31 March 2004

Cherry blossoms

Things I did today:

1) Bought helmet for scooter (see above)
2) Viewed Cherry Blossoms (see below)
3) Listened to the new Jason Molina record (also see below)
4) Checked out different neighborhoods in Fukuoka that I might move to if I get a placement here in the Fall.

You know, when I had heard that Jason Molina was going to live and sleep in the studio that he was recording his new album in, I rolled my eyes. But I had hope that it might, you know, make the whole thing more organic or whatever. Well, it doesn’t. It sounds like a record that he recorded half-asleep and in his underwear. And I guess that could be cool, but it's not. Maybe it’s just that The Magnolia Electric Co. was so incredible. And don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the record, but maybe in the future, we should try to get a little bit of depth in what we're doing rather than rolling out of bed and whining for 41 minutes.

These are the aforementioned Cherry blossoms, all up and over the place in Fukuoka. Sorry for the B/W.

Also, this weekend we had our freaking English Class cookout. I made this salad.

We made S’Mores too and I think Kento kun really tore it up.

Anyway, that’s that.

I also got the new Damien Jurado record in the mail today. Again, I’m disappointed, and I’m going to piss some people off by saying this, but screw it: He’s hanging around with Rosie Thomas too much. “Matinee”? “The movies are cheaper during the day”? Come on, dude. That’s bush-league. Sounds like: “I Play Music!” You’ve fallen so far from Ghost of David. Two crappy records and now I’m not sure I want to be your fan anymore.

David Bazan, you’d better not disappoint me. Oh please, please.

Luckily, Sigor Ros continues lift up my spirits in the wind like a wind-chime or something like a wind-chime.
This is now public knowledge so share in the publicity: I have decided to stay in Japan past my one year tenure with the EFC of Japan, but I will not be continuing with the church in Fukuoka. Rather, I will be seek employment, probably with either AEON or NOVA (both ESL schools/ companies) in Japan. As it stands now, I plan to stay in Japan an additional two years from October, and maybe longer, depending on who I marry (oh, the gossip!)

Also, today I bought a scooter.

Maybe, I'll write a little more in the morning.

(David Baker say: "Whom to believe? This is our central task.")

27 March 2004

Lost in Translation

If you have not seen Lost in Translation, well, you're saying in effect, "I don't like good movies and, frankly, I don't like Stephen." The moral of the story is quite evident, I think.

Okay, maybe it's not: See Lost in Translation, learn a little bit about Japan. There's your moral.

Hole in your heart?

You ever feel like there’s a hole in your heart that can’t be filled? Well, here’s the problem: you aren’t listening to Sigur Ros. Oh, yes indeedy, this feller has just about enough of the sweet life juices that we all need, from time to time.

Now, doesn't that feel much better?

26 March 2004

Things I do in a day

Today began at 11:30 and before you get all huffy about me not having anything to do, let me explain. Today actually began early this morning as I was waiting up for a call from my old man. He never called and maybe I got to sleep around three. I might also note that I’m on a short, one day Spring vacation. So cut me some slack. Anyway, I got up and showered, sitting down. It usually takes me a while to get going in the morning/ early afternoon and today was no exception. By one, I was just about ready to go on a bike ride when my sister called. She’s in Laredo, Texas building houses for poor people and we talked for about an hour.

By two, I was on my bike headed out to the beach, listening to the Com Lag on my iPod and also some Sigur Ros I downloaded. It was glorious.

At the beach, I studied Japanese, prayed and read the Bible. I also went walking out on the rocks and was going to take a wiz when I noticed this old guy who was up a little higher than me digging through the garbage on the beach and staring at me. I zipped up and pretended that I wasn't trying to pee.

When I got home, it was after five and DK and I talked about this picnic that we’re having for our students on Saturday. Long story short, it’s going to suck. Anyway, we also watched Sumo as there’s at tournament right now. Asashoryo won his match today, if you care.

After that, I made dinner and read some email, wrote some email, paid the bills. Dumb stuff.

Around eight, I got on the bike again and headed for downtown to hang out at the jazz bar, smoke my pipe, drink some wine, and study some more. Riding the bike at night is kind of dumb, but I did okay except for one time when I slipped and almost (ladies might want to skip to the sentence) sent man-land packing, as it were. Anyway, the report from the field came back negative and I kept trucking. A lot of things happen to me when I’m riding my bike, but I don’t care to recount them all right now. The jazz was good, and the wine was okay. I just relaxed basically and worked on some new Kanji. I now understand about 130, making me just about 45 shy from graduating into the third grade.

At eleven, I left the club and road home. As DK has very aptly said about Japan, “She’s a different animal at night.” Tonight was no exception although I didn’t see any drunk people. Prostitution is pretty obvious here. There’s a kind of I’m-okay-you’re-okay attitude towards it. Anyway, I stopped at Mister Donuts, but they were out of Crème Puffs.

That’s about all: I got home at 12:10 and now I’m blogging. I gotta get some sleep because tomorrow we’ve got a dumb staff meeting and lunch together and then we’re all going to CostCo to buy food for our picnic. All that means I’m going to be spending money that I shouldn’t. But that’s okay, man. That’s okay.

David Baker says: “Who can stir without stirring the dead?”

24 March 2004

The uncnanny

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe in the uncanny.

There are many good things about living in Japan, but today I’m particularly happy about Japan-only releases. I picked up the new Radiohead record that in unavailable for export and let me tell you friend, it is sweet. Remyxomatosis. Enough said. I just read that the Monuments to Masses' record is getting an international release and the Japanese version will include three extra songs. Take that, Ralph Nader.

Anyway, if you’d like the Com Lag, and you’re willing to belly up to outrageously high Japanese costs, I could be able to help you out. Sweet glory, this record is good.

 Rick Jackson says: "It turns out the whole sky is a wall"

20 March 2004

To Shelia—

I just went outside to take out the trash and the night was so quiet. No cars, no nothing. I stopped and stood alone in the parking lot, barefoot, listening.

Smashing Pumpkin’s opus “To Shelia—“: a song that reminds me of when life was simpler, in a more complicated way. For me, "To Shelia—" is a kind of silence.
I’m taking a break from studying so I thought I might take some pictures of my fast-paced life. Ishizuka sensei and I have finished our first children’s book that included the story of the Three Little Pigs and this other traditional Japanese story about a mouse trying to get married. Long story short: The mouse gets married. Anyway, We’ve moved on to bigger and better things: Nemuri no Mori no Ohimesama. Nemuri means Sleeping and Mori means Forest, but I’m struggling a bit with Ohimesama. I pretty sure that’s the witch.

More or less, I don’t understand what’s going on.

17 March 2004

Not hate, satire

I’m committed to writing this entry free of hate and satire. Okay, so first things first: Given my raging, hilarious satire which, I might add, was neither raging nor hilarious, I’ve managed to ruffle a few feathers. Well, maybe not ruffle feathers, but I figure I should back up my Kerry/ Bush statement with a little bit more satire:

Oh wait, I said no satire this time.

What I meant to say when I said that I wasn't thinking “The Presidential race is going to be dumb. You think there’s really any difference between John Kerry and George Bush? I’m sorry. There’s not. It's like Algore/ Bush II.” is that both Bush and Kerry are politicians interested in the status quo. Meaning this: big business and lobbyists will continue to control this country. Do you think Bush has cut taxes across the board out of a sense of fairness to everyone? No, man, he wants to feed the monkey. And Mr. Kerry (and I hate to agree with DeWalt here, but) you think Mr. Kerry has changed his opinion about any number of things to make them more “nuanced”? No man. He’s feeding the monkey too. Companies are giving money to both campaigns. They don’t care who wins. They just want to get theirs.

The point is, regardless of who you vote for the poor will continue to suffer, the innocent unborn will continue to suffer, we will still have the death penalty. Oh yeah, and we’ll still be in Iraq.

Look it. My raging satire has made me devote at least three good paragraphs to politics with only one good zinger. Let my people go, man.

Okay, I’ll leave you with these two (mostly) apolitical things: A) I’m getting a Japanese drivers license and it looks like the first time I will drive in Japan will be when I am taking a road test with a Japanese instructor. Oh yeah, I’m looking forward to that. B) Dr. Stanley Hauerwas (the pacifist) wrote me back. I was so happy and it re-ignited my belief that writing to famous people is worth your time. Except Oprah. She totally doesn’t write you back.

Tori Amos’ “Mother” is just about enough.

"We've found a way to make the word of God exciting, relevant and fun for young women again," said Transit Books brand manager Laura Whaley. FINALLY!

14 March 2004

Sitting, naked, on a rock

Today, as I was sitting, naked, on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean and resting in the soothing waters of the Japanese public bath, I said, "You know, if you'd told me two years ago that I'd be sitting here, naked, on a rock and looking out over the Pacific Ocean in Japan, I don't think I'd have believed you." I don't know which part was the most unbelievable.

As I was sitting, naked, on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean and resting in the soothing waters of the Japanese public bath, about twenty yards away a woman walked by. And, oddly, I wasn't really bothered by it.

There are things you think about while sitting, naked, on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The key one today was, again, missions in Japan. A popular topic for us Japanese missionaries. I thought about several other things too:

1. When I was younger, I remember a joke that I thought was very, very funny: "How do Chinese people name their children? They throw silverware down the stairs." I was maybe eight or nine when I heard this joke and always remember thinking it was hilarious. Now, it doesn't seem so funny to me.

2. Several of our new students on Friday night were talking about living in Vancouver this last year. "Oh," I said, "Aren't there a lot of Japanese people there?"
"Oh yeah," one of them said, "Too many. And Koreans too."
And I thought that if anyone else had complained about there being too many Japanese in Vancouver, I would have been mortified.

3. I'm going to stay in Japan for a while.

Things I didn't think about while sitting, naked, on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean:

1. The Presidential race is going to be dumb. You think there's really any difference between John Kerry and George Bush? I'm sorry. There's not. It's like Algore/ Bush II.

I apologize for getting political there. What I meant to say was: the next time you come and visit, we should stop by the Japanese public bath and sit together, naked, on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean and talk about stuff. Don't worry, it's perfectly normal here.

11 March 2004


All the dude wanted tonight was to drink a glass of wine, smoke his pipe and listen to some live jazz. Fortunately, he was successful on all fronts.

With all these new sites, I don’t feel like I have anything to add really. Except maybe this picture:

Me: (to Hagino san as we cut through the pictured field) Uh, Hagino san, is this manure?

06 March 2004

Exodus 8:2

Sorry to rely on pictures from the kids again, but this is interesting to me. The children have drawn pictures of me: their friend Stephen. I think the pictures are fine and all, but I’m wondering why I’m frowning in two out of three of them. Ayamei chan showed me one during class, and I was frowning in that picture too. So I said, “No, no—“ and erased the frown and replaced it with a smile. In two of the pictures (we’ll call them the “synoptic pictures” for anyone who gets that joke), my nose appears to closely resemble the hiragana character “mo.”

DK (who was having the children draw pictures of me) said that in two of the pictures I was originally taking a dump, but he told them that wasn’t good so I think they erased that part of the picture.

I don't often talk here about the ministry aspect of my job, and there are a lot of reasons for that, but today I will say this: Learning to love children as God would love them has been the most incredible thing. For all the Japanese bible studies or testimonies or prayers, I think loving these kids has grown my spirit the most.

Magnolia is a stunning film. Exodus 8:2.

In unrelated news, I now know enough Kanji to have graduated from the 1st grade. This doesn't necessarily mean I can read at a 2nd grade level, but I can totally read all the Kanji they can. Take that, dumb kids.

03 March 2004


Yeah, I took some time off.

My room is currently in a state of disarray. Buried in this mess, the following things: A) Tobacco, B) a coffee-mug with dried orange juice at the bottom, C) my sense of self, D) about five Japanese texts, and E) some socks. I would deconstruct the meaning of having these things lying on my floor, but I would rather deconstruct this:

Kids sometimes have to draw pictures in our classes and this one is supposed to be of a girl who “CAN’T” fly a kite. She's awful, right? Anyway, my question is: Why are the eyes of the kite-flyer and the kite flyer’s male companion blacked out. A couple of ways to read this: A) both have lost their sense of self and the black lines signify marginalization or B) both have lost their sense of self and the black lines signify fear or C) Both of them have lost their sense of self and the black lines signify the loss of “eye(s)” or “I.” Dang, that last one was good.

My pipe came.