2007-03-31

Happy April Fool's Eve.

Today is a very slow day, but tomorrow promises to be packed with parades & pranks. In what seems like an April Fool's Day joke, the Second Annual St. Patrick's Parade will be held tomorrow. Hopefully there'll be a better turnout than last year, but the weather may have an adverse effect on the outcome (it's really pissing down now, for instance.)

Contrary to what this site, April Fool's might have you believe, エイプリルフールデー is not a big event in Japan in general. In a survey taken, the following results were recorded:
Q1: Did you remember about April Fool this year? (Sample size=331)
Forgot it: 31.4%
Remembered it: (to Q2) 67.1%
Don’t know what April Fool is: 1.5%

Q2: What did you do for April Fools Day? (Sample size=222, multiple answer)
Told a little white lie to friends or family, face-to-face or by phone: 21
Told a little white lie to friends or family, by PC or mobile email: 9
Viewed an April Fool web site: 5
Published a little white lie on my blog or personal home page: 3
Participated in an April Fool web site: 1
Didn't do anything: 187

But the parade tomorrow is NOT a joke, so if you're downtown after 12:00, watch it, walk in it or just buy some Irish goodies.

Now if you happen to be near Kawasaki tomorrow, it's Willy time and you should go see the Festival of the Steel Phallus. I'll have some reporters in attendance, so I can give you a review later.

Have a Bonne Poisson d'Avril tomorrow!

2007-03-30

Top Ten 10s...

This is supposed to be a list of the Top 10 Sexy Japanese Bikini Model Videos but I have a hard time choosing a favourite. Guaranteed, you will be frustrated trying to link to most of the videos because YouTube has deGooglified most of them.

This is supposed to be a list of the Top 10 beautiful Japanese female celebrities and again have fun trying to link to them. (I've given you one...藤原紀香 (Norika Fujiwara) because I saw her in a really cheesy action movie once.)

But the main list that I want to post is: The Top 10 Cute Women that have dated me more than once. This will be in no discernable order, nor will it be a "Kiss & Tell" expose for I neither want to offend the ladies nor boast of my conquests (mainly because I rarely get to first base, let alone come to bat!)

So here they are:












There's plenty more. Later...
An Anime-ted Top 10.

Anime rocks. I don't really need to elaborate on this so I'll provide a link to the Top 10 Anime series. You may agree or disagree, I'll let you guys fight it out. I'm more into the toys, than the series myself, but if I had to choose a favourite, I'd go with Cowboy BeBop (カウボーイビバップ).

Click here to see a trailer.
Top 10 something or other.

I want to do a Top 10 list to celebrate my anniversary, but I can't really decide what topic. So I'll do lots of Top 10s.

Here are the Top 10 Animal Acts on Japanese TV.

Watch this video and if you like it, click on a few more videos at the above link. (Unfortunately, YouTube has purged so many videos, I can't guarantee their availability.)

It's Pocky, Mon.



An Easter Egg from the Superman DVD.

I'm working on my anniversary post, but still haven't figured out what I want to do. This should tide you over until then:

The Emperor's Sword!


While I'm waiting for GeGeGe to come to theatres, I'll have to make do with this movie...大帝の剣



This shows you a site that'll direct you to a teaser-trailer and a link to the homepage.

And this will give you a little info about the cast. I only know the movie is about an emperor's really long sword. I don't know if it's a metaphorical sword or not...

2007-03-29

Ooooh, Happy Anniversary!

As of tomorrow, I will have been blogging for an entire year. In honour of this eventually eventful event, I have changed my template! I'll try and make other changes as the next year develops, as my blog-efficiency improves and as more cool stuff happens.

Enjoy...the next year should be a blast!



For my sake, check out the last song (about 5:45 into the video, but the rest are good too.)
In-anime-ted.

When I was in Tokyo, I read a "What's going on" pamphlet while I was there informing me of the "Anime Festival" going on. Unfortunately, I read said pamphlet at 4:00 pm so it's too late to go that day (about a 90 minute trip). Fortunately, it mentioned that it would take place from March 23-26. Great, I could go on the Monday and Mark could go with me. So Monday morning when we checked the Net we discovered that it did in fact end on the Sunday and so I missed out on the gig. Dagnabit!

These pics are examples of what I could have seen and here's a place where you can see a few more pics!
Let's be careful out there.

I hate hearing about stuff like this, because it could have been prevented. As you may be aware, a young Nova employee has been found murdered in the home of a Japanese man, who managed to elude police when they arrived at his home. My sympathies go out to the family of Lindsay Ann Hawker and I do hope that they catch this sicko soon.

Nova has given a statement that they don't believe that the suspect is one of their students and that she may have been giving private lessons to the guy. I'm afraid that Nova execs will use this as an excuse to further their "non-fraternization" policy between teachers and students. (For a change, I'm not blaming Nova, it could have been any company that she had worked for.)

My advice to any of you out there who might be coming to Japan (or who are already here) is, if you plan to give private lessons to anyone, do so in a public forum, such as a Coffee shop or rent space at a library. Most of the time, these lessons are not permitted by your boss but you definitely should let someone know where you are going. Japan IS a relatively safe country but I have heard of some cases of assaults taking place, let alone murders. Please use common sense! (Just so you don't think that I shouldn't advise on this, remember that I spent 20 years in Social Work, including working with molesters & rapists, abusers & abusees, psychos & sickos, liars and cheaters, etc. In my Welfare days, we often had to go to the homes of individuals of questionable character and we always had a back-up plan. And to be frank, I don't really trust anyone anymore, let alone a weirdo who invites one back to his place.)

For a UK perspective on this case go here and for a Japanese perspective go here. If you'd like to follow this story and see a few videos of the news coverage, go here. (Warning: the first video is "Foxworthy" in its sensationalism. The second one will make you deeply feel for the family. And the third one shouldn't even be there.)

There are way too many unanswered questions wrt this incident. I hope some are answered, I hope the guy gets what's coming to him and I hope it doesn't happen again.
I'm not Keene on art, but I know what I like.

Some of you may not be aware that Mark Saito (nee Keene), in addition to being a DJ and a all-around swell guy, is also a burgeoning artist. He had done a few Echo flyers so we all know that he has some computer talent, but little did we know that he could take brush to paper as well. Here a few snaps of his works that he has laying around his apartment:







These are his "Ghost Ships" retrospective, a work in progress.


Not his work of art, but a work of art.











Anyone who wants to commission him or buy his works, please contact me...
Making an Ass of myself.

I'm feeling kind of lazy right now, so rather than do any research, I'm going to just post this joke that a friend sent me in its entirety:

An old farmer had a wife who nagged him unmercifully. From morning till night she was always complaining about something. The only time he managed any piece was when he was out plowing with his old mule. Needless to say he plowed a lot!

One day whilst he was out plowing the fields, his wife brought him lunch. He led the old mule to a shaded spot, sat down on a stump and began to eat. Immediately, his wife began nagging him. Complain... nag... complain... nag! It just went on and on and on. Suddenly, the old mule lashed out with both hind feet and caught his wife smack in the back of the head. She dropped dead on the spot.

At the funeral several days later, the minister noticed something rather odd. When women mourners approached the old farmer... he would listen for a minute and then nod his head in agreement. When the men mourners approached him... he would listen for a minute and then shake his head in disagreement. It was so unusual that the minister decided that he would ask the old farmer what it was all about. After the funeral, he approached the bereaved farmer and asked him to explain. "Why did you nod your head in agreement with the women but shake your head in disagreement with the men"... asked the minister?

The old farmer replied... "Well, the women all came up to comment on how nice my wife looked or how pretty her dress was... so I nodded my head in agreement."

"And what about all of the men?" the minister asked.

"Oh the men... they just wanted to know if the mule was for sale!!"

2007-03-28

It's Empty Orchestra Time.

カラオケ or Karaoke (pronounced Kah-rah-oh-kay not Kah-ri-oh-key!) is a portmanteau word that blends two different phonemes, 空 (kara, short for karano, meaning empty) and オーケ-ストラ (oke-sutora or orchestra). In other parts of the world, "karioki" is often on a large scale, where one person gets up in front of a crowded bar and sings along to a machine while reading lyrics from a TV screen. I once won a pair of Mets tickets singing in a little bar in Connecticut and often bellowed out different Sinatra-esque tunes while playing trivia in bars in the Toronto area.

Once I arrived in Japan, I discovered that it is a completely different experience. You and your friends are shut away in a private little (or big) room where you warble your tunes in a more intimate environment. My first experience was with the Hell House crowd (them again!) when about a dozen of us went out after drinking till midnight. The booze flowed freely and everyone else were veterans of the trade. When "New York, New York" came up and I motioned the microphone over to me, a few groans were perceived from the crowd. They continued chatting until I got rolling and after drowning them all out, I was seen with a new found respect.


Last Saturday night, Mark, Andy, Anne, her petite friend, Helena and I went out for more brews in Shibuya after the hanami gig and then ended up singing for 2 hours. The ladies had to stay up until the first train to wind their way to Narita to fly out, so we opted to stay up with them.











I've got a great story about Andy's Sayonara party 3 1/2 years ago. His replacement was drinking with us and my boss unwisely had his Farewell and the new guy's Welcome party on the same night. Now, this new guy, James/Sammy seemed like a nice enough guy. I was looking forward to working with him and had graciously allowed him to stay in my apartment while I went back to Canada for two weeks, while he got accustomed to the school. In a story I like to call, "My Way or the Highway", I had entered in "My Way" with the expectation of substituting the word "My" with "His" and singing it as a tribute to Andy. Unfortunately, Sammy also entered the song and we both started singing the song together. I sang "My Way" my way with "His Way" and he sang "My Way" his way with "My Way". Andy stepped in and asked the guy to let me finish the song and wouldn't you know it, the tune only entered onto the machine once, so it looked as though I had stolen the song. Time goes by (not the tune, actual time) and this guy was getting more and more peeved and at one point picked a fight with me (he is 6'6", I am 5'6"). The next morning, he left a note on my boss's desk stating that he could never work with that asshole Mike and quit. My boss had to wrangle a new teacher and did in a few days, but in the meantime, I had to teach a few of my classes (I was still formally on vacation). It turns out that Sammy had no intention of working there anyway for he was already in the country illegally having accepted a ticket back to NZ and was looking for an excuse. For breaking a contract, he won't be coming back to Japan now.

This story has an interesting coda to it, for one of my students had quit effective that evening on the expectation that I wouldn't be there. Over the last 2 years, she had fallen in love with me and could no longer be with me without being with me. We had an affair for about 2 months after that and then she became a pseudo-stalker of mine...but that's another story for another day...
Incredibly offensive, yet hilariously true.

Unfortunately, my adopted country has a long way to go in overcoming racism. As this story relates, comparing LBS to LYJ (you have to click on the link to see what I'm talking about), there are innumerable portrayals of minorities in a less than PC manner. Located in the prestigious AER building in downtown Sendai, one can find The Harlem Store. If you peer closely, you can see some offensive looking images on the shelves. I tend to ignore this shop, I only wish I were braver and I'd complain to the owners.

I refuse to believe that I'd be the first person to do so!
Schadenfreude.

Merriam-Webster online defines it as follows:

Main Entry: scha·den·freu·de
Pronunciation: 'shä-d&n-"froi-d& (In Japanese:シャデンフロイデ)
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Schaden damage + Freude joy
: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

This is how Leafs fans will feel today when our competitors are crushed by the other teams, thus increasing our chances of entering the playoffs.

I came across this term while reading a blog entry by Mark Evanier and it sums up the mood of the Leafs these days.

Here's a bit of dialogue of the Simpsons as pulled from the Wiki entry
on "When Flanders Failed." Lisa accuses Homer of feeling Schadenfreude when Homer gloats about Ned Flanders being on the verge of bankruptcy. Lisa asks Homer, "Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is?", to which Homer replies in a sarcastic tone, "No, I do not know what Schadenfreude is. Please tell me because I'm dying to know." Lisa then explains "It's a German word for shameful joy, taking pleasure in the suffering of others." Homer responds with "Oh, come on, Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt! He's usually all happy and comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel...what's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours? -Sour grapes. "Boy, those Germans have a word for everything."

Not to be outdone by Lisa, I took it upon myself to compose a song, sung to the tune of "Edelweiss" (エーデルワイス):

Schadenfreude, schadenfreude
Every morning you taunt me
Smug and right, lean and bright
You look happy to tease me
Envy of all, may you shrink and die
Shrivel and die forever
Schadenfreude, schadenfreude
May your ails last forever!

And finally, In Japanese, the phrase 他人の不幸は蜜の味, (tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji), translates literally as "others' misfortunes are the taste of honey".

2007-03-27

Hanabi vs Hanami.

花火 (Hanabi) is fireworks; 花見 (Hanami) is getting drunk under a blossomming cherry tree.
Hana-bi is a movie by "Beat" Takeshi Kitano; Hanami is where I was on Saturday night with one of my old co-house mates from my Hell House days.

Anne Frazer is one of the few with whom I still keep in touch. Maybe it's our mutual interest in Buffy, but anyway, she was in Tokyo and invited me to the hanami gig. Here is her limerick:

There's some of those in other schools
And I think that they are real fools,
But thank goodness for Anne,
For she does what she can,
To pass on the words,"Buffy Rules!"

There were relatively few trees that had begun blossomming, but there were enough to ensure that several tarps-full of boozers attended. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Our host was a self professed comedian and he was pretty funny, but he sure didn't like being upstaged by me.

The food was great and the booze plentiful. We could even order a pizza from a wandering vendor.

A nice surprise was an appearance by both my host, Mark, and a friend from my Soma days, Andy. They joined the conversation readily and had fun to boot.




Here's a few minutes from Hana-bi with some purty flowers and music:



Here's a few pictures of some of the stores in the Hanami-town of Kichijoji.



We left relatively early and went to Karaoke. But that's a post for another time.
The Legend of Hell House.

Way back in my Nova days, I lived in a place called Hell House. This quote is from the movie of this post's title but it applies to that residence as well:




Ann Barrett: What did he do to make this house so evil, Mr. Fischer?
Benjamin Franklin Fischer: Drug addiction, alcoholism, sadism, beastiality, mutilation, murder, vampirism, necrophilia, cannibalism, not to mention a gamut of sexual goodies. Shall I go on?

The actual name of our little one-bedroom hovel with shared kitchen, bathrooms and 100 yen/10 minutes of shower was called Hello House, but the difference is moot.

Because Nova paid very little and our pad was fairly expensive, during the end of the month, we had to find our own entertainment. When I wasn't showing my care package of videos with the most recent episodes of Simpson's, King of the Hill, Buffy, etc., we would sit around drinking. One night, we decided to have a bit of a sake party and everyone contributed by bringing along the aforementioned booze. Little did we know that the cheaper stuff is cheap for a reason...it's for cooking! So we all got tipsy on the hooch and I impressed the gathered masses with a poetry reading: of bawdy limericks that I had written about each of them.

So for this evening's entertainment, I will regale you with those very limericks.
Most are self-explanatory, those that aren't, you'll just have to use your imagination (I can't remember most of these guys & gals.)

There's this one guy, Misha by name.
He's fast, but he's not to blame.
He tried hard to please her,
But as a bad student of Caesar,
He saw, he conquered, he came.

There's a habit I know of Lynette's,
She likes to give more than she gets.
With but a knock 'pon her door,
You'll soon end up on the floor
And won't leave with any regrets.

There's this one girl named Karen Frost,
Within her eyes, you'll soon be lost,
Yet for an Australian dollar,
You'll be hot under the collar
And find it was well worth the cost.

There's this Canuck girl, name of Sibel,
And though I don't know her that well.
If you're down on your luck,
She'll do you for a buck,
And won't care if you kiss and tell.

As for this Yank named Robert Lawton,
There's a question I've often thought on,
"How much does God charge
For an ego that large
And what kind of warranty's it got on?"

A lovely young lass, Kylie Munro,
You should really try to give her a go.
For a few hundred yen,
She'll do what she can
To put on one helluva show.

There is Mark, and he is the boss,
But for the gene pool, a great loss.
For any future progeny,
There sure won't be many...
For he's a master of the wank and toss.

An Aussie boy, Dion by name,
And though you may think it real lame,
He thinks it a curse,
But looks quite nice with a purse
And puts all the poufters to shame.

A disreputable young man named Steve,
If you're wise, best give him leave.
But should you fall into his trap
Beware of the clap,
And that he keeps his thing in a sleeve.

The one in the house, name of Phil,
To him, he gets such a thrill.
He becomes really cocky
When he talks about hockey;
To the rest of us, it makes us ill.

There's a problem with Andrew, I'm vexed...
That when he's being orally sexed,
With a kidney stone, oh so large,
When its due to discharge,
That the back of her head will be wrecked.

In Hello House, a truth here encroaches
And especially as winter approaches.
If I may be so bold,
To say, "It's fucking cold!"
And the only ones pleased are the roaches.

Just so you won't think that I can't be a tad self-deprecating, here is one about me:

Though Mike has been here awhile,
He hasn't learned very much style.
Sure, he has lots of fun
With a jibe or a pun...
One day, they may crack a smile.

One day, I'll treat you to my limericks about my Nova co-workers!

2007-03-26

Shibuya sights.

Saturday afternoon, I had lots of time to kill and these are a few of the more interesting scenes I saw.


As soon as I got off the train, I noticed this effigy of what might be Michael Jackson (though it's a little too dark to be him). It was a very popular meeting sight, and you didn't have to pay 4000$ to spend time with it.

These young lasses were striding down the street arm-in-arm with a photographer in tow and were gracious enough to pose for a photo. They claimed that they were "comediennes", though someone pointed out to me that they are more likely to be "companions".

While waiting for a lunch date, I popped into the Tsutaya across from the station and who should I see but this handsome fellow, Ryuk. デスノート ("Death Note) is a manga turned anime turned movie turned video game that I'd like to read/see/play but haven't gotten around to yet. It's just been released on DVD and boasts a pretty hefty price tag. (Of course all homemade Japanese dvd's are expensive, it's the imports that are the bargains!)

And these Frankenstein monster busts are two of several within this one restaurant. Unfortunately it wasn't open, so I can't provide a link, but I have eaten there. So if you'd like a place with some unusual decor, look for the place with the Karloffs near Shibuya Mark City.
Clubbing it.

After dinner with Mark, Yuko and their friend Archie, we all trekked out to Club Asia in Shibuya for a bit of dancing. Archie's friend is the ex belle of the DJ, so we got in for a discount. It was a pretty good place, loud, lush and lewd, but I am glad that we got in for a discount. I wouldn't have enjoyed myself with a 3000 yen cover.



While walking there, we passed a 河豚 (fugu=puffer fish) restaurant. I'm not rich enough (or brave enough) to venture inside, but it has a pretty cool looking decor outside, doesn't it? I find it amusing that the remains of the uneaten portion of fugu have to be placed in "toxic waste drums" so that the homeless don't eat them and die.












If we had entered, I believe it would have gone something like this...

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