Monday, December 31, 2007

Done with Mirrors

A familiar and favorite subject, there are probably a million of these mirrors in Japan. Their purpose is to assist drivers through blind intersections. I frequently walk past this particular one while I'm out walking with my daughter. Click to enlarge.

Oh, and have a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cool Spider

There are a lot of big, cool-looking spiders in Miyazaki. Here's one of them (click to enlarge):

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bloody Fucking Hell

Of all the stupid, I mean really fucking stupid things, this has got to be the saddest, stupidest thing. Bloody fucking hell. Fuck.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seagulls (2)

Continuing from the previous post (click to enlarge)...

Seagulls (1)

During a trip to Nagasaki last weekend we took a short ride on a ferry. As usual, where there's a combination of the sea, ships, people, and food there are usually a lot of seagulls flying and hovering around. There were so many that I figured it would be a simple matter to snap a few half-decent pics, but I soon found that the constant motion of the birds made this an almost impossible task.

In this post and the next I'm putting up six photos that I took, six out of over a hundred! I've mentioned before that I don't consider myself to be a "real" photographer (i.e. in any "professional" sense of the word), so I apologize if others don't quite share my enthusiasm for the photos I post here. Having said that, however, I think that my skills are slowly improving, especially in working with the "raw" pictures to turn out something that's (to me, at least!) pleasing to the eye.

Anyway, here are the first three (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blue Christmas

A little late, I guess, but here's my obligatory Christmas post, in the form of a present--a good tune.

Friday, December 21, 2007

You Can Dig This Bull's Shit

You might never guess it, given my frequent ravings about death metal and such, but this is one my favorite tunes of all time:

And really, what's not to like? I mean, deep down, isn't it all just death metal?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's the Real Thing

Yesterday morning I happened to be standing outside our local supermarket enjoying a tasty can of hot coffee that I'd just purchased from a vending machine (and which, coincidentally, happened to have the name "Tasty"). I was standing there drinking my coffee in a general daze when from around the corner of the building appeared an obaasan ("grandmother") riding a bicycle. On the back of the bike, riding shotgun, was her (I assumed) grandson. They were both wearing black surgical-type masks. (Many people in Japan wear this type of mask when they catch a cold or the flu, etc. I haven't seen many people wearing black ones...) Almost simultaneously a big red Coca Cola truck pulled up to the front of the vending machines...

The obaasan stops her bicycle pretty much directly in front of the entrance to the supermarket, and she and her grandson dismount. The kid heads into the store, and as he's doing so the woman mumbles something, grabs a shopping cart, and shoves it in after the kid just as the automatic doors are closing. As this is happening two guys are getting out of the Coke truck with the purpose of re-stocking the vending machines. The old woman, who now appeared to me to be almost certainly crazed, tugs down her mask, plants a cigarette between her lips, lights it up, and begins mumbling. The Coke truck guys and I are doing our best to pretend she doesn't exist...

Suddenly the woman breaks out of her mumble and begins directing her comments to the Coke guys. I could only glean the general gist of it, but she seemed agitated about the generally poor sanitation of the parking lot, which she seemed to be attributing to "no-good" taxi drivers emptying their ashtrays and "bad" kids throwing away their candy wrappers. The Coke guys are smiling and nodding as they re-stock the machines. I'm looking for my escape route. She glances in my direction and, momentarily startled, she realizes that I'm a foreigner. I begin calculating how many seconds the dash to my car would take...

The old woman quickly glances around and her eyes come to rest on the door of the Coke truck. "What's this?" she says to the two men, pointing at the door, which has the familiar "Enjoy Coca Cola" logo emblazoned upon it. "It's kind of strange, isn't it?" Oh my, I think to myself, she's a wily one. Since they've been addressed directly, the Coke guys are bound by politeness to respond. "What do you mean?" they ask. Here it comes, I'm thinking. She takes a step toward the truck, thrusts out her arm, and places her index finger squarely on the "j" of "Enjoy", and asks, "Why is there a "period" over this letter? That's wrong, isn't it?"

I felt like I'd just been punched in the face. I was stunned. The Coke guys were dumbfounded, jaws a-droop. As galaxies to stars, so was this woman's evil to that of ordinary folk. It was at that very moment that her nefarious intent made itself manifest. The Coke guys, as one, turned and looked at me...

I smiled at the Coke guys and shrugged. I finished my coffee, deposited the can in the recycle bin, and walked to my car. I drove to work.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Murder of Crows

Well, maybe not quite a murder... Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge (if you insist...).

Heh, yeah... Umm, moving right along...

Friday, December 14, 2007

(S)He Memes Well...

My blogging friend (and closet leg pervert!) Absolute Vanilla has tagged me with some sort of "viral story" meme-type thingie.

Here are the terms & conditions (apparently from Splotchy, the originator):
"This has probably been done before, but that is not stopping me, oh no.
Here’s what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don’t know how realistic it is, but that’s what I’m aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it’s okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that’s five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.”

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

My first idea was to put the applesauce in the microwave. Hey, I was still tired. Could I scoop some out and put whipped cream on it? No, too solid. Why was it so damn cold in here? I walked over to the thermostat and saw that the heat hadn’t clicked on all night and the temperature had dropped substantially overnight. Now, tired and hungry, I opened the access panel on the heater. There’s the problem: why was someone cooking a duck in here? (SamuraiFrog)

I grabbed the bird and bit into a leg. It tasted like cheese. Or chicken. What kind of weird duck was this? I spat out the rancid meat and threw the rest of the duck in the bin.
Jackson strode into the kitchen, his short dreadlocks bouncing lightly around his face.
“Is my duck ready yet?” he said as he turned towards me. “Hey man, put some clothes on!”
Shit, I had forgotten to put on my boxers. (PJ)

Which explained why I was so damned cold. I grabbed a tea towel and tried to make myself look half decent.
Jackson snorted, "You'd do better with a fig leaf!" Yeah, well, whatever.
"So, where's my bird?" Jackson asked.
"In the bin," I snapped, "where it should be - thing died long, long ago."
"You binned my bird?" Jackson's eyes had started to bulge with rage. "Why you..."
"It would've killed you," I yelled as he lunged at me, the breadknife in his hand. "Damn! It was only an off-duck!" (Absolute Vanilla)

"An off-duck? Fuck off," he screamed, his arm poised to bring the knife plunging down into the general direction of my now racing heart. He stopped short.
"Hey, isn't that tea towel part of the set my auntie gave to me last year?"
"Er, yeah, I guess so..."
"What the fuck are you doing covering your ding-a-ling with it?"
"My "ding-a-ling"...?"
"Yeah, your prick, arsehole. Jesus, you never heard of Chuck Berry?"
I'm naked, I'm covering my "ding-a-ling" with Jackson's auntie's tea towel, and I've just binned his bird.
The doorbell rang. (Kyklops)

I tag (out of sheer spite and/or revenge):
The Usual Stuff

Unfinished Sweet

Ack... In a few minutes I'll be making my 18th trip to the dentist's since September. Extractions, root canals, filing, grinding, drilling, scraping, digging, needles injected directly into exposed nerves, the indignity of being "taught" how to brush my teeth correctly...

I grow weary...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Girl and Boy

Taken recently at a park in Miyazaki (Shiminomori Koen). Click to enlarge.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Public Gardens of Halifax

Busy, busy, busy!! Too busy right now to be giving much attention to blogging. This should change soon. In the meantime, some pics of Halifax's Public Gardens taken during my (now not-so-recent) trip back home in the summer (click to enlarge):

Monday, December 03, 2007


It's almost too much for my senses to take in, let alone absorb...

In the parking area of my hotel I saw a "traffic control" guy wearing a gun. Just outside the hotel's entrance there was a military guy with a "sniffing" dog checking luggage for drugs and/or explosive materials. Entering the hotel I had to pass through a metal detector and have my shoulder bag scanned for anything dangerous. Later, while walking around, I saw a guard with a machine gun standing outside a different hotel. Entering a shopping center I had to pass through another security checkpoint...

Manila seems like some kind of radical capitalist's wet dream. There are "money changers" everywhere. In just a couple of hours walking in the area around my hotel I was approached at least 20 times by different people offering to sell me a wide variety of stuff--cigarettes, flowers, "gold" coins, food items, watches ("Rolex", "Omega", etc.). One guy had "Cialis" and "Viagara" on offer. I'm fairly certain that most the "name" items were fake, but I didn't really look too closely...

I had a great lunch at an outdoor shop--"chicken diablo" (very spicy and tasty) and a couple of San Miguel beers. It cost about three dollars, including the beer. In my hotel it costs about eight bucks for a beer...

This evening while having a beer outside a bar, an old lady approached me shaking a tin cup and making hand-to-mouth gestures. She wanted some coins. A few minutes later a five-year-old girl did the same. A few more minutes later a young woman (I think a teenager) holding a baby...

Earlier I had noticed that there seemed to be a lot of naked little kids wandering around. I saw one of them take a shit on a piece of newspaper that his mother had placed on the sidewalk. I saw another little kid, naked and apparently alone, sleeping on the sidewalk...

Everyone here calls me "sir". It's a bit unsettling...

Manila seems very alive. In fact, it seems like the essence of life itself...

Opening Salvo

Heh, cool. My first blog post from a hotel room. And I'm drinking beer, too! You'd think an almost-50-year-old guy could think of something a bit more... reflective to say on such an auspicious occasion, but fuck it. I've decided that I rather like blogging and drinking in hotel rooms, and I don't care what the neighbors might think...

[Note to self: it's all fine and dandy to have rockin' tunes on the laptop, but next time you'll have to remember that laptops have crap speakers... more beer might "fix" the problem, though...]

Great song title (and pretty good tune, too): ZZ Top: "A Fool for Your Stockings".

Fukuoka is a good, fun city (about the same size as Vancouver), and I recommend it to anybody visiting Kyushu, but I've been here a million times. Bring on Manila!

You already knew this: Repeated listening has led me to believe that Dream Syndicate must have heard a few Velvet Underground albums...

A good friend told me that when he was in Manila one time the band Rage Against the Machine was staying at the same hotel. In the hotel lobby they had a sign that read "Welcome, Rage Against the Machine!" Thinking about this induces the giggles...

This is why the Japanese will conquer the world (thanks Japan Probe):

For all the talk about the iphone, I can't think of a single reason why anyone in Japan would want to buy one--collectors aside (and really, compared to what's available here, it's an antique). (Prompted by my purchase yesterday of a new keitai).

Chuck Berry's "Nadine" must surely be ranked among the greatest performances of all time. Chuck fuckin' Berry! Ouch!

More ZZ Top: "Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell". You know, back in my drum-playin' daze, ZZ Top had almost god-like status. Not because they were "fashionable", and not because they were "cutting edge" (although Eliminator, in my opinion, ranks as one of the most ground-breaking rock albums of all-time). No, ZZ Top just played like everyone else could only dream of playing, they were every rocker's favorite band...

Ahh... The Yardbirds... now there was a band...

Early flight tomorrow, must sleep...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Parting Shots

In about an hour I'm going to Fukuoka and then tomorrow morning I'm off to Manila for a few days. I'm taking my laptop for this trip, so I might do some blogging from abroad (assuming I have something to say about anything).

Anyway, a couple of parting shots (click to enlarge)...

[NOTE: I've just become aware that Blogger is experiencing some sort of glitch in which, if you click newer photos, you'll be prompted to download them in order to view them. Please be advised that it's not malware or any other sinister stuff. It's perfectly safe to download the pics if you like. (Thanks Brendan.)]

[Update: The issue appears to have been resolved.]

Vending Machines, No. 11

Click to enlarge.