29 April 2004


I decided to buy freaking Xanga Premium today and I said, Screw it — let's go Premium. Anyway, my goal now is to become a featured site. Come on featured site, don't fail me now.

Okay, I might also note that at the end of this blog there may be a picture of me without my shirt on. Consider yourself forewarned or, for the ladies, you might want to just scroll down right now and take a look.

Well, as mentioned earlier we went fishing today, and let me tell you, it ruled. I caught three freaking fish. "But Stephen," you say, "The moral evil of fishing?" Man, give up the war.

The first fish gave me a little bit of a struggle, you know, but being the master, uh, fisherperson that I am I totally took advantage of it. We put it in our "fish to eat" container, but later threw it out. The aforementioned two other fish didn't get pictured, but I ate one of them tonight and it was okay as far as fish goes. I stayed away from the stomach and other organs. So that was pretty cool, I guess.

Afterwards we went back to the Verme's and hung out. There were some kids jumping on the trampoline and I tried to talk to them in Japanese. They went through my wallet and wanted to see some American money. They also wanted to know if we have big backyards in the States. They played with my camera too. I got stupid, wicked sunburn. I look ridiculous.

I'm really curious now to see if this turned out, so I'm going to stop writing now and check it out. You kids, you're special to me.

National holiday

Today is a national holiday in Japan. Unfortunately, all that means is that I can't get the Poptarts that Sarah sent me because the Post Office is closed. Fortunately, I do get to go fishing with Aoki san. He works in waste management, goes to our church, and is looking for a wife.

Who let the haters in the game?

My I-love-my-mother speech is mostly translated. Tomorrow, it will undergo complete revision at the hands of a native speaker, but for right now, I feel like I can speak the Japanese.

Please note my listening selection, reminiscent of one of the greatest Flunk Days ever: under the pine trees, listening to this record for the first time. For everyone that remembers that night, throw your diamonds in the air.

Oh yeah, right: Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" is incredibly interesting. If you've heard it (and if you haven't it's on rotation at his site), let me know what you think.

I too need Jesus like Kathie Lee needed Regis.

27 April 2004

Five paragraphs

I'm trying to write five paragraphs in Japanese about why I love my mother. You know, I thought this would be relatively simple, especially the part where I mostly just quote I Corinthians 13. Well, it's not. The parts where I'm quoting the Bible have turned out to be the most difficult. For some reason, the Japanese Bible just doesn't say "Love is not selfish." Rather, it takes you on a wild ride of double negatives and compound Kanji that this mother-loving testimony writer can't for the life of him figure out. I have one paragraph left to translate, but I don't know if I have it in me. Please, someone: get me Rueben Studdard.

26 April 2004

Adult beverages

You know what? You rule Babelfish. If you were Rueben Studdard, I'd totally give you a hug.

The job hunt, 'eh? Well, it's going, man: it's going. I was up until 4:30 working on my freaking resumé. I hate looking for a job.

Well, yeah, about coming home, my mom sort of asked me to do it and offered to bankroll my ticket from Tokyo. But I'm having sort of a dilemma. I guess I feel like it's cheating to come home before your first year abroad is up. Granted, I'm planning on staying here for at least three years and I'm not going home out of desperation. I don't know. It just feels like cheating. Plus, what if I lose all my ability to speak Japanese? Oh wait, wait: Dude, you don't have any ability to speak Japanese.

But you too could be sitting on my deck at home, drinking a bottled root beer or other premium adult beverage and watching me scream at Timmy as he has his way at Risk. How can you say no to that.

That said, I need to get back to studying my Japanese children's book. This one I don't understand at all. There's a tiger. And a leaking roof. And an iron bar. And an ojiisama. That's all I know.

Late Breaking News (let the rumor mill grind):
Stephen in China August 7-16
Stephen in US 16-30?! Only time will tell...

25 April 2004

Honored foreigners

DK and I and the Fukuda-san-tachi spent most of the afternoon at a Temple watching some tradition Japanese dancing. It was really incredible. I had one of those I-guess-I-really-do-live-in-Japan moments. Most of the dance revolved around a conflict between some sort of “Satan” figure and the priest. The dance went on for about three or four hours, I think. We weren’t there for the whole thing. Dan and I were the only gaijins there which I didn’t really notice until we were getting our picture taken with the Satan figure.

As we were having our picture taken, people stopped watching the part of the dance that was happening to watch us. Several of them were clapping. As you can see, we’re pretty happy too. Well, anyway, things sort of snow-balled and then people were asking us to take pictures with the Satan figure and some young girls. So we took a couple of these pictures and then were called back to have another one taken, this time for the newspaper. Yeah, that’s right. My dumb sac is going to be in the Japanese newspaper looking like this. It’s wonderful to be a celebrity, if only for a couple of minutes and only because you’re white. “Gaijin-sama.” “The honored foreigners.” Yeah. Sign me up.

I think there are very few things as awe-inspiring as Japan drunk. The lights go out and people get crazy. Tonight, I hung out with Superb Dan and some of his Japanese soccer-playing friends. We hung out at this tiny bar and watched soccer and they drank a lot of beer. As they got drunk, they were yelling at each other to, “Say it me in ENGLISH!” It was pretty funny. I had a couple of good, broken English-Japanese conversations. One of the guys said to Superb Dan that he was a very good looking man and he sort of laughed, but then one of the other guys stood up and pointed at his shirt which said in English: “Don’t let no one control da ass.”

Anyway, as we were walking back to the train station, one of the more effeminate guys Ryuske who wasn’t gay as he had a girlfriend: "Beautiful, actually," Yugi, one of his friend's said, "Surprisingly so" put his arm around me and was asking me questions about whether or I liked Japan or not. Then he pulled Superb Dan over and was whispering in his ear and Dan said, “I don’t know why don’t you ask him in Japanese.” Ryuske then put his arm around me again and whispered but he was drunk so it wasn’t that much of a whisper in Japanese, “What part of the Japanese women’s body do you like most?” He started laughing wildly and pointing to his chest and legs. I didn't know what to say: I said, “All of it.”

The streets of Tenjin are lined with musicians after the stores close. I saw at least four groups performing. People standing and listening.

23 April 2004

Chaplin and West

Sure, I like Kanye West. It's not getting any better as far as enjoying the hip-hop goes. I actually think West has some pretty intelligent things to say, more so than Jay-Z at least.

Yeah, that's right: Charlie Chaplin and Kanye West. "City Lights" said to me, in so many words, "You don't need words to say what it is that you really want to say, especially if what you want to say is, 'I look funny falling down.'"

Here, I was planning on making a brilliant connection between West and Chaplin. There isn't one, sorry.

21 April 2004

They're robots for Petes sakes

I'm sorry: two more things and then I'm going to go to bed.

This here, this makes me feel good about life. Yeah, way to go this scene of Vanilla Sky. And Sigur Ros. Yeah, you too.

From Weekly World News: "Hell, they're robots for Petes sakes, they don't need God. The last thing you want is some robot refusing to open fire on a crowd because it's trying to figure out 'What would Jesus do?'"

20 April 2004


Add this to the list of relatively dumb things I’ve done in my life regarding my hair (right up there with, “Oh, yeah I just took the guard off and shaved” and “Yeah! Dreads! Awesome!”).

(After me and DK have gotten haircuts)
Me (looking in mirror): Dude, it’s a mullet.
DK: It’s not so much a mullet, they just didn’t really taper it.
Me: (pause) It’s a freaking mullet. Oh wait, wait, dude, here, just take my beard trimmer and fix it.
DK: I don’t know about that.
Me: No, no it’ll be fine.
DK: How about I just use my sideburn trimmer, I think that would be better.
Me: No, no the beard trimmer. Here, go.
DK: (apprehensive) Uh, okay. (cutting) Uh…
Me: How’s it look?
DK: Well, it’s definitely shorter.
Me: That’s good right?
DK: Well, it’s not so tapered now. I think we need to use the hairclippers.
Me: Okay, okay, no, this is okay, we’re okay.
DK: (using hairclippers) Uh…
Me: How’s it looking?
DK: Gotta wait ‘til I’m done.
Me: (after clipper stops) Well?
DK: Uh, I think I need the other guard now. I mean, it’s tapered, sort of.
Me: (giving another guard) Well?
DK: Uh, hold on. (laughing) Oh crap.

Well, I don’t have a mullet anymore. It’s not quite even in the back. But I don’t have to look at it, so I’m fine. And I think I’m still well on my way to growing my hair out. Well on my way.

19 April 2004

Property ownership

I can see that my commentary on property ownership fell on deaf ears. Well, that’s fine. I mean, we can’t all be Marxists.

Today was a great day. I just got home from hanging out with the Englishmen downtown. We went to a Japan-specific entertainment venue: a media mall. At the media mall, there are many different tiny booths for folks to watch DVDs or play video games. There are computers for the internet and a ton of Graphic novels/ magazines. And also billiards which is the reason we went. Superb Dan (from England) shlacked me several times and explained to me English rules for the game. Apparently, in England one doesn’t “scratch” the cue ball, rather one commits a “foul.” Also, one don’t “sink” balls, one “pots” them. I made fun of England a little because that’s what you do.

We played for 45 minutes and it was ¥420 which isn’t too bad I guess. We could have drank coffee, tea or pop for free too, but I missed out on that. Anyway, Superb Dan and I went looking throughout the media mall for Dan’s girlfriend, Suewan (or her name sounds like swan), and Dan said, upon returning to the waiting area where I was, “A’lota of porn behind those curtains then.” I guess there are other things one may do at the media mall.

Tenjin (downtown Fukuoka) is really gorgeous at night. We walked over the river through the park. It had rained and the air was just perfect.

Having been caught in the rain on the way home, I'm drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn, in my underwear.

17 April 2004


This is interesting to me: Land is a commodity. I’ve been thinking about this. You can buy land. Does this seem stupid to anyone else? Let me explain: the Earth has been around for forever, but one day, a guy came along (probably named Orge) and said, “This here, this is Orge’s land. It belongs to Orge and Orge’s family.” Then he kills anyone who tries to live on his land. Well, time passes and Orge’s family gets weak and one day, some other guy (we’ll call him Brutus), decides, “Hey, I like Orge’s land, so I’m going to take it away from him. Here Orge: eat my freaking stone hammer, you overgrown ape-man.” And so he kills Orge and Orge’s family and lives on the land. This happens a couple of thousand times and before long, the decendents of Orge and Brutus decide that instead of killing each other for land: Let’s just trade land for other valuable things, like beaver pelts and beer. And guns. Now, here, we just give each other money and by giving someone money, you can have their land. But what has that person done to own that land? Nothing, really. It all started with Orge’s decision to say, This is Orge’s land.

Not that I think owning land is bad. I just think it's silly.

Today, I bought a Japanese graphic novel. I know only nerds like Anime, graphic novels and this sort of thing, but really, in Japan, everybody's into it, not just the nerds.

I was also going to write about a disabled boy asking me for money, but I don't think I have the energy right now.

15 April 2004


Hello, Everyone:

I've had very little to say for the last week and today is no exception. I've tried to write about the war in Iraq and Japanese citizens taking me to task about my government's actions, but I can't really do that without sounding racist so I've given up. Anyway, I'm the wrong person to complain to, Mr. and Mrs. Japan. I am a Pacifist.

I'm more than a little content. So, to celebrate, now I am going to read (in Japanese) about a tiny Princess who has been kidnapped by some Moles. Fricken' Moles.

13 April 2004


After reading about Timmy's birthday on Elizabeth's site, I realized that the worst part of being away from home is missing moments like these. Well, dear loved ones, I miss you and would have done just about anything to have shared the merry-go-round with you.


Today, I went out to the beach to read the Bible/ pray/ study Japanese, but promptly fell asleep leaning up against a cement wall and listening to Sigor Ros. Anyway, I awoke to the faint sound of someone speaking Japanese to me and when I opened my eyes, I saw an old Japanese woman and her dog: the old Japanese woman was asking me about something. We had a short but lively conversation about California, my scooter, her dog, and the church, all in Japanese. Although I am only able to understand about 40% of what is said to me, I'm now able to pick out what I can't undestand and ask the person what it means. This woman, by means of explaining words I couldn't understand, just repeated the words back to me loudly. Also, in Japanese, you call tell that a question is being asked of you if the sentence ends with the particle "ka." You then can just respond with "yes" and about 75% of the time be okay. Anyway, the woman was nice enough. The dog pissed on the wall about ten feet from me.

Endnote 1: Maybe I need a haircut.

09 April 2004

I trust T. William Walsh

What’s up, Pedro the Lion's new album Achilles Heel. I trust T. William Walsh as well. No let down — this is will probably be up in there in my three favorite Pedro records. “Bands with Managers” feels like a sweet, sweet swing in a hammock on a cool summer evening with a special member of the opposite sex. Not that I know what that feels like. Which makes me a little bit angry: opposite sex, you have fallen down on the job.

Lots of frustration about the Christian religion these days, namely because I’ve been reading the Bible seriously again. I’ve been trying to write about it, but I can’t. Anyway, to solve the problem of frustration, I’ve taken to reading myself to sleep with the Psalms.

More things I’ve learned from scooter ownership: Touch-up paint is a joke. I don’t care what the display shows, your touch-up job will look like a small child has spread paint all over your new scooter. New solution: Sticker. That’ll cover it right up and I wanted to get a sticker for it anyway. I might also like to ask the cosmos for my 478 ¥ back. If you see, the cosmos, tell them I’m pissed and I want my money back.

Check out, the Hell House too. I think this is funny.

08 April 2004

Slow speed collisions

I've learned this week that in a slow speed collision between a scooter and a parked car, the scooter will almost never win. Rather, the scooter will become scratched, cracked and dented and the rider of the scooter will hurt his hand. This rider, for one, is outraged.

For those of you who were following the story of Ohimesama, she totally woke up at the end after having been kissed by the Oojisama. That guy rules.
.          .         .         .
There's very little I remembered about the NeverEnding Story except that the Empress made me feel many new and strange feelings.

Also, in defense of my manhood, DK picked out The NeverEnding Story, not me. Well, he also got "Das Boot" so maybe it evens out.

05 April 2004

I passed the test

I passed the driving test, I jumped through the hoops, and on the other side? My scooter. There are many good feelings I have felt in my life, but riding up the coast on the bike is easily in the top five.

04 April 2004


Recent pictures on my blog inspired the short film: “Faith”. MC can be given credit, solely, for the idea. I think this film is about a lot of things, but mainly how to love patiently and the strength that comes from saying, “For me, for this very moment, all I have and all I need is love. And that love is more than I can ever ask to have.”

I thought I had gotten such a good deal on this scooter, but now incidental costs have risen to just under $250. Yeah, that’s right. But I’m in it for the long haul and tomorrow night, provided I can pass an eye test and a simple written test, I should be riding my Vino all over the island. That’s best case scenario, of course. Given my history with the Japanese and especially Japanese bureaucracy (heightened by the fact that my translator believes in never cutting corners, ever), I’m guessing I should be on my scooter by early to mid- June.

Anyway, “Faith” may become a trilogy of short-shorts so let me know if you felt the jibe. That is to say, if you felt the mojo. Which really just means, if it got your mojo going.

02 April 2004

Countdown until scooter

Countdown until scooter: Who knows. I own a scooter. I have the papers. Why am I not riding it right now? You know, many people would expect a simple, linear answer to this question. There is no answer.

I've been reading about the lives of folks on the JET programme who seem to be doing any number of interesting things with beautiful people in Japan. Me? Last night, me and DK and a couple from England went to a bar to listen to a band called "Buck Natural" which was really just two guys playing guitars. They came and sat at our table for a while and the lead singer, a Black guy from North Carolina, told the thrilling story of how he learned to finger-pick. Brilliant. The bar was themed like Texas, but, in fact, the waitress, despite wearing a shirt that looked like the Texas state flag, couldn't speak English. I had a short conversation with the sound guy/ bouncer/ owner of the bar who could speak pretty good English about whether or not they could make me a White Russian. Long story short: No White Russian for Steve-o, but a darn good Moscow Mule and some chips and cheese dip that were okay.

Anyway, the British people were cool. I'm hanging out with British Dan tomorrow. I can't understand a word he says. You know, I've always assumed two things about British people: They have crappy teeth (British Dan and his girlfriend Suewan seem to be doing okay) and they have nice shoes. British Dan's shoes are pretty nice. One for two ain't bad.

Okay, I'm taking a little bit of what I said about Jurado back. There are a couple of good tracks on that record including one that Rosie Thomas sings on. But still, I hold out my complaints against any record with a song called "Intoxicated Hands" that includes a line about "intoxicated hands."