I wasn't really offered a cat skin for writing about shrimp boats. In fact, my friend would probably sew up a nice halter-top made of MY skin for her cat if she knew of my kniving allegations… Oh, the shame suffered in the name of absolution!)

Friday, May 20, 2005

"And a Virgin Mary for the puppy.."

Was there REALLY a rodent-Dog in a green t-shirt, running a slalom course around the glasses on the bar of our local watering hole last night??
yup, yup...

There really was!

The strangest thing about it was that no one found it even slightly aberrational. We were passing the puppy (though I secretly suspect he was really an under-cover ferret in dog's clothing) around, singing lullabies and speaking baby-talk to him. I think, with a little suggestive nudging, I could land another, lucrative, part time, conversational-education job. Afterall, no Japanese sausage-dog is too young to start learning English!

Fornication Salad

As the world's population increases (despite my convincing suggestions to roll everyone -ages 0 to 200- up in seaweed, rice, cucumber and imitation crab and play rugby with them!), we seem to find more and more categories, files and boxes to shove everything into. (i.e. HE's a hippy-clothes store-owner, SHE's a softball player, THEY are terrorists and SHE is a dog-freak of incomparable proportions, and SEX is …well…, let's talk about strawberries, because they are in season.)
Now, I'm sorry to disappoint, but this isn't a rant about the Japanese Club-Group mentality.
In fact, it's more based on my knowledge of U.S. sitcoms, attitudes and media.
It's about categorization when it comes to fornication…
(and, I'll admit I have a “Wanna-hug-you” relationship with Categorization, as well as a “Wanna-snug-you” relationship with fornication…but that's another thread!)

I DO think, though, that we've definitely sculpted a few too many artistic box-titles for SEX. Talk to any zealous, single girl and you'll learn that we've got: casual sex, sex for love, sex for passion, sex for marriage, sympathy phux, sex for sex, baby-making sex, make-up sex, break-up sex, wake-up sex, and - my favorite - straight-up sex…
(the list goes on…but you can try it out on your own time!)
What this is all leading to, though, is a question my 14-yr-old student asked me today.
As I forced him to put on his hospital mask and apron to pick up the cafeteria food, he asked me, with sincere curiosity and no 'giggle-I'm-joking'-ness,
“What does 'gay' mean in Japanese?”
I told him: “homosexual”, and then began to explain what he already knew.
He then asked if the same word is used for men-who-dig-men as well as gals-who-dig-gals (Again, he's not a jokester, so this was all sincere).
I had just begun to answer, “Yes, but there is another word for…”--- when my drunken-karaoke-bro-co-working sensei stepped up and offered the Japanese, authoritarian
“No way! That's not suitable for junior high school students!”
OK, then… I stepped back.
But, I couldn't help but be confused. Just last week, I had stood by the same teacher as he taught sex ed. to that same student. Talk of H.I.V. and pregnancy had gone on, as well as a hand-out, complete with pictures of condom-application…
How was I to know that the kid was old enough to talk about eating tacos but too young to discuss bananas..?!

I'm thinking of offering a clandestine course (during coffee breaks) to the teachers of my junior high school:
“Banana-splits and Taco-Salads- Both are Delicious! Which one do you like?”
Advanced course: “Straight-Nutty, fruit, vinegar salad with Taco-banana dressing- Enough servings for the whole family!”

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

To get to the mountain,

Gotta cross a few creeks... (and, sometimes, be the seven-horned, disfigured, blue-belly lizard in Japan, holding a forged note from lucifer's ex-calculus professor)...
Religion aside, though,...

I just talked for two hours with a friend who lives in Ms. No-Mura-up-north, “where-was-that-again?-Land”, in what-did-you-call-me?!-Prefecture…
And, after tales of mountains, steep cliff-sided valleys and Ecstasy-muscled canoeing, I naturally, felt the need to go outside, climb a hill, see trees, smell blinded stars and over-turn a rock or two to discover what insect's life I could disturb…

What I found:
1)The choral 'moo!' of seven, suited, drinking-directioned men.
2)The absolute silence of non-silent, wet soil.
3) A psychedelically-colored, baby beetle.
4)That half-assed, doki-doki heart-flick felt when the wind picks up and you don't know how far it will go
5)The sound of unspeakable desire landing on a yet-to-be, bloom-caressed branch.
and, finally...
SIX) A Bunch of Pricks.

I mean, REALLY,
who wanders the streets on a late Wednesday night and actually expects to pick up chicks with a line like: “Hey Foreigner! You got long legs and a small face! Don't you?!”
then (looking around), “The wind feels good, right?!”

I almost replied, "Ooh, that's hot! Call me a fat, ugly, seven-headed cyclops from Uranus who will never have tea or eat a preztel with an Earthling, and you have a date!"

But, what I ACTUALLY said (in very mangled Japanese) was: "Give me back my typhoon fear, moist soil scent and shiny insects. And, you, go home to your wife!"

I, obviously, have yet to begin my Social Couthness Course...

(*Update: Here's a more accurate translation of what I probably, really said:
"You know typhoons, right? They're scary. I want that scariness of typhoons! You know wet dirt, right? I want that, too! And cute, colorful insects? I want them too! And, YOU, go home to your wife!"
Somehow, it doesn't sound so tough anymore. If you hear anyone talking like this, please alert your local, not-for-profit Home for Reality-forsaken Incoherents immediately! )

Monday, May 16, 2005

Military Kitty-Kitch

I remember the first time I set foot in my apartment here in Japan, I nearly lost my breakfast to the surface of my yet-unzipped luggage. My stomach's seismic, sporting adventure was a result of being greeted by a mobilized army of Hello-Kitties. One cute kitty was in the form of an alarm clock, another disguised as a pillow and yet another went in cognito as a Bulletin Board Security Guard.

Now, some people are frightened of clowns, and others have pelvic clenches upon hearing carousel music.
Not me.
But, put a few kitchy, pink Kitty-chans on my shelf to scrutinize me with their beady, little plastic eyeballs, and I don't care what the time-difference is, I wanna call my mommy!
So, I was rightfully horrified when I was sitting at my desk today at work, and realized that these sneaky, servants of “kawaii-culture” had invaded all realms of my life without my even noticing! There I was, after almost three years, preparing lesson materials with sparkly, pink scissors, and a pastel orange pen from which dangled a cute Kitty dressed in a Giants baseball uniform..! I began frantically going through my drawers only to be confronted by more pink miscarriages of humanity. A shiny, strawberry-shaped magnet had attached itself to my fuchsia stapler. A series of glittery heart stickers and smiley faces had spread over my pen-caps like kawaii cancer. And, I was making borders on my worksheets with a Mickey Mouse ruler!
How did this happen?
Screw the out-dated Trojan horse. If I ever want to abandon siege and slip inside a castle, I'm assigning Hello Kitty as Commanding General!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Wascly Wabbit Munch

While you may think of them as just underground tubers that good soccer moms bring along in their esky, crunchy snacks that promote phrases like: “What's up. Doc?”, and orange, phallic abominations, there's a lot you don't know about these ubiquitous roots.
For example, in the early 19th century, carrots were loved so much that they were being grown two feet long with a one-foot girth… Now, I'd LOVE to see Bugs try and fit that one in his little, buck-tooth mouth! …Come to think about it, our Bunny Boy might just like it!...
17th Century herbalists also claimed that these marvelous treats could promote the flow of women's urine. And during the reign of James I, not only were carrot leaves used to decorate women who wouldn't ordinarily get a second glance until the 7th beer, but carrots were also being prescribed by doctors for snakebites and sexual maladies!
And in 900 ad, Afghani sun-worshippers were munching away in order to stuff their souls with righteousness.
All of these utterly useless but entirely intriguing facts come from this brilliant site about the history of the Glorious Carrot. Check it out for everything you never wanted to learn about the little root you sometimes chop up and dip in ranch sauce.
And now I'm gonna go swimming in a bath tub of venomous snakes so I can test out my new remedy...

(*Update: I'm not alleging that Bugs Bunny is a homosexual.

But it's OK if he is.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

riel revolution

Now, I wouldn't personally ever have any drive to start a bar brawl with the Canadian government or tatoo divinity on my shoulder, but I have to admit there's something cool about the idea of gallivanting around butt-naked and calling myself "The prophet of the New World"!
Unfortunately, this guy Louis Riel already stole my idea!
He probably looked much sexier in the outfit, too!
Could the Louis Riel judges give me a call..? I'd like to propose a viciously, hot, spagetti-slap to the wrist as verdict-guilty punishment. If that doesn't work, let's go with cheap, Caseo-stereo elevator music, or a cheese-grater to the lip. ...(What?! Senseless hanging, you say??. )

Vacationing Translator-a-bob

One of my favorite things in life is the humour-riddled human exchange that occurs between geographically or culturally-separated beings. Especially, when they share a language in common. It's amazing what half-sauteed indiscernibility can come from the very language that you thought was your mother tongue! For ex.:

Friend: “So, what's Japan like?”
Me: “It's great! Full of contradictions.”
Friend: “Yeah, I just got an electricity bill, reached level 11 on the new Minotaur vs. the Realestate Agnt. PS2 game, watched 'Cn?ureislvnvkfls?x' on DVD, ordered out from Bob-b/eats-the Hog Pizza Emporium and chilled with that bloke from the Moroccan Mountain tagine stand.”
Me: “Huh? Cool! I just janken-ed for a sticker with teenagers who were checking out manga and blurred sex while debating between sake onigiri and nasty katsuo. Then, my friends and I stumbled upon a great performance by Aquabomb, got a call on my keitai from Papa Dharma and…”
Friend: “Huh?”
Me: “Yeah, it's great! How are you?”
Friend: “Wicked. You really gotta see 'Cn?ureislvnvkfls?x'! You'll love it!”
Me: “Yeah! Sounds good. See you soon!
Friend: “Yes, certainly before this minotaur is slayed!”
Me: "Mino-whuu...? Hell yeah! Can't wait to see a sleigh slaying!
Friend: "?? Love ya! See you soon!"

Well, shit- until I find that culture-translator-a-bob I lost in my soy-sauce bottle, I'll be listening to Khagool :
the most awesome, psychedelic Welsh rockers to ever have opposable thumbs!
Can't wait to hear them come play in Japan!
And, maybe one of them can do some translation...
Someone's gotta speak Minotaurian...
Or, at least, know where to find Culture-Translator-a-Bob...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Jerkey and Comics

It's not often that the woman at my local mom&pops convenience store gives a go at humour. She's usually busy mis-counting change and talking about the umbrella surplus. But, just moments ago, she proved her comedic dark side. While ringing up my purchase she began to muse,
“Hmm… Instant noodles…hmm… a beef Jerkey stick…hmm… nice weather… hmm… you like Japanese men, don't you?...hmm...”
Now, whether noodles, Jerkey, weather and men all belong in the same customer-service pleasantry, I can't really say, but… I know I've made stranger conversation without being slapped with a heavy iguana or dumped in a vat of wet tissue and tuna before...
What I actually wanted to share, though, were these hilarious comics
I have been entertaining myself with. Some seriously dark and fun diversions.
But, it's time now to divert myself in the direction of Out-and-about, so I'll leave you with the best poem I think I have ever written:

I like noodles,
I like stick,
I like Jerkey
And I like

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sparrow Suicide

There it was, this morning, lying limp and embriotic on the concrete of my balcony… right there in front of my face, calling me with its primordial incipience, involuntarily enflaming my curiosity.
I kneeled down, yielding both to a pulverizing Japanese-beer hang-over and a nagging sense of inquiry. Yup, there it was….
A dead baby sparrow SPLAT on the floor. A dead, featherless bird inches from my bed!
There were no leads to be found at the crime scene. No feather-printed weapons to suggest murder, and the autopsy showed no signs of struggle.
Perhaps this was simply a suicidal act of a woe-fully depressed, Japanese sparrow, deprived of its right to Riddilin. Or maybe, just maybe (as an adroit Freudean pedant might suggest), this was a far more scandalous and Oedipusian affair than we thought…
Let's try this for a scenario:
The poor, young fledgling had a fight with his brother. Maybe he saw that his co-habitating sibling was feasting on worms a pin-head longer than his own and was receiving more mama-sparrow attention than himself. Maybe jealousy engulfed him and he thrust his little, under-matured beak at his brother's naked wing, but unfortunately over-shot his destination. Maybe our talon-less 3-day old hero then fell from his nest and landed, rather unfortunately, on the floorboards of a residing foreigner's balcony.
A possible explanation, I'd say…
Well, all I know is that the sparrows are back. And this is my third year as a Sparrow-suicide Witness. I'm now in the process of contracting a sparrow-speak translator to put up a few signs around the nest reading: “Don't jump! Life is good!” and “Uncle Sam says 'Wait for your Wings before flying!'”

Friday, May 06, 2005

Rainbow Discipline

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, violet, black, white, gray, indigo, water-logged cypress, forest blue, sky green, red umbrella shadow, pink grease fire….
Name a different color, QUICK!!
And if you can't, well, I have a paper-cutter to show you Blood Red!
Here's today's article from the Double Daily News: Art Teacher threatens pupil at knifepoint for not knowing colors .
I'm expecting that next week's top stories will be: “Charcoal-black-scolding humiliation attacks 12 yr-old during 2nd period” and “Amber-tinted Orange Rage assaults Junior high school Tennis club member”
Ahh, yes. It's all quite black and white, really…

Peoples-be-good-yo! Membership

So, I just got my “Faith in Humanity” membership card back. It had been chilling in abeyance for a while somewhere along the fence between the VIP-Platinum-User status and the This-customer-is-a-habitual-check-bouncer-so-show-her-no-couthness-if-she-needs-assistance status.
My new membership card is shiny and new, and sports a hip, non-forgeable hologram of two peeled cucumbers embraced by a four-headed earwig strapped to a snowboard (this is, of course, the visual representation of 'Faith in the goodness of all people').
Anyway, I got the card reactivated because of my recent, awesome experience at the Nijinomisaki music festival in Kyushu. For now, you can have a look at someone's comments about last year's festival. I'll try to get some pictures up soon from this year's celebration, along with my personal reflections and description of its awesomeness.
Until then, I'll just say that good peoples, good campings and good musics make for good times and good, sparkly, new membership cards.