Get Shafted in December.

There's lots going on in our little home away from home over the next month. One big event will be the 7th Anniversary Party on December 9th with special guest DJ Kawasaki (don't worry I don't know who he is either.) It costs 3 grand to get in but you get a drink and a Zima. Hopefully you can trade the Zima in for a real drink.

And of course the event of the year will be the Echophonyk Christmas party on December 22nd. I did this flyer myself and am quite proud of it. Only 1500 to get in and if you wear a stupid Santa hat or a pair of Reindeer antlers, you get THREE drinks! More details a time draws closer...

Did you know that if you click on the above pictures, you actually get a closeup of it? I just discovered this trick recently. It only works with pics from my scanner or digital camera and not my mini-shots taken with my camera, but it is still pretty nifty!
Apart from these two flyers, go click on that spider from a few posts back-it's really creepy!
The Pony Tails...

are phony tales.

I saw another Live event at ENN house hosted by The Pony Tails and some of the acts I'd seen before. It started off with Junkie Business, then Gypsy Lady, the CHICKEN masters, The Pony Tails and ending with VIOLETS. I only really liked the Pony Tails set, I just wasn't in a punky/ hard rock/ soft rock mood. The nice thing was that they gave out a free CD Sampler with a tune from each band. If anyone is interested, I'll send them some tunes digitally, just give me a dingle. I also bought a PonyTail mini cd with 5 songs for only 300yen...beat that Itunes!

I chatted with a few of The Pony Tail members and hopefully we can get them out to do a Shaft gig next year sometime. My only complaint with them is that none of them wear ponytails. Not exactly truth in advertising, eh? But then again, I don't think the other bands were eponymous either, no gypsies, masters of chickens, junkies or violets were in attendance.
With respect to Kent Brockman.

I tried to change the picture on my profile to this:

But I couldn't figure out how to post it. Any ideas?


Faster than a streak of lightning...

I've got a lot on my plate right now, and though I have lots of useless stuff to blog about, I'd rather not at present.

So instead, here's another classic Superman where he fights the Japanese. I recall seeing this years ago, but I don't ever remember the opening as being different from the vintage "Faster than a speeding bullet."

Enjoy the "11th Hour"...


Pythagorean Switch.

NHK or the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, is the Nihon version of the CBC, BBC or PBS. One of their kid's programs designed to teach them how to think "out of the box" is “Pitagora Suicchi” (ピタゴラスイッチ). We know of these physics wonders as Rube Goldberg inventions, but over here they pay tribute to Pythagoras with the Pitagora suicchi. I must say that it is extremely inventive (though the music gets a tad tedious.)

I find the best way to watch this video is while watching Sumo on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Poise your finger on the pause button and glance over at a Sumo match, then when the commentators begin to ramble, watch a few of the inventions and then switch back to the tv in time for the next match. If you don't have Sumo, then you're out of luck, you have to watch the whole video.



Happy Labour-Thanksgiving! (Kinro Kansha no hi)

It became a holiday in 1948 as a day for citizens to express gratitude to one other for work done throughout the year and for the fruits of those labors. But it is actually a modern name for an ancient rice ritual called 新嘗祭 Niinamesai (Harvest Festival). In the ritual, the Emperor makes the season's first offering of freshly harvested rice to the gods and then chows down on the rice himself.

After World War II, Labour-Thanksgiving Day was established to mark the fact that fundamental human rights were guaranteed and rights of workers were greatly expanded in the postwar Constitution. Today, Labour-Thanksgiving Day has become a national holiday while Niinamesai is celebrated as a private function of the Imperial Family.

In the suburbs of Tokyo, nursery school pupils present drawings and handicrafts to local police officers, who (supposedly) look after their safety every day.

I'm thankful just to have a job. What are you thankful for?


A Stag and Two Does.

We last left our hero, walking down the street with two young lasses on his arms... when all of a sudden, we were bombarded by a drunken hoard of gaijin stumbling towards us on a mission to get even more drunk. Lo and behold if it wasn't Ando and the boys celebrating the impending ball & chain of one of their friends. So the print club idea was thwarted and we all merrily wandered to this little 居酒屋 (izakaya = pub) that passes itself off as a rugby club. My two companions were initially willing to join a dozen inebriated, horny blokes but Motoko's friend imbibed a bit too much and they bowed out. I walked them down the street and bid farewell and then wandered back hoping to find the pub again.
Then things got weird. The booze flowed freely, Alex showed up and everyone continued to get drunker. When talk started about heading to the strip club, my sanity (and lack of funds) got the better of me and Alex and I sequestered ourselves in 305. But not before the tragedy occurred...

The groom, before...


...and after.

O-hisa shi buri means long time no see, and I hadn't seen Motoko for several months. Last time I saw her, she was performing a traditional Japanese dance and we hadn't actually spoken for about a month prior to that. In the interim, I'd been to Canada and back to school and she spent a month in Scotland with 60 of her classmates on a homestay. So we had a lot of catching up to do our reunion.

While waiting for me, she bumped into a friend who ended up joining us for an all you can drink (and Manoman, do they lose money on those when she cuts lose!) We chatted and gossipped and as we were moving on to get ourselves emblazed in a プリクラ (puri-kura or print club), events took a very odd turn...
Dam it all!

En route back, we stopped at the Miyatoko Dam (宮床ダム) to glance at the lovely view on a lovely day. Here are a few pics I took.

A cool looking shrine-type thing. I don't know what it says, but it is interesting.

I love spiders in the fall in Japan. This is when they tack on the feed bag and chow down on all sorts of bugs to fatten themselves up for the winter. This menacing fellow must have just finished lunch as well.

This is the view from the dammed up part of the damn dam. It's nice for picnickers and walking one's dog or throwing a frizbee.

Dam nice view.

Dam nicer view.

Nice view until he showed up to block it.

One cool thing were the paintings of oni, telling a story about how the valley, mountains, river etc. were created.

If you look at the picture of the oni and then glance at the scenery, you can imagine the character anthropomorphized in the landscape. It's a pretty cool effect and works for most of the drawings.


Butte of my jokes.

On Saturday, Emi (a friend who I haven't seen much of since her nuptials)and I drove out to Montana. It's quite a drive to get to the actual State, so we opted to go to "The Best Kept Secret in Town", a restaurant called Montana. It can't be too secretive, for the place was packed and a dozen guests showed up as we were leaving. It's a nice cozy restaurant that serves steak and burgers and other "downhome American food". I had a chili burger sandwich (I'm certain it would be less messy were it to come in a bun, but then it wouldn't be downhome.) The beer was over carbonated, but otherwise it was a yummy meal.

The decor is fresh out of "Tacky Homes & Gardens" but the glowing fireplace was inviting to kick back and relax. (We didn't.) If you're interested in going, it's about an hour's drive from Sendai but you'll have to call for directions (022-346-5822.)


Happy Blogiversary!

This is my 400th post! I can hardly believe it. Maybe about 30 of them are good, but I've had fun doing all of them. So here's some PeeWee Herman for you to help me celebrate:

Koreans and Chinese and Russians, oh my!

Today, we had a drill today. I wasn't told what we were drilling for, but upon the loud Weewop of the alarm, we were instructed to duck under our desks. Upon the next bellow, everyone then evacuated to the gymnasium. The entire procedure took about 15 minutes to get everyone to the gym and accounted for. I don't know if that is a very good time, but in a real emergency, I believe there'd be many casualties.

This photo depicts what I suspect we'll be making in the next Arts & Crafts session.


Oh, Yeah? Sue me!

Or おやすみ (o-yasumi is equal to "Good night".) It's beddy-bye time for me and so before I go here are some onomatopoeic phrases to describe sleeping.

kokkuri kokkuri こっくり こっくり nod off
guu guu ぐうぐう fast asleep and snoring
gussuri ぐっすり sleep soundly
manjiri まんじり not sleep a wink
suya suya すやすや sleep peacefully
toro toro とろとろ or uto uto うとうと doze off
Mmmmmm. Chalky goodness.

On my way home from work, I decided to pick up some of that "chitose ame" mentioned in the previous post. I managed to get the last one and it was on sale! These pictures show the packaging and if you look above the crane, you can see a pink and a white piece of chalk. I gnawed on a small piece and it tastes just like sweetened chalk. Not too yummy and great for pawning off on my students tomorrow. The best thing about it is the packaging!
Happy 7-5-3 Day.

November 15 is 七五三 Shichi-go-san, a day of prayer for the healthy growth of young children. Shichi-go-san literally means seven, five, three; in most regions around the country, boys and girls aged three, boys aged five, and girls aged seven visit a Shinto shrine (神道神社) with their parents. Most girls wear 着物 kimono when making their Shichi-go-san visit, while boys don 羽織 haori jackets and 袴 hakama trousers. In recent years, though, an increasing number of children are wearing Western-style dresses and suits.

Following the visit, parents generally buy 千歳飴 (chitose-ame =longevity candy) for the children. The candy is shaped like a stick and comes in a bag that carries illustrations of cranes 鶴 (ツル=tsuru) and turtles 亀 (カメ=kame)--two animals that are symbols of long life. Chitose literally means a thousand years and is used to denote very long periods of time. The candy and the bag are both expressions of parents' wish that their children lead long, prosperous lives.


More Robots...Danger, Danger!

The other day I warned you about Robots taking over, well here they are taking over our cinematic masterpieces...

Luke, I am your ...

Father?/ Mother?/ Cat?/ Gay lover?/ Help me out here!!


Babies, bring out your babies...

Stork Alert! This is just too choice, not to share it in its entirety. It was in the Japan Times on Friday and a new initiative to stave off the declining population has been discovered...Here goes:

Friday, Nov. 10, 2006
<"Don't want your baby? Drop it off."
KUMAMOTO (Kyodo) A hospital here plans to create a drop box where parents can anonymously leave unwanted babies, hospital officials said Thursday.

Jikei Hospital said it will begin the work to create the drop box as soon as it obtains permission from local public health authorities. The hospital wants to set it up by the end of the year.

Drop boxes for abandoned babies have been introduced in Germany, where they are known as a "babyklappe" (baby flap) or "babyfenster" (baby window) in German. In Italy, they are called "culle per la vita" (cradle for life).

A Jikei Hospital official visited Germany, where they are usually set up at hospitals or social centers, in 2004.

Jikei Hospital said its baby drop box, called コウノトリの揺り籠 (or "konotori no yurikago" -cradle of storks), will be a boxlike chamber similar to an incubator, accessible from outside the hospital by opening a window. When a baby is dropped off, an alarm will alert nurses.

The hospital plans to introduce the abandoned babies to an adoption system through the local administration, through which there are some 160 couples across the country who have registered with the Okayama Prefectural Medical Association.

The hospital will also post leaflets informing the parents on how to reclaim their children if they have second thoughts.

Hospital director Shoichi Hasuda said the baby box "is an emergency measure and is not aimed at encouraging parents to abandon babies." He said he hopes to "see a reduction in the number of abandoned newborns and unhappy abortions."

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, in fiscal 2004, the number of abortions in the prefecture stood at 5,619, while the nationwide figure came to 301,673. No figures were available on abandoned babies in Japan, which is struggling to find ways to stem a falling birthrate.

This would be the first such facility in Japan, Jikei said. Some institutions in Okayama and Fukuoka prefectures are also eyeing similar initiatives.

Kumamoto Prefectural Police said they will make a judgment based on law and evidence on each case of a baby abandoned if it constitutes a crime.

Article 218 of the Penal Code sets penalties for guardians who have neglected to perform their duties to protect the elderly, infants, disabled or sick people.

The Kumamoto Municipal Government said it has found no problems under medical laws because a hospital can check a baby's health and is there to protect a baby's life.>

Much more effective than birth control or family planning, don't you think?
The political bent...

I have nothing funny to say about the US elections, but these guys get paid to do it, so they can speak for me. And some them are actually amusing (except Jay, he's never amusing.)



This is a term I just coined to mean: The fear of Snakes on a Plane.
スネークフライト or Snake Flight, as it is known over here (another kick-ass title, I must say) was released to minimal box office glory a few weeks ago. Seeing as today is the second-last day, and as it is メンズデー (Men's Day or only 1000¥for guys), I had to check it out. The half a dozen other guys who also saw it, weren't as amused as I was and I politely had to stifle my guffaws upon several occasions. Needless to say, I went into it expecting a stupid but fun movie and I certainly was not disappointed. It was a stupid but fun movie!

Although everyone who has ever logged onto the internet is aware of the line, "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!", I'm sure they had to wait until they actually viewed the movie (or on-line) in order to hear it loquated by Samuel L. Jackson. Not so over here in Japan...I have heard that line bellowed out on commercial television in the middle of the day. No prudish censorship in Japan!

Without further ado...that line:

Alas this is what the Japanese translation of the above cool line renders:

俺様はヘビも飛行機も大嫌いだ!Oresama wa hebi mo hikoki mo daikirai da!
Which translates to, "I really hate snakes and planes!" Not quite as dramatic, is it?


Today's Political Post.

I could wax eloquently about the election results across the puddle in Amerika but I have nothing profound to say.

So instead, I'll post a bunch of photos that I took last week at Ando's school's Halloween party.

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

Pirate meet Shelob.

Party people. Disappointingly, only about 3 kids dressed up!

Short John Silver was cranky.

A Screamer and a Bat-head.

Which witch is which?

A ballerina and two Sailormoon characters. A hint to mothers: if you don't want your son to be bullied all his life, don't dress him up as Sailor-Uranus!

The highlight of the party was a well placed cockroach. I had been frightening the mothers with my handy-dandy plastic cockroach and I decided to spook one of the teenage girls. I chose a "rather well-endowed for a 13-year old" girl and tossed the roach at her, and sure enough, it went straight down her cleavage! We all had a good chuckle over that one...


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