Awa Dance Update

Well, last night there was a duststorm which pretty much ruined my attempts at photography. Today it’s raining. This bad boy is the reason for the foul weather. My island (Awajishima) is located right under the eye of the storm shown in the last frame of the animation.
I’ll attempt to take more photos tonight, but I’m afraid they won’t turn out as well as I had hoped.
UPDATE: We got totally rained out. Life sucks. Lileks, stand down.

Kochi Trip Photos

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Our trip to Kochi was partly accidental; it started with a flat tire that I needed to replace. Kochi was the largest city around, we had thought about going earlier, and I knew there would be an open tire shop there if we hurried.
The local >Autobacs was indeed open, so while I negotiated for a pair of Dunlops, Nam used my laptop to look for a good hotel online. We stayed in the Comfort Hotel (related to the comfort Inn chain) in front of Kochi Station, which I would link except that their air conditioning really sucks (I think this is a large factor in how they keep their prices down), and this is an unforgivable sin in the heat of the Japanese summer. They are a new hotel and a deluxe double went for 8,000 yen, so I might try staying there in the spring or fall.
Anyhow, we checked into the hotel and went looking for a likely place to eat and wind down. Lo and behold, there was a little robata-yaki place next to our hotel, where you are served by the hosts with a long wooden paddle. The food was excellent – local and fresh.
Story continued in the extended entry…

Read moreKochi Trip Photos

Awa Odori – Trolling for Lileks

Tonight and tomorrow I will be taking photos of the Awa Dance here in Sumoto. If you are a Minnesotan named James Lileks who once wrote about the Awa Dance on your kick-ass site (The Bleat) quite fondly, or even if you aren’t, please check out the photos someday. I’ll try to make it worth your time, even if I’m not nearly worthy.
Some keyword obscuria, because history repeats itself:
Japanese dance
hands above

Just Say…

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Brought to you by the “Don’t Do Drugs Cuz It’s Cool and Cute Japanese Chicks Dig It” Foundation.
Note: I finished editing photos from our trip to Kochi prefecture today, but don’t have time to write the post. This photo didn’t really fit in with the others, so I’m posting it alone first. This poster was inside a sealed bulletin board in front of a police station. Needless to say, whoever designed it must have been smoking crack. Then again, maybe that’s the whole point… Not.

Cab Ride

On Monday, after saying farewell to Adam, Merin, Matt, and Kuniko in downtown Fukuoka, I jumped in a taxi and headed to the airport. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cabbie was a woman. This was a first for me, so I took full advantage of it and we had a long conversation all the way to the airport. She told me that she’d been a cabbie for twelve years, and the conversation kind of blossomed from there; she was one of those old pros that have interesting stories to tell, and drive a cab because it’s their calling in life.
That wasn’t the only nice thing about this cab ride, however. She knew the streets really well. At one point, approaching a long line of cars, she pulled a U-turn and drove through a housing area where the streets were so narrow there was no room for pedestrians – so she honked at them and they scurried into their little nooks and crannies! My kind of driver.
The fare was 2,090 yen. I gave her three 1,000 yen notes and told her to keep the change. It made her so happy, she almost started crying, in that “grateful grandmother” type of way.
As they say, sometimes it’s not where you’re going, but how you get there. What a great way to end my stay.

Why I hate Disneyland

Growing up in Orange County, California, my parents must have taken me to Disneyland at least two or three times a year. I loved the hell out of the submarine ride, the Jungle Cruise, the Pirates of the Caribbean. Hell, I even remember at time when Captain E.O. was some impressive shit, and Star Tours – wow, when that came out, it kind of sent a big “fuck you” to all the other rides as far as sophistication goes. Yeah, I remember loving the Magic Kingdom even after we moved away to Ventura County (Camarillo and Ojai). Somewhere around high school, however, the thrill wore off. Perhaps I had overdosed on the experience, or maybe I just grew out of it. Today, I am an official Disneyland Hater. In California, as well as the vast majority of Japan, this is equivalent to being a grouchy old hermit. People cannot understand why I hate Disneyland (and I really hate it; last time I went there I almost punched out an obnoxious fucker who accused us of cutting in line in front of his kid).
Well, this may seem like a trivial thing to wrote about, but it got me to thinking again today when I saw this article (link picked up from Boing Boing):
http://www.miceage.com/allutz/al072704a.htm
The pertinent point is the fact that the Jungle Book staff no longer pack cap guns with which to ward off the angry hippo. I went to D-land at the end of last year for the first time in ages, so I could take my girlfriend (who is Thai and had never gone) and hang out with my younger cousins for a day. After the Nighmare Before Christmas-themed Haunted House experience was tainted by the “line cutting” incident mentioned above, I couldn’t help but notice the Politically Correct buttfuckery achieved at the Pirates of the Caribbean – wenches chasing pirates instead of the original, perhaps more believable and historically accurate, pirates chasing wenches (for the express purpose of raping, BTW) – and this was kind of laughable, since a lot of Californians are prude PC fuckheads and this type of shit is expected. But. When I saw that the Jungle Cruise had also fallen victim to the PC mindset, I nearly blew a gasket. For Christ’s sake, the cap guns were the high point of the whole fucking ride! I’m not the only one to think so, am I?
What the fuck could possibly be accomplished by deleting the climax of the Jungle Cruise? Why was it done? Are the lawyers afraid that some kid would go on a rampage with a single action reveolver, slaughtering innocent hippopotami, and then sue the park, or what? This is absolute epitome of lawyer bullshit!
My message to the idiots in charge of the park is as follows:
REARM THE JUNGLE CRUISE STAFF, ASSHOLES!
YO-HO YO-HO UNPUSSIFY THE PIRATES FOR ME!
AND BRING BACK THE SUBMARINE RIDE, IDIOTS!
If you can accomplish these three things, I will hate Disneyland a little less. And by “I,” I mean, “most of us.”
Update: Check out the Disney Blog.

My coworkers adore me

They really do.
I confirmed it today when they forgot to tell me about the “lithium leak” drill scheduled in the office next door. What happens is, well, they simulate a spill of hazardous substances. So when a man in a white space suit stormed into our office, I naturally thought he was coming for me.
“You’ll never catch me alive, copper!,” I screamed, and brandished a stapler most menacingly. Well, no. Actually, I just sat there in amazement and stared. Nobody else around me seemed to react much at all, even when he shouted, “ALL CLEAR!,” and stomped on down the hall.
Since no explanations were forthcoming from my coworkers, I have decided that it probably didn’t really happen. Somebody must have spiked my bottled water with psilocybin or something. I guess they’ve learned how much I hate the first mind-numbing day back at work after an extended weekend. How sweet.

Yoka Yoka Tei

1090963509yokayoka_001.jpgThis is the best restaurant in Kyushu, Yokayokatei. Everything from bibinba noodles to tonkatsu, teppan yaki, and raw horse sashimi – all divine. Plus, we were stared by the people at the next table for speaking in English, so I conspicuously picked my nose and flicked boogers in their general direction.

Land of Packaging

So I checked the kitten in and I’m sitting next to some smelly foreigners at the gate. They are big and hairy – the gorillaest one actually has hairs sticking out through the back of his knit polo shirt. Gross.
Anyway, I brought the kitten in a red picnic basket thingy we bought somewhere for like 500 yen. Nam found this free coupon on the web for a rental cat carrier so I figured we’d transfer him over to it at check-in. The staff, however, had another idea. They took the top off the rental carrier, placed the entire picnic basket (with sleeping Yoda inside) into it, padded all four sides of the basket with cardboard and bubble wrap, then taped the whole contraption together and screwed the carrier back together. I am beyond asking why at this point, but it was reminiscent of a high-end department store where they use bags on boxes on wrappings on inner boxes wth partitions, ribbon, and a cherry on top.

Your Evil Masters Make You Drink Pee, GI

You think C-rations and MREs are bad news? Welcome to better dining through osmosis.
When I was growing up, I had an uncle who was in the National Guard. He lived in Connecticut with his lovely wife on a wide spread where they had horses (horses!) and an electrified wire that ran under the corral’s top railing to prevent said horses from brushing up against it. This is where I learned, at an early age, that a long stalk of wild grass will indeed conduct electricity and make you pee your pants. Anyway, my uncle would sometimes bring back C-rats for us kids to munch on and gave us little treats like camo face paint compacts, Army Ranger booby trap manuals (use the plastic spoons from the C-rats combined with everyday, ordinary clothespins to create a trigger for trip wires), and one time he even showed me a “clacker” used to detonate claymore mines (although he didn’t let me keep this – now that was one wise judgment call). Before anybody asks, I will admit up front that I did use the booby trap manuals on our avocado farm in Camarillo to [A] lure my cousin Robert and my little sister Mika into a tiger pit (read: 2-foot hole in the ground covered with leaves and filled with water instead of pungee sticks) and [B] purposefully start a fire on our property with gopher gas bombs and diesel fuel siphoned from my dad’s car (I thought I had fully extinguished the blaze but it later started up again and would have burned down our house if we hadn’t seen the smoke when we were driving by that part of the property to go to the store. Sorry! My bad.).
The best C-rats, hands down, were the freeze dried ice cream packs, which came in one flavor, Neapolitan, and were eaten as is and did not need reconstitution. We tried some of the entrees like spaghetti w/meatballs and some questionable chicken concoctions, but these were really quite nasty, almost inedible, which is saying a lot since we were kids and ate almost anything (for instance, my favorite drink growing up was milk mixed with Dr. Pepper, and my little bro was famous for eating pillbugs). I felt really sorry for my uncle when we saw what he had to eat while out on the field (I seem to recall him mentioning that Cadillac made the C-rats for some reason. Yes, Cadillac the boat maker.). But he seemed to be having a good time overall and would regale us with tales of firing a .50 cal M2 machine gun from an APC and setting hills ablaze with tracers, playing “army laser tag” with the newly issued MILES gear, and the merits of using a Lansky sharpening kit in contrast to a common whetstone for sharpening blades. Damn, I love him for that.
He also introduced me to the Civil Air Patrol when he moved out west, and I participated for a while with the hopes of one day being able to bomb submarines off the California coast like the heroes of old. You have to remember that these were the days of Top Gun, when Take My Breath Away seemed like a good song to fantasize making out with a girl to and my buddy Dustin’s dad, a fighter pilot, was involved with actually firing a missile in the movie (he was like the coolest guy in school for a while, obviously).
But where was I? Ah, yes, osmosis. Does anybody remember that Garfield strip where he has a bunch of books strapped to his head and he’s saying “I’m learning by osmosis?” Well, I really fucking hate that strip (Whoa. Who opened the hate valve, Bodhi?). Digressions aside, might I volunteer the opinion that between the choices of eating food dry or eating food reconstituted with urine, the average soldier might just lean toward eating it dry. Like, every time. Is bacteria-less urine any less urine tasting? Or perhaps they simply don’t season the food since it would make everything taste too salty (maybe the JSDF can use this tactic for their soldiers from Nagoya).
The article mentions the damage that urea does to your kidneys, which is important I think. There is some debate whether drinking your own urine when you are dying of thirst is more harmful than good or not, mostly because its a diuretic, I think. It makes your cells shrink; it is the anti-Pocari Sweat of the beverage world. Then again, I often read about millions of people in China that swear by daily doses of urine for good health. Then again, some of the Chinese herbal shops I’ve seen sell tiger dick and toad anus for increased male potency, so I’ll perhaps keep my opinion that drinking your own pee (or eating it, even sans-bacteria) might not be in your best interest, health-wise.
Besides, it gives you peepee breath.
Update: Before Dave Barry steals it, yes Indestructible Sandwich is a good name for a rock band.