31 December 2004

Going back to Japan

I've been writing late when I shouldn't and I guess tonight won't be an exception. I'll be back in Japan this time next week which is a nice, though a little unsettling. The weather here is so much like Niigata, all wet and warm. One of the last nights I was home, I walked out to the ocean and the air was exactly the way it was tonight. Maybe this doesn't bother anyone but me: the stars are the same here and Japan. The sky looks exactly the same.

Everyone was over tonight and it was perfect. Now, Berto and Tom and I are going to sleep together like the old days.

17 December 2004

A *looker*

They finally did it. They stole my bike. This means, now, I have to buy a new means of bike-like transportation and have opted to buy another scooter. The one I have purchased was dirt cheap and isn't really a *looker* but neither am I so it's okay. This will also give me a chance to take my dream vacation this summer, riding it down to Fukuoka and camping by the Sea of Japan for a couple of weeks.

I will be back in the States a week from Thursday, but before I get bum-rushed, let's just say, make it to Galesburg by the 31st for all sorts of enlightening times, including a mock English lesson in which I will teach Tom to say, *I am a boy.* Or maybe teach Timmy to say, *This is a pencil.* Hard work, I know.

I have to opt out of going to my year ending *drink your troubles away* parties because of ridiculously high entrance fees. I don't know what I'm going to do with my troubles.

I saw the most kick-ass film about the Sex Pistols.

06 December 2004

Testing

There are a lot of things I don't mind being criticized about, but my stroke count for the number 5 isn't one of them. A teacher stopped my class to tell me to please use a different stroke count when I wrote the number 5 on the board. Come on now.

Well, I think I passed my test. Now, I start getting ready for Level 2.

Tokyo was everything I imagined it would be, again. Saw so many things again that are beyond description. The palace grounds at dusk are so haunting. Such a perfect place.

Also saw my dad. I noted in my journal at home that I doubted we would get away from talking politics and religion. We didn't. It sucked.

Longer entry coming later this week, I'm sure.

01 December 2004

Lesson plans

At school right now, drinking coffee and working on my lessons plans.

This weekend I'm going to Tokyo to take that freaking test and hang out with my old man. I love Tokyo more than I love a lot of things. Except you, dear reader.

25 November 2004

In English? I asked.

Well, I got my ass handed to me today during a meeting with a couple of 3rd grade teachers. I knew things weren't going to go well when the first two things that were said were, "You will understand my Japanese when I speak slowly, right?" and "You don't have any formal training in teaching children, do you?"

Well, of course, the answer to both of those questions is no, but I was a little frustrated that the reason they were asking about my training was that I can't keep the kids quiet. Unfortunately, I don't know if anyone can keep a group of 45-50 5thgraders sitting quietly especially with the teachers sitting passively in the back looking like they'd rather be dead than in my class. I do my best, but I'm only one man.

Anyway, the new plan is to have the three of us rotate teaching responsibilities. I'm teaching in January, I guess, but I'm not supposed to teach as much as talk about a picture from my childhood. Like the clothes I'm wearing or my hat.

In English? I asked.
Yes, that's good, he said.
There was a pause here.
But the children don't understand English, I said.
He also said I could just play dodgeball with them.

I've realized that despite having been pumped up with all this idealist, progressive teaching methodology from my company, the dark, unfortunate truth is that the Japanese elementary system is neither progressive nor idealist. I'm there to give the kids two or three vocabulary words once every three months so the BOE can pat itself on the back for having internationally-minded schools. Never mind if anyone's learning anything.

A quick questions for all you ed. majors out there: Are you supposed to have the kids compete boys vs. girls or does this just get them to dislike each other even more and further engrain all that nasty gender whatnot?

In unrelated, fantastic news, I think I finally got in the groove of these listening questions for my test. They're making sense even without base 11 math or Jennifer Presley's help. Not that I don't appreciate either of those methods for answering questions, but unfortunately they won't be available to me during the actual test.

18 November 2004

Meet at 6:20 or 8:09

I haven't gotten tired of my job yet which comes as a little bit of a surprise to me as two weeks ago, when the gloss was starting to wear off, I thought I was well on my way to a routine burnout. I made it through though. I may just be happy because the school lunch was very good today and I got to teach the first year class, which I always enjoy. The teachers keep telling me what the first-years can and can't handle, but, frankly, given their zeal, I think they are much more capable then a group of slack-jawed, hormone-slowed six graders who think I'm just a clown.

The Fukuoka Sumo Tournament is on and Asashoryu hasn't lost yet.

I've got that Japanese test coming up in December and am pretty concerned about it, although I have been doing well on the grammar practice tests that I have. Japanese grammar is nice because it's so reliable. Complicated like nothing else, but reliable. Unfortunately, the one thing I excel at in the scheme of Japanese, the kanji, is only about 50 out of 400 point of the test. The rest is grammar, listening, vocabulary and reading. The listening part is the thing I am most worried about because you have this sort of conversation to listen to:
Tanaka san: What time should we meet?
Haneda san: I work until 5:45.
Tanaka san: 5:45?
Haneda san: No, wait. A half hour after that.
Tanaka san: Hm. I work until 6:40
Haneda san: 6:40?
Tanaka san: Sorry, 6:20.
Haneda san: Why don't we meet an hour after I get off work.
Tanaka san: How about an hour and twenty minutes?
Haneda san: Great!
Frankly, I still don't know when they're meeting even if they were speaking in English.

Also, the passive tense in Japanese, though incredibly tactful, makes no sense to me. Who's doing what to whom? Am I involved? Why is the subject of that sentence assumed? Because I have no idea what's going on.

Also, it's ridiculously cold here. I think the water in the toilet will freeze before winter is over.

17 November 2004

Posting

I was all excited because I finally got my flash disk to work only to realize that I hadn't saved a post on it. So this, short post now:

It's raining right now, but I think it might be sunny later.

01 November 2004

Address

A couple of things:

The earthquakes didnt kill the dude. Im safe and sound.

Right-wing conspiracy!?

My address!?

Heights Riverside 201
3-9-11 Matsuhuama
Niigata ken, Niigata shi
950-3126 Japan

10 October 2004

Matsuhama

As promised, this is where I am calling home these days:

Living Room
Living Room 2
The Kitchen

The point being, I guess, that the place gets a lot of light. And frankly, that's what I've been looking for. Light.

This is my new ride which says, more-or-less: Excuse me, ma'am, where's the nearest JC Penny's?

My ride

The car has yet to earn my trust as it hasn't passed the reliability test. We've gone just about 40 km together. But just look at it. It's smirking at me.

I don't know what's worse, me sending 69 cents to Tom by Paypal or Tom accepting the payment for 69 cents.

09 October 2004

De-CI-sions

I like how George Bush sometimes does this thing where he makes an assertation, then waits about two seconds and restates it in a simpler, more pointed way with a couple of head bobs and sometimes a hand gesture. Observe: "The President has a difficult task ahead of him." (pause) "He has to make de-CI-sions." It's great.

I went to take pictures of my apartment, but my camera died.

The new car is in my possesion, but after paying some 3,000¥ to fill 'er up, I felt a bit defeated. Also, I don't know if some of the noises it's making are natural, or I should have them looked at. Regardless, it was fun to drive again.

08 October 2004

New confines

Well, I just saw the new, wider confines and let me say, they are more than I could have ever imagined. It's huge. It's a corner apartment (windows on three sides). It's everything I could have wanted.

I had the best conversations today in Japanese with the car insurance guys and a taxi driver. I understood more than I thought I could. We talked about how great women in Niigata were and how I hugged the principal at one of my schools. It was wonderful.

You know what's funny? Sending Tom 69 cents by paypal.

As I reach the end of my internet days, I will have to bid you all good eve for a while. But not before posting pictures of the new confines. That will come tomorrow.

Imagine we're all hugging a giant panda bear. There. Doesn't that feel better?

06 October 2004

A long, long break

Dick and John: you both get thrown off the yacht.

There, now that there's room on the yacht, I'm going to go ahead and invite the The Brian Jonestown Massacre onboard. Yeah. That's much, much better.

Come Sunday, no more internet for Steve-o. He's taking a break, a long, long break, I think. It should be good.

I will be home from December 23rd to January 6th. Let's enjoy love.

01 October 2004

Threats

Well, I'm gonna pretend that you all care how I think the debate went. So it won't come as any surprise that I think Kerry had his way. Here's why: Bush's stances are re-inforced not by facts, but by saying the same thing over and over. "Saddam Hussein was a threat." Yeah, I'll buy that once you tell me why. Bush said, "John Kerry is inconsistent." John Kerry responds saying that ::gasp:: you can have a qualified support for war and when the the qualifications aren't met you can pull your support. Bush's response? The only thing consistent about my opponent's position is that it's inconsistent. Yeah? What does that mean? He just kept reading from his talking points.

That said, I'm up with Bjghaus' comment. I think Bush is a good guy. He's doing what he thinks is right. And I respect that. I think he's wrong, but not bad.

Anyway.

Tonight, I'm going to a club. To see some jazz, mingle with the ladies, drink some coffee.

First year elementary kids are like ants. They just swarm everywhere. How am I supposed to teach them anything? Who's the leader? Someone, take me to the leader.

30 September 2004

Tokyo is No-kyo

Well, my trip to Tokyo got cancelled as the old man is staying in the States. That means a couple of things.

  1. I get to watch the Presidential debate online tomorrow. Maybe Kerry can stop wearing his ass as a hat and convince the rest of the country what most of us already know: that George Bush has no business… and I’ve lost my will to continue. Moving on.
  2. I get to continue couch shopping.
  3. I’m coming home in December, over Christmas through New Years. Someone plan a blowout party with alcohol.

29 September 2004

Getting out early

And, as a bonus, I got let out school early today. You rule, Taiyuhama Kyoto-Sensei.

In Japan, to save on the pesky hours of parent/ teacher conferences, there are a couple of days a year where the parents are encouraged to come out to the school and see for themselves how much their kid sucks. Well, or more specifically, how much their ALT sucks. It's hard enough trying to get 50 kids interested in my "What time is it?" activity, but add about 15 parents and grandparents watching? Well, the dude did his best. And I think I lost my voice. Regardless, I hope I go down as the first person ever to play Lauryn Hill in an Japanese elementary classroom.

I think I'll nap.

28 September 2004

The body shifting is

You all might remember Jen from Knox. She's the tops because she has her own press and she's really nice. Anyway, you might visit her site and notice that she very often posts work in progress so I thought, you know, whatever, I'll hop on the boat and put something up on the blog. I've got nothing to lose.

So here's my poetry exercise. It's easy enough. Take a sentence. Give each word a sequential number starting at one. Now, construct your poem, making sure to use each word in the line you have numbered it. Today, I did this with a line out of my Interac ALT book. You'll notice I bend the rules a little bit (been to bend, etc.).

"The program contains approximately 72 lesson plans all of which have been translated into Japanese."

The body shifting is
a program ended--meaning
contained, a kind
of approximation like how we
can make 7 from 2 or how
we can lessen anything, a
war, a plan,
. . . . . . . . . . .All
shifting is of God.

which is worse, to shift
or to have been shifted—

The teleprompter bends
its own phrases, translates
the words into
Japanese from English.

27 September 2004

Forgetting important things

There are a lot of bad ways to start a day, but forgetting to put on deodorant has gotta be one of the worst. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. All day long.

My day started with me forgetting to put on deodorant, and then proceeded downhill when I rode my bike to the wrong school and had to haul it to the school I was supposed to be at. I arrived, sweating, just in time to interrupt the morning meeting which had been delayed as they were waiting for me to make a speech. I glistened like a new Volvo, and smiled like a fool and tried to speak in Japanese to the rest of the teachers who were also smiling like fools and nodding a lot.

Things got considerably better as I think I taught one of my best kids’ classes ever today. That’s not saying a lot as the last year has been spent making the youngins color mostly, but I thought it was a nice milestone. Tomorrow, I play Pink Floyd while the kids ask, “What food do you like?”

Also, I can’t eat soup with chopsticks without splashing something on my shirt.

Also, I don’t know what it is with me and ladies named Tomomi, but somebody’s gotta cut me a break here.

Also, today, during the ask Stephen sensei questions about himself period of the class, one little girl asked if I was married. I said that I wasn’t and then asked if she was married. It was more scandalous than I thought it was going to be--the shock on the kids’ faces. They were stupefied. But she, like me, isn’t married.

I’m going to Tokyo this weekend to catch up with the old man and live off the fat of the land for a couple of days. We're going to have a good time and hopefully not talk about religion or politics. Yeah, I don't think we're gonna be able to avoid it either.

Now, where’s our waitress?

25 September 2004

"Jobs"

Well, this “job” has yet to pull me out of the proverbial red yet. In fact, after last night when I found out I had, in fact, lost money on my new, friendlier confines, I am seriously considering getting a part-time job to help make ends meet through the Spring. I would be bitter about this (and maybe I am), but since I’m not really doing anything during the evenings anyway, I figure sacrificing two of them to pay for furniture and food for next month isn’t that bad of a deal. Plus, I might be able to make some friends. Plus, I might be able to afford to prepare for this Japanese test I’m allegedly taking in December.

Today, I went to a shrine and I swear, I saw a couple getting their car blessed by the priest. I was standing outside, watching this elaborate whatnot inside the shrine and thought, That’s really beautiful. Those people must be getting married or something. And I wandered away, but when I came back, the couple was standing next to a brand new red Volkswagen, the priest chanting and waving a stick with a bunch of paper on it over the hood of the car.

I'm thinking about getting something of mine blessed. Like my Tom.

There a lot of other things I’d like to comment about: Trent Wilson’s “Beer Man,” John Kerry’s speech at NYU, why I’m always sweating, how my mom gave me a Christian magnetic poetry set for Christmas a couple of years ago and how I just discovered it and how I’ve been using all the words in the wrong ways, Asashoryu’s loss in Tokyo this week, Bhuddist hell where you have to eat shit, how great internet radio is—the list goes on and on. That’s right. On and on.

22 September 2004

28 6th graders

A couple of things struck me today as I was trying to get 38 sixth graders excited about my "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity. First, sixth graders, they aren't interested. It doesn't matter what it is that you're talking about, unless, you know, you're some celebrity. Other than that, you're screwed. They don't care. Second, I realized that yelling, "Come on, come on, let's go, let's go!!" can only induce so much excitement (and that so much is minimal, unfortunately). Mostly, you'll get blank stares for twenty seconds before tired and glum compliance. But, I also discoverd, thirdly, that the more you are willing to make an ass out of yourself, the easier it is to get that same group of sixth graders to ::gasp:: smile or, worse yet, actually take part in your "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity.

So anyway, I'm working on the "Elementary Rock" mix: a cd of inspiring tracks to give those kids the proverbial shot in the arm my shouting, "Come on, let's go, let's go!!" during my "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity needs. I think this could be just the ticket. Appearing on my elementary rock record: Pink Floyd, the Postal Service, The Beatles, Handel, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, The Appleseed Cast, Dave Matthews, and a litany of others. It's a two disc set full of high energy, buildling, not to heavy, not to light tunes to get the kids dancing in the aisles. Also, no scary guitars.

Now, really, how can you not participate in my "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity with such great vibes all around?

18 September 2004

Calls are diverted

If you send me an e-mail on my cell phone, a beautiful Japanese woman's voice comes out of my pants.

17 September 2004

ALTing

Hello, everyone. I now have the internet at home, but only for three weeks as home will be changing after the end of the month. That’s right, I landed new surroundings that are much, much cheaper and much, much bigger. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I won’t have the internet in the new place. So maybe we should all hug now.

Yeah, being an ALT is wonderful. I got to make an announcement over the school speaker system at one place. I was like Hitler addressing the troops amassed along the French border. Then, today, I had to speak Japanese in front of 800 wide-eyed grade schoolers. The principal of the school, kept warmly smiling at me and shaking my hand. I thought this was very nice, until I realized that every time he was doing this, someone was taking our picture. When I finished speaking in front of the assembly, he did the same thing, except it went from a very warm handshake to a hug that lasted longer than five-seconds. I was, of course shocked, my arms wrapped around this 50 year-old, withering Japanese man thinking, Now, I thought the Japanese never did this. As we (the flock of teachers) were walking back to the school, one of the teachers, based on this display, praised the Principal as being very “international.”

This position is very heavy on the LT part of ALT and light on the A part, meaning, I’m basically teaching full time, doing most anything I can think of to get these 4th graders to say, “I’m from Japan!” It’s nice though, as I finally feel like I’m actually learning how to teach. And I love the kids. I don’t know how this happened. I’m standing in the middle of a circle of first-graders, all of us stomping our feet as loud as we can with our hands over our heads, and just laughing. I thought to myself that I could do this for a very long time and be very content. I’m sure I’ll burn out sooner rather than later, but right now, it’s pretty great.

And Niigata, well, it isn’t that bad. It’s still Japan. I think I’ll try to get back to Fukuoka or Tokyo in 2006, but for a year and a half, this place will be pretty darn incredible.

Also, in additional good news, given that it’s about 1/2 as expensive to fly home from Tokyo than Fukuoka and I will save a ox-heap with my new apartment, I will most likely be home from Christmas. It'll be short though. maybe 10 days. Maybe someone will throw the New Years party to end all New Years parties. Any takers?

In additional, uh, additional good news, my plans to go to Europe from July 25th to August 28th ish are also coming together. Anyone wanna take the trek with me? I’m thinking about spending a week in five cities (probably Paris, somewhere in Germany/Switzerland, Rome, Romania, and one yet to be decided.) So. Who’s in? We’re gonna do it cheap. Hostels. Lots of Ramen. Stay with friends in Romania. This and that.

Yeah. This and that.

13 September 2004

Now I live in Niigata City.

Now I live in Niigata City.

It's okay, I guess. I was really in the dumps: lost some money, you know, but then I watched Lost in Traslation and went to school today and I remembered why it is that I moved up here. So I'm getting there.
Gotta get out of this apartment they stuck me in though. 70,000 a month for a 1K (DK and all the other Japanese folk will understand that this is HORRENDOUS). I'm trying to move out before another check is due. I hate, hate, hate it there.

But Tokyo. Oh Tokyo. If I had to choose one place in the world to live the rest of my life, I would choose Tokyo. Sitting outside the Imperial Palace grounds  in the rain, smoking a fine cigar... These are moments we will not soon ever forget. I love you Japan. Please, Tokyo, take me into your wonderful arms and love.

Niigata, you are the ugly, red-headed step-child. But I like red-heads so you may grow on me.

Anyway, call me: 09088744737

05 September 2004

Fukuoka to Niigata

Yeah, I am moving tomorrow. I'm honestly more worried about figuring things out this time than I was when I first came out here. It's been wild stressful this week. I hate doing things quickly. Maybe you understand.

I'll have the internet in Niigata so I'm sure there will be pictures this next week.

And I'm sure I'll have something to say when I land. Something stirring.

PS Some of you, the readers of my blog, are ALT's in Japan and maybe one of you knows someone in Niigata ken. Maybe you can tell me their name and maybe I can call them and maybe we can be friends. Help a brother out.

02 September 2004

Niigata City

I guess I’m moving on Monday. After Monday, I will have a new address and whatever, but I can’t really get that to you yet as I’m not sure where I’ll be. I’ll be in Niigata City, I think. That’s all I really know right now.

My situation in the last couple of weeks has been eerily similar to that of MC's recent job situation. She must have given me some bad mojo last week.

Next week, I will be in Tokyo, living it up and training for my new job. In Tokyo, I plan to get wild in all the wildest ways. Or maybe just smoke my pipe in a bar that will ridiculously overcharge me for any number of Khalua-based drinks I may or may not order.

Money is a funny thing. I like it too. I don’t like spending it when I don’t have to. I still don't like the idea of spending money on housing.

I won’t recant on my previous post until Tom Bazan says he didn’t get it. If Tom Bazan didn’t get it, then I’m sorry. If Tom Bazan did get it, then I stand proudly.

Nothing to say about the RNC? That’s right. Nothing.

01 September 2004

Flip-flopping

You know what I hate? I hate when politicians flip-flop. Take, for instance, that flip-flopping bastard John Kerry. On Monday, when asked if the war on terror could be won, Kerry said, "I don't think you can win it.” Fair enough, but get this: after a flood of criticism, just like his years in the Senate, that’s right, he changed his stance. "We meet today at a time of war for our country -- a war we did not start, yet one that we will win," John Kerry said on Wednesday. Well? Which is it, Mr. Kerry? Or do you need to go see what the “opinion” polls and "spinmasters" have to say first? You make me sick.

30 August 2004

Coming home

I am back in Japan after several mishaps and one additional, unplanned night in Chicago. Coming back to Japan felt more like coming home than going home felt like coming home and I suppose that's fitting. I like Japan. Of course, that's not to downplay the joy that was shared by many of us. This picture of Bob smoking his pipe and laughing captures most of what was best about being home (not that Bob is the sole object of my affection, but I think you understand what I mean).

Wrigely Field on a cool August night with Jon was also noteworthy. Louisville with Bob, of course. Me and Berto and Martha walking around downtown Chicago in the rain. Tom sleeping at the foot of my bed like a cat. These are all special things.

Oddly, coming back to Japan has felt a lot like the first time I came. When I opened the door to the apartment, I smelled the Tatami mats, much like the first time I opened the door to this apartment.

My job situation remains somewhat up in the air, although my name is in the hat for a position in Gifu that I would very, very much like to get. We'll see what happens.

More pictures may follow. I'll be updating again, I think.

13 August 2004

Kentucky

Now, me and Bob Kurtz are going to Kentucky.

If I don't see you, yes YOU, on Saturday, uh, heads will roll. Although the word from the blessed Matriarch of the Family is, um, no adult beverage. I know, I know, what can I do though? If it was at my place we'd be, you know, swinging from the fountains of adult beverage, but you gotta respect the people who have gently guided you for the last 22 some-odd years of your life. So that's it. No drinking!         .         .

"Speak to me in tongues and when I'm gone I will sing to you in bird calls."

When Joe Manning began to sing his 8 sad songs, my eyes were full of tears.

11 August 2004

Big plans

So one of my big plans upon returning to the fine United States of America was to read some of my old journals. In high school, these were terribly important to me, and though I've certainly kept journals since then, I haven't done so with such tenacity. Anyway, as a seveteen year-old, I was much more of an idealist than I am now, and much more interested in drinking deeply from the sap of life and love. I wrote a couple of times, "I know I'm just seventeen but..." and "In five years I'm sure I'll read this and think..." Seventeen year-old Stephen was a much more emotional version of myself which I guess is hard to imagine as I am still a pretty emotional person. Lots of poetry about walls bleeding, people bleeding, and love trumping all.

If I had seventeen minutes with seventeen year-old Stephen, I think I might put my arm around him and say, "Big guy, I admire your tenacity, really I do, and I'm not going to tell you to stop doing what you're doing because I'm sure I couldn't get you to change anything even if I tried. But you know what? You gotta loosen the grip on everything. Because you seventeen year-old Stephen, you are in control of nothing in your life. And though you'd like to think you are, you aren't. You're young and stupid like everyone else. So here, read this literature about Japan."

I don't know what seventeen year-old Stephen would do. I think he'd sulk and write, "These bleeding two hands, your heart, my love, a giant black orgasim of reckless wonderment that sullies these glossy photos of the land of the rising (set) sun."

I hope twenty-seven year-old Stephen will visit me and set me straight about some stuff.

Tonight I talked in church about Japan and just rambled for about 15 minutes. I think I said what I wanted to say and shared what I needed to. I left the service early to hang out with Ana. I've been enjoying seeing people, one-by-one. It's wonderful. I've been fotunate enough to know so many incredible people in my life. I think I'll continue to feel this way all three weeks.

Still no job? Take that Altia Central. And this too.

10 August 2004

Back in the States

Hello, everyone.

I'm back in the States briefly. Things here are pretty much exactly as I left them so I'm not complaining. I turned down a job offer on Thursday as it would have forced me to stay in Japan this week instead of coming home. I was pretty optimistic about the second job I was persuing, but that one fell through. So now, I'm jobless, probably returning to Japan jobless too. I'm not real happy about this, but given that I, theoretically, can stay another month at the church, I'm not too worried yet. Give me a couple of weeks though.

Martha and I saw Dave Matthews Band last night and before you get your panties in a bunch about the man and my perceived, you know, hypocricy, know that I was not particularily happy about seeing the show, but went more out of a comittment to nostalgia and wanting to spend time with my sister. I think this will be the last Dave Matthews Band show for me though. The crowd has changed, oh has it changed, from four years ago. It was like MTV's Spring Break. I didn't hear a good portion of the first half of the concert due to the screaming and other drunken whatnot that was going down around us. Anyway, I'm done with that.

So you should totally offer me a job.

04 August 2004

Lord of the Rings

I finally got around to seeing that last movie about the hobbits and the ring and the other whatnot. Well, I have completed my life purpose.

The worst thing ever recorded on film may be me teaching a pretend class of Jr. High students during a job interview today. I sang a song I made up. Enough said.

I’ll be home in three days. Please, place your requests now.

29 July 2004

Republicans and Democrats

After a discovery of C-span.org I’ve been enjoying watching the Democratic National Convention, as well as other assorted political whatnot. I haven’t been able to get to Bush’s campaign website because my computer won’t load it so it was good to hear his stump speech from last year. A couple of observations:

John Edwards, I love you buddy, but if you give that doe-eyed, I’m-the-son-of-a-mill-workers-daughter look one more time, I think I’m going to have to ralph. Seriously, watching John Edwards speak is like eating ten Snickers bars in a row. By the time everyone was chanting “THE POLITICS OF HOPE,” I had to stop.

Barack Obama. Remember that name.

Bill Clinton, I’ve decided, is not Satan. I’ve been misled, I think. I saw a speech he gave about his book, mostly about how great it is that we can disagree in the States and not have to hate each other. If there’s one thing I learned at college, it was that even though you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you can’t live together and enjoy one another.

Michael Moore and Bill O’Reilly arguing about what a “lie” is, is like watching two seals slap each other. Quick overview, Michael Moore thinks misleading someone based on faulty information is a lie. O’Reilly doesn’t. Also, Michael Moore wouldn’t die in Iraq, but Bill O’Reilly would, though he wouldn’t necessarily send his kid. Also, Michael Moore doesn’t want Bill O’Reilly to die.

I also have devised this easy one question quiz to determine your political party affiliation. Here we go:

Taxes are:

A) Bad.
B) Good

A makes you a Republican. B makes you a Democrat.

Or you can try this one:

The government is:

A) The problem.
B) The problem in every area of life except defense, homeland security and defining marriage as not gay.
C) Supposed to provide after-school programs for kids. Also, defense too. I don’t think the government should be weak on defense. Seriously. I don’t. John Kerry can kill. He’s a killer. Don’t think that he can’t kill.

For you A people, sorry, you have no party. B, well, I think that’s pretty clear which makes C pretty clear too, I guess.

Well, I’m a step away from the job. A step. Give me 48 hours. Maybe 72.

28 July 2004

Illegal parking

Well, it’s always a surprise to me what the Japanese take very seriously that people in the US blow off. Today, it’s illegal parking. I “illegally” parked my bike (and illegally is in quotes because I’ve been parking in the same place for the last four months) and it cost me 9000¥ (that’s 83-84 USD). It did afford me an interesting trip to the police station, trying to understand the cop I was talking to. One of the other cops sat down and said to me, “Faster than a bullset, more power than a locomotive. I am Superman. Okay?”

But I’m listening to Jay-Z. He don’t like the law neither.

Things continue to wind down here. I will now be home in 11 days. On Monday, I saw Superb Dan and Suewan for the last time as they are moving to Hong Kong today. We hung out at an arcade, ate Ramen, and watched a band play on the street in Tejin. It was a good night, and I will miss hanging out with Superb Dan and Suewan. They are good people with genuine empathy and I think that’s a good thing. So good luck to them.

Things have been sort of in upheaval since about Thursday morning, but I don’t really feel like writing about them in the blog. I’m sure everyone will hear enough when I get home and we’ll talk it through.

I’m interviewing for a job next week that will require me to be back in Fukuoka on August 22nd which will end up cutting my vacation back by a week, but I think that’s okay. I’m not looking forward to flying stand-by though and missing a week of enjoyment. But I gotta feed the monkey.

It’s so hot here.

Finally, I’m bringing back a couple of things to the States, but I think the thing I am bringing back for Bob Kurtz is hands down the best thing ever.

25 July 2004

Summer Camp

There is a good chance that I won’t get this post off tonight, but if you’re reading this then I guess I made it. First, thanks to everyone who sent their love to my bum. After several relaxing and, uh, healing soaks in the Japanese public bath, things have returned to normal for the most part. So thank-you.

I spent the last two days out in the boonies of Japan doing a summer camp with 24 kids, 4 seminary students, DK, and the pastor of our church and his family. Being that I don’t speak Japanese at a functional level, I spent a majority of the time trying to figure where I was supposed to be and what everyone what talking about it. Me and DK did a lot of talking to the kids in English, though. There is nothing better than putting your arm around a Japanese 1st grader and saying, “Whatever happens, I won’t give up.”

I was able to get out of the weekend with both of my balls which I consider an accomplishment as a punch to manland is apparently an appropriate form of entertainment for boys here. Well, gentlemen, it’s there. It’s there.

In related news, a highlight of the weekend was standing around naked after taking a bath and trying to get the boys to put some deodorant on.

There was totally a time when we had to catch fish with our bare hands in this tank of water. I did my part. I might also mention the reason I have my sleeves rolled-up like a redneck is because I am currently 4 different shades of tan. I’m trying to fix things a little bit.

You probably all know this because you went to public school, but I didn’t realize how much grade school boys and girls dislike each other. I mean they would have nothing to do with the opposing team. Nothing. Well, one day, gentlemen.

I like referring to the boys as "gentlemen."

When we all had to draw our pictures of what we thought God looked like, one kid drew a picture of a guy with blonde hair and a soul patch.

Anyway, if you’d like to see more, I suggest you check out this and look under, “Whatever happens, Yuto". I'll try to get that up sometime tomorrow. Now, I'm going to sleep. Please, keep it real until later.

22 July 2004

Re-introducing myself

Allow me to re-introduce myself.

I’m going away for the weekend to help take care of some kids at Summer Camp. I may have a job now, and I definitely have a hemorrhoid. You would think these two things would cancel each other out, but I have to say, the joy of the possibility of working for a company that I like, doing what I want to do, far outweighs the fact that I have some slight discomfort whenever I sit down.

17 July 2004

Still out of money

If you know when my Japanese class is supposed to be, please e-mail me.

I wrote a long entry on Thursday about the struggle of trying to keep our 16 year-old apartment guest entertained this last week, but I wasn't pleased with it as a whole. Here are several excerpts:

"Yesterday, we saw Fukuoka City on a shoestring budget as Steve-o doesn’t currently really have any money. But the thing is, if you’ve ever tried to entertain a sixteen year-old boy before, unless, you know, you have maybe a small army of midgets or some famous rock band, it can’t be done. But I tried, dear diary, I tried."

"Sometime during the day, I mentioned that I was going to a festival in Hakata on Thursday at like 5 in the morning. It’s the most famous festival in Japan and involves half-naked men running through the streets, carrying one-ton portable shrines, and shouting, “Oisa!” Yeah, I know, it rules. Anyway, I mentioned this to Ariel and said that he could go except that there weren’t any trains. I sort of mentioned off hand that if he took the last train and stayed out all night… Well, that sounded great to him and I realized as I was saying it that I couldn’t let him hang out by himself all night downtown."

"Anyway, because I was/ am still out of money, I decided to stick him on the train and take my motorbike with very precise instructions as to where we were to meet. So I went downtown to meet him and got to our meeting place, and, that’s right, no Ariel. I called Dan to see if he went back to the apartment which he had as he was stopped by the police on the way to the train station. His story about the police officer didn’t really stack up as the time he left, how long he said he talked to the officer, and when he came home didn’t really match up with when he actually left and when he actually came home. Whatever."

I did go to the Yamakasa Festival alone and it did rule.

That's pretty much all.

14 July 2004

Wagering

Basically, Kamiryo sensei, one of my students, was silly enough to wager me that this feller will be able to overtake Asashoryu and win at the Nagoya Basho this week. Come on Kamiryo Sensei. Isn't that a little silly? If I win, Kamiryo Sensei is bringing me some fried chicken, so I'm pretty happy about that. If I lose, I gotta bring him beer and potato chips. But there's no way Asashoryu is going to lose. I mean, he's the Morning Blue Dragon.

In unrelated news, I didn't get the freaking job with ALTIA. They're still stringing me along though as they said another position may open up in the next couple of weeks. I just applied for a couple of new jobs, just now. We'll see. Someone, throw me a fricken' bone.

Also, I'm not going to marry people. I interviewed for the job and felt that pretending to marry people in Jesus' name with a big dumb cross around my neck would probably incur the wrath of the Almighty more so than my current life of at least striving for Holiness. I couldn't see doing that and telling people that Jesus was blessing them when in fact, I was pretty sure that he wasn't.

All that means I still have my soul. My virginity may be lost, muddied somewhere on the Knox campus, but I still have my soul. And I don't intend to sell that.

Earlier, I asked if anyone liked the Velvet Teen. Now I'm asking, who would like to see the Velvet Teen with me in Chicago in August? Zehi.

11 July 2004

Religious Roots

Who else likes the Velvet Teen?

If you didn't know, there is currently a "Battle for Marriage," which means, of course, that marriage is "Under Fire." If you don't believe me, I suggest you try to wade through these eleven arguments against gay marriage. I've been so livid after reading this that I couldn't comment on it. But don't worry, my satirical voice has returned. I'm wondering if an argument can be made against gay marriage that doesn't include any of the following propaganda:

1) "If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost and the institution is weakened." But given that fact that we are talking about a "law" for what amounts to a "legal contract," what's the problem with defining marriage as it is: a legal contract? Is the government now in the business of sanctioning not only a legal contract but also a spirtual one? I guess that's okay so long as it's Christian and not say, Muslim or one of those other religions.

Now, given my religious beliefs, yes, I believe that marriage in front of God is sacred and worth defending on all these fronts. But we're talking about the government here. We're talking about laws. We're not talking about the "natural and religious" roots of marriage. Give me a call when the Evangelical Free Church (of which I am a member) starts marrying gay couples.

2) "If we let the gays marry, tomorrow everyone is going to become a polygamist." Really, now are we arguing about gay marriage or polgamy? Let's try to stick to one or the other. Don't worry, though, I'm terrified of polgamy as much as the next guy. I'll do anything to make sure that doesn't happen between our shining seas.

3) "The health care system will stagger and perhaps collapse." This one really gets me. I can't count the times I've had this conversation:

Me: Oh, hey Dave I heard you and Laura are getting married. Good work, dude.
Dave: Well, we're basically getting married because Laura wants to share my health benefits.
Me: Oh? That's cool, I guess.
Dave: Yeah, I mean, we really don't like each other or love each other or anything. We just want the health benefits. I think there's some sort of tax break too.

But those gays or those gays pretending to be gay!

Me: Rick, I heard you and Rick are getting married.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, we're not really gay but we want the health benefits. It's a small price to pay though, getting married. I think it will be kind of fun.

(A side note, I once started a domestic partnership just so I could have a chance to live off campus at school. So maybe I shouldn't throw any stones.)

And also, Mr. Dobson/ Focus on the Family, as Christians, shouldn't we strive for everyone to have equal medical care? I mean, you want everyone with AIDS to suffer and not be treated? That seems a little bit un-Christian/ hypocritical.

4) "Religious freedom will almost certainly be jeopardized." Again, I'm terrified! They're going to haul me off to prison for saying I don't think being gay is Biblical. Like when they hauled me to prison for saying that divorce was wrong.

Although, and I hate to bring up the Bible again, but isn't a big part of our Christian religion being persecuted for our faith? Or was that only for those poor saps in "non-Christian" countries (like commie countries)? Again, call me when they start throwing people in prison and I'll go get thrown in prison too (right after they throw me in prison for refusing to kill for my country. Take a fricken' number.)

5) "Other nations are watching our march toward homosexual marriage and will follow our lead." The same way they followed our lead in Iraq. We're like the Pied Piper and the "nations of the world" are the rats.

6) "The gospel of Jesus Christ will be severely curtailed." Cause the gays will be trying to, uh, stop everyone from, uh, talking about Jesus. I buy that connection too. But again, don't worry, I'm terrified. I'm calling my senator as I type this. Crap, he's not in, hold on, I'll leave a message: "Mr. Senator, hi this is Stephen Pihlaja, not calling about the draft again, don't worry. This time I'm calling about the gays getting married. Is it true that if the gays start marrying, I won't be able to be a Christian anymore? I'm really upset about that because I really like being a Christian--well, expect when it's hard. When it's hard I don't really like it, and if it was hard a lot of the time, I don't know if I'd want to be one anymore, really. So please, you have to save my Christianity! NO GAY MARRIAGE."

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah, I'm terrified.

Endnote: I just thought of a way to get past the health care problem: Why not have UNIVERSAL health coverage? Then we don't have to worry about Rick and Walter and Philip marrying Rick just to get his health coverage. They can continue having their gay commune while the rest of us can rest peacefully, knowing the gays aren't getting married.

Endnote 2: Well, at least Lynne Cheney's got it right.

08 July 2004

Marrying people

Anyway, so you know how there are guys who marry people and that's kind of what they do for a living? Well, on Monday, I'm interviewing for that job. You're kidding me, Steve-o, you're saying, Those kind of people need licenses or educations or something, right? Well, surprisingly, no. And I guess you get paid handily for it. You just read the script, hang out with the family for an hour and you're finished. If this all comes together, I'm looking forward to telling people that I make love for a living.

I would also like to encourage all of you to listen to PInk Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" while watching "The Wizard of Oz." It'll blow your mind.

06 July 2004

I bend

Somebody tell me if my site is fixed now. I bend to your will Mr. Gates. I bend, I bend!

Is my site all fricked up only on Molly and Superb Dan’s computers, or are you all suffering from giganticism? I don’t know what to do about it. Use Netscape.

Well, I had just about the least patriotic Fourth of July that one can have as it mostly involved speaking Japanese, watching sumo and watching the Euro Cup Final with Superb Dan and Suewan, the Englanders. But I’m not complaining as I enjoyed all those things a great deal more than watching fireworks and eating hot dogs. Greece totally won the Euro Cup Final, not that I really cared either way, but it was cool to see the underdog win. Also, after Greece won, one of the players from Portugal was crying like a little baby. I think that’s pretty much uncalled for. If you’re going to cry like a little baby, well, in my book you got bigger problems than losing the Euro Cup.

I’m getting over Avril Lavigne as now I’m obsessed with someone who is neither a celebrity or a poser (not that I think Tom Bazan has any stones to throw at “posers,” Mr. I-made-this-visor-myself-out-of-an-old-baseball-hat).

I think the NY Times is running a “Elect John Kerry at all Freaking Costs” campaign. Today’s article made me proud to be American and also yearn for change in this great, great land of ours while simultaneously wishing George Bush would fall into an abandoned coal mine. That’s right, New York Times? That’s what you wanted me to feel?

July Sumo Tournament means my life now revolves around being in front of a TV from 5:30- 6:00 to see Asashoryo have his way with whomever he’s having his way with on a given day. Also, click this for some Hokutoriki love. He’s saying, “Stephen’s the best sumo fan ever. Please, do good to him.”

03 July 2004

English-Speaking Conventions

Well, kids, the heat of the apartment is turning out to be more oppressive than previously expected. And though I promptly remove my pants upon entering, I still can’t manage to stop sweating. I’m sure you all have great ideas for how I might cool down and I’m sure that I would love to hear them. So please.

Today, DK and I helped out at this Jr. High School’s English-Speaking Convention. It wasn’t really a convention, but I like the sound of convention. It was great and we met some 16/17 year-olds from New Zealand and Australia that I swore were the kids from Harry Potter. They kind of put the Americans to shame as they were trying very hard to do everything in the most Japanese way possible and, well, your country’s contingent wasn’t. They also had really important sounding names like “Juilan Nash” and “Something Lipton.” Anyway, I asked them about Kangaroos and whether or not you could use that pouch to carry stuff around, but this only led to a really boring description of what the pouch is actually for. I didn’t know this, but I guess Kangaroos are a nuisance in the “bush.” They run into cars and stuff. I was like, Ship some out to the States: We’ll appreciate their unique beauty and hopping, you brats.

The one kid who looked like the red-headed kid from Harry Potter (namely because he, uh, had red hair) is dating a Japanese girl so he rules.

I always have a hard time fitting into Japanese school slippers. Today I was like one of the older, ugly sisters in Cinderella.

I also went to karaoke for the first time on Wednesday and totally ruined Arvil’s “Complicated.” SORRY AVRIL!!! XOXOXOXOXOXO We had a good time, but the Dude here can’t A) sing well or sing badly in a funny way and B) dance or feel comfortable around people that are dancing. Especially an incredibly effeminate Japanese man who, talking about a picture of Michael Jackson and a bunch of kids, said he felt a lot of “sexual temptation.” Me and DK have been trying to figure out what he was trying to say and hoping he didn’t mean what he said.

If you receive a phone call from me asking who you’re going to vote for and why, don’t be alarmed. I’m just really confused. Once Tom moves back to the States, he will be next on my list as, though I know who he’s going to vote for, I think he’ll have something good to say about it. Get ready, buddy.

Finally, please read this speech by our former Vice President. Of course, many of you may think Al Gore is a dunce, but give it a chance.

29 June 2004

What is it

First, I think this is funny.

So me and the famed older brother were talking about how in certain circles, you can use the word "liberal" and it's just understood as "bad." This happened apparently at my home church when someone asked, during a church meeting, what would happen if our denomination went "liberal." Isn't it great that if you use a word long enough in relation only to your opinion, it can come to mean your opinion too?

Take, for instance, the word "country" in relation to music.

Stephen: Did you like that song?
Person: Well, it was kind of country.
Stephen: Uh, yeah?
Person: Yeah.

What does that mean?

Person: Did you like the new Five Iron Frenzy record?
Stephen: Well, I mean, it's ska.
Person: What does that mean?
Stephen: I think you know what that means.

Person A; What did you think of Michael Moore's new movie?
Person B: Well, it's Michael Moore.
Person A: ::punches Person B:: What does that MEAN?

New rule: You gotta say what you mean instead of what you think people will understand you meaning because of your political/ religious affiliations.

27 June 2004

焼肉 and 友達様

Well, everyone, as the time of my homecoming is drawing near (read big, stupid party on my parents deck), I wanted to throw out a date to see if it will work for a majority of people or not. Also, I haven't talked to mom yet. That's right, my mom needs to okay it (please laugh while I roll my eyes). Okay, how about the 14th of August? The festivities will probably start in the afternoon and continue into the night. Again, with mom's approval, there will probably be adult beverages (as many of us are adults now), but if you're not cool with that, let me know and we can talk about it. I'm working on several things of note for the party including Japanese party favors, a CD, a party-inspired dance, and probably something Panda-related. Yeah. All this for: none¥. That's right. None. すごいね!

Anyway, let me know if you're interested.

24 June 2004

For hire

As many of you know, dude here is looking for a job. And, to be honest, he wants employment more than he wants just about anything (except of course, let's be honest, a woman and a panda bear though not for the same reasons or, uh, purposes). So on Wednesday I trucked 510¥ away on the subway to interview with a company called ALTIA Central. I would put the link for their website up here but it's kind of dumb. Anyway, me and ALTIA-san talked for about two hours, subjects ranging from religion to ESL in Japan to my computer. It was wonderful. I really enjoyed the conversation and really jived with what I understood the goals of the company to be. So that was great. Anyway, even though I might not be hired by them as they are lacking in space for new employees in September, they e-mailed me requesting a slew of things including a couple of photos. This is one of the photos that I took but didn’t send. I just think it looks good next to "I want a woman and panda bear." Ladies? Panda bears?

Today, at the end of our kids class, I walked past Dan giving out snacks to the boys he was teaching and heard: “And Yuto doesn’t get a snack because he hit me in the nose.”

Dan and I also been teaching at the Elementary School that’s pretty close to the church. I’ll save you the dumb ALT stories about being treated like a celebrity and how great that is, but bring you these three gems: 1) During lunch with the students today, I had to eat some crappy liver that was just horrible so I was trying to give it to the kids, but no one would take it. One of our kids from one of the church classes was there so I asked her to help me out. She gave it to this fat kid she was sitting next to. You rule, Ayamei. 2) After lunch, the polite whispering and giggling about our accents and general largeness gave way to about five or six kids standing around us just touching our hair and laughing. One of the kids was comparing me to a monkey or the way that Dan and I eat to the way that monkeys eat, I think. 3) Dan and I went to the Tea ceremony club afterwards and we had to sit on our knees for like a half-hour. When it came time for me to stand up, I seriously couldn’t feel my feet. It was just like I had dead weights attached to my legs. I got about half-way down the stairs and had to stop because I was about to fall down. Unfortunately, the principal was right behind us so I looked like an idiot. Tea ceremony club was fun, don’t get me wrong, but dang. Get me a freaking chair or something.

Also, I had my first Japanese birthday party. My Tuesday night students are great. We ate cake with chopsticks and they sang me Happi Birusudae. It ruled. They rule. Most of them are doctors too.

愛 and 平和

Endnote: David Bazan sings about going to heaven in the live version of "Slow and Steady Wins the Race" from the Summer tour: "And I'll receive a mansion/ Right next to Mel Gibson"

23 June 2004

私は日本語で書けますよ

Hey kids!

Look at what I finally figured out how to do: 私は日本語で書けますよ。That's right, I got my computer to finally write in Japanese.  But Dude, you say, that's great for you, but I can't read Japanese.  Well, Dude has the answer: the answer. But here's the thing, bablefish sucks. It translates the above statement: You can write me in Japanese, when, in fact it says, I can write in Japanese! I don't know why it's confused. Also this, 私は日本語で書くから私はあなたより元気だ。This translates correctly, but I know for a fact you should say: 私は日本語で書くから私のほがあなたより元気だ。Oh the humanity.


So let me know if your computer can read the characters or not.

21 June 2004

Dodgeball

Here in Fukuoka, a typhoon has come upon us, but, unfortunately, no cows have blown past. It's just windy and the wind is causing the rain to come in my window.

"Dodgeball" beat out "The Terminal" over the weekend. I think this is worth celebrating.

It's not so much that I think "The Terminal" is a Nationalist film (though I do think that), it's more so that it just looks stupid. Granted, I haven't seen it and probably won't ever see it, but I don't think there's too much to get. Lovable Eastern European who can't speak English gets stuck in airport because of some ludicrious/ improbable visa problem, right? Come on. This from the people who brought us "Shindler's List" and, well, any great movie that Tom Hanks has been in (although, now as I think about it, Tom Hanks has been in more than one Nationalist film). Regardless, the movie is sub-par, folks. I (with a majority of American moviegoers) would rather see Ben Stiller with a handlebar moustache playing dodgeball.

I'm listening to all the live MP3s that Pedro the Lion has put up from the tour and they're all pretty dry. There's an acoustic version of "Bands with Managers" that is essential, but the rest of them are just, well, really dry. He needs to bring a second guitarist on the road with him.

I promise sometime in the near future to spend a whole entry saying only uplifting things.

19 June 2004

Lists

Things that piss me off:

This.
This but more generally this.
This one, big time.
But not as much as this.
And you know what, I think this is the root of all the problems.

Somebody, get me a freaking panda bear or something.

15 June 2004

FUK to KIX

Fri 6-Aug-04

Fukuoka (FUK)
Depart 2:00 pm
Terminal D2
 to  Osaka (KIX)
Arrive 3:00 pm
289 mile(s) (465 km)
Duration: 1hr 0mn 

United Airlines
Flight: 9702
Operated by: ALL NIPPON -- NH1706

Economy/Coach Class (Seat assignments upon check-in), Airbus A321



Osaka (KIX)
Depart 5:55 pm
 to  Chicago (ORD)
Arrive 4:20 pm
Terminal 5
6564 mile(s) (10564 km)
Duration: 12hr 25mn 

United Airlines
Flight: 878

Economy/Coach Class (Seat assignments upon check-in), Dinner, Boeing 777



Total miles: 6853 mile(s) (11029 km) Total duration: 13hr 25mn (16hr 20mn with connections)

Fri 27-Aug-04

Chicago (ORD)
Depart 12:10 pm
Terminal 1
 to  Tokyo (NRT)
Arrive 3:10 pm +1 day
Terminal 1
6286 mile(s) (10116 km)
Duration: 13hr 0mn 

United Airlines
Flight: 881

Economy/Coach Class (51H), Lunch, Boeing 747-400



Tokyo (NRT)
Depart 5:55 pm
Terminal 2
 to  Fukuoka (FUK)
Arrive 7:55 pm
Terminal D2
566 mile(s) (911 km)
Duration: 2hr 0mn 

All Nippon Airways
Flight: 2145
Operated by: AIR NIPPON

14 June 2004

Japanese dentistry

As far as casual nothing-in-nothing-out days, this here, this has been a day to remember.

Earlier, I went to the dentist as there has been a hole in my tooth. Normally, this would be a bad thing (no offense to Dr. Mort or whatever), but today I was mostly happy because the work was done well under budget. And the national health coverage in Japan? Well, it took care of most of the bill. Reagan may have done many great things, but I don't think national health coverage was one of them. I suppose he can be excused as he was spending much of that time keeping the commies out of Latin America. And you know what, he did a fine job keeping the commies out of Latin America.

I quoted W in that earlier post primarily because, though I may be a liberal and a supporter of many things like national health coverage, I am first a Christian. And Ronald Reagan too shared in the glorious hope. So I rejoice in his death.

Following the dentist (line break), I went to the beach to study Japanese. Between reading this week’s story about a duck and studying my 10 Kanji for this lesson, I went swimming. Maybe standing in the water, looking out into the Pacific Ocean, the waves—a pulse: maybe all of this is the deepest natural theology I have ever experienced. Because if we learned nothing from our poetry and Bible classes it is this: everything is metaphor. You too, dear reader.

Which reminds me that I have had the pleasure of reading two incredibly compelling portfolio introductions from my former classmates who recently completed degrees in Creative Writing from my beloved alma mater. Truth poured from my computer screen. One day, I hope to write like these ladies.

Lastly, and second to lastly, I bought shorts for cheap, used my credit card, and went to a Bible study at Fukuoka University. I was able to understand a little more tonight. The war is only a series of battles.

More substantial news to follow, but I don’t have, you know, the particulars yet.

12 June 2004

Death

"Now death has done all that death can do, and as Ronald Wilson Reagan goes his way, we are left with the joyful hope he shared. In his last years he saw through a glass darkly. Now he sees his savior face to face."

10 June 2004

No, that's not funny

Our English classes hit an all-time low today when our group of three 7 to 10 year-old boys was supposed to be drawing pictures of elephants. Instead of drawing a picture of an elephant, Keiji thought it would be funny to stand on the table, drop his pants, and wave his penis at the other boys. Fortunately, I was sitting behind him the first time this happened. Dan got him to sit down, but after about two minutes of drawing, he got up to drop his pants again, this time mooning everyone. Taku-kun, who has recently had a problem poking people in the anus, immediately hopped out of his chair and tried to poke Keiji. They were all giggling hysterically.

We all deserve a little break after that paragraph.

Timmy, by default, wins the Haiku competition. Tom Bazan gets a kick in the teeth.

My English class also had a pretty crappy turnout of Haiku. No one finished the assignment and when I repeatedly asked them about it, Aoi-san (our resident Otolaryngologist) got really uncomfortable and started sweating. I will have to enjoy Haiku by myself, I guess.

There may be a typhoon this weekend. I intend to report on it hourly should the waters rise and DK and I get trapped in the apartment house.

08 June 2004

Hiaku

I'm officially having a haiku competition. Here's how it works:

1. You write a haiku. (that's a three line poem, for those of you who don't have access to Google: first line is 5 syllables, line 2 is 7 syllables, and line three is back to 5 syllables.)
1.5. And let's make sure we give some hint about what season it is too, 'huh? This isn't the bush league.
2. Post your haiku by commenting on this post.
3. Give me a couple of days and I'll, arbitrarily, pick the best one.

Also, if anyone out there can write a Japanese haiku and it's not dumb, well, you will probably win the competition.

What are you waiting for! Starting counting those syllables!

07 June 2004

on face is sweet,

Okay, today I told DK I would never post my poetry on this here blog, but I had to write a haiku for my Tuesday night English class. Of course, it is in Japanese, but it's very (loosely) a haiku. So I'm freaking proud and will now publish the English translation (which is not a Haiku):

Summer rain
on face is sweet,
warm

Oh yeah.

I rule because: This weekend, I bought a fan for 800¥ and tied it to the back of my scooter with just the cord. People been talking about how great Ronald Reagan was, but my question is: Did Ronald Reagan ever tie a freaking fan to the back of his scooter? I think we all know the answer to that question.

I don't rule so much because: On the same scooter, today, I just about lost my foot on a construction barrier. I also in an over-excited Japanese speaking fit, asked a woman today how old she was, rather than what year she was in school.

Also, Hagino san, our beloved translator, told me blatently that marrying a Japanese woman was not in the cards for me. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one seems to be that I can't speak Japanese.

06 June 2004

Juice

Hello, everyone.

There is very little to report, but I'm tired of this 'burbs picture being at the top of the page. I mean, enough is enough.

By the way, juice is on sale at the Nishitetsu Sutoa. 105¥ a shot. I bought five liters.

02 June 2004

The burbs

The Burbs is one of the funniest films I have ever seen. End transmission

31 May 2004

Caught in the rain


Yesterday at about 9:30 PM, the rainy season began. I was riding my scooter downtown and the deluge swept over me like a—well, like a deluge. It was miserable. My underwear was soaked. By the time I met DK in the train station, no part of my body was dry.

I’m not worried, though. Just now, me and Hagino san stood in the aisles of GooDay and picked out a matching raincoat and rainpants set. Now, I can ride my scooter without fear.

Last night I dreamt I was in a box that was slowly collapsing. I couldn’t find a way out. I was screaming for help and then I noticed the window to my room, and realized I was dreaming.

The Times is a wonderful publication. This article is incredibly interesting, and though I thought I might comment on it, I don’t think I will. Too much sex talk lately.

This also from the Times: "Ladies need affection," Colonel McClure announces. "Take a lesson, gentlemen. Learn an adjective or two. That's conversation."

Well said, Colonel McClure. Well said.

29 May 2004

Tea Ceremony

Well, this week DK and I took part in the famed Japanese Tea Ceremony. I ate bean curd, drank the most bitter tea I’ve ever tasted, and learned how to admire the simple things. I think the Kimono pictures pretty much speak for themselves. One day, I hope that we can do this ceremony with some beautiful Japanese women our own age. That would be wonderful.

IMG_3062

Yeah, I think the Kimono is dead-sexy. Fukuda san was a darn good hostess. She ripped that Tea making. After having sat on my knees (and on my one butt cheek) for nearly an nour and half, I just about fell over when we had to stand up.

Endnote: Thanks for bringing up the job search. It's going pretty well actually. 85% chance I will be returning home in August.

27 May 2004

Purity Rings

Sorry to mention Ms. Lavigne again, but I’m only going to do so as a means to talk about something else much more intelligent so please, bare with me. Ms. Lavigne sings in her new single about not being the kind of girl who “gives it all away.” As I have been thinking a lot about commodity and especially the comodification of sex, I find it really interesting that virginity is something one either “has” or doesn’t “have,” that virginity is something we “give” and “take.”  What is it I have or don’t have exactly.

There was a movement (the name of which I can’t recall) that was popular right before my sexual blooming in which young men and women signed cards pledging to abstain from sex until marriage. I guess you carried this card around as a way to remind yourself of your pledge. As I think back on it, it seems sort of silly: Jeffy and Janice burning with passion in the back of Jeffy’s Dodge suddenly remembering their abstinence cards and immediately getting back on track. Not that I wouldn’t have signed one of those things under the pressure of an emotional youth service and the high of finally being able to own something related to my virginity. Maybe the cards were really cool too.

Certainly, this might have worked for a majority of young, passionate Christians or aspiring sexually abstinent non-religious youths. I never tried so I can’t really posit my experience as evidence for or against the card.

Of course, this all relates to my junior  year in college when I wrote “Stephen’s Virginity” on a napkin and signed it. Then I tried to sell it to people (including Tom Bazan and other people I was allegedly acting as a spiritual guide for). No one ever bought it and after a couple of days, I lost it.

26 May 2004

The kind of grrrl

Here in Japan, Avril Lavigne is enjoying modest success with her new record, whatever it's called. This isn't really that ridiculous I guess, but given that not all US bands find a place in the J-POP world, it's interesting to me that Ms. Lavigne has a market here. More importantly and as many of you may know, I have, for several years, been nursing a crush on Ms. Lavigne and her no-nonesense, love-'em-and-leave rock, uh--Okay, I'm going to start that sentence over: I think Avril Lavigne is great, just great. She makes me blush (there, I said it). In a conversation tonight with the famed older brother, I began to say that I really like her voice, but caught myself when I realized how ridiculous what I was saying was. Of course I don't like Avril Lavigne's music. It's garbage. We all know that. And it's not that I'm really physical attracted to her. It's just that... well, as Richard Yates says, she makes my ears turn red. If you've heard her new single, you also know that she is a woman of virtue and isn't "that kind of grrrl." She wants to stop hanging out with guys who are all about the sex, and more interested in, well, I guess the Get Up Kids and the Dashboard Confessional. So really,  I can't go wrong. I think as far as safe crushes for an aspiring celibate like myself to have, Ms. Lavigne is the tops. So tell everyone you know, if you want.

24 May 2004

Life as we know it

"The network describes 'Life As We Know It' as a 'series about three hormone-charged teenage boys who are trying to do something even harder than losing their virginity, and that's to grow up without totally freaking out.'"

22 May 2004

Jesus Freak

Okay, I gots some things to say about music. Strap that helmet on, this is going to be a wooly one:

My entry begins way back in the early 90’s. I had cut-off jean shorts, a bunch of POGs, and a crush on a girl named Sarah Bush. Everyday was another new feeling. In ’92 or ’93 I attended my very first rock concert ever: DC Talk on their Free at Last Tour, New Mexico State University. I was real stoked about going except that me and my sister Martha had to go with our dumb parents, where as DeWalt (the famed older brother) got to go with the youth group. This was right up there with the injustice of him getting to see “Jurassic Park” while I just got to collect those dumb McDonalds cups with dinosaur pictures.

The concert was fabulous. Everybody stood through the whole thing expect my dumb parents who sat with their earplugs in and looked annoyed. DC Talk was doing the whole “my band is my ministry” thing so they talked for quite a long time about Jesus. I remember feeling vindicated as my parents had to admit there was something redeeming in the whole spectacle. This was all around the time Amy Grant’s “Heart in Motion”/”House of Love” came out (I had “House of Love” thank-you very much) so people were talking about Christian music finally getting to be big with the non-Christians. The lead singer of the DC Talk, one Toby “Mac,” said (and I remember this very clearly), “People been asking me, ‘Toby, when’s DC Talk going to cross-over?’ and I tell them, ‘DC Talk isn’t crossing-over unless we can cross-over with the cross.’” This was met with the wild cheers of the largely Christian audience, and though I don’t think it ever really materialized, I remember thinking that would be great.

I later saw DC talk again (on the “Jesus Freak” tour) without my parents and ended up much closer to the stage. It was wonderful.

For both of these tours, a band called “Audio Adrenaline” opened the show. I was riding my scooter home from the city tonight, and I suddenly remembered a song of their’s about public schools being a mission field for young Christians. The line I remembered went something like “They pay to put you in the classes/ it’s your chance to reach the masses." This song was on the “Don’t Censor Me” album, but now as I think about it, I’m not really sure why Audio Adrenaline was afraid of being censored.

As a side note, this was also the time that my brother and sister and I were really into Michael Jackson. “Free Willy” had just come out and we loved that song. It was an anthem, again as I remember it.

I never did end up going out with Sarah Bush (or actually talking to her for that matter). I wonder if she still has all that hair and is still single…

Anyway, so tonight I was out in downtown Fukuoka, just keeping it real and ended up in a park where about 5 different bands, from a couple guys with acoustic guitars to a whole band with a PA and everything, had set up and were making music. I stood around and watched the band with the PA for a little while because they were the loudest. They had a guy playing the bass, someone on the djembe, a singer/ acoustic guitar player, and a guy playing lead guitar. It was like Japanese *Nsync with guitars. I wanted to offer them a little bit of advice, not that I’m an expert on the musical whatnot, but I’ve been in several bands with varying degrees of marginal success and maybe I can help them out:

1. Don’t pay more than $20.00 (2000 ¥) for a haircut. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who plays a guitar who should pay more than $20 for a haircut. Additionally, don’t die your hair blonde if you’re Japanese. God made it black for a reason, man.
2. You can’t, CAN’T rock a solo on a Fender 15 watt practice amp. And no, your hip gyrations aren’t helping. You too, Mr. Knock-off Rickenbackerbass.
3. Though I can totally respect playing in the park (heck, my band once played praise music at a Lutheran pastor's convention for $50), maybe you shouldn’t pretend you’re playing a club. It’s the park, man. Unplug and get rid of the hands-free microphone
4. Don’t berate the crowd into standing closer to you or worse yet, sitting on the “orangee sheeto” (read tarp) you’ve brought for people to sit on.
5. The English chorus isn’t working for anyone. The people that can understand it think it’s ridiculous and the people that can’t, well, can’t.
6. Don’t hand out flyers saying you’ll be in the park next week. That’s pathetic.

But the best thing is how many times I saw this tonight: a guy playing the guitar (maybe 17 years old) and a girl standing about 10 yards away, singing along and blushing. Because in Japan you don’t get to see that kind of public affection/ adoration often. And though the music sucks and it’s got no soul, some kid picked up a guitar and wrote about how much he likes some girl. That’s what rock and rolls really all about, I think. So keep on truckin’ Japanese rock band. I believe in you.

The Last Emperor

The Last Emperor is a film you might want to see. It’s breath-taking, absolutely breath-taking. And despite several very awkward breast-feeding scenes, one involving a 12 year-old that I’m not convinced we needed to see, it’s really an incredibly solid movie. Also, it’s about Asia, and Asia, friend--well, Asia is the best place on earth.

My sister is graduating from college this weekend, and I’m trying not to think about it too much as I am here on the other side of the freaking world.

My e-mail address is changing for all of you who enjoy the occasional e-mail correspondence with me. As I have now been graduated from college for a year (yeah, I totally don’t believe it either), my school address (Spihlaja@knox.edu) is expiring. Now, you must reach me at MySonAbsalom@hotmail.com. Also, I may occasionally be available at MySonAbsalom@knoxalumni.org. Additionally, I plan to move to Google’s server once they get their crap together.

18 May 2004

Genki

Well, let's just say Genki: An Integrated Course in Japanese has darn near changed my life. I've been learned more in two days of reading this book then I've learned in a month and a half of tutoring. A systematic, simple approach to the language: who'd have thunk it?
Anyway, now, armed with the power to speak in sentences with more than one verb (an unlimited number of verbs, really), I can now say things like, "Today, before teaching English, I ate a pita from KFC and it was good and I made a mess of my shirt." See? Japanese fluency, here I come.

Asashoryu is 8-1. The rather quiet response to yesterday's Sumo introduction will lead me to believe that maybe only one comment about Sumo is needed.

(That sentence was a train wreck. I couldn't say that in Japanese. No way.

I totally was on Timmy's show yesterday and pissed Don off by saying that Rueben Studdard shouldn't say damn in his songs because it's corrupting the kids. I don't think Don realized I was making a joke. Later, I said I wanted to be reincarnated as Timmy's roommate Donny, but I don't think anyone heard me say that. Thanks, Timmy, for the good music and good times.

The job hunt is pretty lame. I don't know why I even brought it up.

But, more than likely, this summer will bring the Great Wall of China and the Minnesota State Fair. It will be the best summer ever.

16 May 2004

Sumo san

Well, for all of you who are following the sumo tournament via my IM messages (which is probably nobody, actually…never mind, I’m going to start again.)

Well, as many of you know, I am a big fan of Sumo. For all you inbreds out there who just think sumo is a bunch of fat naked guys grabbing at each other: you’re wrong. Sumo is a sport of great talent and agility. Every match is epic. Anyway, right now we have the Spring Tokyo Basho going on, one of the six Sumo tournaments held every year. The tournament will last for 15 days and each wrestler has to wrestler once a day. Asashoryu is a Yokozuna, the highest ranking Sumo class. He rules. He’s from Mongolia and takes no crap from nobody. He says, basically, No one tells Asashoryu who Asashoryu needs to respect expect Asashoryu. Going into this tournament (and for the first five or six bouts) he had the fourth longest winning streak in the sport. The last time he had lost was in Kyushu. Well, these things can’t last forever and he finally lost on Friday (or Thursday, but I think it was Friday.)


Asashoryu’s one loss was handed to him by none other than Hokutoriki.  Hokutoriki had been having a darned good run this time around and was undefeated until today, when he basically missed the jump at the beginning of his bout and Wakanosato more or less had his way with him.

Takamisakari is a spaz, a cartoon of a man. He just makes the dude angry. His presence in the sport is a joke. Anyway, he wrestled Asashoryu yesterday, and surprise, surprise got run into the ground. I was a little worried because after Asashoryu ran him into the ground, Asashoryu was limping. He was okay though. As far as Takamisakari goes, I just want to put my arm around him and say, “Dude, give it up.” He is also on this dumb commercial selling spices for rice. Somone needs to give him the ol' pipe wrench to the knee. Why does that vicious underhanded crap only happen in figure skating?

(Non-Sumo related news)

Pipe smoking is, unfortunately, one of the best things in the world. I now enjoy it once a month, but if it didn’t cause mouth, lung, and (or) throat cancer, let’s just say I’d be smoking now.

After having been a fan of their live show for years, I finally got the Denali record. It's neat.  Since they broke up, I will have to console myself with the recorded version of these songs, but really, it just can't compare to the show. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful, but a Denali show, the Fireside Bowl in the sweltering press of summer? Really, can anything else compare?

Finally, I fell asleep on the train next to a girl. When I opened my eyes, the bench had cleared and we were the only two people sitting there, right next to each other. In Japan, this sort of intimate thing can just happen by chance, right there on the train. It doesn't bother me.

15 May 2004

The others

Hello fans and lovers,

The Pedro record, like a fine wine, just gets better.

Last night, I viewed the film “The Others” for a second time. I hoped to post a frame from the film up here, but my search on Yahoo! photos turned up a great deal of pornography so I gave up. Anyway, the point is, in “The Others,” light plays a very important role in most all of the shots. The darkness swallows people up. That is by far the most important thing about the film to me.

I’m currently on a fast from news, and the internet in general (except for Xanga, Hotmail, and Pitchfork) as I realized, after another night of nightmares about the war, that I was entirely too wrapped up in what was going on. Maybe taking a break from following it so closely will help me get some sleep.

DK and I are arguing over who is the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. Dan says Frank Sinatra, I say Will Smith. Your opinions will be welcomed.

Also, I will be on the radio on Sunday night, as noted earlier. Please tune in and turn it up. Many surprises, I’m sure. Many, many surprises.

Endnote: Other possibilities for Entertainer of the Century: Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, and Chris Rock

12 May 2004

An octopus escaping, an elaborate, surreal opera

Well, everyone, note that I am listening (to) the new Pedro. Oooo-la-ooooo-la-li. It's sweeter than most every kind of candy. It's also about how Patriarchy has failed us. This is something that the dude is very interested in because Patriarchy has been failing him now for almost three months. Bazan's singing about running away and stuff. Yeah, man. Yeah.

So last week me and the Shiota kids were talking about the difference between pretty and ugly. I don't know how I feel about teaching kids about what is pretty and what is ugly as all that is pretty arbitrary and the source of a good deal of pain in, uh, somone's life, I'm sure. But anyway, here I have drawn what I consider "pretty." She looks sort of like this girl I know. I guess I'm a little surprised that my vision of what is pretty now. I like this picture a lot. I like that she's got a bow in her hair. I'm hoping that one night, she will come alive and I will wake up and she will be sitting at my desk. I will probably have to say hello in Japanese though, because I don't think she speaks English. Maybe we'd go for a walk.

The job search blows. I don't know if I'll get to stay in Fukuoka. Stay tuned.

I've been telling a story in Japanese about talking to some goats at Noko no Shima. I think this story is only funny to me and maybe the first people I told it to. But man, the goats speak ENGLISH. That's why it's so funny.

Also, I'm going to be on the radio at 10 on Sunday night, on Timmy's show. Expect most of the new Pedro record. And maybe Asian 20 Questions. Plus, my commentary on American Idol, the war in Iraq, and your mom.

Last night, DK and I and some people from the church went to the Fish Market at 3 in the morning. I went to sleep before we went so when I woke up, the whole thing felt like a dream. Fukuoka wasn't helping either as the streets were pretty empty and, well, it's Japan. The fish market was incredible. It was only for fish wholesalers, so we stood up in the gallery and just watched. A heap load of fish. If you looked out the windows of the gallery, the boats were coming in with the new fish. I spent about seven minutes staring at a woman smoking a cigarette and sorting bait. The whole thing--the light fog on the ocean, the Japanese of the auctioneer, an octopus escaping from his cooler--it was like an elaborate, surreal opera.

11 May 2004

Richard Yates

The more I read Richard Yates, the more at home I feel. Because Richard Yates just wrote the same story over and over. And I can't seem to stop writing the same story over and over. So for everyone who's been criticized for writing the same story over and over, I say, Man, it's dirt off your shoulder. Let's all spend some time with Dick Yates. He will make us feel home again.

10 May 2004

I'm sick

Some things of note:
  1. I'm sick. I'm not really sure with what, but it involves sweating and my nose running. Also, the dark matter.
  2. My mother-loving testimony plodded along. Nothing spectacular. I got through it.
  3. I think I have a job interview in Nagoya. It's sort of everything I don't want as far as where it is and when it begins, but everything I want as far as what kind of job it is. Also, they're sponsor my visa. And that, that's a thing the dude needs a whole heap lot.
  4. Additionally, this not working full-time is going to kill me. I don't know what to do with myself anymore. Oh, oh wait:
  5. I bought a Playstation. Oh yeah, it is incredible. Come over sometime and I'll kick your butt at Tekken 2.

07 May 2004

Bi-Partisan

This will be a bi-partisan post:

Thank-you, President Bush. I was surprised, proud, whatever when I read this. We put politics aside for a minute and did the right thing. And I respect that immensely.

I was also touched by this photo. Yes, of course, we should be skeptical of anything from the campaign trail, but this moment, for whatever it’s worth, seemed genuine to me.

Okay, now to defend Mr. Kerry some: You know, I’ve heard a lot of people ripping on Kerry for changing his mind. Gasp! John Kerry changed his mind: he can’t be trusted. Well, you know what, I for one don’t really have that much of a problem with folks changing their mind. Why? Because, you know, sometimes we do the wrong thing and have to change our mings. John Kerry, like me, takes a crap in the morning. He brushes his teeth too. Sometimes, like me and you, he changes his mind. Why do we expect that our public figures should hold exactly the same views for the whole of their public lives? What about freaking personal growth? Isn't there any room for that?

Okay, a caveat: if Mr. Kerry is just changing his mind to feed the monkey (as I suspect is sometimes the case) then he has no love from the dude. Because though Mr. Kerry and I may be similar in many ways, there’s one thing the dude doesn’t do: and that’s feed the monkey.

(Evidence of the Dude feeding the monkey forthcoming, I’m sure.)

This wasn’t a very intelligent sounding post.

06 May 2004

Mother-loving Testimonies

Well, the mother-loving testimony continues to plug along. I’m practicing reading it out-loud so that on Sunday I don't sound like a complete dunce fumbling my ne's and mu's. It’s been going well, I think. I still have three days to practice.

Yesterday, under the pretense of meeting some people from States (alright, alright, girls from States), I went to a bar that smelled like a urinal and listened to James Brown records with a bunch of people. It was more fun than I’ve had in a very long time. And, no man, there weren't any girls from the States. I just sat on a couch, drank a cherry coke, and told Superb Dan he was wildly misguided to say that Bob Dylan really wasn't all that great. Bob Dylan, man.

Can’t we just say we’re sorry? I mean, I’m very sorry. I’m sure most of us are. In fact, if you aren’t sorry, you’re a bad person. So let’s swallow our fricking pride and say that we’re sorry.

This is the worst news I’ve heard in a couple of weeks.

Please, also: believe in what you want. As you are believing in what you want, you will see pictures of me with Japanese women who are much older than me and for whom, yesterday, I acted as a sort of multi-purpose “ethnic” presence. This included explaining what the cooties are. And also taking my picture with some goats that totally weren’t into having their picture taken with me.

Endnote: I think it's weird that Elizabeth's site can be linked with the word "urinal."

03 May 2004

Goruden Uiku

Hello, everyone. Here in Japan we are celebrating a week of holidays known as Golden Week (in Japanese “Goluden Uiku”). Unfortunately, the weather is not co-operating and it has not stopped raining since yesterday afternoon. This pins Steve-o down in the apartment as he has no money to take the train anywhere. So he’s been reading Richard Yates.

Richard Yates is best read when it’s raining, though if you’re not careful, you can get pretty depressed. For those of you who have read _Revolutionary Road_ (the best post-modern novel if you don’t count _Gravity’s Rainbow_), you know what I’m talking about. More or less, Yates’ characters stumble around in a drunken stupor arguing with one another. This, unfortunately, is an accurate description of Richard Yates’ life as well.

Anyway, at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Yates was a mentor of Robin Metz who I like to think of as one of my mentors. Yates really rubbed off on Robin as Robin is a kind of Richard Yates II without the novel. Given that I’m sort of in this “line” of writers, I’m wondering I’m doomed to several marriages of varying success and a life of alcoholism. I hope the brilliant novel just skips a generation.

I am working on a short story, but it is neither about alcoholism or California.

Okay, it stopped raining.

I added a module on the side of my site with quotes from stuff I’m reading. The first one was from Bell Hooks about Black racism and White supremacy. Read _Black Looks_. Enough said. Now, please note the Yates’ quote. Although I myself prefer the more celibate lifestyle and imagine that sexual intercourse outside the confines of a loving, monogamous, marriage relationship only incurs the wrath of the Almighty, I like this quote a whole lot.

Speaking of sex (well, not sex exactly, but just Steve-o/ female relations in general which I assure you don’t involve sex), several things of note: 1- (from an e-mail to Tom Bazan) There was this girl at the grocery store yesterday, bagging. Sweet moses. We made eye-contact like six times in the five minutes I wandered around the store. I wanted to say so badly in Japanese, “If you weren’t Buddhist and you spoke English, I would like to go for a walk with you sometime.” 2- Additionally, I had a dream about a girl. We talked for a while and I fell asleep. It was very nice.

I don't think I'll ever see the girl in the grocery store again. If I did, the best I could do is: “You’re Buddhist and you can’t speak English. I want to walk with you.”

It's raining again.

Endnote 1: I watched _Jackass: The Movie_ last night. Oh man. I don't think there are a lot of things funnier than Johnny Knoxville asking Dave England: "Is this the worst you've ever had to go boom-boom?"
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