Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's in Japan

Coming, as I do, from a relatively fun-loving country (make your pitiful attempts at jokes here...!), I have to say that there is one Japanese holiday that I absolutely dread--New Year's. There 's very little I can say that can convey to you the utter boredom involved in ushering in the new year in Japan. Christmas in Japan, at least, has the benefit of being fucked-up and surreal. New Year's is the equivalent of watching paint dry, of reading your shoes waiting for the dentist to see you, of using your watch to "pace" the clock on the wall...

How wonderful that the one night of the year that I really would like to get pissed is the most deadly serious of occasions here. Yeah, they all sit home watching some stupid, worthless, shit-eating excuse for a talent show on NHK, then go to the local shrine and pray for good luck at pachinko or something. Oh yeah, the more "religious" of the Japanese will stay up and watch the first sunrise of the (er, western) new year. If you think I'm being intolerant of Japanese "religion", then let me be the first to inform you: the Japanese have only the facade of a religion, so there's really nothing to insult.

I guess I caught a bit of a break this year when the "powers that be" (that would be anyone but me) decided we would go to Tokyo this year to visit my wife's sister and her family. In the normal world we would be planning a trip to have a party on New Year's Eve in one of the biggest cities in the world. In my world, we're going on Jan. 1st. We'll spend New Year's Eve here at home in Miyazaki. I've caught a slight break here, also, because we usually go to the in-laws' place in the country, which means no cable and no internet. At least tomorrow I can check my fantasy hockey stats...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

James Brown has died. I guess people will argue about James Brown, the man. There can be no argument about James Brown, the artist.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Etc.

There's no way I can top Eli's choice for a Christmas music video, so I won't even try. Here's Ozzy and Jessica Simpson:

Have fun and be safe, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Great Drum Fills, Pt. 2

There's really not much out there these days for guys like me who long for new bands with that "classic" rock sound. The last really good classic rock band to come along were Black Crowes. I've heard flashes of brilliance elsewhere, but only momentarily. It's not that I've got anything against what they call "rock" music these days, mind you. Nirvana and the whole "alt rock" thing have done a lot literally keeping rock music alive during the reign of rap/hip hop (a genre that, when it's good, is very good, but which these days seems to be suffering a worse case of bloat than rock did in the pre-punk days). What has always been lacking, to my mind, with the newer generation of rockers, is a certain flashiness, the strut that makes rock rock. Why the hell don't these guys play like whether or not they get laid tonight depends upon it? For fuck's sake, can anybody play a guitar solo anymore? Yeah, I know I sound like an old fart, and I am, but mark my words (sorry, I couldn't resist), this "pretend" rock 'n' roll will lead to the end of barroom brawls and teenage pregnancy... er, whatever.

I was very pleased a couple of weeks ago to discover the band Army of Anyone. A "supergroup" in the same way as Audioslave (except a lot less annoying), Army of Anyone consists of former members of Stone Temple Pilots and Filter, with a very special ingredient: drummer Ray Luzier, who's perhaps best known for his work with David Lee Roth (of Van Halen fame). Whoa! These guys ain't kids, kids! They play rock like men(you can take that however you like, I don't really care). Ray Luzier plays drums like there is no tomorrow! If anything I've said here makes any sense to you, please check these guys out. Tonight's great drum fill:
Drummer: Ray Luzier
Group: Army of Anyone
Album: Army of Anyone
Great Drum Fill: In the song "Goodbye", at about the 3 minute 10 second mark, Luzier launches into what is really a series of drum fills, the likes of which I haven't heard on a rock album for a long time. You'll hear other, more technically proficient stuff. You'll here other, more popular stuff. You won't hear anything better.


[Updated 10/4/13: You'll find the drum fill at the 3:15 mark of the clip below.]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Scared of Santa

Can you remember your first face to face encounter with Santa? There's a good chance that, unlike most kids who were happy to meet Santa and later grew up to be normal people, you were traumatized by the experience and are still mentally and emotionally scarred from "sitting on Santa's lap".

The Scared of Santa Gallery [link via John's Universe] is a celebration of that traumatic moment in the lives of many children when, contrary to their expectations, Santa scared the living shit out of them. A couple of samples:

Aww, now isn't this just a scene right out of a Rockwell painting? A jolly, smiling Santa and three terror-stricken kids doing their damnedest to get the hell outta there.

Occasionally it might happen that a young child is perfectly justified in being a little nervous about Santa. The Santa in this photo is clearly wrong somehow, don't you think? The mother's smile is evidence of a deep-seated pathology no doubt caused in childhood by her own traumatic Santa encounter.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas in Japan, Factoid #2: The Colonel's Recipe for Christmas Cheer!

[Note: I'm truly sorry about the poor quality of the photo on the right. You see, for one thing it was taken with my cell phone. For another, I was a bit rushed while taking it because several people were looking at me like I was some kind of dork who'd never seen Col. Sanders before. They're right about the dork part, but I actually knew who Col. Sanders was before I came to Japan...]

Many people will try to tell you that there's no traditional Christmas meal in Japan, but I'm here to tell you that they are all damned liars. I know for a fact that every single person in Japan has Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve. You see, they have no ovens in their houses with which to cook turkey. And turkeys are big, whereas pieces of the Colonel's secret recipe chicken are small, and the Japanese like small things (because they themselves are small). Furthermore, anyone caught not eating KFC on Christmas Eve is hauled out of his house and shot in the street for blaspheming the holy spirit of Christmas. You don't fuck around with the Japanese when it comes to holy days...

Viagra Antidote?

[Anyone in Japan has seen this before. It's the name of a "recycle shop" (a second-hand store).]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas in Japan, Factoid #1: Christmas Cake

At Christmas time the Japanese like to eat something called "Christmas cake". This cake is basically a sponge cake covered with whipped cream and topped with strawberries (and assorted "Christmas-y" decorations). If you ask a typical Japanese (and believe me folks, we here at Kyklops have interviewed untold millions in our quest to present you, our valuable readers, with the truth) she'll tell you that, in much the same way as driving an SUV helps one get closer to nature, eating Christmas cake is a deep, meaningful experience for her, a way for her to truly understand the meaning of Christmas. As far as deep, Christmas-y experiences in Japan go, eating Christmas cake probably lies somewhere between chowing down on the traditional Japanese Christmas meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken and boinking your boyfriend/girlfriend at a "love hotel" on Christmas Eve (we'll bring you more on these in future factoids).

Many foreigners seem to be a bit "out of sorts" around Christmas time in Japan, but thanks to Christmas cake and other Japanese Christmas traditions, this gaijin feels right at home. Yes, in Japan I can fully experience Christmas the way it was meant to be...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Great Drum Fills, Pt.1

Few (if any) of you know that I used to enjoy the lofty status of a rock drummer. That's right, I wasn't always a lowly university "professor" (someday I'll explain those quotes). I once had a job that was at least tangentially related to human happiness.
In the spirit of celebrating the rock drummer, I give you (in no particular order) Great Drum Fills, Pt.1:
Drummer: Keith Moon
Group: The Who
Album: Who's Next
Great Drum Fill: (It's Keith fucking Moon, do you need a fucking list?!?!) In "Baba O' Riley", after the lines "Don't cry, don't raise your eye, it's only teenage wasteland", Keith Moon (official Kyklops-sanctioned rock "god") blats out a drum fill that will live forever in the annals of rock.


[Updated 10/4/13: You'll find the drum fill at the 2:30 mark of the clip below.]

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Santa" Post Script

Thanks to a well-placed link from James at Japan Probe, my "Santa" post generated more page hits in two days than I usually get in two or three weeks. Somehow my story also made its way to a blog, Table of Malcontents. As far as blogs go, I'm not talking huge numbers here--a couple hundred visitors in two days. Still, that's a huge spike for this humble site. Witness the chart below:

Heh, yeah, before that link from Japan Probe it was basically family members and a few ex-students (psychos who happen to be stalking me) that visited this little blog. I have to confess, now that hundreds of people have read my blog, I'm feeling a little pressure to "perform", to keep those page hits a-comin'. Well, in case any of my loyal "old guard" readers are worried about the high standards of this blog succumbing to the temptation to sacrifice quality for numbers, I hereby offer this solemn pledge:
I, Kyklops, hereby do solemnly swear to my loyal readership that I shall:
--never make gratuitous posts about "Nude Japanese Girls!!!"
--generally refrain from any mention of "Japanese Pornography!!!" (except in the context of stories dealing with "Strange Sexual Habits of the Japanese!!!")
--never write the phrase "Japanese Girls Want Your White Ass!!!"
--make no mention of the abomination known as "Kitty-chan"

This is my solemn pledge to you, my dear readers. For you are the wind beneath my wings...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I Saw Mommy Kissing a Gaijin Underneath the Mistletoe Last Night

Now that the horror of it all is a couple of days behind, me I guess I can talk about it a bit...

One of the shitty things about living in Japan (or Miyazaki, at any rate) is that the Japanese seem to think that there are some jobs best left to us foreigners. Naturally enough, I guess, this includes stuff like being Santa Claus who, after all, ain't no Japanese. Now, you might be asking yourself, "yeah, but what does this have to do with my buddy Kyklops?" Well, in a perfect world it wouldn't have a fucking thing to do with me, but we all know the world ain't perfect, right? As some of you may know, I happen to have a four-year-old daughter. She attends kindergarten here in Miyazaki. Her kindergarten had a kind of year-end pageant this past Sunday. Each year Santa Claus visits the kids and delivers presents to them. I'm a gaijin. Santa is a gaijin. They asked me to be Santa...

The first few minutes went smoothly enough. I made my grand entrance into the hall ringing a bell and carrying a sack of presents and then made my way to the stage. While I was walking I could feel my "stomach" starting to slide down one leg of this one-piece outfit I was wearing, so I had to pause occasionally and nonchalantly (heh, yeah, right) try to "fix" myself. This perhaps sounds easier to do than it actually was. Anyway, I managed to arrive on-stage with my "stomach" intact and deliver the presents to the headmaster of the kindergarten. So far, so good, I thought. But then things got weird...

I've said here before that my Japanese ability is not very good. It's shit, in fact. Up to this point everything had been going according to script. Suddenly someone gets the bright idea to let a couple of the kids ask Santa some questions. This was definitely not in the script, but I thought maybe I could handle some simple questions in Japanese from the kids. The first kid asked me (Santa) where I was from. Hah! Easy one, I thought, as I answered in perfect Japanese that I was from the North Pole. The next one asked me why I only came at night. I thought at the time that I had done a reasonably good job of saying that I came at night because that's when little kids are sleeping. Later, my wife said that she wasn't really sure what I had said, but that it had sounded something like, "at night I get high so I can read the minds of little children and take their presents away." As you can imagine, "question period" came to an abrupt end, and after a quick farewell jolly old St. Nick was ushered off the stage...

You know, it would be nice to go through an entire day here without making someone think I'm a complete fucking idiot. On the bright side, maybe they won't ask me next year...

Monday, December 11, 2006


It's not like we really needed it or anything, but... Another reason not to have unprotected sex?

Don't forget your shower cap...
[I got a million of 'em...]

Japan-related Sites

Regular visitors may have noticed that I haven't been posting much Japan-specific stuff lately. There are a number of reasons for this, the primary one probably being the simple fact that I'm interested in too many things and don't want to confine myself to just one of them. There's also the fact that there are several sites posting full-time about Japan and in much more depth than I could ever be bothered to get into on any topic (I'm interested in a lot of things, but not that interested in any one thing!). This doesn't mean that I'm going to stop posting about Japan altogether, just less frequently, and on those occasions probably on a more personal level. And of course if I run into any of the ever-popular "weird stuff about Japan" that maybe other sites have missed, or that you simply must see, I'll consider myself duty-bound to post it here.

One site that I've recently been visiting every day is Japan Probe. James (the Admin) has a good balance of links to news stories, weird stuff, videos, and original material.
Another interesting site is Trans-Pacific Radio. These guys also have a variety of news-centered content, but perhaps the distinguishing feature of this site is their "TPR News" podcasts.
Both are worth checking out if you're interested in a more detailed, in-depth look at Japan and Japan-related issues.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ultra Light

Damn, I could really use a smoke right now. Quitting smoking sucks. I'll stick with it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. In fact, I wouldn't recommend starting, either.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Italian Time-keeping

Via Chez, a very funny video. Maybe not everyone has the same sense of humor as me (or Chez), but I laughed so hard and uncontrollably at the "punchline" of this video that a co-worker in the next office came over to see if I was ok. It's a bit "earthy", shall we say, but I don't think any of my regular readers will be offended...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Demon Fuzz: Afreaka!

2005 Re-issue of an unheralded 1970 classic, with three bonus tracks. I can't say enough about how much I like this album. It was all I listened to in my car for a month when I first got it. Hmm... where to begin? From the liner notes: "Imagine a cross between the Latin rock of Santana and the funky progressions of Sly, slow it down a little, and that's about where you'll find Demon Fuzz." But really, there's more. Throw in some Osibisa, Meters, Funkadelic, very early Chicago, and a smidgen of early prog. It adds up to a delicious funky/jazzy/psychedelic blend of mind-blowing, breakbeat-laden glory. Apparently a sampling staple of UK DJs. Listen to tracks like "Disillusioned" and "Another Country" and hear the birth of 'trip-hop'!
You can listen to samples here (All Music Guide).

[UPDATE 09/07/15: You can listen to a complete song here.]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Apparently, just as I've completed my 7th smoke-free week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has launched an "anti-smoking wonder pill". Pfizer is the same company that developed Viagra (er, so I've just read). I wonder if anyone is taking both medications...? Surely you can see the joke potential here. Umm, assuming that you've ever smoked and..., oh, never mind...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day the World Ended!

Sam [Samuel Z. Arkoff] once said he could come into work and make up movie titles out of thin air, and many times a picture was sold based on a title alone, like Day The World Ended! They [Arkoff and James H. Nicholson] were that confident in what they could do.

Ron Waite (in Sam Arkoff and A.I.P.)

I've been (and still am) a bit busy the past few days writing an 'academic' presentation that I'm supposed to give at a conference on Saturday. I've always been inspired by Arkoff's approach to making movies, so I follow it I when I submit proposals for presentations: I come up with a snappy title and don't even begin to think of the details until after it's been accepted. It usually works well for me, but this week my mojo seems to have abandoned me, so I find myself cutting and pasting crap that I've already done and trying to make it fit into the title and abstract that I've already submitted. What? You think nobody else does this? Heh, look around...
Be back after the weekend...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Two Birds, a Bat, and a Dork with a Camera

Sorry, folks, the real world is intruding on my blogging life again. For your, um, viewing pleasure, I give you two birds, a bat, and a dork with a camera:

This is a bird.

This is another bird.

This is a big-ass bat.

Now he's, like, waking up... or something.

This is a dork with a camera. But you already knew that...

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Black Sabbath Show!

This must be seen to be believed. A Black Sabbath cartoon...

Greatest Photoshop of All Time

I don't really have anything to say, except that this is the most brilliant use of Photoshop I've ever seen. This pic has been around for years, so most of you have probably seen it already...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shut the Fuck Up

Rock music has come to a standstill -- it's not going forward any more, it only bores me [...]
--Sting (ex-Police member)

In a stunning display of what-the-fuck-did-he-ever-know-about-rock-music-in-the-first-place, hypocrite and wanker-supreme Sting, in what can only be described as a spasm of irony-blindness, says rock is so boring that he's decided to devote his time to 16th century English ballads. Just for the record, I've got nothing against 16th century English ballads. BUT THEY STOPPED WRITING THEM 500 FUCKING YEARS AGO! What a fucking irrelevant idiot.

UPDATE: Priority Read: You Know, I Used to Be Kind of Cool Once. [Thanks, Mr. Angry]

It's All About Focus

By now everyone has heard about Japan's aging/declining population problem. The Japanese government is on the case, though. They actually have a minister responsible for spurring fertility. Her name is Sanae Takaichi. Oh yeah--she's also the Minister of Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Science and Technology Policy, Innovation, Gender Equality, Social Affairs and Food Safety...

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that, given the Japanese fondness for robots, in the future Japan will likely be populated by a few old geezers (like me) and millions of robots. It will, from end to end, probably look exactly like what you'll find at this site.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Task of Sisyphean Proportions

Greek mythology gives us the wonderful story of Sisyphus. You've heard of Sisyphus, he was the guy who so pissed off the gods that they blinded him and sentenced him to roll a giant boulder up to the top of a mountain. When he was finished he had to do it again. Every day. Forever.

Occasionally some stranger finds his way here to my Kyklopean abode and asks the obvious question: "What's it like teaching English in Japan?" I always point such people in the direction of poor Sisyphus. "Go ask him," I say.

And then of course there's Albert Camus, whose brilliant The Myth of Sisyphus gave Kyklopes all over Japan ample reason not commit seppuku. In fact, by my reckoning, Camus gave us all reason to live:

...Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth... sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain... At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? ...Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory.

I was going to say something witty or sarcastic or ironic here, but I've changed my mind...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Lonely End of the Rink

'Round midnight on a Friday, my family is sleepin' and I'm a-bloggin'. I get a bit homesick at these times, my mind wanders as I ponder my fantasy hockey stats. Yeah..., hockey... what could be more Canadian? Huh? A New Tragically Hip tune with hockey clips? Yeah... I guess that would be more Canadian than just hockey...

"The Lonely End of the Rink": sounds like Japan. The Tragically Hip: sounds like home.

[Update: I'm listening to the new Hip album as I write (never mind where I got it...). It sounds... really fucking good!]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Jesus Was Eaten by Dinosaurs!

I (vaguely) remember having difficulty with the concept of 'history' when I was a small child. I imagined the past as some sort of undifferentiated place containing everything and everyone that wasn't here 'now'-- a kind of Parmenidean 'being', static and frozen. In the past, I imagined, cowboys co-existed with dinosaurs. Of course I had only a vague notion of 'linear time' and almost no notion of the age of the world and the universe. And of course at that early age I wouldn't have been able to articulate it like I just have.

It seems that creationists/intelligent design proponents have similarly childish concepts of space and time. Today, for example, I read a blog entry in which the writer exclaimed "Dinosaurs are in the bible!". I can't bring myself to comment on the actual details of the post, but feel free, dear reader, to follow the link and see for yourself what I'm talking about.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Review for a Movie I'll (Likely) Never See

A while back, in the comments section of another post, I made a joking reference contrasting the stereotypical image of "manliness" in the "wild west" with the movie Brokeback Mountain. I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain, nor am I ever likely to see it, at least not willingly. My aversion to viewing this film has nothing whatsoever to do with a fear or hatred of homosexuals--I really couldn't give a toss what consenting adults do in private. The fact is, I have no interest at all in movies with 'romantic' plots. They bore me to tears. Romantic plots generally score at or near 'zero' on the believability scale in a drama, and in other movie genres romantic sub-plots are gratuitous and just plain annoying (for me, Alien is pretty much the pinnacle of cinematic achievement...).

I only mention this because someone asked me the other day whether I'd seen Brokeback Mountain "yet", as if my life couldn't be complete until I'd seen it. But really, if I'm bored by the on-screen romantic antics of any given actor and actress, I'm not very likely to get excited about watching a couple of guys fall in love now, am I? I mean, I guess anything is possible; I could suddenly become a quivering mass of romantic passion--hell, I could even "turn" gay (I read that some folks believe this is possible). Don't hold your breath, though...

Rap Video Manual

A very cool, intelligent and funny vid by The Roots, What They Do. Check out the captions...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Random Nagasaki Pics

I guess the good thing about posting photos is that, if your readers don't like your pictures, you haven't wasted too much of their time. Since quitting smoking I seem to have quite a few more 'idle moments', so I've been taking a lot of (admittedly, mostly bad) pictures. Anyway, here are a few more from my recent trip to Nagasaki.

A random shot of a residential area in Nagasaki, taken at maximum zoom with less than optimal lighting (you'll get more detail if you click for the larger size image). Not every place in Japan has as many hills as Nagasaki, but this shot gives you an idea of how closely packed things are here.


A scene from Nagasaki's harbor.

A closer view of the bridge in the shot above.

This was taken at Nagasaki's Confucian Shrine.

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Oh Dear...

Some tortured soul found his way here to this post about swearing with the search term "daughter f**k father" (I've asterisked the f-word to avoid exacerbating the situation). I guess this stuff happens, but really, I can do without this kind of page hit...

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Random Nagasaki Photos, Part One

We had a fun-but-tiring trip to Nagasaki this past weekend. Like most Japanese 'holidays' any attempt to actually relax is completely out of the question. No, one must go somewhere and see as many things in one day as is humanly (inhumanely?) possible. Fortunately in Japan one place is never very far from another... Anyway, here are a few pics from the trip...

Ouch! Some silliness with my daughter.

An attempt at "nature photography", taken at an interesting wildlife park ("Bio Park") in Nagasaki Prefecture.

We spent one day at a Dutch-themed resort area called Huis Ten Bosch (please don't ask silly questions, just accept that there's this huge resort area in Nagasaki Prefecture that is supposed to replicate "traditional" Holland; the World Liquor Shop has a nice selection of beer...). This was taken near the "cottage" we stayed in.

What did I tell you?

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Spirit of Radio... Not

One of the oddities of living in Miyazaki is that there are almost no radio stations. I sweep the tuner across the dial and there is only static punctuated by the three or four lonely stations my radio can pick up. In over eight years here I have never gotten into a car and heard a radio; I have never walked into a workplace, shop, or home and heard a radio (the only exceptions to this would be broadcasts of the annual high school baseball championship and/or broadcasts of Japan's games during the world cup); I've never met anyone here who listens to the radio to get the latest news and weather, to hear the latest songs, to find out what's happening in the city, etc. This is vaguely troubling to me, especially when I think about the number and variety of radio stations available to anyone anywhere in North America.

According to the CIA's World Factbook, Japan has 215 unique AM and 89 FM stations. Compare those numbers to Canada's 245 AM and 582 FM stations (while bearing in mind that Canada has about one quarter of Japan's population). Both are dwarfed by the 4,789 AM and 8,961 FM stations in the US.

It's puzzling to me that a wealthy, developed country like Japan has so little happening on the airwaves (there are also relatively few unique television broadcasters). And, unless you're actually here to find out for yourself, you'll have to take my word for it that Japan's broadcasters all have this in common: complete, absolute, and utter shit for content. Literally and figuratively, there's nothing on...

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where the fellers chew tobaccy, And the women wicky wacky woo...

Fellows, if you're arn
I will spin a yarn
That was told to me by Able Seaman Jones.
Once he had the blues
So he took a cruise
Far away from night-clubs and from saxophones.
He said, "Yo Ho, I've made a certain port
And when you talk about real he-man sport":

Hot ginger and dynamite
There's nothing but that at night
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky-wacky
The way they can entertain
Would hurry a hurricane
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky
from "Back in Nagasaki" (1928, by Harry Warren / Mort Dixon)

Well, tomorrow at the crack of dawn I'm off to visit beautiful Nagasaki with my family, so I won't be online for a couple of days. Yes, a respite from my recent whining about not smoking! Since this is a family trip I doubt that I'll have anything to report that's as interesting or exciting as the above lyrics. Hopefully I'll get some good pics, though...

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We must stem the tide...

...of all these damned foreigners coming here to smoke! [Via Japan Probe]

I know, I know, I'm trying to get away from YouTube a bit, but this is just so... appropriate.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm Lovin' It...

Well, I have to say that, after two weeks without so much as a drag on a smoke, I feel completely brain-dead. Seriously. I go online and end up staring at this blog for hours wondering what to write (YouTube and link-trolling just aren't cutting it any more). It doesn't help much that I have to spend several hours a week in a class with equally brain-dead Japanese university students; nor that I'm expected to keep up with the latest brain-dead TEFL theories written by brain-dead foreigners like me whose students, at the end of the day, suck just as much at English as mine do. (The difference being, I suppose, that I'm quite willing to admit that my students are shit and don't see any point wasting time and paper on 'make-work' projects defending their shittiness and their complete apathy toward English specifically and anything remotely interesting generally. I swear Nietzsche must have been thinking about the Japanese when pondering "the last Man".)

Anyway, to celebrate my new smoke-free life my lovely wife thought it might be fun for me to take my daughter to one of those "vintage" photo studios and have our portrait done. The picture you're looking at is the result of our little foray. I think I may have gained a bit of weight since I quit smoking. What do you think?

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Friday, October 27, 2006

At a Meeting Today

This is a pretty common occurrence at meetings in Japan:

Yep. I must see this, oh..., at least once a week...

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Dream Love Chair

The apparatus pictured on the right is the "Dream Love Chair", and is being billed as the "new erotic sensation" (the preceding links should satisfy the visually curious).

There's a story about the Dream Love Chair in this week's WaiWai section of the Mainichi Daily News, which informs us that the chairs are becoming a hot item in Japan's love hotels. According to the article, the Dream Love Chair was designed by a South Korean robotics professor who "enlisted the aid of over 100 couples" to develop the chair through "a process of trial and error." (Read on, and you'll get an idea of what might have been involved in this "process of trial and error".)

Switching on the machine prompts the man's chair to move backward and forward, while the woman's slowly rotates. The machine has a five-gear speed system, with the fastest promising five thrusts per second. There's also a pause button to allow time to consider what's taking place.

Hmm... sometimes I think these stories should have a "pause button" to allow time to consider what I've just read...

Women's seats on the Dream Love Chair have even more functions. They can rotate in either direction at a whopping 10 different speeds! And the seat also vibrates -- at two adjustable speeds!

I'm trying to imagine this... five thrusts per second while the woman is rotating in different directions at variable speeds... Hell probably has amusement parks like this...

What's more, the machine is up to date when it comes to politically correct relations between the sexes, with the controls for the man's chair placed on a panel built into the woman's seat, meaning that she controls the pace and actions to a level suitable to her.

... and she has the remote control? What kind of sick, twisted, masochistic idiot would subject himself to such horror?
But the main effect, [...] is that the machine basically does all the moving for the couple, taking the drudgery out of grinding the pelvis.

Taking the drudgery out of grinding the pelvis? The drudgery? You know, there's a reason why the birth rate in Japan is in decline...

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Charred bodies prone on nuclear wasteland
Buddhas all
Died, never having dreamed what killed them.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi is a 90-year-old man from Nagasaki, Japan. On August 6, 1945, Mr. Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, he was in Nagasaki.
Chew on that for a few seconds...

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Funny... I never felt important...

I've mentioned here before that I'm a smoker. In fact, I've been smoking about a pack a day for over 30 years. Well, today is my daughter's fourth birthday, and I thought that along with the usual cake and presents I'd give her something special. Yep, that's right. As of today I am no longer a smoker. Now I realize all too well that that's much easier said than done (having given it a go countless times before). I guess the difference this time is that the stakes seem higher and time is running out. If I'm going to quit, I have to do it now. If I want to play with my daughter for more than a few more years, I have to quit now. Hell, if I want to see grandchildren, I'd bloody better do it now.

So, for the next while at least, it's nicotine patches and sucking on candies for me. No doubt those around me will have to put up with more crankiness than usual. Please bear with me. I'm on a mission...

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Photo Intermission...

The real world has been intruding and interrupting my ability to spend some quality time with my blog. I'll be back, probably sooner than you'd like...

In the meantime, please pretend to enjoy some of my bad photography...[click for larger view]

This reminds me of something...

Um, some palm trees...

An amusement park...

My daughter at a park...


Some mountains...

In the mountains...

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nuclear Fallout

In case anyone is interested, here's the official announcement (in English) of North Korea's apparently successful nuclear test (from the Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Oct. 9):
DPRK Successfully Conducts Underground Nuclear Test

Pyongyang, October 9 (KCNA) -- The Korean Central News Agency released the following report: The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, Juche 95 (2006) at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation.
It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under a scientific consideration and careful calculation.
The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability.
It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.

The English, as always, is bad. Regular readers of the KCNA may notice, however, a couple of interesting points about this announcement--or, rather, may notice something missing. The first thing I noticed is a complete lack of antagonism toward any of North Korea's enemies (perceived or real). It mentions "self-reliant defense capability", but rather studiously avoids naming names (the "imperialist" Americans, their Japanese "lackeys", and the "traitors" in the south, for example). There are no overt threats at all in the statement, a far cry from previous statements which have pretty much assured nuclear holocaust for anyone who dared mess with them.

Meanwhile, in the short-term at least, the clear 'loser' in this current development has to be a red-faced China, who has yet to show that it belongs on the same stage as the other major players. Talk is cheap, and that's about all China can hope to do right now. South Korea's "sunshine policy" has shown them to be bigger dupes than previous American administrations, and the current U.S. government seems to be just plain impotent when it comes to North Korea. The clear 'winner' in the short-term has to be Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who wants to change Japan's constitution to allow for a real military presence and an expanded role on the world stage. North Korea's nuclear test has opened up a clear path for him.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Vile, Lying Sack of Shit

As a basically Left-leaning, somewhat existentialist kinda guy, I'm not generally prone to feelings of moral certainty and/or moral superiority. But the utter bile spewing forth from the Right, the American Right in particular, these days is pushing me in that direction. Read the following and then ask yourself this question: Am I a better person than Rush Limbaugh?
Via World-O-Crap, Limbaugh 'discusses' the recent sex scandal involving Representative Mark Foley of Florida:
I have to admit, my friends, I’m a little confused about certain aspects of the situation here involving Mark Foley and the page. […]

Now, the liberals also tell us that sex and gender issues are just lifestyles, not choices. Maybe choices in the case of sex changes like the chopadickoffame and the adadictomy, but these are just lifestyle things, gender and so forth, we’re not to condemn. Any two people can love each other, any four people can love each other. You can define your family however you want, including your animal or animals. This we have been taught by the tolerant left among us. Kids can have sex, too. Not with somebody just in their age-group, alternative lifestyles, but not if the person is sexually active but younger, apparently. So we find here that there are limits. There are things that will offend liberals. Or are there? Because I continue to ask, are they really offended by this? How many of them wish they were in on the action?

So, are you a better person than Rush Limbaugh? I'm certain you are...

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DWI: Dialing While Intoxicated

From the Daily Yomiuri, this story about a cell phone attached to a breath analyzer that is becoming popular with bus and transport companies. Apparently there has been a recent rash of incidents involving drunk drivers which has led Japan's Construction and Transport Ministry to impose stricter administrative punishments on transport and other companies "that allowed employees to drive while under the influence of alcohol or did not properly supervise their drivers to prevent such reckless driving habits."
The new system, which uses NTT DoCoMo's FOMA third-generation cell phone equipped with a breath analyzer, is easy to use. First, the driver makes a video-phone call to his or her company and breathes into the analyzer connected to the cell phone. The video image showing the driver blowing into the analyzer and data regarding the alcohol concentration on his or her breath are transmitted to the company and confirmed by computer there.
[...] The company can check the alcohol concentration while watching the video image, eliminating the possibility that a drunken driver might try to get around the system by getting somebody sober to pose as the driver to breathe into the analyzer.

Some companies are using the systems to check alcohol levels before employees begin their shifts, and to check whether someone is driving under the influence the morning after a night on the town.

Personally, I'm in favor of anything that can help reduce the incidence of drunk driving. What worries me, however, is the potential for abuse if this device is put into the wrong hands. I can imagine a time when a breath analyzer is a standard feature on cell phones, especially here in Japan where they love to cram a million useless features into any piece of technology (if I desire it, for example, my current cell phone will emit the sound of maracas when shaken...). Who the hell wants his wife calling him in the middle of a Friday night binge with his buddies so she can check on how much he's been drinking? Now, I'm not talking about myself, of course, no no... It's the principle, the ideal, nay, the sanctity of our cherished notions of liberty and privacy that concern me. Yeah, that's it...

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

I guess parking is a hassle everywhere, but the Japanese are, as usual, especially creative at working around problems of space...

My wife is going to teach me how to do that...

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Fantasy Hockey

My fantasy hockey league completed its draft a couple of days ago. I think I did pretty well, especially at centre and defense, but once the season starts I may have problems on the wings. In goal there's a lot of potential (for success or disaster...).

The league I'm in allows for a roster of 23 players--3 centres, 3 left wingers, 3 right wingers, 6 defencemen, and 2 goalies can start on a given day. There are 6 bench positions, and there are also 2 spots available on the injured reserve if it becomes necessary.

Anyway, here's the team I have as of now (I'm really hoping to trade for an established left-winger who can score, so this might change):

Centre: Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins); Jason Spezza (Ottawa Senators); Brad Richards (Tampa Bay Lightning); Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)
My team absolutely rocks at centre!

Left Wing: Ray Whitney (Carolina Hurricanes); Alexander Semin (Washington Capitols); Nils Ekman (Pittsburgh Penguins); Dmitry Afanasenkov (Tampa Bay Lightning)
I'd like a little more scoring punch here, but there's a lot of potential...

Right Wing: Steve Sullivan (Nashville Predators); Vaclav Prospal (Tampa Bay Lightning); Milan Hejduk (Colorado Avalanche); Colby Armstrong (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Really, there are no bums in this bunch, but a little more firepower would be nice...

Defence: Chris Pronger (Anaheim Ducks); Sergei Zubov (Dallas Stars); Lubomir Visnovsky (Los Angeles Kings); Marek Zidlicky (Nashville Predators); Dan Boyle (Tampa Bay Lightning); John-Michael Liles (Colorado Avalanche); Bryan Berard (Columbus Blue Jackets); Sandis Ozolinsh (New York Rangers)
Incredible scoring power here, but PIM and plus/minus could be a problem.

Goal: Kari Lehtonen (Atlanta Thrashers); Cristobal Huet (Montreal Canadiens); Hannu Toivonen (of my beloved Boston Bruins)
Three young goalies with a lot of potential. I'm a little nervous about this position.

And there you have it, the 2006/2007 Miyazaki Maroons!

Please enjoy some cool hockey highlights!

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Only Rock 'N' Roll...

They wouldn't be heroes if they were infallible, in fact they wouldn't be heroes if they weren't miserable wretched dogs, the pariahs of the earth, besides which the only reason to build up an idol is to tear it down again.
--Lester Bangs

Damn. I've been holding this in for about a week now and, as much as I hate getting all melancholy and nostalgiac here in public, I've got to say something about it. Last Saturday The Rolling Stones played in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my hometown. I was just over at YouTube checking out some videos from the show and found myself on the verge bawling like a baby. Why? Because the Stones have been my favorite band forever, and I've never seen them in concert, that's why. Damn, I wish I could have been there...

In the early summer of 1969 I was not quite 11 years old. I remember listening to the radio one day, a top 40 station in Winnepeg, where my family lived at the time. I remember hearing an ad for some local fast-food chain, followed by 2 or 3 seconds of silence. What followed would blow my mind. A cowbell. A drum beat, funky, but simple. A chunky-chuck guitar. A quick build-up, and then: "I met a gin-soaked barroom queen in Memphis, she tried to take me upstairs for a ride..." I didn't know what this was, and I certainly didn't know what it meant, but I was hooked 10 seconds into the song. The song, of course, was "Honky Tonk Woman" by the Rolling Stones.

Thanks to my parents, I grew up listening to a wide variety of traditional and popular music. Big band, Sinatra, country and western, traditional Irish and Scottish tunes, Elvis, The Beatles... all kinds of stuff. There was always music playing in our house. At the tender age of 10 I was becoming very interested in top 40 tunes and was just starting to build a collection of 45s (singles). It's tempting to say that nothing had prepared me for the Rolling Stones, but the truth is everything had prepared me. I was ready. The sky opened, a ray of light shone down, and I took the Rolling Stones into my heart. They've been my favorite band from that exact point in space and time.

I mean, you can tell they (the Stones) programmed this for maximum inconvenience. You knew at some point during each song you’d have to get up and move the record needle to the next track to escape whatever annoyance was on at that point. And yet, you gladly do it because it’s THE STONES!!!
--Lester Bangs (on Sucking in the 70s)

These days there are other bands I listen to more often than the Stones. And, to be objective about it, the 'golden era' ended for the Stones about 30 years ago. But they are still, and always will be, my "favorite band". A lot of people slag the Stones these days, and their criticism usually boils down to two main complaints: firstly, that their music sucks and has sucked for a long time; secondly, that their constant touring is nothing more than money-grubbing exploitation of their past glory. The only reasonable reponse to the first complaint is this: so fucking what? Frankly, I don't think a reasonable person would listen to Michael Jackson, or Madonna, or Britney Spears, or any one of a million shite "artists" I can think of, but arguing over what is essentially a matter of taste is a waste of time. Nothing, and I mean absolutley nothing I say, no matter how reasoned, how steeped in terms of music history and theory, is going to make someone stop listening to Michael Jackson and start buying Stones albums. Case dismissed...

The first mistake of art is to assume that it's serious.
--Lester Bangs

My initial response to the second complaint is also so what? Since when is it a crime to take the money of willing customers? This response will likely satisfy most, but there will always be some poor, misguided soul who will cry out, "but what about artistic integrity?" Artistic integrity? Sorry, sonny, we're talking about rock 'n' roll here. Sure, it's art, but there ain't no room on the bus for "artists". Show me a guy who picks up a guitar for "art's sake" and I'll show you a fucking wanker. Have the Stones ever fashioned themselves as artists? Does anyone think the Stones are actually embarassed about being old rich guys with hot wives and girlfriends? Hah! It's their philosophy. People can like them or leave them, but they can't be accused of dishonesty. We'll leave that racket to the artistes...

Damn, I wish I could have been there... Even this close...

UPDATE: I located a video that has the original recording of "Honky Tonk Woman". It's really too bad that the enjoyment of this song has been watered down by so many inferior versions (a few of them by the Stones themselves). It's not the best Stones tune ever, but it is one of many rock classics. Enjoy...

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

News Update from the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Just when I was about ready to give up on them, my buddies over at the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have returned with a vengeance. Yes, after months of lazy, uninspired, and --dare I say it?--almost civilized rants against Japan, the U.S. and anyone else who looks like a running-dog lackey of the imperialist hordes, my guys, yes, my guys (for I love them as surely as the sun rises in the east...) are back with a healthy dose of that good old down-on-the-rice-paddy, angst-ridden, I-don't-know-how-to-use-English-grammar-or-vocabulary-and-I-don't-give-a-fuck political invective.

So, what has got "the sun of the nation and mankind" pissed off this week? What maggoty grain of purloined rice has lodged itself 'twixt his teeth? Well, it seems that the Japanese, "bat blind philistines" the lot of them, have had enough of lobbed missiles, kidnapped citizens, imported drugs, and spying. With the support of a U.N. Security Council resolution behind them, Japan last week approved a new set of financial sanctions against North Korea.
The sanctions — called for in a U.N. Security Council resolution that denounced the July launches — ban fund transfers and overseas remittances by groups and individuals suspected of links to North Korean weapons programs.

"By taking these measures, we have demonstrated the resolve of the international community and Japan that is in line with U.N. Security Council resolution," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

"I do not know how North Korea will respond, but I hope North Korea will accept the U.N. Security Council resolution in a sincere manner and respond to various concerns of the international community such as on their missile launches," he said.

I guess you could call North Korea's response "sincere". The Korean Central News Agency (Sept. 25-UPDATE: Sorry, this should say Sept. 26) translates for us from Rodong Sinmun:
Rodong Sinmun Monday ridicules Japan's application of "financial sanctions" against the DPRK as a farce of a jester of a circus troupe. The Japanese authorities, bereft of reason, are foolishly performing short-sighted and senseless buffoonery reminding us of a rural vendor, regarding "financial sanctions" as "a panacea," says a Rodong Sinmun commentary Monday.

[...] Dancing to other's tune, Japan is attempting to pressurize and strangle the DPRK with such "financial sanctions" to drive it somewhere. It is, however, a poor, third-rate diplomacy of bat-blind philistines.

I don't mind telling you right now that I could read this stuff forever. For me it has the essence of, oh, I don't know, Nietzsche on acid...
Japan is whipping itself into senseless frenzy to please the whim of its American master. It is acting flippantly not to fall behind the U.S. in the racket of sanctions against the DPRK. It does not warrant surprise, considering that Japan has made it its physical quality to lick the boots of the American master and tail behind the U.S. It is unseemly for Japan, styling itself "a big power," to behave like this.

Japan's noisy row of "financial sanctions" against the DPRK is a disgusting behavior of a slovenly political charlatan bent on refurbishing his public image by ingratiating himself with his American master and feathering his own nest by following the U.S.

Japan's clumsy and wicked act is a perfidy trampling upon the spirit and requirements of the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration.

You know, if I could get my Japanese university students to speak and write like this, my job would be a helluva lot more fun...
It is an utterly unreasonable sophism to describe the application of the "financial sanctions" as "a catalyzer" for "dialogue." It is a folly rendering the problem more complicated and carrying the DPRK-Japan confrontation to extremes.

It is justifiable and natural for the DPRK to put up a tough rebuff to Japan's desperate political provocation. The situation is very serious and the consequences are unpredictable. Japan would be well advised to behave with discretion, pondering over the serious consequences to be entailed by its harebrained act against the DPRK.

And there you have it. Well, Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, you've been a stranger too long. It's good to have you back and in such fine form. Until next time, farewell, my friends.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Air Sex

This was simply too stupid for me to pass up:

A Japanese man recently won the World Air Guitar Championship in Finland. Less publicized, however, is the fact that Japan has another champion in, um, another "virtual" sport--air sex. According to this story in the WaiWai section (English translations of articles from some of Japan's less 'reputable' magazines) of the Mainichi Daily News, "air sex requires players to simulate sauciness as though with a partner, but actually while alone."
"Air sex was originally invented by guys who couldn't get girlfriends, but desperately want to have sex," J-Taro Sugisaku, the self-professed creator of air sex, tells Weekly Playboy.

Sugisaku discusses some the 'dangers' of air sex:
"You must be warned, though, air sex can be very dangerous," Sugisaku says. "Normally what happens with a display is that you perform the same way you normally would when having sex. I've seen guys who put on air sex shows that clearly display they're still virgins. I've also seen other guys perform such incredibly authentic fake fellatio that nobody has been left in any doubt that they could only be bisexual. Let me reiterate: Air sex can be dangerous."

Hmmm... The reigning air sex champion, who calls himself Cobra, informs us that "successful air sex... involves more than just blowing," and gives some insight into the mental preparation required to be a successful air sex... participant:
"On the day that I reached the top, the day I became world champion, I was thinking of my girlfriend. No, my ex-girlfriend. She'd just dumped me two days before the contest," Cobra tells Weekly Playboy. "The air sex display I put on that day was, in my mind at least, supposed to be the farewell fling I really wanted to have with my girlfriend. It was the best possible condition I could have been in going into the competition."

Now close your eyes and imagine this:
Cobra then proceeds to put on an 8 1/2-minute display of air sex for the weekly, with moves including ear nibbling, sphincter licking, attaching a condom while kissing, ejaculation and afterglow. Cobra says that the knack of bogus bonking lies in openness.

If you're still here, Cobra has some advice for aspiring air sex 'artists':
"You can't care about what women watching your performance are thinking about you. When you get down to air sex, you've got to immerse yourself in the air sex world," Cobra says. "Air sex can't be performed in half-measures. If it is, you're only asking for trouble."

Sugisaku concurs, explaining that "if you get nervous, air sex is impossible. A good start is understanding your own sexual habits and going on from there." Truly words to live by...

UPDATE: In a classic case of 'I wish I'd thought o' that', Eli at Multi Medium asks, "... do they achieve airgasm?"

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Game On!

Hockey has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, living in Miyazaki means that I rarely get to see any games, and then only on TV. These days I 'experience' hockey pretty much exclusively through my pc. To my knowledge there is only one skating rink in all of Miyazaki Prefecture. It's outdoors, is only open for a few weeks in winter, and is located atop Ebino Plateau, making access in wintertime somewhat difficult. I went there for the first time last winter and had a blast dazzling the locals with my (very rusty) skating abilities.

Anyway, the National Hockey League pre-season has begun, and my attention is beginning to turn to hockey. I'm quite aware that, of the handful of regular readers I have here, probably none know much about hockey and may not be interested in it at all. To the hockey 'unwashed': I plan to post occasionally on the topic of hockey, in a non-technical, general-interest, and (I hope) sometimes humorous style. I'm not going to try to 'teach' hockey to anyone (although there will generally be links aplenty for those who want to find out more). I simply want to share my passion, gentle readers! Game on!

Behind every great hockey player is a... coach, who imparts his knowledge, his passion, and his philosophy of the game to the impressionable young minds and bodies of the players in his charge. In the video below, future Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings reminisces about a memorable coach from his past, the inimitable Jules Winnfield...

In football (soccer) they have something called a penalty kick. In hockey we have a penalty shot. Watch the brief video below, and then tell me which seems more interesting...

You'll never see anything that cool in a penalty kick!

[Note: A complete comparison of penalty kicks/penalty shots would require me to get into more technical details than I want to do here. If anyone wishes to pursue a more technical discussion on this or any other hockey-related topics, as they arise, please feel free to post a comment.]

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Wash my mouth out with soap...

Once upon a time, in a land far away, on the internet, I directed the following 'flame' at a long-forgotten opponent, in a long-forgotten argument having something to do with insects:

So tell us, o entymylogically(sp?) wise one, what the fuck does this have to do with the original post? Since you're obviously some kind of mutated cockroach, you've got nothing to win or lose, although it appears as if you've lost your antenae for common sense. Go back to the garbage heap you worhtless shit gulping less than a maggot brained wart on a shit infested ant's ass. While you're at it- fuck off.

I don't have much to say for myself, except that in those days the internet was, for me, one long flame war. In the years since writing the above, aside from learning how to spell 'entomologically', I've learned to, shall we say, control my tongue (if not my temper) a bit more. Cursing and swearing and snide comments, after all, tend to lose their appeal when the potential target (in my case Japanese-speaking people) is not likely to understand what you're talking about. Of course, as any of my ex-pat drinking buddies could tell you, I can still peel the paint off buildings with just a few choice words when the mood hits. Generally speaking, though, I'm a much mellower guy than the lout that wrote the words above, which leads me to something that happened this morning...

Like most English-speaking guys (at least the ones I know and associate with!), it's fairly common for me to use the words 'fuck' and 'shit' as exclamatory statements: "oh, for fuck sake!", "fuck it!", "fuck, yeah!", "ahh, shit!", and "holy shit!" being but a few examples. This morning, I was making coffee in the kitchen. I thought I was alone. One of the things I hate about Japan is that it sometimes seems as though all of the interior designers here are thinking about dwarves or people who never have to stand up living in their creations... Anyway, I'm in the kitchen making coffee and I think I'm alone, when suddenly I give my head its daily bash, this time into the corner of an overhead cupboard. Fuck, did it hurt! "Fuuck!!", I yelled. And then my daughter walked around the corner and said, "nande 'fuck', Daddy?" As much as my head hurt, I felt a bit ashamed.

Nande means 'why', so my daughter was asking me why I said 'fuck'. She didn't say, "'fuck' nan desu ka?" ("what is 'fuck'?" or "what does 'fuck' mean?"). I'm fairly certain that my 3-year old doesn't know the meaning of 'fuck'. But by asking me why I said 'fuck' she showed a pretty good understanding of one of the word's functions in English. She heard me say 'fuck'. She saw me holding my head in pain. If she could say it in English, she would have said "what happened?". Barring that, she wondered what made me say 'fuck'. Clearly she's heard me say it before...

I'm a rotten father, doomed to spending the rest of his days in fear. Fear that one day, sooner or later, my little girl will, in the presence of her mother--my wife, fall down, or bump her head, or drop her ice cream, and at that fateful moment she'll scream the dreaded word. And I'll be fucked...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Poet Statesman...

From my recently-met friend, Chez, at Smells Like White Spirit. I give you the President of the United States of America, poet statesman:

by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!