Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!

So much for that blog-a-day by both of us, eh? I actually have several drafts saved and hope to get them up after Christmas. But for now, Happy Holidays to all! I can't wait to hear what Santa brought everyone.

{And Imo so sad we won't be able to see you guys. We're planning a trip over to the space museum this Tuesday...don't suppose you'll still be in the neighboring state?}




P.S. My mother knows exactly how many ornaments are on that tree. She had a contest and the closest one won some sort of candle or something. I lost with a guess of two million.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bird Flu

I assumed it was the bird flu that I had picked up from the flight. All coughy and wheezy and phlegmy. I come in and ask my parents for meds. Here you go, try this. Baytussin, cough formula, sure.

Two days of taking it and I don't feel any better. As a matter of fact, I'm dizzy half the time, feeling a bit funky.


Let's take a closer look at that bottle.


It is oddly reassuring to discover this habit of being unable to throw away medicine (foods...anything!) after even twenty years is inherited.

Also: I got my hair cut and on a whim, permed. I've only had my hair permed twice in my life and both times it has just exploded to gawdawful proportions.

This time too.

I get home and ask J what he thinks. After a few minutes recovering from a mild shock, he says, Mom, you got a fro! On further prodding he mumbles, Why can't I get a fro? It seems 'fros' are cool in the fifth grade back home.

Oh, it looks bad now but I know from experience that it will be rock'n'roll cool in about six months to a year. Just you wait and see.

I look not unlike Howard Stern; who, by the way, could have so easily been a Ramone I think. He could have been Joey's brother. Howie Ramone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shhhhh...

He'll kill me if he sees I posted this. But I promised his teacher I would. These are the girls on the block he used to play with all the time. They came and caroled us.


This, however, is his more usual company.


T's bewilderment for the day: Rudoph's got a girlfriend?!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vermonty Python

Today's picture. Shopping on base. We found some Ben and Jerry's, Vermonty Python. It has little chocolate cows in it. Yum! J's grandma and great grandma are standing back there very nervous and yelling, what are you guys doing?!

kyou no shashin wa kaimono chu no shashin desu. obaachan to hiobaachan ga ushiro ni imasu.




T's reverse culture shock moment of the day: So much frosted hair!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Julyan's Message:

kyou wa hikoukini norimasita.

asa itumo douri okite, 8jihan ni eki ni shuppatsu. shinkansen ha 10ji gurai norimashita. narita kuukou tsuita toki ha ohiru kurai no jikan deshita. nimotsu wo tottari, chiketto wo tottari shinagara ohiru wo tabemashita. hikouki ni notta no ha 5ji kurai deshita. hikouki ha 12 jikan tobimashita. sorekara Housten no norikae no hikouki ni nijikan kurai norimashita. Omaha ni tsuita no ha yuugata no 4ji deshita. nihon no jikan ni iu to yokujitu no gozen 8ji.

kono shashin ha 12jikan no hikouki no naka no toki no shashin desu. terebi wo minagara gohan wo tabeteimasu.


kono shashin ha amerika ni tsuite kara amerika no ojiichan/obaachan ga katteiru inu to no shashin desu. inu no namae ha Dusty desu. Husky desu. Kakkooi desu.



Terrie's Message:

I don't fly a lot. A little. But when I do, I take long flights. I couldn't help thinking on this most recent trip, why aren't there more knock-down-drag-outs on airplanes? Looking back, I've only seen one real fight on a plane. It was a good one, though, with a huge man involved and screaming women and pilots and co pilots coming out to try and calm things down. I really feared for my safety that time.

On this one though, I just sat back and watched as at least a dozen skiffs ensued: elderly man refusing to move from isle, crying toddler pulling hair of man in front of him, elderly woman sitting in isle seat she apparently asked for only to find out that someone else had that seat (that one threatened to be bloody). I think it really says something about humanity in general that we can cram ourselves into almost torturous conditions, eat lasagna and icecream for breakfast, and watch as the lads in first class drink wine from crystal glasses and not kill each other.

Okay, time for Mexican food. I'm gone!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Capote


Caught the film Capote last Friday. I thought this was a brand new movie, was only a little surprised to learn it was released in in 2005 and had won various awards and that I (once again) knew none of this.
I quite enjoyed the movie though. Much more than I expected even. Years ago I picked up a battered copy of In Cold Blood. It's going to be my Airplane Book. I'm excited about that.
So I'm reeling all day long and into the next day, a Saturday. And then into Saturday night. I also happened to have a wedding party to go to that evening. And what happened there explains why I shouldn't be let out much.
The party was wonderful, beautiful marvelous! The Bride and Groom both stunning and adorable at the same time. The seating arrangement was as follows:
Long tables up and down the room. The one I sat at was divided into two very distinctive groups. On one side you have six, black-suited, white-tied, well-behaved young men -- all friends of the groom. On my side, the Other side, is a gaggle of five foreigner types (Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, American, and Brazilian). We're funny, we're happy, we're popping jokes and snarfing the yummy food. We're in the zone as they say.
At one point early in the evening the bride and groom introduce all the guests to well, all the other guests. I am shocked and dismayed and even fascinated to discover one of those black-suited young men looks exactly like Perry from Capote. (breath, breath, breath!).
Now, the problem is those six guys are having Nothing to do with our rowdy (and I don't think we were that rowdy...we were 'funny', heck I'm practically the only one drinking) bunch. I spend most of the evening trying to be charming, to at least make eye contact so I can tell this fellow he reminds me of someone else. This is a task much harder than it sounds.

By the end of the night, nothing, nada, not so much as a brief glimpse of those Perry-um...Clifton Collins Jr's-... um strange Japanese guy's eyes. And that is despite five beers and one passion fruit speciality cocktail and all the charisma I can muster. I almost give up. Almost.
There is one more speech a couple games of rock/paper/scissors and next thing I know they say, it's over, have a nice night! The six dudes stand up and saunter out in one big unit. Shit!
I manage to say my goodbyes to those at my side of the table and get behind them in line. Bow to the bride and groom say something appropriate, grab my coat and then burst into their little parting huddle.
Excuse me...
A communal HUH?!
I saw a movie yesterday.
A communal WTF!?
And this guy (I gently tug on his sleeve, bat my eyes) looks just like one of the main characters, (a pause for effect) ... the killer.
They burst into peals of laughter. One says, What?

Then I tell them the whole story about how I have this 'condition'. I often confuse fantasy with reality and because of this delusional nature of mine, I just had to talk to stranger-dude and let him know he has a Mexican-American almost-twin out there who is damn fine actor and hot to boot! We all talk for about fifteen minutes with said hot dude blushing furiously. I suggest he quit his day job and start to act. He blushes more. I squeal and say, 'Look there he goes!' He says, 'But I'm not acting!' I continue to explain, 'See! That is just like the fellow in the movie, he is shy and brooding, a little sad, but in the end (I nod my head, make my eyes go real big) HE'S the one who did it!" His friends roar again and tell me their buddy is the exact same way, ho ho ho! Ha ha ha! They ask again several times what the movie was and where can they see it (it is not playing at a regular theater) and I tell them. None of them have ever heard or it and my pronunciation of CA PO CHI must have really stunk. But I know everyone here knows Breakfast at Tiffany's, so I start there and explain.

(Ahhh, dark haired Perry...)

This blog is gonna split for a bit. We are leaving on a jet plane (yep, the song just got stuck in MY head too) today... in an hour it looks like. J's gonna do a mini blog on here for his teacher and class. A kinda what he's doing/experiencing/eating/ in the US of A. Then I'll have at it in my own way.

As they say in Japan: Doki Doki Waku Waku!

Now I got to go and wake the child up!


Trains, trains...

The other day I received a package in the mail. It was thick--felt like a box of greeting cards--and the return address read The Binnacle. Well, looky there, I thought, they have probably folded, can't publish the story of mine they accepted, and are sending me a box of Christmas cards in remuneration. *sigh* As it turns out the box of cards WAS the magazine. Looked a lot like this:




This is called alternative publishing. I don't hate it. It has grown on me. As a matter of fact, I quite like it. A box full of stories and poems and artworks, each their own little accordion paper.

Speaking of artwork, they also published the fancy (ahem) piece of brush and ink I worked up for the piece.


I've got a thing about trains, especially over crowded ones. It's a love hate thing, mostly hate.

But last night...

I attended a wedding party of a co worker (that has or shall be blogged soon, as vast amounts of alcohol were consumed and I made an ass of myself ... yet...again). I took a relatively late train home so of course it was relatively crowded as well. You see, I have never acquired a sturdy pair of train-legs and must use those plastic rings hanging from the ceiling to keep from falling all over the place. I slip into the car...

Now the key to this story is that it is winter and we are all dressed in cushy coats, scarfs and mittens -- okay, no mittens, but soft bear-like clothes. Crowded trains in the summer are another beast all together, sweat and sticky and skin, strangers. Bleh.

It is winter.

I reach over and grab a ring and I'm not letting go. Soon I notice that I've wedged myself in between three brothers (they all have the same nose, this is how I know they are related). This is all fine. I'm protected; I'm wearing a coat. I'm hanging my head down. I got Chili Peppers on extremely loud in my ears. I begin to examine three that surround me.

One brother is round and has scant hair and is short, the second sorta dark-skinned, medium build but with creepy eyes. Now, the last brother is a tad taller than me, thin, he's got this amazing Adam's apple that is going up and down, up and down as he talks. He has this chin that is starting to grow in a beard and eyes that are almost hazel. I begin to grow infatuated. This train makes a sharp right and I fall into the fake fur of the hood of his coat...it smells like tempura...dreamy!


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hospital Horror


Yesterday was really-really old people's day at the hospital. They were everywhere. Those who know me know that in general I really-really like really-really old people. Especially the funny ones that aren't bitter or grumpy and don't smell too bad.

So I had to pee. I go into the bathroom and all the stalls are taken up. This is no surprise as women here take longer to pee than any country in the world. I could tell you stories. I could show you the research. I could. But just believe me for now.

I hear a click and look over to see a tiny (no taller than my knee) extremely elderly woman hobbling from the middle stall. I notice she has a urine cup in one hand. I notice it hardly has any urine in it at all. I think to myself, 'Hm, I guess when you get that old you don't pee much.' I smile at her, let her pass, and go into the stall.

Stalls here are ridiculously narrow. They seal nicely -- unlike quite a few back home I can vividly recall -- so you don't have to worry about people looking under or through great gaping cracks that run from wobbly door to flimsy wall panel-thing. Yes, there is privacy. But they are so narrow that it is a trick to get in, maneuver and not touch the walls -- I got a thing about bathroom walls, ever since the spider incident.

I edge in sideways and the door swings shut behind me. I lock it. I turn carefully and to my horror I realize there is pee everywhere. It is something out of a slasher horror flick, but in yellow. I mean on the toilet seat, all over the floor. I kid you not when I say up the walls. I gag. I think, 'My God, that woman had to be a hermaphrodite to do all this!'. I rip off toilet paper to use to unlock the door and escape only to realize even the paper is damp!

I pull the collar of my shirt up over my mouth and nose and flee but not before seeing that someone (another old woman?) has left their cup of urine just sitting on the floor. It was entirely too full. Maybe my only bit of good luck that day was that I managed NOT to kick it over.

I have decided to hold it till I get home.

Of course, as I leave there is a line of women waiting to get in. One enters the Horror Stall just as I leap out. I wash my hands thoroughly just wanting to leave, leave, leave! when I hear a scream. She reopens the door, an obvious case of mild shock, and looks at me -- enormous evil foreign lady -- and says, 'You...You...'. I say, "It ain't mine and I didn't do it!" And then before I bolt, "Get a nurse to take care of it." I know that she or no one else in that line believes me. Living here I know exactly how that big guy in The Green Mile feels. I do. I get blamed for everything, I do.

I find a seat far away and try to recover when one of the really-really old men comes up and sits besides me. He is covered in blood and laughing. Huh? He leans over to me, "It took them twenty minutes, they couldn't find the blood, the blood! then when they found it, Kaboom!'

I'm gonna puke.

Instead I make it home. I decide to take the dog for a walk get some fresh air. I get half a block before I notice a whole gaggle of neighbors. That means something...I think. While I'm debating whether or not to see what's up a lady comes up from behind. She tells me that one of our neighbors died the other day. She explains in great details how he was working on the docks and fell some 6 meters and broke every bone in his body, he had so much internal bleeding that his entire head turned red and swelled up. Oh lord, I'm gonna be sick again.

Stay, she says.

No, I say.

Really, the more the merrier, she says.

Dog really needs to wee, I say.

Look, he's already done, she says.

Stupid bad timing dog, I think.

So, we all lolly gag around and I am not sure what is up. I figure it is probably not cool to ask. I am not in black (as they all are) and I am praying that this isn't the wake because I can't stomach a room full of incense and a man with a head swollen and full of blood.

As it turns out, it was just the Send Off. Which means: The hearse (a black mini van in this case) drives by with the body and we all bow our heads and think/pray something kind while the driver honks this odd tune. Me? I'm also trying to keep my spastic dog from getting run over or humping the neighbor lady's leg. I notice that as they drive by there is a monk with his prayer beads out and he is very obviously pointing to me. I imagine even he suspects me of the bathroom spraying.

*The picture is of the notice that went around the day before. I was going to do a blog on these circular notices they do here announcing everything from festivals and changed garbage pick up days to... funerals. So yea, I took a picture of this one. He was only fifty fifty years old. Poor guy. God Bless.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Attn: Metal Heads

Or Why Iron Maiden Rocks and Michael Schenker Sucks

We got tickets to see Iron Maiden. J's been sorta into them so we decided to spend the bucks and go. Him = all brand new. Us = whopping nostalgia. Unfortunately, the person who procured us tickets managed to get ones on the floor in the "Y" section. On the floor...in the "Y" section! Poor J wouldn't see a thing. Heck, I probably wouldn't be able to see a thing.



But I had a plan. While shopping at the local DIY store I bumped into one of these.

Yep. A metal toolbox! And I had an image in my head much like this.

There! The six/seven inches needed to see above the crowd. Now, I only had two real worries:



①That he'd be too tall and get in the way of people in the "Z" section (sods that they are).



②We had to pay a visit to the American Embassy before that and they're like hyper-paranoid of things such as...fingernail clippers and soda cans. Can you imagine what they'd think when they saw my husband approaching lugging this baby!?



The Embassy went as expected. There were at least a dozen cops on the road leading to the building and all of them quick to stop us and ask WTF! Then we get into the place and aside from body searches, metal detectors and leave-your-ice-tea-in-that-box-over-there they weren't too unkind. Mostly giggly that we would even THINK of bringing such an object into the place. Lock it up, Sato!

<>
And believe it or not worry number ① was taken care of when I realized that the "Y" section is indeed the last one. "Z" is the monstrous mixing board (and they are all on stools) with a "Special Guests" area to the side.

Oh, I had a worry number ③. And that one was Steve's daughter Lauren Harris decided she was going to open for the band. Huh?! There is a reason bands in Japan don't have opening numbers. And that reason is people come to Tokyo shows not just from Tokyo but from all the surrounding areas as well. Bullet Trains stop running ten-ish and depending on where the arena is you should be getting out of there are nine/nine thirty. I just knew we'd have to leave half way through the show.

Turns out Lauren started very early, like when people were still coming in. See the picture below? She's up there on stage with her band. Look at all those empty seats. Another thing I like about shows in Japan, is that so many people come straight from work--notice dude in front of me in his suit and tie. That always cracks me up.

Maiden was great! They played the entire new album and several oldies ending with "Hallowed Be Thy Name" which made me very happy. I was also tickled pink to notice half way through that the Guest Section was filled with band members' families including Lauren and her band. They were so close I could have easily tossed a sticky rice cake and gotten someone in the ear. Lots of long-haired, good looking kids climbing all over the mixing boards behind me and even Rod Smallwood (their manager) was back their with his arms crossed all bigger than life. I made eye contact and smiled but I don't think He knew that I knew who He was. Yea, or probably he didn't care.

Again. Great show. Bruce's voice was fantastic! Part way through the show he reached down and single-handedly (as in using a single hand) pulled up a very large (with tripod) television camera. He was pissed off about something. He threw in behind him and some roadie grabbed it. Dave nearly soiled his leather pants he was laughing so hard. Me? I couldn't help but wonder what a shy Japanese photographer could have done to piss him off. Later in the evening though Bruce spoke to that person, asked his name (something Not Japanese) and asked after being so so many shows if he knew what song was next. The man couldn't answer, Bruce scoffed and yelled "Two Minutes to Midnight"! Oh yea!

It was a good night.

Part Two:

Michael Schenker sucks.

I used to like him. Not a lot. But some. And I did pay money in high school to see him once.

This past Friday my husband took a half day off work, paid 80 bucks for tickets, and over 150 bucks for trains to get to Tokyo and back just to see him (he's a UFO fan). I get a phone call at seven thirty and he tells me, "Michael just played two songs and walked off the stage."

Ass.

I mean Japan might be the only place he even HAS any fans left. Not anymore. It isn't the first time either. I googled "Michael Schenker" and "canceled show" to see if there was any news about why he walked out of the arena and there were tons of hits. He does this a lot evidentally. Just because he used to angelically gorgeous is NO REASON!!! ...

My husband was a good sport (as was everyone, no one rioted...I wish I had been there!) and said there were people who lost far more money than he did. And indeed, I just got a text message on my phone from a friend in Tokyo, his friend came all the way from Niigata, paid $700 for front row tickets, $300 for trains tickets, and $150 for a hotel...all to have Mr. Sphincter walk out after two songs. Why? Because he was "feeling bad". My husband said he was playing shitty from the beginning. Selfish brat. The band came out and apologized.

The word around Japan is "Yappari Oniisan ga ii!". Michael is younger brother to Rudolph. I always like the Scorpians better. Bleh!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wanna Take the Train?

I just borrowed this from Youtube, didn't take the video myself. I'm not so brave.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

PS3

Yesterday my son woke up and spoke about nothing but *** . He researched various TV shows to see what they were saying and even tried his hand at the Internet to look at all the pretty pictures.

It is pretty.

However, despite its beauty I said only one word, repeatedly. No No No No No!

Now, I've started paying attention to the commericials.

I don't know how long I can hold out. Today my mantra is more like, no no no no...

Luckily we're poor.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Answer to the Koan

An answer to the Zen Koan:

Q) Do all Japanese own a Kama?

A) Yes, indeedillydo they do!

So after I posted the last entry I gave J's grandpa a call and asked if he happened to have one we could use. "Yep, I'll bring it right over." Later, when I took it to school, I methodically went from mother to mother and queried them as well. "So like, you didn't go out and buy a kama, you had one laying around the house?" Every single mom gave me a look as if I were loony and answered yes. Coool.


[5J proudly displaying his rusty, left-handed (he's a righty btw) kama.5 ]

[5Here's a picture of all the kids sitting and listening to the rules of the game. Those arrows are all pointing to visible kamas5]

The whole event was incredibly well organized. Each class had a job and they rotated. Jobs ranged from cutting the rice and piling it into neat stacks to tying the rice into bundles and hanging them on these bamboo poles to dry. Oh, and scarecrow removal, I can't forget scarecrow removal.


[5Here is part of J's class cutting down the rice5]

The whole job took about two hours and to my dismay there was not one cut or scratch or severed finger.

After the rice dries it will be prepared and then they'll pick all the sweet potatoes they planted and have a party of sweet potatoes and rice!

[6Did I mention scarecrow removal? Here was one of my favorites. Her name is Sadako (from the Japanese version of The Ring). I like the bloody lace shirt and while it doesn't show up on this pic she was wearing big blue rubber gloves6]

[6And you can't have any event without a bit of samurai fighting. Since the kids weren't allowed to use the kamas they made due with bundles of rice6]




Next weeks koan: Why is a mouse when it spins?

Friday, October 27, 2006

School in Japan

I know better, but every once in a while I think, man I wish I had gone to school in Japan.

Here's a few examples:

①When a teacher is sick or has a meeting or must judge a track meet for three days (like J's teacher just did last week), and can't make it to class, the school doesn't call in a substitute teacher. No. The kids simply go to school and don't HAVE a teacher that day. They work on stuff by themselves. Total honor system!! Last year J's teacher got really sick and he (and his class) was without a teacher for TWO WEEKS! This still baffles me.

②Over the winter they leave some water in the pool and let it get all sludgey and slimy and gross. Come end of spring, the kids wade out in their bare feet and collect all the insects, larvae, and other various wormy things and put them in containers that are then lined and stacked around the classroom. Entering a Japanese classroom during warm weather is not for the faint of heart.

③Then today J tells me he needs to bring a kama to school. I don't know how many martial arts fans are out there, but this is a kama.

I said, "Wha? Huh? Eh~?" And he goes yes, all the kids have to bring one to school today. I'm thinking he's offa his head. But it's true. Today they harvest the rice and that is the weapon, nay, tool of choice.


Here is a picture of what kids train to do with kamas via video games.

I am trying to form an image of the nuns from my elementary school telling us all, Tomorrow bring an extremely sharp and heavy metal instrument to class, everybody now, you hear me!?

So the question of the day is: Do normal Japanese families just have kamas laying around their houses?!

I will post this and then later today, during the open house, I will take some actual pictures of the carnage that ensues from 100 11-year old kids brandishing blades.

So many blogs to blog.

Stay tuned for...

1) Horror in the Rice fields

2) Iron Maiden Concert or The benefit of Y

3) Salvador Dali and the Tengu Mummy

4) That Harvest Festival (still not blogged)

5) What One Man Jumping in Front of a Bullet Train Can Do

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

99 Words of Horror!

99 Words Of Horror

My entry. And a picture that doesn't necessarily explain anything at all.



Mother Always Honest


Mother never lied. This she believed would allow her to one day recline along a curved lotus petal in the dappled, perfumed light at Buddha's feet.

A spoonful of powdered nightengale droppings tapped into her palm and moistened with a ball of foamy spit. Circling the paste onto her cheeks, the reek of musk bleached both skin and dirtied soul.

She had to do it.

Love was lessoned when divided by two. Mother giggled, then laughed; at the reflection she screamed.

The shattered glass of her mirror, torn paper, ripped silk...rended skin.

I thought, even this is the truth.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Reprimanded

My dog got reprimanded by my neighbor. And it was not for anything you could possibly imagine.

"I have a reputation!"


It wasn't for barking, digging, biting, howling, dancing, drooling, sniffing, jumping, eating, humping, pooping, peeing, drinking, growling, staring, scratching, ... nope.

My neighbor just had a baby. But before that, when she was just about to burst, I would find her hanging around outside and wanting to talk. So we talked. That's when I discovered her motive.

In Japan dogs are believed to be good luck for pregnant women because they have safe, easy births. She doesn't have a dog. We do. So she explains to me what she wants Cha-Cha (ie...me) to do.

I listen. I'm game. I'm a tad worried about the dog though.

So she squats down and I take Cha-Cha's paws (he just Hates that btw) and I rub her belly and say, "To have a safe and easy childbirth" and all that jazz. And that goes on for a few minutes. I'm furiously worried because Cha is just about to blow. I can just see him jumping this enormous pregnant woman thinking she wants to play. But before any damage was done it was over.

And that was that. She rubbed his head and thanked him.

"You're kidding, right?"

No.

Our neighbor comes home the other day with a beautiful, tee-tiny baby girl. It was wonderful.

Then a few days after that, I see her outside hanging out those darling little baby clothes and she says to me,

Her: "Do you know how long I was in labor?" (this is her third child, btw)

Me: "Oh, dear, I wouldn't know...an hour or two?"

Her: "SEVEN hours!"

Me: "Oh."

Her: "Cha-Cha didn't do a very good job."

Me: "Yea, I'm really sorry about that. It was his first time and all."

With that she went inside.

Yikes.


"The shame!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My New Hero

We just had a Harvest Festival here this past weekend. You can bet that will be blogged ad nauseum in a few. But first...

There is an ancient man who lives near me. Daily he sits outside on his little homemade push chair (it has rollers, a cushy seat, and various ornaments) and watches people go by. He talks to them sometimes, although he's kinda of hard of hearing and doesn't usually get all the responses. Also, he smokes. He smokes a whole lot. But you know what, I like when old (really old) people smoke. It kinda makes you think that, not only are they rebels -- thumbing their noses at health, science, God -- but they they're sorta winning too.

Here he is having a smoke.


He lives with his son who sculpts women. All sorts of women. And they're always naked.

Here's one of the women in the front yard.

He's got about a dozen or so around the house and twice that many in his little shed. I really had an open mind and thought, wow, a real artist who is stricken with the beauty of the female form.

Roughly a year after that thought, I was invited into the shed while the son was sculpting and noticed blushingly that the walls were covered with cheap porno mags.

Art.

This ain't about the naked ladies though.

So this festival lasted for two days. Basically, after several months of practice, everyone dressed up and paraded around the streets stopping occasionally to play flute and drums and to dance. It was much cooler than that, but I don't want to get off topic again.

One of the places they stopped was near the old fella's house. So he came out to watch.

I go to sit beside him in the shade when he leans over and says, What kinda camera you got there? I tell him. He reaches out his shakey hand. Mmm...okay. I hand it over. He examines it, closely, then far away-ly. Closely again. Which button you push to take pictures? That little one there.

Next thing I know, he grabs his cane and starts to get up. Only he can't. He has my camera in one hand and bless his heart he needs both hands to push himself up. Me and the elderly fellow beside him give him a little heave ho.

He starts walking off. My husband looks at me. We give each other a few looks. I tell him to film it (as he is in charge of video). He says, if he steals the camera what are you going to do? I said, Don't worry I'm faster than he is.

So this fella goes over right in front of the sitting audience, right in front of the drums and lays down! All the way down. He starts snapping pictures. Only I'm thinking to myself, gee, poor guy is probably just turning the camera off and on and off again. I mean that button is small.

He does that, starts rolling around, takes pictures of the audience, rolls back, clicks a few more of the show and then comes crawling back to me on all fours! I run over and help him up. He tells me he isn't sure if he took anything or not. But I say he had the best angle of everyone there. He laughs. I sit him down, go retrieve his cane that got lost along the way. Someone else brings his shoes, I didn't even realize he had taken them off.

Here is one of the pictures he took of the girls playing drums. You can tell he's really down there.



And here is the picture he took of my son and his friends watching the show.



Here he is after giving me my camera back, still no shoes. One of the best things about these festivals is all you got to do is show up and someone will come and ply you with alcohol. It is the coolest thing. So here is my little old friend getting a couple cup fulls of beer when he returned to his curb.


I saw him today when I walked the dog and he asked about the pictures. I'm gonna print off a sheet of the ones he took and give them to him. Not the leg shot, the good pics he took. And maybe the ones of him too. I'm also going to learn his name.

Right now he is my hero.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Best Friend/Old Friend

Last week I had a dream. It was intense and sticky and full of message. Some "entity" chastised me for forgetting one of my best friends.

I dug it out, cleaned it, here it is:





I borrowed my dad's credit card and bought it as a graduation present for myself (from him). Boy was he pissed. But this is probably the best present I've ever received. That was 1986. Twenty years later. It is still stunning to me. Beautiful. And it still feels good in my hands. I could tell you where every scrape, cut, and dent came from, but not where all the little screws have disappeared to.


Hopefully, I'll be able to take a few decent shots and scan them to put up here. I truly have forgotten my eye with my flashy/easy little tart of a digital camera.

Friday, October 06, 2006

AW Chain Seven

AW Chain Seven.

Key word taken from The Road Less Traveled: Mushroom, or What I Ate For Dinner Tonight.

Peggy mentioned comfort food...this could have so easily gone back to chocolate. And believe me I ran through all those chocolate stories in my mind, imagined all the bon bons and melties I could eat and call it research, but in the end I went for the mushroom. I think the mushroom needs a little PR.

The first time I ever ate a mushroom was when I came to Japan. I was in my fourth year at university, and that was the first time I ever partook in a mushroom. You see up until then I thought mushrooms were those poisonous things that when found on pizza were always quickly removed, squashed in a paper towel and promptly disposed of. Not only that, but I believed there was one variety.

It's starting to cool off somewhat. And that's all I need to fix one of my most favorite foods, hot pot! (As an aside, I took Chinese for something like four years and "hot pot" is the only word I can still say in that language. Everything else has simply vanished. But "huo guo", nope, that still stays with me. I figure it must be fate. I believe not only in people-fate...but food-fate as well. "I was meant to eat that cheesecake, really.")

How to make hot pot/huo guo/nabe:

You take a giant clay pot or one of these fancy new electric ones that allow you cook on your table, and fill it with water, a dash of dashi--a kind of fish stock (that sounds worse than it is) and heat that puppy up. Next you chop up various vegetables: Chinese cabbage, long onion, all sorts of mushrooms (enoki, shiitake, shimeji) etc. Another common ingredient is konyaku, a gelatin-like, non-tasting-like, fishy smelling-like food stuff. Here is the kind I use.

aw 7 konyaku

Konyaku is usually dark grey. The above is white (not so stinky) and tied in a knot. Plus it looks cool and feels freaky when you bite it.

Here is what the veggies look like all chopped up

aw 7 namayasai

For meat you can use either the super thin slices of pork or beef they sell or these chicken and vegetable meatballs that I often get. Look! I put four cans of beer on top of my meatballs and they got smooshed. Luckily they're raw and shape right back up with a little help from a spoon.

aw7 meatballs

Stick all that into the hot pot and wait for it to cook. Bubble-bubble, steam-steam.

aw7 nabe

Now, you're all thinking, but it has no flavor save that fish stock stuff you mentioned. And you'd be right!

This is where it gets fun. They sell dipping sauces! The two main ones are goma, a sesame sauce or ponzu, a citrusy sauce. Aside from a bowl of rice to eat with the hot pot (nabe in Japanese, btw) you get a couple little bowls to fill with one or both of the dipping sauces. Retrieve whatever it is from the pot you got a hankerin' for, dunk it and eat!

Now, I'm a die hard ponzu nut. Here is my little bowl and chopsticks. Notice the meatball isn't exactly round. Yea, sorry about that. Look at all them 'shrooms.

aw 7 ponzu

J is a goma/sesame nut. So here he is eating his freshly dipped enoki.

aw 7 j and mushroom

Mushrooms are pretty big here, I guess. They even have their own theme song. I'm not kidding. A year or so ago some company came out with this commercial and it just took off. There have been a whole string of commercials as well as dolls, cell phone straps; everyone sings the song. You can't help it, when you go into the grocery store there is usually a cassette player playing it at the mushroom department. It's probably a kind of brain washing. But I suppose in a good way. Rather that than, eat more gummies, by the handful yea!

So, what did you have for supper tonight? And I better not hear, a hanful of gummies.




Now, you may all scamper off to Atomic Bear at Beyond the Great Chimney Production Log because he's so cool, and well...he's next!

Monday, October 02, 2006

My Cell Phone携帯

Those of you who have seen or talked to me in the last two weeks knew this post was inevitable.

I am smitten! I have a new cell phone, and I am in love. I don't own a couch, chair, table lamp, clothes dryer, toaster, or bed. Yep, none. But I do have a new cell phone.

And so you can see where my priorities lie.

Here it is.

Hot Pink.

And it sliiiides open.

The darn thing is smarter than I'll ever be. Of course it has a camera where you can choose size, pixel size, ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc., it has a radio, and some messenger thing where I can mail friends and we can become these little barnyard animal manga-looking characters and chat. It also tells me it even has a library! Oh, and since it goes online there are infinite games, shops, and other online goodies.

That's all fine and dandy.

But right now the part I'm most excited about is that it holds a memory card (of up to 4giga) and works like a Walkman. Since I'm the only one in the family without a portable listening device, I am ever-so stoked about this. I spent all last weekend filling it will Primus, Yes, A Perfect Circle, you know, the works. I know sleep with the thing.


On my last visit to the states (almost two years ago) I was shocked to notice not every, indeed hardly any, American had a cell phone growing out of their ear or attached to their palm. Things may have changed since then. I am looking forward to seeing what's up on the mobile telephone scene when I go back this winter. And you just know I'm gonna show off by making a long distance phone call with my pink puppy!

Here. You'd be hard pressed to find someone without a cell phone. And I'm talking the elderly and children as well. I have been tutoring my mother-in-law on how to use her new one for a few weeks now. She got one because all her friends had one, she admits. And half of J's fifth grade class has one. I know first graders who have them. The reasoning behind giving them to children is because of all the abuctions of recent. The children's phones come with GPS and alarms and stuff.

Here is a short list of what phones are used for here in Japan:

Read novels. Yep, they really do. I actually wrote an article (I am too lazy to dig up) about an author who writes novels especially for cell phones. His target audience is junior high and high school girls. He sends the story out in installments at several yen per mini chapter. The guy is quite clever as he has developed an enormous fan base and literally uses the girls' daily text messenging feedback to bend his story in directions they will favor. He's filthy rich, and has movie coming out too; the dog.

Watch TV. There is something called One Seg and because of it everyone has been watching TV on their phones. I don't get it. I like my big TV. But I guess if you are somewhere and want to catch the last minutes of a good game...

※Study. Could find no good links to this but because Japanese tend to commute for great lengths of time there are oodles of cell phone sites now that offer short studies. You can learn characters, foreign languages, loosen up your brain with math quizzes, just to name a few.

※As a navigational tool. Get lost in downtown Tokyo? Here ya go!

※Even as a way to quit smoking!

※Oh, and let's not forget a fashion accessory.

I guess the fancy thing to do now is to use real stones to decorate your phone. Here we have a Hello Kitty and Chanel fan.

携帯

Or, hey, how about Eddie Van Halen. {Although I personally stopped liking him back when he flipped me a bird. I was innocent!}


携帯eddie vh

And I even found a cell phone that does more than mine!


携帯knife

Oh gosh. Matt has thoroughly gotten me addicted to Youtube and I was hardly looking when I found this... a new movie, The Cell Phone Detective. The catch phrase is, "We just can't depend on adults!"




I can still not tell if Japanese movies try to B movies or if it just comes natural.