Moscow Subway Photos

Jesus, I thought I’d seen depressing subways: Photos made in Moscow subway
Riding next to an armed soldier is probably a hell of a lot more effective than women-only subway cars, though.
T has a one of those triangle guitar-thingies balalaika at his house. It’s not that huge, though.

Blog: A Stupid Word

That I would post about such a common topic is itself ironic, but great displeasure forces my hand. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have come to the stunning conclusion that the word blog is stupid and needs to be replaced. My reasons for saying such?

  • Mainly, it just sounds ugly. “I’m gonna start me a blaaaaaaaawg.
  • And it’s mama’s ugly, too: As we all know, blog itself stems from the word weblog, which isn’t really much to look at, is it?
  • Pretty much any word stemming from the word blog is also horrible: Blogger, blogging, audioblog, blog client, blogging software, blogging platform, blog feed, BlogDay, blogroll, moblog, multi-blog, re-blog, vlogging, video blog, splog, blogspouse, blogfather, blogmeet, and last but not least, blogosphere – a wonderfully descriptive word that sounds absolutely ridiculous.
  • Before becoming an abbreviated form of the word weblog, the word blog actually had another meaning (since 1959!)
  • Is it any coincidence that blog is a four letter word? Think about it: “I’m gonna undress you, then I’m gonna blog your brains out ALL NIGHT LONG”
  • When CNN starts using a trendy term every ten minutes, you know it’s time for a change (heard just this morning on CNN-I: “We will now hear what THE BLOGS have to say about it.” Give me a break, fucking.)
  • Unfortunately, alternatives such as “online journal” and “net diary” are also wretchingly gay. Therefore, I propose we, (the temporarily) blogging collective, use a new term to describe this pursuit.
    Any suggestions?

SPF 16 (Thai Commercial)


It’s comforting to know there are some familiar points in the society into which I shall plunge: Slapstick, vampires, hot chicks on TV.
On the other hand, sometimes it is disturbing to see the whitening effect of various cosmetics pursued by so many in Thailand. You know what, though? I attribute this less to the perceived beauty of pale skin than to the fickle nature of the female species – you know, wanting straight hair when they have perms and vice versa. It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s also only natural, I guess.
(via Magnoy)

A Prison Camp Memoir

Excerpts from another great memoir over on the JPRI site:

“The radio went dead. All the servants had long disappeared–stealing everything they could carry.
I locked all the doors and shutters and stayed in the dark. The planes were flying very low now, using the tramcar lines along the boulevard as a guide. When they opened up with their machine-guns, I guessed that the troops were near.
It was a long, long night. When dawn arrived, I couldn’t understand the sudden quiet, and ventured to the gate to look up to the main street. Imagine my astonishment when I saw thousands of troops marching softly past, carrying or riding bicycles! I learned later that 75,000 men entered Soerabaya that day.
I stayed locked in the house waiting for them to come for me, as I knew they would. It was dark before the hammering started on the door. I was terrified, but knew I had to hide it. So, carrying Jackie in my arms I opened the door. There were six storm troopers with fixed bayonets at the entrance. They pushed past me yelling for everybody to come out. They looked very tired, unshaven, hot and dirty and very violent.”

………….

“On a diet of rice and vegetable soup (a cup of each) three times a day, the casualties soon started to appear. The fat women seemed to show it first as they lost weight so quickly. The thin ones like myself lost weight, but it didn’t show so badly. Luckily I liked rice so had no trouble swallowing it. There were no eggs, meat, fruit or milk. We were allowed a spoon of sugar each per day.
The Japanese insisted that everything delivered as food went into the pot. There were no peelings, and even the greens of carrots were thrown in–but still there was not enough to go around. Many of the growing children were very hungry.
If it had not been so frightening it would have been interesting to see how quickly signs of malnutrition started to show–stomachs and ankles started to swell. Another inexplicable thing to me was that from the moment I was interned, until I was released I never menstruated once. Also although I ate exactly the same food, my ankles never swelled.
Soon dysentery swept through the camp and in the heat the smell was terrible, and of course people began to die. I was so grateful I had brought along Jackie’s pot, for we both used it throughout internment and didn’t catch dysentery.
I know how badly the men were treated in their camps, but I think the plight of the women has perhaps not been truly understood. They had their children to care for, and had to watch them go hungry. They were suddenly deprived of their wealth and position in society–and the aggravation amongst themselves was tragic to watch. Of course all classes were thrown together–we were only numbers now.”

………….

“Kimura ordered her out of the office and walked her to the middle of the compound, where everybody could see. It was dark, and I could only see shadows in the background. My legs felt weak and my stomach sick. He started to beat her up, and when I say “beat,” I really mean it. He slapped her about the face with his open hand until it started to look like raw beefsteak. All the time he was giving me a running commentary of what he was doing. Although swollen and raw no blood flowed from her face. He then hit her ears, carefully demonstrating to me how he cupped his hands to avoid breaking her eardrum. She was reeling from side to side until she fell unconscious to the ground.
He turned away as a cat from a dead mouse. She didn’t amuse him any more.
I called out for help after he had gone and a few women came out and helped me get her to the hospital. We were in luck for once. Earlier in the day I had interpreted for the doctor, who thought she had a diphtheria victim and needed ice. Surprisingly, we got some brought in and we now packed this over the woman’s swollen face. Just as Kimura had said, you couldn’t see a mark on her next day!”

………….
What an amazing story. This woman went through some crazy hardships and survived; go read the whole paper.

From the Brink of Despair…

I just scared myself real good.
I thought I’d lost my wallet.
The thing is, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen it, and I hadn’t used it for a couple of days. My heart sunk further and further as each place I searched turned up empty… I was really fucked becuase my wallet contains really everything I need to survive in modern society. Driver’s license, gaijin card, bank card, postal savings card, credit card, health insurance card, hospital card, dental clinic card, latest bank statement, a million membership cards, business cards, a few vital phone numbers jotted down on a waxy napkin, pictures of my wife and family, spare key for my car, a ball of pocket lint, my company’s pocket calendar, and a partridge in a 20th century pear tree.
To apply for replacements of all that shit would have taken longer than I have in Japan, starting with the driver’s license and gaijin card in order to be able to prove my identity at the bank, since all the cash I have on hand is the kind that jingles, in my piggy bank (actually the cardboard tube my primo bottle of Cazadores came in). I was in a sweat looking for that goddamn thing, believe me. And then I called Nam, because that’s who I always depend on when I lose shit – wallet, keys, keitai, my glasses (that’s the funniest one cuz I cant see SHIT w/o my specs). Of course, she wasn’t answering her cell in Thailand, which made me despair even more.
Anyway, after a whole hour of searching, I finally was about to give up and go file a report at the police station, and then I spotted a familiar shape underneath a car rag that I had moved today when sorting out shit in preparation for my big move to Thailand. At once, my heart jumped and I threw the evil rag aside to reveal my dear, dear wallet. Oh how I love you. I am so happy now.
Funny how things can turn in an instant. Sometimes life is sweet:

Japanese "Lawsuit" Guitars

tokai.jpg
They are known as lawsuit guitars because they are of such good quality (often matching or even surpassing the original Fenders and Gibsons they replicate), that:

Around 1981, though, Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker and a few other US guitar manufacturers got their hands on some “lawsuit” guitars made in Japan and quickly threatened to sue when they saw how exact the Japanese replicas really were. The Japanese replica-making guitar manufacturers were forced to stop making these “copy” guitars around 1983.

There are still tons of these guitars around if you search the used guitar shops and pawn shops, although some of the more famous models outprice the American equivalents they were originally based on!
Read more about the lawsuit guitars on this site.