27 February 2004

Praising things

Okay, after yesterday’s entry, I need to re-claim a little decency. I sounded like a Conservative.(I will, however take one more swipe about gay marriage: The Johns keep saying that Bush is trying to shift the election debate away from what people are really interested in — ie. jobs or the economy or something boring like that — to gay marriage. Sorry, Johns: People do care, it IS in the public discourse. I wonder why you don’t want to talk about it…Oh wait, wait, I know why you don’t want to talk about it: you think Bush is right. So while Bush energizes his base with his position, you alienate your base of left-over sixties liberals. Another dirty little secret. But to set the record straight: I am mostly a liberal. I would have voted for Howard Dean.

Now, back to Jay-Z: so I’m really digging this “Grey Album” and wonder how I relate to this record given my background, my race, whatever. I think the answer is that I can’t relate to it. And though I may enjoy it aesthetically, there will always be a disconnect between me and the content of the music. I always thought that white people who listen to hip-hop are just lying to themselves, but I think that lying only happens when white people think they can relate to the music as a black person relates to it. Word to your mother: you will always be white. And that's okay. I can’t relate to Jay-Z. He is a talented musician. His music makes me bob my head and it engages me. But I will never know what it means to be a young black man who is being mistreated because I am black. For whatever that’s worth.

Rap and George Bush

So many new and exciting things.

Okay, I downloaded DJ Danger Mouse's remix of The Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album (yeah, that's right, Jay-Z). I can't really believe that I think this is as good as I do.

You know, Rosie O'Donnell, I think you're great and all, but this here may be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard: "I think the actions of the president are, in my opinion, the most vile and hateful words ever spoken by a sitting president," O'Donnell said on the program. "I am stunned and I'm horrified." What did George Bush say? "We should also conduct this difficult debate in a manner worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger."  Yeah, I totally think that's outrageous. I mean, someone, please, stop the madness.

Okay, Rosie, I'm being facetious and facetious is just a big word for "funny" because A) You have no idea what you're talking about because A) you didn't listen to what Bush said and B) you haven't ever heard a Presidential speech ever and no, Hillary Clinton talking about how hot Tom Cruise is doesn't count and C) you can't read and D) you don't have any idea what "sitting President" means and E) "actions...spoken?" come on, Rosie: that's bush league and — back to the first list- uh, crap, I forgot what I was saying.

It boils down to this right now: no one supports gay marriage. From the beloved John "I'll-save-you-all-from-the-horror-of-Washington-insiders" Kerry down to Howard "Crap-what-happened-to-my-fricken-campaign-oh-wait-wait-now-I-remember" Dean. So Bush doesn't support gay marriage. Big dirty secret, Rosie: Everyone everyone agrees with him.

Okay, so do I support gay marriage? Well, not in the church, no. In the State? Well, I would vote against it, if I got to vote about it, but, frankly, I'm not going to get my panties all out of order because of it.

Jay-Z say, "All I got is my balls and my word." I add, "and my pipe." Yeah, Jay-Z. Yeah.

26 February 2004

Al DiMeola

That's right, kids. This evening DK and I saw the best fusion guitarist in the world, Mr. Al Di-fricken'-Meola. It ruled like nothing else: hands down the best musicians I have ever heard and probably one of the best five shows of all time. The band was rabid; DK called it controlled chaos. It was the kind of Jazz that makes you wonder why you ever listen to any other kind of music.

22 February 2004

Still an idiot

After studying Japanese for two hours, I feel dumber than I did when I began. This last week, in hopes to bolster my plans to be fluent by then end of 2005 (okay, maybe not fluent, but competent), I picked up a second Japanese tutor. Don't get me wrong, Hanaka sensei rules and all, but she's a little less systematic than my new tutor, Ishizuka sensei. My plan has been for Hanaka sensei to teach me how to talk, and Ishiszuka sensei to teach me how to write and give me a more systematic approach to the language (I learn best from writing, for all you ed. majors out there who find that interesting). Anyway, so I met with Ishizuka sensei on Saturday to pick out a book and have our first class. We went to the bookstore and I mentioned sort of off-hand that I'd like to learn some Kanji.

Quick Japanese language lesson: Japanese is comprised of three systems of writing. You got your Hiragana which is for phonetically spelling words of Japanese origin. I know Hiragana pretty well. Then you got your Katakana which is for phonetically spelling words of foreign origin. You can read some Katakana and infer the meaning most times because it sounds like English, generally. Anyway, I'm working on Katakana right now and I have about 40% proficiency in reading it. Okay, then you have your Kanij which are actually Chinese characters, and these mothers represent whole ideas or words, not sounds. The two at the top of this blog mean "ai" or "love" and "Nihongo" or "Japanese." Get the irony? There are some 10,000 Kanji in Japanese and I guess you need to know 3,000 to read a newspaper. I know about 20 or 25 right now.

I'd like to read some Kanji and Ishizuka sensei pulls this book off the shelf and is thumbing through it and says, "This looks good I think" and hands it to me. Well, I mean, I don't really know, but I'm bothered that it's called Introduction to Intermediate Japanese and I say this to Ishizuka sensei: "Won't this be maybe a little hard? I mean, I'm not really that good yet." And she looks at it again and was like, "Maybe it will be okay. I hope it's not to easy" and I'm like, "No, no, I doubt that." So I got that book and another one called Introduction to 250 Basic Kanji.

Our lesson lasted just about 45 minutes and we got through one sentence in the book. Ishizuka sensei again assured me that it would be okay, but I just spent about an hour of my studying just trying to separate words in the next three paragraphs. I suck and my head hurts. The Kanji book is much easier though. Really simple six or seven stroke Kanji that are easy to understand.

So all this reminds me that a bunch of people got Kanji tattoos because they were cool about five years ago. In fact, this one girl I worked with this summer insisted on showing me her Kanji tattoos that meant, she explained, "Sleeping Unicorn." There was also a picture of a sleeping unicorn (no irony there). I felt really awkward, standing in our office, with what's-her-name, pulling up the her shirt so that I could look at her dumb tattoos. I think the moral is don't get a Kanji tattoo.

20 February 2004


What's up, Friday night. You could not have come sooner.

I'm listening to The Digital Kill and Braille, but they're not a part of the Amazon empire. Yet.

Well, I spent today out and about, traveling my bike to Futumigaura beach, my new haven away from my, uh, other haven.

Although from what I know of Shinto religion it is not a very hope-filled religion and I don't really understand Pantheism, this form of worship is incredible to me.

19 February 2004

Smoking my pipe

Recently, I purchased a pipe on ebay and also some tobacco from another online seller. Now that I am becoming a pipe smoker I’ve been thinking about 101 different ways I will smoke my pipe. By the way, it took me for-fricken-ever to write this so show some courtesy and at least read the first 60.

1) In the men's/ ladies' room
2) On the freaking beach
3) On a scooter
4) On a train
5) When I’m feeling a little bit cynical
6) With a fox
7) While teaching English to children
8) While listening to Godspeed!
9) On the apartment balcony
10) At a baseball game
11) While eat some sort of nut or nut by-product
12) While drinking a Smirnoff
13) In a smoking jacket
14) In the shower
15) While watching Japanese television
16) When it’s snowing
17) At the Karaoke bar
18) As the world is ending
19) Instead of putting my pants on
20) While studying Japanese
21) On the crapper
22) With a lady
23) After finding nothing useful to eat in the pantry
24) While reading John Calvin
25) On a camel
26) Especially when I’m feeling optimistic
27) When the situation calls for some panache
28) For a Free Tibet
29) When I’m feeling contemplative
30) After sleeping “it” off
31) Uh, what’s “it”?
32) Obviously you’re not a golfer
33) Instead of eating sushi
34) While ironing
35) In my underwear
36) While lawn bowling
37) On the phone
38) While praying
39) After a long train ride
40) Before a long train ride
41) For peace in the middle east
42) While considering the Japanese articles
43) In the summer
44) With your mom
45) After many years of bitterness
46) When it’s raining
47) At a Jazz club
48) Anywhere the “man” doesn’t want me to smoke it
49) In China
50) On a boat
51) With Kame chan, Kagi san’s pet turtle
52) While eating Pop tarts sent from the States
53) While considering pacifism.
54) While considering the effect of the West on Japan
55) While considering missions in Japan
56) After eating some freaking Dombiri
57) At someone’s bachelor party
58) Of course, while listening to Bob Dylan
59) With Tea
60) When the Presidential race gets boring
61) With all my friends and lovers
62) Uh, you don’t have any lovers
63) Shut up
64) When thinking of the next Herbie cartoon
65) In the spring
66) For an end to sexual harassment in the workplace
67) While admiring the Cherry blossoms
68) While conversing about one of my two expertise
69) At Thunder Mountain
70) In the woods
71) While walking up the stairs to Atago Shrine
72) While “sharing the love”
73) While navigating the troubling waters of economic relations
74) While making fun of Tom Bazan
75) While making fun of Bob Allen
76) At the boat races
77) At the dog races
78) In Minnesota
79) While doing the dishes
80) After receiving my first honorary doctorate in something related to medicine
81) Or in something related to poetry
82) Or baseball
83) Basically, anything
84) While thinking of places to smoke my pipe
85) While drawing the next Herbie cartoon
86) While taking pictures of everything Japanese I find interesting
87) Maybe at a Radiohead show
88) When I come to a difficult situation and think, “Screw it, I’m going to smoke my pipe.”
89) On a Tuesday
90) While “keeping it real”
91) When feeling cynical about dumb blogs
92) While eating Pocky Sticks
93) While watching Hitchcock
94) While reading Faulkner
95) On my bike
96) While considering my place in history
97) While dusting
98) When I start calling all my real good friends “Red," "Rusty," and “Bud”
99) Around midnight
100) After you stop by
101) Uh, well, basically anywhere

15 February 2004

“How much English would a lady have to know before you would consider a blossoming relationship?”

I rode my bike deep into the rural areas of Fukuoka today. After getting over a couple of mountains, I ended up at the ocean. I sort of poked around for a while looking at stuff and whatnot and decided that I should climb out on some rocks in the water. So I did that and was enjoying myself until I got hit by a wave right in the bum and my shoes got all filled up with water. I tried to get back, but the waves just kept coming and coming. I rode home all wet, then went to get pizza at Meinohama with DK.

Filled with pizza and waiting for our train, I asked DK a question that he had asked me a while back, “How much English would a lady have to know before you would consider a blossoming relationship?” We conversed on this topic a while. With no current permanent return to the States in sight, I’ve come to the conclusion that the right question is, "How much Japanese do I need to know before I consider a relationship with someone who only speaks Japanese?" Plus, I know how to say "I like you" in Japanese. I’ll keep that one in my back pocket.

Ogawa Sensei, the President of the Evangelical Free Church of Japan, said that DK and I should come up to Tokyo so he can introduce ourselves to some women up there — he actually said that and I totally hear him.

It sounds to me like the Evangelical Christians, recently emboldened by the new Mel Gibson movie (careful kids, he’s Catholic), are just going wild in the States. I’ve recently read news articles about the following: 1) A Christian pilot asking all the Christians on his plane to raise their hands and then telling them to share their faith with someone else on the plane. Don’t believe me? Well, I wouldn't either. 2) Southern Baptist missionaries going to New York to try converting people by postmodern means. They use Post-modern “lingo” (who knows what that means) and dress hip. One service featured a sermon entitled “Sex in the City,” but watch out all you non-converts who go looking for a good time, despite the title, we Christians tend to believe that sex before marriage is bad thing. Also, if you sign up to pray for the ministry, you can get a link to a confidential site that has a prayer map of the city so you know what parts of the town to pray for including the bars and the mosques (though the mosques aren’t specifically noted as “prayer targets”). I wonder if the Southern Baptist missionaries are trying to disguise their accents. 3) I’ll just say that I think most everyone agrees that Britney is a bad influence on the kids' body image, sexual maturation, etc. and an embarrassment to the institution of marriage. 4) It also sounds like every church in America is going as a congregation to see Gibson’s new movie. Again, careful: He’s a Catholic.

I don’t know how I feel about any of that. I’m spending enough time thinking about missions in Japan. I’m not really that cynical. Also, I think I am going to get the Yamaha Vino. Screw what people think about my sexual orientation.

12 February 2004

Growing classes

I’m committed to not posting any pictures today because I can’t think of anything memorable to say. Tonight, I’m feeling like I might have something to say.

Spring came to Japan. The weather is wonderful. Finally it’s warm enough for me to sleep in my underwear. Since today was so beautiful, I spent most of the day trying to not let the beautiful day slip away (as the feller once said). I think it did slip away. I’m sorry Bono. I let you down. That guy’s name is Bono, right?

Our children’s class this afternoon has been steadily growing. Today we had eight or nine kids, two of them “inspecting” the class. I’m not real clear why some Japanese parents think their three and half year old will benefit from English tutoring when the kid can barely speak Japanese. But we did our best.

Yesterday I went to a Kendo Tournament at the high school because one of our student’s son was supposedly playing (or fighting or sparing or whatever). Kendo was described as Japanese fencing, but that’s a crappy description, I think. There’s a lot more contact and it’s more aggressive than fencing. Anyway, it totally rules. We missed seeing Shiota san’s kid, but still hung out with her and watched the tournament.

I really love Japan these days. I’m trying to stay now. A friend said I change my mind often, and she’s right, but I’m really digging it here these last couple of weeks. As it gets warmer, I think it’s only going to get better. Lastly, my roommate called out from the bathroom today: “Dude, every time I come in here, I step in this little puddle of urine in front of the toilet.” After discussing the physics, we deduced that it was probably my fault and I promised to be more careful in the future.

01 February 2004

Make Love not war

Me and DK and Kagi san went to see some jazz this weekend and it ruled like nothing else. Tiny club, maybe 30 people. There was an American playing the trumpet, but the rhythm section was all Japanese. The drummer took down the house.

Three things sucked about Japan last night: 1) It was so freaking expensive to see the jazz and even more expensive to get something to drink. I'll be able to afford going to the bar maybe once every two months. 2) I got the "geri" after the show. We were walking by a building and I was like, "Okay, I have to use the restroom right now maybe this place has one let's go in and look now now now." That was embarrassing. I don't think Kagi san understood though. "Maybe you drank too much water." 3) A guy totally ralphed all over the train. Right next to where DK and I were sitting. Of course, this is Japan so no one said anything. It smelled so bad, but reminded DK of his days working security at Gurnee Mills so he told me stories of taking care of drunk people in the mall to pass the time.

Besides all that, Japan is now "Nippon sama" to the Dude.

I thought that maybe after making fun of Amazon for their ridiculous “poet” playlist that I might try to write my own playlist. Okay, okay, I’ve had this for a while, but maybe I’ll post it now. My playlist is entitled, “Make Love, not War,” which is a subtle dig at our current conflict with Sa-daam and the Eye-raquis. I know Elizabeth picked full records, but she was only doing that to help Amazon sell records. So screw Amazon, I’m only going to endorse particular songs.

Make War
Bright Eyes
From Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground

The Dude’s note: I mean, it’s called “Make War” so basically that’s why I chose it. I also dig Conor Oberst’s , uh, self-revealing and, uh, emotive, uh, lyrics.

Smashing Pumpkins
From Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness-Disc 2-Twighlight to Starlight

The Dude’s note: I know what you’re saying, “But dude this has nothing to do with war.” And you’re right. Good job: you get a cookie. But if you’ll remember this playlist is called “Make LOVE, not War.” So maybe 1979 reminds the dude of love.

Why Don't We Do It In The Road
The Beatles
From Anthology 3

The Dude’s note: Man, it’s called “Why don’t we do it in the road.” Could refer to love OR war.

Love Detective
Arab Strap
From The Red Thread

The Dude’s note: This song is about love TURNING INTO war. And it’s got a great beat (good, again, for love and war).

Lover Come Back To Me
The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band
From Things To Come

The Dude’s note: Man, it’s freaking Dizzy Gillespie. I don’t have enough jazz on this list. I mean, love and jazz are like Peanut Butter and Jelly far as I’m concerned.

Sleeping at Last
From Ghosts

The Dude’s note: I’ve gone back and forth on this record and, with a couple of reservations, I think it’s pretty solid. Especially this song. Hoochie mama. And Hoochie mama= Love.

Give Up The War
By Starflyer 59
From Leave Here A Stranger

The Dude’s note: Starflyer 59 is the shizzle and this song is also the shizzle. Plus it’s about war.

With God on Our Side
Bob Dylan (sama)
From MTV Unplugged [Live, 1994]

The Dude’s note: You may remember what I said about this list being a subtle dig at our current situation with Sa-daam and the Eye-raquis. Well this song here is a not-so-subtle dig. Plus, I mean, seriously, it’s Bob Dylan.

When the Coughing Stopped, My Eyes Cleared Up
God's Reflex
From A Brief Lesson in Affection

The Dude’s note: A nice little musical interlude for our Love and War mix. This song says, I’m only a minute 34 seconds long, but maybe that’s just about enough.

Consolation Prizefighter
From Frame and Canvas

The Dude’s note: I’ve been known to enjoy a Braid song now and again. Especially this one. And given that it’s about “fighting” and generally there’s “fighting” in “war,” maybe it’s a good addition to this here playlist.

Second Best
Pedro The Lion (sama)

The Dude’s note: If you’re asking why this song is on the list, you need to go, uh, learn something about Pedro the freaking Lion. Or should I say, The Almighty Pedro the Lion. Come on, man.

Fake Plastic Trees
From The Bends

The Dude’s note: You know, sometimes war and love begin with things that appear real, but really aren’t. Like… Okay, you got it. Further: Radiohead plays this song much better live than on The Bends. The record cut’s okay, but I’d take a live version any day.

The Massacre Went Well
From Navigational

The Dude’s note: A very late addition, but frankly, since Berto turned me on to these guys this last week, I’ve been only impressed. Plus, rounding out our list, maybe a song about a massacre would best summarize the dude’s groove about love and war.

Final Note: Some early additions by Dashboard Confessional and Incubus were cut because I think they suck now. Also, maybe you might want to add “Happiness is a Warm Gun” by The Beatles. Maybe it’s a good song about love and war too.