High Heel Theory

At the end of last year, Nam interpreted in Bangkok for a famous Yoshimoto comedienne, High Heel Momoko. They ended up hitting it off, and Momoko invited us to dinner this past weekend. This is how I, the guy who basically holds Japanese TV responsible for the heinous dumbing-down of the past few generations, found himself in a room full of famous people and their agents on Saturday night. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
Momoko and her entourage are a close-knit group and at first there was of course a lot of industry talk going on, which was interesting in the sense that people who work in television are always viewing the world around them through a virtual camera lens. “Wouldn’t this make an excellent filming location,” and, “isn’t so-and-so getting their own series this year.” That kinda stuff. Later, though, we chatted with Momoko and I did the inevitable by asking why she originally took on the High Heel moniker.
The main reason was very simple, that girls like high heels and she wanted to appeal heavily to females in the audience during her standup routines. She then went on to explain that you need two shoes to have a complete pair and manzai is also like this because there are two parts to the act (the tukkomi and the boke). Also, comedians often employ contradictions (two contrating points) to make people laugh. Her point was later illustrated when Kuro-chan, from a comedy troupe called Yasuda Dai Circus walked through the door. He’s a big fellow who looks like a mean skinhead until he opens his mouth and his tickle-me-Elmo voice bursts forth – “Kuro-chan deeeeesu!” That guy had me laughing all night, because I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that that was his real voice – of course everyone asked him if it was, but you can never tell what people will do to make it in television, right? I wanted to hold him down and tickle him to see if his voice would shift to a baritone, that’s how ridiculously high his voice is.
All in all, it was a fun dinner.

My Genius Wife

Nam just finished her last interview and it looks like she’s set to receive her PhD in March! ALL THESE YEARS OF STUDY AND WAITING ARE FINALLY GONNA PAY OFF!!!!!
I AM SO FUCKING HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m alone tonight (she’s staying out in Nara), but I think I’ll drink to that anyway…


Related to my previous post, I’d like to know if anyone has food allergies or food preferences (disclaimer: I am basically the living antithesis of vegan. My philosophy is, “God gave me canine teeth for a reason, and damned if I’ll let them go to waste.” I have nothing against vegans besides the armpit hair-brandishing female type, but it will be very hard for vegans to travel with me on this trip, because among other things, several suckling pigs and a Peking duck or two have my name on them.).
Dave is lactose intolerant, which sucks but is fairly easy to work around, I think.
Chris, a guy I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting, is apparently allergic to peanuts. This is a much more serious issue. When I told Nam about this she thought it was the funniest thing in the world – “how can someone be allergic to peanuts?,” and therein lies the problem as I see it. Because peanut allergies among Thais are virtually non-existent, there is no awareness. Hence, even asking for peanut-free food may not ensure safety.
Chris is apparently bringing some Epi-pens, which is about all that can be done treatment-wise (without going to the hospital). We will help him as best we can with the avoidance part. I found some allergy cards translated into Thai, but I’m having Nam check them right now because they look kinda ghetto. Will post the link later if they check out, or make some of our own.

Let’s eat!

The upcoming trip to Thailand will mark my longest stay there thus far; it will also mark my longest stay in Bangkok. I have a simple policy regarding food in Thailand: Street vendors and food stalls are king. For the most part, they specialize in a dish or two, and they usually do it well. At these places, I’ve had 25 Baht (70 cents) chicken-on-rice plates better than any restaurant equivalent in the states or Japan, ditto for 50 cent bowls of egg noodles and 40 cent plates of fresh stir fried veggies. Thailand is a chowhound’s dream, simply because of the quality and widespread abundance of street food. One added bonus to this experience is keeping a mental list of the best street vendors/locations for specific kinds of food. The closest possible comparison to the states I can think of is taco trucks in LA – people remember where to go for, say, the best carnitas tacos, and share that information by word of mouth. A certain taco truck will gain a rep and maybe a following over a period of weeks or months, and then suddenly disappear. And chowhounds driving by for a quick midnight carnitas injection will wonder if it’s just a day off, or if the owner got sent back to Mexico. And there will be much mourning; somewhere a cholo pours a can of warm Tecate on the curb. So it is also with food stands in Thailand.
However, I have been to some excellent restaurants in Thailand as well. There’s that outdoor place by the Chao Praya river in Bangkok that Nam’s sister takes us to each time we visit – we’ve already planned to hit that place up this time, as well. There was that awesome seafood restaurant Nam’s aunts took us to when we announced our engagement – T had a messy foodgasm when he ate 3 huge Giant River Prawns there. And there’s the rundown little Vietnamese cafe in Nam’s hometown where they make the best springrolls I’ve ever had (although the pack of rabid dogs that attacked me outside were kind of a bummer). You may notice a pattern here: Basically every kick-ass place restaurant I’ve been to in Thailand was introduced to me (usually by Nam’s family). Which I suppose is natural, seeing as how she’s my wife and all, but it brings me to the next point.
I OFFICIALLY DECLARE THIS UPCOMING TRIP (second only to our wedding, that is): CHOWHOUND’S DELIGHT AKA Finding the Best Eats in Thailand, Part I
I even have a plan.
I am researching other’s studies into this area before the trip. See here and here for an example of the kind of articles I dig, as well as the boards up at Chowhound and Fodor’s. Of course we will do extensive exploring by following our noses/instincts, as well.
So who’s with me on this?

We wants our beef bowls, Gollum

Last week we picked up some American beef at Jusco, complete with AMERICAN BEEF! FROM USA! stickers on the packs. “Awesome,” I thought. Beef bowl renewal at Yoshinoya must be imminent… Think again. And American companies wonder why they can’t compete in foreign markets… It’s called quality control, guys.
This is sad because, unfortunately, Aussie beef just doesn’t cut it for Japanese cooking – it’s too lean. I think Australian cows play hockey all day or something. New Zealand beef is much better from what I’ve seen – on par or better than American beef – but for some reason it’s a lot more expensive. Pretty much the same price as cheap Japanese beef though, so there’s no reason to buy it. Of course, NZ lamb is unparalleled in quality, so soft and tasty (I think it’s because they’re regularly injected with semen, but that’s a different story).
In other cringeworthy news, read yet another reason why you don’t want to be hospitalized in Japan, ever.

Role Reversal

I’ve been walking home from work again lately. I started this eco-transportation pattern last October where I’d ride the bus to work and walk home. My coworkers thought I was crazy because nobody really walks on this island (It’s the closest I’ve come in Japan to seeing as many people owning cars as back home in Cali – there’s no train and the buses suck, so you really need a car). It’s not that far, really, about 5 miles or so. But most people think I’m fucking nuts for walking that far after a full day of work.
It’s turned into kind of a habit because it really calms my nerves to be able to work off stress slowly, grindingly, every day. I can go home and take a shower and relax after that. Yesterday, though, it was really cold or something, cuz when I got back home, I sat down on the sofa anditwassowarmandfuzzy and – POW! – the next thing I know, it was time to go to work again. Didn’t even take a shower.
The funny thing is, Nam was working on school stuff and wedding stuff on the computer, and she kept asking me questions, which I barely registered in a state of half-awake paralysis. So she didn’t think I was really sleeping that long or something, because she ended up staying awake until 5AM doing her stuff. I woke up naturally an hour later, prepared for a presentation I had at 8AM, and came into work early all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was one of the first to arrive, and greeted everyone with a loud ohayozaimasssu as they walked through the door. Pretty much down to the last man, they all gave me a mental Fuck Off w/red eye beam, and so I knew my transformation to Dedicated Salaryman with No Home Life was complete.

Hormonal Question

QUESTION: At a friendly get together, what is more annoying than having a guy who acts like he can kick everybody’s ass in the room, as well a girl acting like the head cheerleader at high school?
ANSWER: Having the same as above arrive as a couple and then getting sucked into their wine snob conversation.
SUPPLEMENT #1: And then finding out they get off on kissing in front of other people.
SUPPLEMENT #2: And wondering how they can act like this well into their fifties. Wrinkles and liver spots, baby.