31 August 2005

Take my heart

Do I like the new Death Cab record? I can't say I don't like it. I can say that I can't not not help falling in love with Ben Gibbard all over again. It was that one night in Iowa City that some of you might remember. So Ben, here, take my heart. You can have it again. I will not keep it for myself.

Tomorrow, I'm getting a new iPod. I have lived three weeks without one, but I can't say that I have truly lived. You understand?

I've been reading all these reports about the hurricane and I finally read something intelligent about it at the New York Times that basically said when you try to defy nature for money, you're gonna get screwed. See, as bad as I feel that people lost their houses, New Orleans was built on the idea that money could be made by building where you shouldn't build. And so the ocean takes back what was its space all along. Let's not be surprised that man lost to nature.

In children's church we used to sing this song: "The wise man built his house upon the rock/ the foolish man built his house upon the sand." In the end, basically, the rain comes down and the floods come up and the foolish man is screwed. We were supposed to learn something about God from that, but I like to think it's also applicable to, you know, building houses.

26 August 2005

Johnny Cash is the shit

First I want to reiterate for everyone who has missed it the last couple of times I've said it, Johnny Cash is the shit. He is more than the shit. He is like everything we have been waiting for that was always in front of our eyes.

Today, I remembered this: a while back, like thirteen years ago, in the newspaper, there was this article about evolution. Back then I was obviously towing the Evangelical party line as I was only 12 or whatever, but for some reason I took it upon myself to write a letter to the editor about it and the letter got published. Yeah, no shit. I forget what the letter said, but I remember calling evolution a "myth" and something about having both sides of the story represented.

We were Baptists that year. I remember Baptist church mostly for AWANA that's Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed, the Christian boy and girl scout club. We had Bible drills, that one girl whose name I forget but whom I was sure I loved and couldn't live without even though we had never talked, and peeing my pants before the service once. I only want to elaborate on one of these things because the others are either too boring or too embarrassing. Probably all you people who grew up outside of the church (or weren't Baptist for a year) never had to do Bible drills, but here's how it goes. A woman (usually a fat, obnoxious, loud woman with a shirt that read "JESUS SAVED ME!") would shout out "Psalm 34:3!" which is, of course, a book, chapter and verse from the text, and we, the kiddies, would quickly thumb through our Bibles to find the verse. The first one to find it won and got some sort of prize. I don't remember reading the Bible verse after we found it, but that wasn't the point.

Anyway, I've also written a couple of letters to celebrities, with varying degrees of success.

New Orleans needs to get the fuck out the way out of this hurricane. No two ways about that. Or better yet, when they have to make a New New Orleans which is inevitable, let's build it, you know, on land, instead of picking a patch of ocean we like and filling it in with dirt. Seems basic, I don't know.

Something nice? This. Please, file this dude under "Pat Robertson and Other Assholes I Think Are Ruining, Not Only Their Lives, But My Yahoo News Reading Experience." Although, I do like to give an occasional read to www.godhatessweden.com. Wait! I hate Sweden too! Those, you know, Swede Bastards.


I've been duped. Why? Well, I'll tell you why. It all starts with my new "part-time" job. 18 hours a week sounded hot, so, so hot. Until I looked at my schedule and found out that most of my classes appear in a kind of 1st period, 5th period, 6th period spread, including classes every Saturday. This means a couple of things for the dude, namely that I have started a six-day Japanese work week and from here on out, will be the bitch-of-bitch to deal with. And also I get to spend long hours sitting at my desk wondering about any number of incredibly frustrating metaphysical questions.

But as every ying has its yang, the teachers at the school are lacking in some serious fundamentals of the English language, thus making my job terribly, terribly easy. How does that make your job easier, dude? you might ask. Well, if ever I get in trouble, I can just make an explanation in English which they "should" understand (the Japanese culture machine of pressure rolls over on top of them) and they will be unable to prove or admit that I am full of hooey. That's right, I said hooey. That's some real poetry for your ass.

Also, I get my own desk and I don't technically have to be there considering deep meta-physical questions if there isn't class. So I'll be spending a lot of time next door, in the park, reading. And learning all about linguistics.

More importantly, I'm going on the date of the century tomorrow, taking the lady to this glitterati party I got invited to because I am white. Anyway, it's just like 30 of us in formal wear, listening to one of the purported best jazz singers in Japan. Will I make a move? I guess only time will tell. But like I said, every ying has its yang.

24 August 2005

Robertson attacks Pihlaja

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

In response, liberal activist, Stephen Pihlaja, called the comments "outrageous and... ignorant and... ah! I mean, seriously, you know? Do people really listen to this asshole?" Additionally, Mr. Pihlaja called for the asassination of Mr. Roberts: "We don't need MoveOn.org to spend another $200 billion on a publicity war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

But I gotta say, since becoming a Feminist I have eaten several of my children and practiced some witchcraft and become a lesbian. I think it's well known that I support Socialism. Shit, Roberts nailed it.

23 August 2005

Fear and Loathing

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive....” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?” Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

Getting hold of the drugs had been no problem, but the car and the tape recorder were not easy things to round up at 6:30 on a Friday afternoon in Hollywood. I already had one car, but it was far too small and slow for desert work. We went to a Polynesian bar, where my attorney made seventeen calls before locating a convertible with adequate horsepower and proper coloring.
“Hang onto it,” I heard him say into the phone. “We’ll be over to make the trade in thirty minutes.” Then after a pause, he began shouting: “What? Of course the gentleman has a major credit card! Do you realize who the fuck you’re talking to?"

“You bastard,” he said. “I left you alone for three minutes! You scared the shit out of those people! Waving that goddamn marlin spike around and yelling about reptiles. You’re lucky I came back in time. They were ready to call the cops. I said you were only drunk and that I was taking you up to your room for a cold shower. Hell, the only reason they gave us the press passes was to get you out of there.” He was pacing around nervously. “Jesus, that scene straightened me right out! I must have some drugs. What have you done with the mescaline?"

21 August 2005

Sunny Day and my walk away from God

I was thinking about a couple of things in church today, none of them having to do with what was happening in church as both of the services were, again, practices in mediocrity and laziness. But my mind keeps a truckin' even when I'm supposed to be running the overhead machine. I remember how when I was in college I used to get crazy about getting people to come to these InterVarsity conferences. Man, I would use the vice for it, the whole "what are your priorities" speech that came out as subtly as I could without saying, "You will be less of a Christian if you don't come to the retreat." Here's what I am finally coming to realize about all those big conferences: it's fake. I mean, I shouldn't say fake as much as manufactured. You take people out of their element, play music and use lights to excite and then calm people, and finally, get someone to stand up in front of everyone and say this is the real reality and everything else is not real. Then you go to breakout groups, talk about changing your life, and then Sunday night pack up and go home after talking about the "post-retreat letdown."  Or rather, "what you will do when we aren't telling you what to do" which is really "here, we'll tell you what to do when we're not telling you what to do."

I think it's strange that a lot of conversions happen at events like these. We're always trying to get non-Christians into spaces where we can dim the lights, play music and tell them to change their lives. And pressure them in our own element. What's up with that? Is this a bitter, older version of me taking a bitter swing at his old self? Well, maybe, but I think it's this: I'm beginning to see that religion, not God, exerts a lot more control on people than previously suspected. Why is it that everyone knows what God wants except me? Oh wait, I just have to read your book to tell me how to read the Bible to read your meaning out of it? Thanks for that. Here's your $15.99. I don't think I could ever follow another religious leader who first didn't admit that he or she had no clue about anything and was trying to figure this out with the rest of us. And this quiet coercion bullshit has got to stop. Also notice that a lot of current political pressure comes to us in the same kind of distinct black and white, good and evil, for us and against us PowerPoint slides. I don't see a connection though.

Dim the lights and play Sunny Day's "One," I'm going to land this:

I remember my first year at Knox: I had just discovered my special purpose and was eager to keep it in gear. Thus, I had plans to leave Knox one weekend in November to go North, to Chicago to be with my girlfriend and watch what became Sunny Day Real Estate's last show in Chicago. Doug, our faithful IV staff worker, laid out the guilt on me, priorities, growing closer to God, all that stuff. He even made fun of the band's name, the low blow which did him in because, I remember thinking, if he doesn't understand Sunny Day, he can't understand why I'm going. The night, in retrospect, was entirely bittersweet as my girlfriend left me that next spring and it was one of the last times she sat on my lap while we waited for the show together. It was still so young. One of the last times I felt truly innocent and good. There you have it, the truth: I skipped the 2000 Bible and Life conference to begin learning the hardest lesson about love that we all have to learn at some point. And I don't think I'll ever regret it.

19 August 2005

I'm less interested in cause and effect

Sufjan Stevens says about his John Wayne Gacy song, "I'm less interested in cause and effect, in terms of human iniquity. I believe we all have the capacity for murder. We are ruthless creatures. I felt insurmountable empathy not with his behavior, but with his nature, and there was nothing I could do to get around confessing that, however horrifying it sounds."

This relates to this Coelho novel I'm reading to understand a woman. I agree with Sufjan and maybe a little with Coelho too.

18 August 2005

Korean Wife Search Wrap-Up

We made it back safely from Korea. Now, to re-learn the Japanese side of history so I don't get all sympathetic to those whining bastards in other parts of Asia. But really, it was a lot of fun. I didn't think we were going to pull it off with as little trouble as we did. Seoul was great and I think I want to get back there sometime to live. We'll see how things pan out here.

Anyway, check out my pictures. See me without my shirt on.

16 August 2005

Korean Wife Search, Day 8

Forget the wife, I was accepted by the University of Birmingham graduate program in Applied Linguistics. That's right, I'm a graduate student. Show the proper respect.

Also, there is Subway (the sandwich eatery) in Seoul. I ate there and it was fabulous.

15 August 2005

Korean Wife Search, Day 7

Now we are searching for wives in Seoul. Instead of a wife, I found some Dr Martens that were so cheap, I bought two pair. Then me and Jim tried to decide if they were imitation or not.

We walked to this park to have a short break from the heat and there were like 700 old people in this park singing and playing board games and hanging out. I saw these three old ladies sitting around with a bag of chips and a 40 of beer, just shooting the shit and keeping it real. Jim said he saw a guy making a beeline for the bathroom with a finger in his ass. We sat and watched the whole thing unfold, like a sick, weird soap opera.

Now, we are back at the hotel which Jim thinks is a shithole, but I find kind of endearing in a rundown sort of way. Plus, they have the internet.

Tomorrow is the museum of modern history and more wife searching, although that looks like it might not be happening. That's okay, there are (is) other (another) women (woman).

14 August 2005

Korean Wife Search, Day 6

So we invited the barkeep out to lunch, but she never called us back. That puts the search back to square one.

Lee says, "I want to say warui guchi."

Lee also says, "Don't touch my sister."

And Jim says, "I gotta say I'm a little disappointed that we don't get to hang out with Lee's sister."

Not to be out done, Lee says, "Bitch of bitch" then "I love you, Steve." Maybe Lee can be my Korean wife.

12 August 2005

Korean Wife Search, Day 4

Day 4 has brought us to the beautiful island of Jeju in search of my wife. I was really down on the search earlier today — really disappointed in the country, but mostly, myself. Had I lost my talent?Tonight, at a bar, we met a woman, a barkeep to be exact, who said she didn't believe in anything. I think that must be exhausting for her. Anyway, she gave either me or Jim a free drink and because Jim doesn't drink, I drank it. It was good. I asked her in Japanese, Which one of us is more attractive: Me or Jim? She just laughed and said that I was cute, and Jim was handsome. Cute? What does that mean? Seriously, this can't be good for the dude.

In related, not-good-things-for-me, me and Jim found ourselves surrounded by a bunch of naked kids in the Sauna and they asked us, "Do you like Michael Jackson?"

Me, right now, to kid under the computer portal next to me: Dude, what are you doing down there?
Kid: Fast, fast.
Me: That's right, dude.

Also, I was heavily constipated for a couple of days but that seems to have passed now that I took a fabulous Korean laxative. Although it has created a new problem for which I had to create a safety word. The safety word is "Oh shit." I think we all know what that means.

Anyway, this is a great country filled with many great things. And kimchi. Everywhere kimchi.

09 August 2005

Finding love

Hey, I'm going to Korea to find a wife. I'll let you know how that works out.

06 August 2005

Love's Body

Because that sexy television program I like isn't on tonight, I will type this out for my brother at work:

Love's Body
Bobby Byrd

"At work I got to sneak into the john,
sit there on the cold stool,
so I can read a few poems to remind me who I am.
Absolutely got to. Otherwiese,
they look over my shoulder, say,

"Hey Bob, whatcha reading, POEMS?
Har, har. Bob's reading poems!"


Nobody pays attention to poems!
The world is such a big place,
it will never end. It cannot end.
The world is forever.
And even ever after


when we will all live together in Paradise.


I will be with the rest of the poets sitting off by ourselves.
We know it is Paradise because we are all friends.
The weather is fine and nobody is bitching.
We are lounging around in the soft green grass,
and the soft green grass is next to a blue, blue sea,
blue like the Sea of Cortez is blue.
We realize that we are inside a painting by Henri Matisse.
Nobody is looking inside the painting.
Nobody is listening to us.
That is okay because this is Paradise.

Every once in a while somebody gets up.
She disappears into the distant scrub carrying a shovel,
a very fine shovel made of tempered steel.
One of us is supposed to bring the beer.
It will be here soon, nobody is in a hurry.
I made the tacos, vegetarian style.
I even brought a jar of homemade pico de gallo.
Some of us are laughing.
It's an old joke, so old it never seems to end."

So that made me think of my brother.

Right now, in Japan, we are drawing close to the 60th anniversary of the bombings. It is different here because we (the Japanese we) not they (the Japanese they) were bombed. Niigata was first in line it has been said, but it was cloudy that day so Hiroshima was chosen. The weather is so important. Still, we or they (the American we or they) haven't apologized for the bomb because it was seen as needed to end the war. Needed to end the war. To overcome evil with good means to kill the right people for the right reasons or the wrong people for the right reasons or the right people for the wrong reasons. Any one of those will do.

Just now on the TV, there was a report of an important man who killed himself in the woods, fell out of a tree into a swamp. The mud still holds the shape of his falling body. It is now prepetually falling.

And so, in all midst of all this? A girl, coming down the steps with a beetle in her hand. Here, she says giving it to me, This is the beetle from the poem I sent you.

Yes, it is. It is the beetle from the poem you sent me.

04 August 2005

On the hog

"My son, mark diligently the motions of human nature and of divine grace. For they move in a very contrary and subtle manners, and can hardly be distinguished but by him who is spiritual and inwardly enlightened. All men indeed desire that which is good, and pretend somewhat good in their words and deeds; and therefore under the show of good many are deceived." -Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

It's so freaking hot. There's like no choice but to sit here in the air-conditioning in your underwear and like, think about stuff. Next week, I'm going to Korea and hopefully things will be a little better.

03 August 2005

The right reasons

Currently Listening
Don't Say Nuthin'
By The Roots

Yeah, the roots is the shit.

So let's fall in love with the right people for the right reasons, okay?

01 August 2005

August will grow bugs

Sometimes, I just like to take stock of things I've learned in the last couple of days:
  1. Very hot curry, by Pakistani/ Indian standards, is very hot. Though actually not that bad in the mouth, the whole digestion process becomes a kind of journey.
  2. From MacDonald, "Take any of those wicked people in Dante's hell, and ask wherein is justice served by their punishment. Mind, I am not saying it is not right to punish them; I am saying that justice is not, never can be, satisfied by suffering-nay, cannot have any satisfaction in or from suffering." More on that later.
  3. From Mr. Kouhei, If you date a woman once, you can know with a 10% certainity that she likes you. If you date three or four times, you can know with a 30% certainty.
  4. Anything thrown in a garbage can in August will grow bugs.
  5. My sexy swimsuit.