21 December 2003

Hit by a car

Well, it finally happened. I got hit by a car while riding my bicycle. This guy was pulling out of a parking lot and didn’t look both ways. I was thinking, Surely he sees me. No way he doesn’t see me. Before I knew it I was on the asphalt. The guy pretended he didn’t see me, but I’m pretty sure he couldn’t have missed my body (which is not a small body) sprawled on the ground. Anyway, I’m fine. Not bruises or anything. There weren’t any cars coming in the lane so I didn’t die.

This interview excerpt from our President is more than a little unnerving. Berto had told me that he heard Saddam was sedated when they pulled him out of “the rat hole.” I couldn’t find anything official about that, but I did find this which is just about as interesting I think. What exactly is "ultimate justice"?

"Would you like to see him?
No. I don't care to see him.
I have no - I've seen him. I've seen enough of him. I saw him getting deloused and after having been pulled out a rat hole. "

Also, let me shove some more pacifism and Stanley Hauerwas down your throat:

"Christians are not called to be heroes or shoppers. We are called to be holy. We do not think holiness is an individual achievement, but rather a set of practices to sustain a people who refuse to have their lives determined by the fear and denial of death. We believe by so living we offer our non-Christian brothers and sisters an alternative to all politics based on the denial of death. Christians are acutely aware that we seldom are faithful to the gifts God has given us, but we hope the confession of our sins is a sign of hope in a world without hope. This means pacifists do have a response to September 11, 2001. Our response is to continue living in a manner that witnesses to our belief that the world was not changed on September 11, 2001. The world was changed during the celebration of Passover in a.d. 33."

DK and I talked about a PETA flyer last night. I’m a bit of a hypocrite as far as my anti-fur stance goes because I wear leather shoes. I still hold to the argument that leather shoes serve more of a purpose than a fur coat, but consider the wind taken out of my anti-fur stance.

17 December 2003

Santa san

Yeah, I know. No, I'm not drunk. It's a long story:

So I got up this morning and was eating my Charlie Brown cereal getting all pumped up for this whatnot and Hagino san, our middle-aged woman translator, called to ask if I wanted a ride to the Kindergarten. She's pretty aggressive about giving us rides which I'm cool about, but I'm trying to cut the cord as it were. So I told her I could make it over myself and thought I had cut the cord, but when 10:40 rolled around and I was leaving to go to the Kindergarten, she was there, waiting to drive me.

We pulled around the back of the school like I was told (by the way, the back side of the school is right on the bay. It rules). I knocked on the door and rang the doorbell like 4 times, but no one showed up. Eventually, Hagino san decided to call them, which she did and instead of the back door opening, the window opened and a couple of old ladies told me that they wanted me to come through the window. "They're kidding, right?" I asked Hagino san, and she said that they weren't. So I climbed up into the window and had to take my shoes off in the process because you can't wear your shoes inside. I guess the coming through the window was important because everyone here is paranoid that the children never learn that Santa san's not real. If I came in the door, they might see me. Paranoid, kids. To an unhealthy degree.

I waited in an office that had all the curtains drawn, though I could hear a mass of children running around outside. Hagino san and I sat and had tea while we waited for the festivities to begin. The old ladies decided I shouldn't put the costume on until before the actual event as to not risk the children seeing me so I just sat around in the red pants. After sitting around for a while and a rather long silence, Hagino san looked at me and said, "Are you trying to grow a beard?" and I touched my burgeoning moustache awkwardly and said, "Yeah, well a moustache really." Then there was another long silence and she said, "Why?" "Why?" I said "Yeah, why?" "Well, that's what you do when you turn twenty-one. You grow a moustache." She looked skeptical. "What, didn't you grow a moustache when you were twenty-one?" and Hagino san just laughed.

Throughout the waiting, people came in and out of the office, all with pleas that I not be found out. After about a half-hour, the old women decided to get me all guised up (note the picture). You can't see the boots they made me wear, but they were those old-school rain boots that were about three sizes too small. I made them fit though. So we waited another half-hour until he kids started singing the Santa san song and I made my way out of the office.

Now, again so that I wouldn't be noticed, they made me take off my glasses. I'm not real graceful as it is and given the lack of my glasses and the shoes that didn't really fit, I was having a hard time walking and had to be guided by the arm. I got into the auditorium and the kids went wild. I couldn't really see, but there were probably seventy kids plus another hundred, hundred twenty adults. I hadn't really practiced my Santa san voice, but it came right out when I got going. So I made my way to the front of the auditorium and there was a kindgarten teacher up there sort of leading things with the Principal behind me translating. I greeted the kids with some crap about how I was happy to be in Fukuoka and how I couldn't wait to see them next week. I can't underplay how shocked the kids were. I mean, they were convinced duder was Santa san. No question.

After the nicities, six kids each got to ask a question (I had been supplied the questions earlier). You know, why does Santa san wear red? or How do you know where everyone's house is? I think I relied a little too heavily on the, "Oh, it's magic" answer. The kids finished asking their questions and then I gave three gifts to three kids out of my bag. Then the principal asks me, over the loudspeaker if I have gifts for the other kids. I answered saying that I would have gifts for all the good kids next week. He looked like that wasn't the right answer, and the teacher started talking and the Principal translated, Now, Santa san, don't you have gifts for the kids today? I was really confused, so I asked him, I don't know, do I? Again with the secrecy thing, he didn't answer and looked more worried so I dug around in my bag seeing if there was something I had missed, but it only had empty boxes in it. The teacher kept talking while I was looking and smoothed things over, I guess, because they told me I could go and sang the Santa san song again.

Okay, so I don't think duder has a career in this, but it was good fun. Plus, they gave me fifty bucks. That was pretty cool. Sensei's son who goes to the kindergarten apparently talked to his sister about Santa san being a foreigner. His sister who has recently been disillusioned when she found out Santa san was a fraud said, "Oh really? Last year Santa san was Japanese." I don't think Kento figured it out.

So, that's all, really, from this week.

13 December 2003


My creepy ear rash has all but dissipated so I’m feeling like I can do just about anything I put my heart to. And speaking of putting my heart to doing something, yesterday I changed a bike tire without much of the modern amenities one would think one might need to change a bicycle tire like a roof over one's head and a nail gun. I really surprised myself when I finally got everything put back together and the bike actually worked. I also know at least four of five wrong ways to put the brake back together. Also, my feet are cold.

11 December 2003

Raining in Fukuoka

Again, it's raining in Fukuoka and today’s news is rather dull so I’ll have to tell a story from yesterday: I’m going to be Santa Claus at a local kindergarten. I’m not real clear why they asked me and I think it’s partially because I’m bigger than most Japanese, but it sounded like fun so I agreed. Yesterday, I went over to the church where the school is to learn the ins-and-outs of being a Japanese Santa Claus. It’s pretty involved actually.

I have to sneak into the building at about 11 in the morning next Wednesday. The principal was very adamant about that. Apparently last year one of the kids recognized the Santa and some sort of unspeakable disaster occurred. Anyway, so I sneak in at 11 and put on the costume in one of the back rooms. I tried it on yesterday in front of the principal and one of the teachers. They seemed like it would work (“Segoi! Wow! Good Santa!”). I get to wear a beard and everything too and ring some sleigh bells.

At about 11:30 there’s going to be this assembly and the kids are going to sing a Santa Claus song and then when they get to the second verse they're going to start yelling, “Santa san! Santa san!” and I’m supposed to come into the assembly, ringing the bells and saying ho-ho-ho and all that crap. Then the kids will settle down and I’m supposed to greet them. “In Japanese?” I asked, but the principal was pretty adamant: “Oh no, no, in English. I’ll translate.” I’m a little confused about this because if they want the children to think I’m the real Santa Claus, shouldn’t I speak Japanese? I mean, can’t Santa speak all languages? This didn’t seem to be a big concern for them. After I greet the children, I’m supposed to answer six questions that will be provided to me on Wednesday. Apparently each class gets to ask one question. Then I give gifts to three of the kids from my bag and leave the assembly. I’m sort of like Batman.

All that to say, I’ve been working on my Santa voice, but it still sucks. Dan’s going to come to take pictures so I may be able to let you see what happened.

08 December 2003

Butt washers & other miscellanea

One day, I plan to take a ride on a butt washer. They're everywhere here..

Fukuoka got cold all of a sudden. I had to buy mittens and a scarf. I also caught a cold. All of these things are bad things for the most part, except that before our evening class tonight I laid in front of the kerosene heater and got pretty warm pretty quickly. My old man was here over the weekend: he left early this morning. I went with Sensei and Hagino san to take him to the airport and was back at the house by 7:30. I went to bed a second time and when I woke up, the whole weekend felt like the most surreal dream I have ever had. I can't put my finger on what was so odd about it. Of course, I love my father dearly, but the weekend was a little more than I could handle.

I think two of our students were hitting on Dan and I tonight. It was pretty weird.

I like Rilo Kiley. I think that's okay.

Curiously, my moustache is actually coming through. I will post a picture maybe next week. It's not quite there yet. Getting there, but not quite there.

I got to talk to a drunk guy on the train this weekend. He was very excited that the US and Japan are fighting together in Iraq. My dad videotaped some of the conversation. Anyway, it was funny enough.

06 December 2003

Teaching death

Best I can tell Friday was a beneficial day for all involved. Let me explain: During our English class this morning, we began talking about the end of the world. Our students were pretty interested. Talked around the subject for the most part, said that one should probably have an idea about what one believes about God regardless of whether the world is going to end or not. We could die tomorrow, right? I said. Our students seemed to agree, as Japanese mostly do about everything you say.

You know, North Korea may not seem like a threat to you all on the other side of the world, but people here are a little bit more aware. That's the backyard, kids: right across the moat.

Last night, now that I have the internet, I watched an in studio performance by The Postal Service. It was pretty sweet. Much better then no live music.

My old man is here and that's been pretty cool. He's doing a good job with all the awkwardness of being in a society that's so wildly different. It made me very aware of how awkward I still am. Sensei seemed to like him so that's cool.

I can only get Japanese google. What's the deal with that?

For what it's worth, I can't find the webpage for the mulleted Japanese boy band that rocked the World Cup Volleyball tournament. I'm more than a little upset. When I find it, I will post it. Either that, or a picture from a toilet here with a guy sitting on a toilet and getting his butt washed.

Speaking of butts, I have this creepy ear rash that I'm trying to get rid of so I went down to the local what-have-you to try and get some anti-itch cream. The best I could find was this stuff that was in a display featuring pictures of like a bunch of different skin irritations. One of them was of some guy's butt, that had like a pimple on it. I don't think that's going to help me at all.

03 December 2003

Riding around

Let's just say that we have the Internet. I'm pretty stoked about the whole thing and will be writing more now. For today, I thought I would copy and paste a story from my journal and then go ride my bike.

From a couple of weeks ago:
"Today, during our English class with Koga san (the older gentleman who talked to us about the war last week), we had an exercise where we looked at pictures of people and tried to choose adjectives to describe them. Koga san looked at the first picture of a woman looking very contemplative and came up with a litany of adjectives, from modest to outgoing to arrogant. He added: I can only see her face, but I think she might also be fat. Looking at a picture of “Mr. Johnson,” an older man who seemed annoyed, Koga san decided that he probably had a garden and retired from a company with a very high standing. He’s very content with his life, he said, He likes to spend time with his grandchildren. Koga san also added, He’s probably very opinionated with people younger than him. Looking at a picture of a younger man, smiling, Koga san concluded that he might like women a lot. Dan, laughing, asked if he would go out with Andrea (the first girl). Koga san looked at the pictures again, and decided that they probably wouldn’t."
Yesterday, when describing the ideal student, he said, "Someone who doesn't bother police officers and is clean of drugs and the ladies like him a lot."

Much more soon.

01 December 2003

Orsen and Andrew

Still no Internet at the apartment house. I will continue to talk about not having it until we get it. And no news in Japan is good news. My old man is stopping by this weekend to make some trouble best he knows how. It should be a lot of fun. We were going to head down to the Fukuoka Blue Note to catch some wild Jazz, but Take 6 is playing this weekend. Now, I like gospel a capella as much as the next guy, but you gotta draw a line in the sand somewhere. I draw it at Take 6.

Andrew WK is coming to Japan but it's about $60 to see him. Seems a little pricey Andrew. Think you might cut that in half a couple times? Yo La Tengo is also playing, again for $60. Things are just more expensive here. I hate that. I may not see any good live music until I get back to the States. Then I shall go to every show I can go to. Every one.

Saw Taxidriver last night and I'm looking for a screen shot from the film that I really liked, but it's nowhere to be found. When I do, I'll post it.

Word is we should have our modem in 2-3 business days then maybe it will be working within the week. I'm not making any promises though. In fact, I'm guessing it will be two weeks until we get it. Or more.

There's nothing good on television. I watched a show this weekend where two fat guys go around eating at different restaurants. Then they are joined by a fat woman who eats with them. They went to a public bath too. It was kind of sick. Anyway, it's all that's on.