Sunday, August 31, 2003

: With Deepest Sympathy :

An Open Letter To Musubi-chan

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your husband, Onigiriman... The last time I saw him he was happily talking about your summer trips and his life in the 70s. It was such a pleasure to see him so enthusiastic about his married life and about issues that are universal to many Japanese/Asian Americans. But now we only have the memories, as we have now lost him to a greater purpose. He is no longer of this world, but resides peacefully in a better, more meaningful place, his own personal skybox, as it were, populated by the ghosts of other college football junkies and sponsored by the likes of Budweiser and Doritos (no, Mr. Quayle, there is no "E" in Doritos). 

Yes, I know, it is hard to believe that he is gone. There he lies in front of the TV in his favorite position, on his right side, head propped up on his right elbow and a can of beer in his left hand. I have notices others drop by and comment, "He looks so lifelike." Indeed, I too, thought he was alive with his occasional burps, grunts, and trips to the bathroom. But I new he was in his special place when I saw him surfing with his remoted control and EVERY channel had a football game on... May he rest in peace...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hah! Just kidding, people. Yes, I'm more or less dead to the rest of the world when football season starts, but only on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays and Monday nights and Thusday nights)... Yes, I'm a jerk for isolating myself for these few hours on these 14 Saturdays of the year; but it's the only real vice that lingers from my youth: I have forsaken other sports such as baseball and basketball, I no longer smoke (both), I drive within the speed limit, I help around the house, I take showers regularly. NOTE: Drinking does not count because Musubi-chan and I indulge equally; and, of course, if she was interested in football, we'd have lots to talk about...

Go Bruins! 

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Are you ready for some football?!?

Sorry, don't mean to bore anyone, but I get the impression that there are few football fans out there... Well I love it. A few games have already been plyed--San Jose State v. Grambling, Maryland v. No. Illinois--but the season really startes today. I got ESPN Gameplan which will be broadcasting over a hundred games over the season. I also have FoxSports package, which will broadcasts the local games ABC/ESPN will not carry. So I'm set until New Years. I made the mistake of explaining to Musubi-chan what a football widow is... now she uses it all the time to explain her...

Onigiriman to star in new animation; Storyline, details murky 
Just  kidding... sorta. Piratechan, a budding animation artist at a university known for being "Most Tech Savvy"--see Newsweek article--sought and received from her professor's permission to do a story on--get this--the O-Man. Its a class assignment, I think, so she's pretty free to do almost anything she wants... I hope! The more creative, the better. Cutting edge, man! Technically and creatively! The prof set down some guidelines, like linking it to her life and making it more universal... whatever that means... But even if it turns into something completely different, I'm still totally flattered...

Friday, August 29, 2003

: What I did this summer 2 :

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA
Besides Colonial Williamsburg, and we also went to Busch Gardens, whos parent company is Anheiser-Busch, the makers of that world famous king of beers...

As you can imagine, Musubi-chan and I had to stop off at an Irish pub and partake in this local brew... It was such a hot day, we drank the first cup in no time flat. Musubi-chan told me to wait, as she was going to get some more... I protested, but she scowled, reminding me of the stocks from the previous day... So as an obedient (read: cowering) husband, I waited.

At the bar, she chatted up the bartender. Apparently, he actually IS from Ireland! Imagine that, I thought... I heard them talking, I waited......

Musubi-chan decided to step out on her own and get some fresh air. She walked through the Italy section to see a Roman Show.

The show was actually pretty good, singing such standards as "O Solo Mio" and "Volare".

They had some good singers and the band was first rate, better than D-Land, and certainly better than Onigiriman, according to Musubi-chan. And so as she enjoyed this Holiday in Roma...

Recalling my hours in the stocks fromt he day before, I continued to wait patiaently...

After the show, Musubi-chan wandered about a bit more and found herself in the French Quarters where they stage a show called Imaginique, with mimes, magicians, jugglers and dancers.

Before the show, "Imaginaires," costumed performers known for their imaginative display of skill, interact with guests on the streets of the French hamlet, providing comic relief. As expected, Musubi-chan clowns around...

Of course, Musubi-chan being Musubi-chan, her nose led her to that most famous of beer festivals... Oktoberfest.

Busch Garden has a huge building that houses a center stage and lots of long benches where you can enjoy a variety of sausages, one of Musubi-chan's favorites saurkraut, and Musubi-chan's all-time favorite... BEER. Busch advertises this place as "high-energy oompah song and dance will have you dancing up a German storm."

And as you can see, Musubi-chan did just that, dancing to German Polkas at Oktoberfest, while...

"I'm thirsty..."

Thursday, August 28, 2003

: What I did this summer 1 :

Williamsburg, VA
Over the 4th of July weekend, we went to Colonial Williamsburg, and I thought I'd share a few random photos. Williamsburg is about 120 miles south of here. The drive was not so long in terms of miles, but the traffic, especially around Fredericksburg was horrendous. But we got there safely and at least one of us enjoyed out stay...

Musubi-chan playing around with a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg. This is, in general, one street about four New York blocks long. They have a number of retail stores for souvenir hunters like us, as well as colonial demonstrations of bootmaking, hat stitching and the fife and drum group.

These guys were suprizingly good... and I think they were all 20 years or younger. At least they sure looked young to me...

Musubi-chan (thanks Matt) with a couple of really old people

Another "attraction" was The Governor's Mansion where former governors, including Thomas Jefferson, made their residence. It was restored recently and they did such a good job that it looked very nice--even the people populating the mansion looked rather good, as usual Musubi-chan was quick to make new friends.

At this point, you may--or may not--be wondering where Onigiriman is. Taking all these wonderful the photos? Fat chance. Musubi-chan was pretty pissed off at me... She said, in her most commanding voice, "Be up and ready to go at 9AM," but of course I NEVER listen--I'm a night person; being ready by 9 requires me to be up around what? 7 o'clock? 8? Forget it! Well, in our house, there is a price to pay for not obeying the edicts of the mistress...
Musubi-chan warned me, and I did not heed...
so this is what I get....

Musubi-chan tricked me into taking a snapshot in the stocks, but after taking the photo, she left me hanging , literally... for a few hours....

 Personally, I think a simple shiri pen-pen would have been sufficient... and more pleasurable... Just kidding!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

: Summer Ends :

I know what I did this summer... I think

As I roam Xanga aimlessly and read the entries of others, I see that almost everyone is going back to school... and that includes me. I have a few more hours of relative freedom before summer comes to a close, and I will enjoy it with a song that reminds me of the summer before I went up to No. California to do my graduate studies... I spent the summer of '86 in Japan, my last one as a true bachelor (as opposed to a divorced one). But before you think the worst, let me tell you I went to work part-time editing a catalog of Japanese universities for AIEJ, and spent my time on the train listening to Skipped Beat by The Kuwata Band...

: Allergies : Ragweed sucks major.

Yeah, ragweed really sucks. And I think I'm having a bad reaction to Claretin... My face starts to get numb, not a lot, but noticeably so. I thought it was something I ate, but I have not had any of the tell-tale GI track symptoms and more its been giving me a buzz for the past three days now, so its probably not the food. Its supposed to be a non-drowsy formula, so its kinda scary. I think I'll forego my pill today, even though has forecast the

pollen index at 10.4...

I'd stay at home, but I have a meeting at school... I must protect myself with what Masumi called my "Bosozoku" look, and suffer the stares and occasional questions from non-sufferers...

Not Living Up to Expectation
Installment seven. Originally posted on the JAJournal Saturday, August 23, 2003

I get in my car--did I mention its a midnight blue '73 Chevy Camaro?--and drive the five minutes it takes for me to get there. I walk into the dark bar on this late-afternoon Sunday. The restaurant didn't open until 6, but James an T are sitting at the bar, as the employees run around getting ready for business.

"N-san is on a business trip and can't make it to the contest. I want you to represent the restaurant," T said matter-of-factly.

"Huh? What happened?"

"The TV people were going to replace N-san with someone else, but I told them the replacement had to come from this establishment. And I want you."

"Really." I said, not knowing what else to say. It took a few minutes before what she said actually sunk in. "So what am I supposed to do?"

"Practice," T replied.

And I did. Everynight for two weeks. The pianist at the bar, K, suggested I forget "Futari de osake wo" and sing another Asuza Michiyo song called "Melancholy." I didn't know the song and was hesitant at first, but relented after she convinced me that a newer song sung by fewer people at piano bars would have a greaster impact. I had to admit that "Futari" was a popular--and hence, tired--song at piano bars. But this also meant that I had to memorize the lyrics of a song I barely knew...

On the night of the contest, I was nervous as heck. I went to the contest with my sister, two high-school friends and one drinking buddy. My parents were somewhere in the Grand Canyon--"Do you think you really have a chance?" my dad chortled as he left the day before. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see my uncle and two aunts there in the audience, as well as two ladies from the retail shop of the sweetshop.

The contest was held in the hall of Koyasan Temple in the middle of J-Town. When I got there, I found out I was 29th out of 32 contestants. My friends and sister entered the hall and I went backstage to wait my turn. The first few singers were pretty good, nothing spectacular, but passable. The thing that got me though was the fact that each contestant was on stage for a long time. It took thirty minutes to get through the first 4 to 5 singers, meaning it would take another hour and a half before I was called on stage. Nervous to begin with, the waiting made me all the more so. I went out the side door and headed toward a local sushi bar in Japanese Village Plaza. It had a small service bar where maybe four people could sit. Jim, the bartender, served me a couple of Cuttys as I played the lyrics in my head over and over.

Mickey CurtisAfter three belts, I returned to Koyasan Hall, no less nervous, but perhaps a bit braver. I went on stage on cue and sang "Melancholy". I'm not sure if my experience with the band had anything to do with it, but once on stage I sang and walked around and always kept my eyes on the audience, looking at the judges--which included Mickey Curtis, (fading) star of film and music--looking toward the back of the hall, to the sides, trying to make eye contact, even though I couldn't see anyone beyond the second row. It was like old times, sorta. I wasn't sitting at the piano, but I was center stage... What a ham, my friends would tell me later, but at that moment, I was totally relaxed and confident.

After the requisite interview--Yes, I'm sansei. Yes, I work at the M sweetshop where I learned Japanese--I went off stage. I found one of the producers who informed me that after the last contestant, the judges would deliberate for a while and then announce the winner. I stepped outside to grab a smoke and found some of my friends out there, incuding JI. She told me that she thought I would win. The people she was with said the same thing. They thought I had a stage presence that the others lacked--yeah, Onigiriman, you looked like you've been there before.

I became nervous all over again, but with a different sense of anticipation. Did I sing that well? Did I nail it?

They announced that the judges had made their decision and we were to gather on stage. With great anticipation, I waited eagerly as they announced the names of the winners in reverse order. 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd...

"And 1st place goes to Sam F."

I was stunned. I mean, I felt pretty good on stage, but everyone else also told me I performed well. Shit! I didn't even place in the top five. I should have known better. I should have just ignored all these idiots and focused on selecting the proper courses to take at the community college. I mean, seriously, what am I doing here?!?

Photographic Evidence
Yes, that's me in the center. Is this not the face of someone who is completely surprised?!?
I looked around the stage. Which is the fastest way off. I'm sure there's an exit behind that curtain... When suddenly everyone applauds and cheers. I hear my name and some one grabs my arm and pulls me to the front. What's happening?

"....plause for this year's Grand Champion, Onigiriman, who sang...."

I was stunned. I thought I lost and was looking for a way off the stage. It never occured to me that Grand Champion did not equal first place? What? Oh, yeah, the prize.

"...a round trip ticket to Tokyo, Japan..."

Will someone please pinch me?

End of installment seven....

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Not Living Up to Expectation 7

: Response : What's "semi"?

Mattblue: I find it strange that as a manager of a factory you became a "semi" big-shot. What about the job made your social life so active all of a sudden?
Haha! Busted! Just kidding... I will tell you I don't think I was a big-shot either--especially as I look back on it now--but in J-Town back then, I became a familiar figure since the Sweetshop was one of the oldest extant stores in Lil' Tokyo (ca. 1910s), and it was growing by openning stores at four different locations in SoCal. Further, I became close with the owner--a popular and active figure in the community--and many people thought we were brother and sister. Indeed, her mother--defacto "chairwoman"--still tells others that I'm like her son. So in J-Town, I was a familiar figure among a group of people who, for the most part, never went to college, considered themselves blue-collar workers--drivers, cooks, waitresses, store clerks--or were still very young like me. I don't claim to have known everyone, especially the more influetial people, but for a 21 year-old with limited experience, I sometimes felt like  "big shot" when more people knew me than I them. Still, as you suggest, I was not really a "big shot"; but that's why I threw in the term "semi", which suggests half-baked, quasi... you get the picture...

Not Living Up to Expectation
Installment seven. Originally posted on the JAJournal Friday, August 22, 2003

In the summer of 1979, I was still hanging with my J-Town buddies at the bar we always went to in Monterey Park. There was a singing contest sponsored by Suntory held in J-Town, and the producers--a small, local Japanese TV production company--went to all the local piano bars--there was no Karaoke back in the day--to hold tryouts for the "Second Suntory Kayyoku Butsuke Honban Grand Champion Taikai" At the bar I frequented, Sanch・ I was considered--at the risk of sounding immodest--one of the better singers. When the tryouts were held at our hangout, I sang a song by Azusa Michiyo called "Futari de osake wo". The producers chose only two from each establishment they visited and I was not one of them. My buddies and even the owner of the bar were surprised.

"They should have chosen you," said James through his cigar.

"Yeah, who's that guy anyway? He's usually drinking at Eigiku. What's he doing here?" Tom stared at the intruder.

The owner, of course, was all business. After talking to the producers and congratulating the contestants for the contest. She came back to the bar where all the regulars sat. "Apparently, they had more than two singers at Eigiku that they want to compete, so they distributed them to other bars so they can eventually be chosen as contestants... at the expense of one 'legitimate' patron," she explained, looking at me sympathetically.

With my chin resting in my left palm, all I could do was stare at the cutty and water I stirred aimlessly with a swizzle stick. I was not especially surprised, but I was depressed.

"What am I doing here?" a recurring question in my life.

A bit bummed out, I began the process of reorganizing my life. One of the things I specifically pegged as a major problem to fix was my drinking. I had been drinking scotch and water everday and I found myself uneasy, jittery when I didn't have a drink. I was also dissatisfied with the way my ife was developing, the direction in which it was headed. So I forced myself to take stock, to figure out what I should do to resolve these issues. I concluded that life in a JA only world was to small, confining. Everyone knew each other, and everything you did and said was open to scrutiny... and gossip.

"Did you see Marumaru-san last night? He was so drunk."

"Yeah, I heard he went home with the girl from XYZ..."

"Her? That girl went to the doctor the other day because she's been slleping around and caught something, y'know..."

"Well, if Marumaru-san catches something, he better not give it to his wife."

"Won't happen. I heard they sleep in different beds now..."

"Did you hear about Onigiriman?"

"Yeah, he got the shaft, but maybe he wasn't that good anyway."

"Maybe. Even if he was chosen second, its obvious that he wasn't as good as the other Sanch・singer..."

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And these were guys! Helping to manage a business was pressure enough, but to have your private life hung out like dirty laundry was beyond the pale. Recalling my time with BA, I decided to step away from this JA/J-Town life and the first step was to quit my job as manager of the sweetshop factory--not that I was any good at it anyway. This would lessen the number of times I came in contact with my J-town "buddies", reduce undue stress, and allow me to clear my head. I have often wondered if I was running away, just because I wasn't chosen to participate in the contest... and I guess, in a way, it was. But there are times when you need to escape, need to retreat, to back up to a previous fork in the road and see where the other road takes you. Life does not always afford this luxury, but when it does I felt that I should take advantage of it. I stayed home, and thought about reapplying myself academically by going back to the local community college again. This was my start, as mundane as it was, going through the ELAC course catalog to figure out what classes I would take for the Fall semester, when I got a phone call.

"Hey! Whatcha doin'? We haven't seen you in a while! Why don't you come by Sanch anymore?" asked James.

"Uh, well," reaching desperately within myself to find an excuse. "I've been kinda busy."

"Man, you quit the sweetshop, and you don't come to Sanch・ We thought you commited suicide. Hehe..."


"Anyway," James continued, "T asked me to call you to tell you to come by. She has something important to tell you."

"I'm kinda busy, figuring out my future..."

"Well, T thinks this will affect your future, too."

"I doubt it."

"No really. The first round's on me."

"Make it the first three." I figured I may as well make him pay for pulling me away from my deliberations.

"We'll be waiting."

More tomorrow....

Monday, August 25, 2003

: School Soon : New semester starts next week!

: Xanga for the really bored reader : PM Update

Below: Not living up to expections 6 (cont'd)

I have only a week left before school starts... and I am dreading it... Please believe me when I say that most instructors feel exactly the same way as students--What did I do this summer? Where did the time go? I'm not ready to go back! ...... Well, at least this instructor feels this way.

This semester I have four courses... Japanese literature in translation, Readings in modern Japanese, Intro to Bungo (for tigger et al: literary Japanese) and the Major Proseminar... 

Grrr... as if we had time to kill... But then, if he found out how much time I spend on Xanga...

Speaking of which, I mentioned this in passing previously, but I may not be posting as much or as often once school starts. While providing personal, self-aggrandizing--i.e. useless--information is therapeutic, I must prioritze my life around the actitivity that actualy put food on the table and pays the mortgage. Of course, if there was a way to make money on Xanga... Hah! I doubt anyone would pay to read my stuff... there are already few enough people who refuse to pay for Premium. hahahaha....

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is the continuation of installment six. Originally posted on the JAJournal Monday, August 18, 2003

MM manifested a characteristic I was not familiar with... at least not on the giving end, which exposes me now as a selfish, self-centered brat. And I was, so I did what any selfish, self-centered brat would do, I broke it off... again. And I was so cool... uh, I mean, so uncool about it. I created a situation in which it made it seem like she was at fault... It was kind of a three-strikes-and-you're-out deal, and I made sure that the strikes were acts she was bound to perform: lies... Not that I have never told a lie, but she had a way of strying from the truth, much like children do when they don't want to be caught... Anyway, she ended up being too Japanese for me, and we did not last very long. Actually, she didn't last very long, for I had another already prepped...

Okay, if you want to judge me a jerk, you're too late, I'm already fully aware of it. Indeed, I was even aware of it back then, but it didn't stop me. I was young and rarin' to go. I won't bore you with the details, 'cuz the point of this story is to convey the idea that I had not lived my life like the Glob--good little oriental boy--I was supposed to be. I did things the way I wanted, and I was very selfish at that...

But I was also trying to find myself within my JA skin. I went back and forth with different girls: YI was from Japan but spent many years in NY and seemed pretty close to ideal, if not for her parents--she was the daughter of a shha-man (businessman in a large Japanese multinational corporation)--and they kept us apart very successfully. (Actually, I've always thought that they were pretty perceptive.) CN was a JA who was born in Japan but came to LA at a young age. Her Japanese was good, but her attitude toward life was similar to mine: defy the stereotype. We liked to dance, drink, sex, all-party all the time. But I think we were too much alike and we basically got bored of each other.

I soon quit the bank job and school--again--to work fulltime at the sweetshop in 1978. I had been promoted to plant manager at the tender age of 22, and became a "semi" big-shot in J-Town. It was pretty much a joke, as I think back about it now. A 22 year-old punk planning and managing the plant that supplied sweets for three retail stores and a wholesale market for Japanese confections. I am embarassed to discuss the details of the job, because I did so poorly, but my social life was active. Unfortunately it mostly involved drinking and drinking and more drinking. In fact, I had turned into an alcoholic. I can't believe some of the things I did. I went to my favorite bar with my buddies from J-Town 8 days a week. I drank Cutty and water, 6-8 double shots a night. I'd flirt with every girl in the bar--many were not so cute, but then, as I was gaining weight from all this drinking, I was no beauty either... After a couple of scuffles in the bar and blow outs at home--my mother had returned by then--I came to the realization that I was out of control. At first, I thought it was cool hangin' with my JA buds, being JA, talking Japanese, being cool. But this "cool" was not worth my sanity, my self-respect, my future, my life...

During this two-year "lost weekend", I met JI who was a tamer version of CN, and I thought it would work. By the end of summer 1979, I had removed myself from the manager's position, and decided to go back to school to see if I could still do something with my life. I came to realize that J-Town was not in my future, that being JA didn't necessarily mean that I had to associate with this particular segment of society. JI was a remnant of this J-Town legacy and she didn't seem to fit into the scheme of things, socially, intellectually... Intellectually? What a ridiculous notion. When the hell did that enter into the equation?

Well, actually, I can't tell you the exact date, but it was a process that began when I entered a singing contest in J-town... and won...

Seven tomorrow....

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Yeah! Weekend Fluff!

PM Update

: Japan :
How thee frustrates me, let me count the ways

Okay, enough of this lovey dovy stuff. How about stuff that just plays with my mind...

  1. I love Japan because it of its appreciation for nature, but then why--as Capstew pointed out before I had the chance--does Japan continue to gouge out mountains for new golf courses or shopping centers?
  2. I love Japan for its sense of social honesty/responsibility, but then why do you just totally mess up places where you feel anonymous? Go to any tourist site in Japan: Mt. Fuji, Hakone, the trash is incredible. And the cigarette butts... ok, ok, the crummy ashtrays they have are usually overflowing...
  3. I love Japan for their inclusive attitude, but y'know what? They obviously exclude me, cuz I'm not "Japanese." I mean, the firswt apartment I rented, I had to convince the real estate agent that I was a "responsible" foreigner, a "trustworthy" American... no, I'm not a gaijin, thank gawd; that would make my task 10 times harder; as you all know, the term gaijin is reserved for non-East Asians only.
  4. The Japanese are service oriented? Yeah right, give me a break. Why are the ATMs closed at night? (Or has that changed?) Are they afraid someone will steal it? We're talking about a country where vending machines can be found on a country road between two rice paddies... Really, my uncle owns two of 'em...
  5. How many more????
: Japan : How I love thee, let me count the ways
I have read a number of Xangas of people who will soon be going to Japan. Some are excited, but surprisingly, some are going unwillingly... Well, as one who wants to go but can't afford it, let me express some reasons why I would be more than happy to take your place...
  1. I love Japan...'cuz its generally the safest place in the world. Low crime rate, especially low violent crime rate. If you get lost in LA or NY you have to fear for you life, but in Japan, even Tokyo, you might lose your money, you will definitely lose time, but you will never lose you life.
  2. I love Japan for its retail philosophy. Okay, I know that it's a pretty expensive place, but their's a reason--now don't hold me to this, you may want to argue, but realize that I may have a Ph.D. but I am a Economics idiot... Anyway, Japanese retailers manage to provide exactly what you want. Don't have it? They'll order it. Not in stock? They'll make it. If you've been to places like Tokyu Hands or any major bunbouguya (stationary store), you'll know what I'm talking about. Sizes, colors, material. The US philosophy is "affordable (read: cheap) is best." To accomplish this, they do market research, create one item that the largest group--maybe 40%--will buy and make the other 60% live with it. Mass producing one item is always cheaper than producing fewer of a lot of different items, so stuff in Japan is more expensive. But I don't mind paying the extra 25% to get EXACTLY what I want. Anyway, this is simply how it seems to me. I'm no economist, so please don't beat me over the head with factoids.
  3. I love Japan for its "inclusive" attitude. Okay, there are those who will argue with this statement--and I will join you in a heartbeat--but you have to admit that there are elements that boggle the mind. Take religion: In the West, or anywhere else probably, one religious belief automatically excludes all others. But not in Japan. Where else can one be taken to a Shinto shrine after birth for hatsumode (first shrine visit), be married in a Christian church, and have a Buddhist funeral upon death, all in one lifetime AND NOT have anyone think it odd? Take sexual orientation: Gays are making primetime in the US, but where are you going to find transexuals except on Jerry Springer? Japan? Well, they have had the equivalent of the transsexual Olympics on primetime. They were also a regular segment--Mr. Lady--on Tamori's Waratte iitomo, a popular noontime variety show. Can you imagine transexuals as a regular segment on Letterman or Leno? I don't even think Fox has the cajones to do it--although they do have Banzai....
  4. I love ramen, any ramen, in Japan (with no MSG; I'll have an allergic reaction.)
  5. I love the way trains are so punctual, you could set your watch to them. People here freak when they hear they can get a "note" from the train master to take to work if the train is delayed over 15 minutes... yeah, freakin' amazing.
  6. I love the Japanese appreciation for nature that is often absent in most Americans. A typical Japanese will know more names of birds, fish, plants, flowers, etc, than a typical American. They will knowuguisu, sanma, susuki, and ajisai, but who among us knows how a nightengale sings, how to recogninize a pike fish, how tall is a eulalia plant, and wtf is a hydrangea?
  7. I love the Japanese appreciation for monochromaticism. I'm not talking only about the black and white of sumie--charcoal painting. The next time you go to the countryside and see all the greenery, look at the different shades of green... Only a Japanese could ever point out to me the subtleties of its monochromatic elegance.
  8. I love the Japanese sense of social honesty/responsibility... This might have changed as Japan evolves, I suppose, but it seems to me that Japan is still basically an upstanding society.
    • When I first went to Japan (1974), I left a folder with cash and plane ticket and passport on top of a public phone booth. When I realized I had lost it, I ran back to get it but it was gone. My cousin's wife came to pick me up, but as we were driving home, we saw my cousin driving in the oppostie direction and he tolod us that someone had found the folder and turned it in to the koban! And, of course, everything was still in it.
    • A friend of mine left his camera on the rack in the Chuo line train when he got off at Mitaka (1980s). He frantically called and checked every station from Tokyo to Hachioji, but no luck. He remembered that he had not checked his own station, Mitaka. No way it would be there, right? Wrong! Whoever turned it in, realized it belonged to someone who got aff at Mitaka, so s/he made sure to turn it in at that station... Only in Japan!
    • I just read a Xanga post (2003) by KutieAngel04 and she said she left her cell on a wall by the beach. She called her number, some guy answered it and she was able to get it back...
  9. I love Japan... More as I update this list over the weekend...

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Xanga for the really bored reader

: Entry length : how long is too long?
Man! When Takunishi starts to comment that my post is "big", then IT MUST BE BIG! Hah! (Or was he referring to "NLUTE"?) But actually my recent posts have been two posts in one. For those who have the time to read around noon, they've already read the bottom (first) half. I just updated/added info later in the afternoon... But not to worry, I guess, Pochi... School starts next week and my entries will shorten dramatically. As my kids know--or should know--I invest a lot of time into teaching. I literally dedicate my time to them, which is why they kinda become my "kids": they appreciate the effort, I think... I hope... Anyway, I'll post some Weekend Fluff later today, after I get some Zs... and sober up a bit... hehehe...

Friday, August 22, 2003

J-Identity and Musubi-chan

PM Update
: Response :

A comment/question from a JA in the Pacific Northwest. Y'know, I love it when people chime in...

dorkus_maximus: What's your insight about sansei Japanese-American's or above? My friend (he's not very credible sometimes =X) told me that they have an identity crisis because they're confused of who they are. Usually, Nisei are the ones that know their culture very well and speak their language fluently because of their immigrant parents. What does that leave the sansei if their parents who were Nisei didn't really impose any of their culture upon their children? Would that leave the 3rd generation or beyond really confused about who they are? 
Personally, I think your friend is pretty insightful if s/he's JA, or observant if s/he's not. Actually, I'm a sansei, too, and I was and probably continue to have--to varying degrees, depending on my mood--an identity crisis. A lot I have written has touched on this already, but let me say that the identity "crisis" generally arises--and I speak for myself only--when I try to think of myself as Japanese; the reason being that I have learned over the years that I am not Japanese. I have done many things over the years that might qualify me to make this remark: I went to a elementary school attended by only JAs or J nationals (this, of course, is illegal now); I studied karate for six years; I worked with Japanese nationals in J-Town for more than a decade; I have lived in Japan sporadically for over 10 total years--longest stretch being 6.5 years;I speak Japanese fairly fluently; I read Japanese; I've been married twice, both to Japanese nationals; I teach Japanese language, literature and culture at a post-secondary school, with a Ph.D in this field.

Before you roll your eyes, let me assure you that I am not trying to boast. I'm just trying to let you know where I stand. The Nisei have nothing on me. I surpass most Nisei when it comes to things Japanese. And because of all this, I know for a very real fact that I am most emphatically NOT Japanese. If you read to the conclusion of my story of "Expectations", you will find that I have come to a definite determination... But I'll let you read it on your own. I'm getting close to wrapping it up, but its taking more time since I want to end it right...

Anyway, sansei and yonsei and gosei and the rest need to deal with the reality: We are not Japanese. We may have an affinity for Japan to varying degrees, but still we are not Japanese. Many of the Japanese "traditions" we learned from our parents and grandparents are relics from an older time, passe and anachronistic by modern Japanese standards of culture, society, and ethics.

This is Musubi-chan where Santa Monica Blvd. ends at the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Ave. She insinuated, "no more photos of ex-gfs" so I'll put up her photo... 8/2002
I should mention that I really love Japan. I am the first to diss it--well, Takunishi and Sleetse do a pretty good job sometimes, too. But there is so much I love about the nation where my mother was born, where my father was raised... I guess that makes me sorta schizoid... ah, well...

sleetse: man how much younger is wife!, If she is younger than you by more than 10 yrs I'm gonna boycott your site. 
Hah! Believe it or not, she is older than me... by 3 months. So there goes your boycott.

korikai: Musubi-chan is so hot! And didn't you say before that she's a grandma? Good Lord, I wanna look like her when I grow up! (or, now, even). Can you ask her what her workout routine is? (and if she says that she doesn't work out, just....make something up, please).
I will pass the word to her, I'm sure she will be flattered... You should know that she is a fitness consultant--she tries to keep me fit but I often boycott--and a former aerobics instructor. She taught dancercize, jazz dance, and funk... Her funk was pretty funkalicious...

Xanga for the really bored reader
: Reconsideration : AM edition 
I've been writing about my experiences during the 70s, mostly, something that I was doing even BEFORE the "I Love the 70's" progam on VH1. And I'm afraid I might have lost some focus, as the following comment about installment 6 from pochi124 suggests:
i read ur entire entry!!! but i still don get it. what exactly is the "not living up to expectations" thingy?? i guess this one was about ur old crushes so is the "not living up to expectations" thingy about ur life??

Uh, not quite, Fido... er, I mean Pochi... If you had read all the entries from the beginning, the title might make more sense, but your comment has forced me to reconsider the direction of my story, for indeed I seem to be focusing on that most favorite subject of mine, ME... So I thought I'd take a pause and reconsider what I'm trying to convey.

The story began when Takunishi79 posted a comment about "screwing up" and the possibility of bouncing back. Not that I'm such a great example or anything, but I wanted to relate to him--and anyone else reading--my experience about being an almost-high-school drop-out who eventually turned it around in the right direction.

As an almost-high-school drop-out, I did not live up to the expections placed on me by my parents and JA society at large as a good little oriental boy (Glob). I failed to go to college right away and spent a good portion of my youth dancing, playing in a band, looking for girl friends, etc. much to the disappointment of many around me, even some of my friends. But for a while I was satisfied with what I later found to be a wretched, go-nowhere existence in J-town.

As the story continues, it inevitably runs through a portion of my life when I had, by my standards, an extraordinary streak of luck with women. Believe me when I say, in all honesty, that I have always considered myself to be an ugly duckling, and believe for the most part to have grown into an ugly goose. But during that time in my life, for reasons I still cannot fathom, I... well, in Japanese, for lack of a better word, moteta. And that is the portion that Pochi read recently...

Well, as I re-read the passage that gave Pochi the wrong impression, I think that perhaps I have dwelled too much on "gurlz". And although to a degree this portion of my life did alter my world view, it has little to do with my actual turn-around. I really understood how much I was getting off the track when I read the continuation of 6 posted on the JAJournal. The way 6 ends is wrong; it does not reflect what I really want to say. It should end when I enter a Japanese singing contest in J-town and... well, I don't want to get ahead of myself...

I just want to thank Pochi for forcing me to reconsider and confirm the direction I was going with this story. I truly appreciate your input... as accidental as it may have been... You never know from where words of wisdom will come, which is why I always encourage the comments of everyone who read what I say. Don't just comment with a response to a comment I made on your Xanga page... You know who you are... But chances are you don't read this far. Ha-hah!

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Masumi ちゃん just said my shades and mask make me look like a 暴走族 (bōsōzoku)!!! Those punk motorcycle gangs...
AARgh! And she laughed....

: Ragweed : I Hate Allergies!!!!
Right when I thought my late spring/early summer allergies had disappeared, I find my self sniffling and rubbing my eyes. Stupid ragweeds are in season from mid-August! Man, my body is like an allergy clock: Pollen enters the air and sets off my allergy alarm! Last night, I drugged myself with Benadryl. 2 tablets and I'm out like a light, with a solid 8 hours of sleep. Lovely! But in the light of day, I'm gonna have to revert ot my old disguise to fool the pollen. Ugh, sniffle, kusame!

Xanga for the really bored reader
: Reconsideration :

of "Not Living Up to Expectations": Why am I writing this, Is there a point? Tomorrow...

: Response : to Comments to Suicide Bombers 2 below
Capstew: Maybe during the war Japanese people felt "Japanese" because they weren稚 Americans or the West but it isn稚 clear to me what Japanese people felt they "were," beyond being the Emperor痴 loyal subjects葉hat is one identity but was it the Japanese people痴 only one? Wives could feel loyalty but still wish the war would end so their husbands could come home. Would you characterize this as a conflict: one identity as a Japanese citizen and one as a Japanese wife/woman?
Indeed, identity is a conglomeration of different experiences, so one person's J-identity will certainly be different from another's. But we might also find some similarities. First and foremost is one's identity formed through education--as you know, one of the goals of the Meiji government was to promote a sense of nationalim through education, since pre-Meiji identity/loyalty was regional. As a result, many identified strongly with national symbols, the most obvious being the emperor. This certainly does not occupy the totality of their identity, but I would think it took a significant amount. As for women, I do not see a conflict in identity between a Japanese citizan and a Japanese wife/mother, because a "Japanese" anything is a Japanese citizen. But I do see a conflict between a J citizen and a wife and/or mother, if you exclude the Japanese part from the equation. The question is: is it possible for the J-woman to be just a woman? That is exactly the point I'm getting at. I don't think any of them could divorce themselves from that identity, J-women, J-men, J-boys and girls. And the scariest part is that the identity is absolute, unchanging, unforgiving... The identity that was defined and developed through education and reinforced by society at large was too firmly attached to the individual. I think J-identity, certainly back then, would not allow an individual to make decisions without standing in its shadows... But like I said, this is just my opinion... I truly appreciate your... even though you don't post on your own site... haha

Piratechan: Isn't it a pretty universal concept that "soldiers die for their country and all it stands for"? Whether or not soldiers actually think that, the country using them generally uses that stand to get them to join up in the first place in times of war. Get 'em revv'd up and idealistic, and send them off to do "right".
Yes, but these soldiers--to varying degrees--have an expectation of surviving the war. Many brave men go with a willingness to die for their country, but not with the goal of dying for their country. The kamikaze of Japan went with the intention of dying. And many, I believe, knew the odds were against Japan successfully turning the war around with these kamikaze attacks. So why did they do it? Why do you think Americans got out of Vietnam? To avoid further bloodshed over a futile war. But not Japan, nooooo... Japan being attacked was almost an attack on there very identity, since it was so closely tied to them. Yes, there is definitely a difference, I think... but then I could be wrong of course... By the way, do you like baseball? Are you Pirate-chan 'cuz you live in Pittsburgh?

Sleetse: Ah dont take my comments so seriously, I'm a tainted/perverted American.
Hah! Too late, I've exposed your serious JA side... YES! [ both fists raised in air ]

: Suicide Bombers 2: Japanese Identity
commented on my last post about suicide bombers:

    according to Kobayashi, Yoshinori who wrote some comic style novels about WWII Japan... the suicide bombers diaries and letters show that the majority of the young soliders were fighting for their family and loved ones rather than Japanese religion, nation, belief, tradition, etc... but most people at that time did not really have the right information to make their own judgement because everything in print was censored/distorted.

Sleetse's comment--besides suggesting that he is more than just the sarcastic wise-cracking leader of Japan II--indicates that the Japanese were fighting for there loved ones... Now, I don't doubt this a bit... I too believe that they "believed" that it was for their loved ones. But it has to be more than this.

Think about it. What would really make them go to die? Their loved ones? What is the logic in that? Will the family itself profit or gain honor? The only honor they gain is through prestige as reflected through their identity not as individuals, but as Japanese. No? And that, I believe, is the crux of the Japanese identity dilemma. They are so bound to their identity as Japanese, that they have trouble detaching themselves from it. Even as the people of today want to express their individuality, it is always tied somehow to being Japanese, to being special. How many of you have heard a Japanese insinuate that only Japanese chefs can truly make good sushi. I have personally heard many say this. In general terms, this means that those things that the Japanese identify as culturally Japanese (sushi) can only be appreciated and reproduced by Japanese. It is a part of their identity and they are not about to let it go. This facile logic suggests that every Japanese chef who cooks spaghetti can't really do it justice because they are not Italian. (Did I write about this before?) Of course, I do not refer to all Japanese, particularly those who have lived here for a few years and spent their youth here. They have probably been "tainted" with American ideas of individuality...

I admit, I used to be one of these people. I thought the Japanese were special. The genius, Ian Levy--who left me high-and-dry during my graduate work--convinced me that identity, Japanese or otherwise, was a state of mind. He was not speaking of the Japanese race, but the culture: language, thought, attitude. He wrote a novella in Japanese, Seji no kikoenai heya, that was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize in Literature and won the Noma New Writer Award, and in it he reveals his thoughts of what being Japanese is for him. But I'm getting off point.

Basically, the Japanese during WWII were closely tied to their identity as Japanese particuarly with the J-education system as it was: highly censored, highly controlled. As such, they probably didn't have to state it for people to know it. They probably didn't have to write it explicitly in letters or diaries. They didn't die for their military leaders or because of the orders they were given. They died for their loved ones, they died for Japan.

Please note that this is a personal opinion--actually, as I read it over, it sounds more like rambling or ranting--based on an intertextual conglomeration of experiences: about ten years of my adult life living in Japan, the rest living with and among Japanese in the US, Japanese books too many to list here, hundreds (if not thousands) of J-movies and J-TV shows, etc. This commentary has nothing to do with any class I have taught or may teach in the future...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Kamikaze, Divine Wind

On Thursday, August 14, I wrote my thoughts on the JAJournal about the History Channel special on the Kamikaze, Divine Wind, the suicide attacks by Japanese pilots against the allied fleet during WWII. I received a comment from Capstew and present both sides in the form of a dialogue, with additional responses from me inserted... Go to JAJournal for the original post...

Onigiriman:  Sleetse reminded me of the Kamikaze special on the History Channel this weekend. Although I'm an alledged "Japanese expert" I was suprised to learn that the Japanese had kamikaze torpedos--ningen gyorai, in Japanese. It had never occcured to me before, but watching the desperation of these Japanese militarists conjured images of the suicide bombers in Israel, Palestine and of course the WTC, vicitim of a 747 kamikaze attack.

Capstew:  Wait, so you think the ningen gyorai did it voluntarily rather than under extreme duress?

O-man:  Well, the similarities are unnerving to me: They did anything to save their land from occupation; they did anything to try and stop an enemy that was obviously superior in power and technology; they did anything in the name of religion and their religious leader, Hirohito: as emperor, he was the leader of the Shinto faith, the foundation of Japanese history, ideals, and identity at the time.

Cap:  One difference I see between the Japanese and the hijackers and suicide bombers is that in Japan the State mobilised their propaganda machine and cut off all means of dissent.  So the young men might have been flying off to their doom "voluntarily" but evidence such as their diaries written prior to their missions suggest it was a forced voluntarism. 

O-man:  True, the extant documentation--diaries, letters--suggests that they were reluctant to die, but nonetheless they went. Were they simply feeble lambs unable to voice their opinions? Or did they believe in something that compelled them to follow orders without question, a belief in some vague national policy?

Cap:  Japan's colonization policies were not all that popular with Japanese people for quite some time, mostly as it was so costly and provided hardly any benefits except for international prestige--not as important if you are starving and having to sell your own daughters into prostitution--which indicated that the people did not necessarily agree with the govt's foreign policies.

O-man:  Indeed, but I was referring more to the policy of Japanese identity, of their "special" place in the world, their belief in their "uniqueness" and their direct relationship to their gods. Couldn't this belief--it was national policy to propagate this identity through education--have influenced their worldview, and hence their decision-making mechanism despite the presence of an understanding of morality or decency?

Cap:  I would argue it was the military leaders who felt desperate at the end, especially as some of them realized from the beginning that Japan could never win in a conflict with the U.S. from whom they received money, fuel, scrap metal etc that financed a great deal of the colonization process to begin with. Maybe the ningen gyorai were a symbolic act of desperation knowing the State was about to be humiliated.

O-man:  But according to the History Channel (and I realize that we shouldn't consider them to be the end all of  historic knowledge), at least one pilot of a suicide torpedo was a technician who designed the ningen-gyorai. He was neither a military leader or a politician, but he insisted that only he was able to pull it off successfully, according to the History channel, that is. Of course, there is no doubt that he felt pressure beyond just his identity...

Cap:  The hijackers obviously were under severe duress to act the way they did but it was not the action of the state that made them that way. 

O-man:  You're right, of course, but I believe their actions are guided by their identity, like in Japan; that they must act in a certain way under prescribed circumstances. In Japan, this identity was developed and nurtured through the state--i.e. education. In the Middle East, their identity is developed through religion, and nurtured through certain sects of Islam into characteristics that can lead to violence and hatred. And the connection between religion and state is not as clear cut as it is in the West. This perspective could alter my perception of the Middle East situation...

Cap:  How exactly has your view of the Middle East situation changed?

O-man:  Well, I've always had an empathy for the Japanese people of WWII, mostly because I'm Japanese, or at least that's how I thought. But, now, I'm beginning to think that perhaps it's because the Japanese were trying to compete with the West, that they felt inferior and were desperately trying to be "as good" as them, as I try to be "as good", "as acceptable" as my non-Asian American counterparts. Do citizens of the Middle East see themselves as inferior? In terms of technology and material lifestyle, I would think that they would have to. But they also probably see themselves as superior in other abstract forms related to their identity: spirituality and race. Kinda like Japan in WWII, or to a degree maybe even today? To be frank, this kind of makes me feel uneasy, 'cuz I had mostly thought of suicide bombers as ignorant maniacs... I think I have to re-evaluate this particualr notion... Not that I agree with their actions, or even sympathize... But further thought might help me grasp the underlying reasoning for their action, and this will hopefully promote better understanding. Well, a guy can hope, right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

BGMs on Xanga

: Not Living Up to Expectation :
The first half of installment six from JA Journal is attached below.

: BGMs on Xanga : Afternoon Update (3:50 pm) 
Calling legal chicks: Meaning baby eagles, not girls... Okay, you guys convinced me... Grom was jus playing with my head! The problem was that I had just read an article in Time Magazine ("Downloader Dragnet", 4/4/03) that suggested that they ARE after the... what did tigger call me, small tempura? Hrmph! But as I reread the article it has to do more with "active" file sharing, and I suppose BGM is a passive practice... Hehehe... So thanks to all you "legal chicks" for showing me the light...

: BGMs on Xanga : Morning Edition
Calling legal eagles:
Are BGMs on Xanga legal? I grasp the concept of illegal downloads. Copyright issues, intellectual property, yeah, these are legitimate claims, I think... But if I purchase a CD and play a song from it, how and where I want to play it is my business, no? Are there royalty issues involved if I play it as background music on my Xanga site? While Xanga is a public site, I don't play the BGM for profit a la radio stations. I don't promote downloading/swapping by providing links a la Napster. Geez... if anyone knows the legal issues involved, please leave me a comment...

Those who don't like Jimi Hendricks might call in the music nazis...

Originally posted on JA Journal, Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is the first half of installment six.

Hindsight is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it allows you to see past mistakes in the context of subsequent--sometimes painful, hopefully, better--experience. The curse is that your selfishness, narrowmindedness, and stupidity stands out in relief, and has the potential to haunt you for an extended period of time. Looking back now, I think the main reason I broke up with BA was because she just wasn't "Japanese" enough. I had been going through an identity crisis of sorts, and I could not give up the notion that I was tied, in some shape or form, to "being Japanese."

After breaking up with BA, I sought--I suppose subconsciously--the other extreme, and found MM, a girl who was from Japan, whose English had not yet fully developed. She was a senior in high school and relatively cute, and in many ways, very Japanese. But--as I was to learn--perhaps too Japanese. I don't want to generalize and offend anyone, but at the time, MM seemed like the typical Japanese girl: spoiled and dependent. One Sunday afternoon in 1976, we spent strolling along the Redondo Beach pier.

     "Oh look, cotton candy! How nostalgic! How nice..."
     "Want some?" I asked.

I got her the cotton candy and she started eating small bites of it when all of a sudden, she noticed apples dipped in red dye 39, lined up in short rows upside down...

     "What's that?"
     "That's candied apple. I used to crave these when I was a kid."
     "Really? I want to try some too."
     "Uh, what about the cotton candy?"
     "This? It's too sweet anyway."

She handed me the cotton candy and told the guy at the counter she wanted one. The stick of the apple securely in hand, she headed down the pier agan. The guy eyed me with a "She's with you , right?" look, and held his palm out.

I jog to catch up with her only to find her grimacing. Now what?

     "This is too sweet. How could you have craved something like this?"
     "I don't want this anymore."
     "You want the cotton candy then?" I asked hopefully.
     "No, I need something to get all this sweet taste out of my mouth."

She promptly dumped the candied apple into a trash can already overflowing with the wasted food other children had thrown away...


I had this image of a Biafra poster in my mind, but it was too difficult equate confections with food staples...

As I have learned, subsequently, her actions are not necessarily of a spoiled child, but they reflect what Takeo Doi revealed in his book, An Anatomy of Dependence (Amae no K・. Perhaps, had I read Doi's book first, I would have understood her behavior and accepted it... or maybe never have dated her in the first place. It's hard to say...

More later... about early Onigiriman

Monday, August 18, 2003

Solid Gold

Someone just told me that Jimi Hendricks is annoying... Annoying! Or distracting... "It takes away from the writing," he said... Hmm... Well, I hate to tell you, but this is me. I am the product of this kind of music... If it sounds too 60s, or reeks of just another moldy oldie, then you always have the option of turning down the volume... But just in case you are interested, it's music like this and lyrics like this that get me pumped... If you're bored and have nothing to do, reload this page and listen to the song as you read the lyrics in the marquee--I have some commentary on the song as well... but only if you're bored, and only if you wanna know what I'm talking about...

Annoying? Distracting?

That's one opinion, I guess... and I do accept all opinions... So, what's yours? Have you ever heard of this song? Maybe I'm a moldy oldie. Ha! But an opinionated one! Dude!

Side Note:
I just realized that some don't know who Musubi-chan is... She's Mrs. Onigiriman, and she likes to beer, too... A match made in heaven...

: Update : Monday Afternoon
(or: Why aren't you working?)

Side Note II:
Yes tigger, we had computers when I was your age, the only difference is that they were better 'cuz they were BIGGER! Y'know, they, like, filled up a whole room... We had at school for grad students an IBM dedicated word processor! Yeah, couldn't do anything except process text. Oh, and we weren't distracted by things like e-mail, 'cuz the internet was still a governemtn/private project... *sigh* But still, being old has its advantages. I was around when Nixon resigned, when.... wait... this sounds like a good topic. I 'll save it for tomorrow... thanks for the idea, tigger--as unintended as it may be... Now why don't some of my own kids stimulate me like this...

Side Note III:
Just for sleetse--he told me it's prounounced "sleazy", I'll let you decide: Here's another pic of Musubi-chan with the globally famous comic Katsura Sanshi when he visited DC 2 years ago. On the left is Unagi--her son, my stepson.

And if you haven't already... Do me a favor and chime in on the matter below... Your opinion counts! 

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Weekend Fluff & Other Stuff

Weekend Report Good mooohning! [-Like Mr. Wicky-] Not much doing this weekend... except for the sports bar Friday night, it has been pretty quiet... Except for last night's dream... I wonder if it's because our plumbing had been giving us problems recently or if I had serious potty training problems as a child... but I better not go into too much detail, otherwise more than a few may stop coming by to visit...

Putting Things In Order One of the interesting things I've noticed on Xanga--before it went down--is that there are a number of people who make lists. I have taken up this practice, too, because I've come to think that it helps arrange your thoughts and priorities--even if its just food or movies. I stole this Alphabetical list from dAnxdAn, with a few minor alterations. Hope you don't mind Dan...

AGE: 47
BESTFRIEND: Musubi-chan and my TV
CHURCH: My own heart
DREAM DATE: Musubi-chan (What else am I gonna write?)
EXCITEMENT: Going to a restaurant with a great rep for the first time; beginning of college football season
FOOD: Favorite: Bacon swiss-cheese burger with avocado and sauteed mushrooms, and a side order of onion rings and/or chili fries; Dislikes: Sea urchin, sea cucumber, soggy udon.
HAPPIEST DAY IN LIFE: The day my daughter was born
JAPANESE FAVORITE: An autumn night in Shinjuku about 9PM right after a rain, when all the neon lights look brighter and reflect colorfully off the pavement, total urban cool.
KOOL AID: Peace Corp, Red Cross
LOVE: Musubi-chan (What else am I gonna write? UCLA Football?)
MONEY: Never enough...
NICK NAME: Onigiriman (duh!), sensei...
OUTFIT U WORE TO SCHOOL: White shirt and navy bow tie, with salt-and-pepper corduroy pants
PRESENT I WANT: 32" HDTV in time for football season to watch UCLA (are any of my kids rich and famous yet?)
QUESTION ASKEd TO U THE MOST: How old are you?
RADIO STATION: Used to be KRTH 101-LA, oldies music, as I am a child of the 60s--which, by the way, RULES... Nothing today would exist without the 60s...
SPORT: Passive: college football; Active: running (approx. 15 miles a week, except last week) and weight training, but I'm a light wieight...

With IS, my first Westside girlfriend, on the SW corner of 1st and San Pedro in LA. Check out the pants! ca. 1973
UR #1 FAVORITE SONG: All Along the Watchtower... Now playing... There is no song that even comes close to this classic... Written by Bob Dylan, and performed by Jimi Hendricks, an unbeatable duo...
VALUABLES: Musubi-chan (What else am... ah, forget it)
WHERE YOU LIVE: DC suburbs in VA.
XTRA INFO: Have a scar on my cornea, and therefore am sensitive to light, have no depth perception and had to give up major sports like baseball, basketball, ping pong--not that I woulda been drafted or anything...
YEAR BORN: 1955, 30th year of Showa
ZODIAC SIGN: Astrology: Sagitarius; Chinese calendar: Ram, which is this year...

Saturday, August 16, 2003

This Weekend's Fluff

Is it the Weekend already? Oh. yeah, Xanga's been down for like... a weeeeeeeek..... Will it stay up?

[3:00AM] OK, I'm a bit, y'know, wasted... I went to Glory Days--the local sports watering hole--with Musubi-chan, and had a few... But, man... Was it hot today or what!?! 96 degrees? I think I guzzled 3 pints in 20 minutes... actually the first pint went in 3-4... I was thirsty! Dude!

Okay, so that means I have to remain straight for the rest of the weekend. I found out last week that I'm on some kind of Language Center committee... Ok, ok, I promise to try to work hard and produce the proper reports to the dean... As if he'd listen to anything I'd say... Work, work, work.. and all this on top of the 4 classes I teach... Now I ask you... how many of you college students have professors who teach FOUR classes? And they ask me if I'm doing my research... Sheesh!

Hahaha... but I somehow find the time to write on Xanga!?! Okay, everyone's gotta have some kind of release, and this is mine. I love to write, and I love it more when I KNOW that people are reading what I write--hint, hint. Just kidding.

I must admit that I'm flattered to the Nth degree that anyone would find what I write interesting... But as one of my kids told me, what I write is an experience that is "rare" among current Asian Americans... and the fact that I am pretty forthcoming with the details makes it all the more interesting...

Ok, all together now... Aaaaaah.... (yeah, I can hear ya', but let's not get too sarcastic...)

I have two weeks of "vacation" before school starts. The quotation marks reflect the reality of the "Langauge Center" committee... our subcommittee has to prepare some kind of preliminary something by... September 10th!!! That's inhuman! I mean, I became an instructor so I would have long vacations, winter and spring break... and lets not forget Thanksgiving... gotta love them Pilgrims....

Okay, I know, I'm ranting, and I'm not even sober. I'll probably delete this tomorrow morning, before anyone reads this... hehehe... I would love to see someone leave a comment to prevent me from deleting this...

Sorry, I am really reaching, very low....

But seriously, I think I will delete some of the ranting... tomorrow... after I sleep... and wake up with some Alka Seltzer (thank you, God)... scrape the hair off my tongue... no, no, no, its not mold...

Later... Ack! It' s the morning and I just woke up... wait, its 12:20 in the PM... Yeah, yeah, ok, so it's NOT the morning, so sue me. AS predictedI need Alka Seltzer, but I thought I'd delte the above entry before anyone read it, but Masumi already left a comment, a long one, ... I'd delete it anyway...if she wasn't so cute... ギョッ! And she even commented on stuff she read on the JAJournal: the first draft of the 6th instalment, my comments on amae... Did I mention she's cute? Hey! Now, don't get the wrong idea... I mean it in the best possible sense! She's younger than my kids and just s little older than my real daughter... But she is cute in the othere sense, too...

--O-man glances over his shoulder to see if Musubi-chan is around --
--O-man slaps his own face with his own hand anyway...--

変なオジタリアン... じゃなくて、おにぎりまん


Thursday, August 14, 2003

Carolina Bruins

Last night, the missus said she was thirsty, so we went to Glory Days, a local sports bar chain in the DC area to watch the Redskins play their first preseason game. They were playing Carolina. No Deshaun Foster today, but it was good to see a "live" football game again. The Panther defense is holding its own, shutting down the Redskins, including a relatively short second teamer running around the Panther defensive backfield. At one point, the Redskins' Rob Johnson was ready to score--their first and last opportunity, as it would turn out--throwing a nice pass into the endzone corner, only to be batted away in a brilliant play by #34... man, who is that? Oh geez, it's Ricky Manning... and stopping a former $C Trojie Johnson--does that feel good or what...

Ok, its just a preseason game, and I had come just to get some watching-football-while-drinking-beer practice--you can never practice enough, if you ask me--but this realization got me a little more interested. When the Carolina offense comes on the field, I figure I can relax a bit, not have to scrutinize the large screen so much. So as I suck on my third Yeung Ling, a big Carolina tight end makes a nice 10+ yard catch over the middle... Gawd, that was nice #82, in your Carolina powder blues you kinda remind me of... Oh, crap--almost spilling my fourth Yeung Ling--it IS Mike Seidman... Oh great, now I gotta pay extra attention on both sides of the ball...

Mike makes another 10+ catch--he has 2 for 25 yards--but just as impressive is his blocking. he's helping to keep the linebackers and ends out of the way as the interior line opens up a hole for #42... woah, that was WHICH former Redskins? Skip Hicks? Oops, uh, could I have another beer, I just spilled this one--See? I do need practice...

Panthers/Bruins 20 - Redskins 0

It was a UCLA field day, even without Deshaun Foster. I had fun rooting for our befloved Bruins here in No. VA, despite hissing from the local Redskin contingent... But it was worth it. I'm glad my wife was thirsty. 4 more weeks...


Go Bruins!

Tomorrow: unsure....

Monday, August 11, 2003

Sans Xanga Weekend--No Fluff

I'm sure everyone experienced the slowdown and virtual shutdown of Xanga. According to a/the site manager, Dan, Xanga was on the receiving end of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack. Check on his site for more detail.

Filling monaka with anko at the sweetshop... Yes, I always washed my hands first! ca. 1974

The Weekend without Xanga was also Musubi-chan's birthday as well, so I had planned to spend time with her instead of sitting in front of the computer all day. In anticipation of this, I had created an alphabetical list of priorities, but I think I'll hold that off until later. For now, here is a pic of me at the sweetshop--you can read the name of the place on the black box behind me. I will also relate to you--as boring as this may sound--my weekend

Friday I took Musubi-chan shopping at our local shopping mall, Tyson's Corner. I know her size--0 petite--and her taste--basically anything black or white that is trendy--but I have found it increasingly easier to let her choose her birthday pressents, since I have no idea waht is trendy... She chose three tops, two pairs of apparently(?) stylish sweat pants, a pair of shoes, a pair of slacks, and dinner. She also wanted a dress, but I convinced her to allow me to let my credit cards cool off. I had to promise that it'd be cool enough by Christmas...

Saturday we went grocery shopping and then just puttered around the house--the plumbing is finally fixed, by a plumber of course. In the evening, Musubi-chan said she was thirsty, so we headed out to our local watering hole...

Sunday morning I felt awful. Takunishi79 has been under the weather but still managed to take care of his kids. Props to a very dedicated councelor (is that your title?). You should read what he does with Vietnamese youths in Georgia (it's in English, this time)... I, too, felt rather poorly, but my misery was self-inflicted. I went with Musubi-chan to Glory Days, our local sports bar, to watch the Redskins play in their first preseason game. We sat there from 8:30 to 11pm, and I downed 6 and half pints of Yeung Ling beer--the half was the last half Musubi-chan couldn't finish. If you're counting, that's 104 ounces, or 3.25 quarts in 2.5 hours. Now, there are those who may say, "Is that all?"--especially those of you in college. And I will admit that I used to drink more when I was your age. But at my current age, that's about all I can take. Now, my head feels like mush and my stomach feels like a keg of beer... as I adjust myself in my chair, I notice that it even LOOKS like a keg of beer... I'm glad God invented Alka Seltzer, snooze buttons and treadmills...

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Response to This Week's Comments:

I used to get one, maybe two comments on what I write, and so I would respond to each person on their own site, but the number has increased so I have taken to responding to them all at once here. I hope no one objects... if you do, e-mail me and I will try not to respond to your comments on this site... (I could forget, y'know, I gotta CMA...)
This is actually much easier, as I am programed to respond to questions...

The A-Bomb and Mom
CultofDizzo: Much respect to your mom. She survived a horrific event and in the end demonstrated her dignity and selflessness. For all the hype about the War on Terror, I still believe your mom and her generation will continue to define what a true-life hero is.
Thanks, Dizzy. I'm pretty sure my mother would not define herself as a hero, but she was a survivor, somthing that she passed on to my siblings and me.

Sleetse: Yeah, you're right, parents are usually right, plus they have the power to disown you and leave you off the will, now thats scary.
Sleetse, I love your sarcasm. The power to disown can certainly make parents look "right"... haha... You will get no argument from me.

Pochi124: I appreciate my parents. i just despise my brother with a passion....
Now, now, Pochi, It's nice that you love your parents, but your brother is just being "your brother". I think there's a contract signed by all would-be brothers that they must make their sister's life miserable, but with decreasing degrees of misery as the contract slowly reaches its expiration date. My contract has yet to expire--according to my sister--but its close...

Not Living Up to Expectations
Tiggerj: Did living in a J-world prevent you from being integrated? Was this insulation a good or bad thing?
Yes, Tigger, living in a J world prevented me from being integrated. I agree with you that we should live in an integrated world where everyone is equal. However, for this to really work, everyone must truly consider each other equal. That is not the case in the US; it is not the case in Japan; it is not the case in many places, so people--including me in my own small way--need to voice ourselves, even in the relatively "isolated" world of Xanga

Piratechan: Imagine if you hadn't gone through all that identity stuff in your teens... wouldn't it be awful if you were only now beginning to feel the uncomfortableness of it? I think that's what happens to the Asian wife and mother role in America. The perceived isolation results in a lack of support, and some women look out to see choices, and some stay firmly entrenched. And some of both end up happy.
Yes, it would be terrible if I had to go through it now--at MY age... teens are far more resillient, although, they can also be vulnerable, easily swayed in the wrong direction... so its a pretty precarious tightrope, actually. I was just very fortunate... I always seemed to meet the right person at the right time. I hope some of my kids feel that way about me, but youknow kids... BTW: are you talking about my mother, your mother, or maybe both...

Nefarious: You found another girl!? you're one of those! haha ;) j/k. After BA, did you measure all your other relationships with women by comparing them to her?
My new good friend, the Hatter, yes, as a matter of fact, I WAS ONE OF THOSE. i am not proud of it, but I'm not about to hide it at this point. You will read about some of it in my next installment, I think. As for BA, compared women to her for many years, and no one mearsured up to her. One of the reasons I broke up with her is that I didn't think she was "Japanese" enough... If I knew then what I know now, that NEVER would have been an issue... She is now, of course, a respected professional in her field and would probably kill me if she saw her photo--as innocuous-looking as it is--on this page. Just to CMA, I should state for the record that I no longer compare other with her (you hear that Musubi-chan?)

Mattblue: Hey, I've been reading your "Not Living Up to Expectations" entries, and they're absolutely fascinating. I think it's great that you write about your past, as opposed to the majority of us, like you said, who write about the present (I'm guilty of using blogs as venting space). I hope you don't mind me subscribing to this journal.
You're kidding, right? OF COURSE I DON'T MIND! And tell your friends -just kidding- But seriously, I am humbled by your words and happy that you find them interesting enough to subscribe. Now, it's okay to vent. Indeed, that is exactly what I'm doing: blowing off steam--the definition of venting? I am, however, relying on past experiences to convey my thoughts which give it a mellower, sepia tone to it... haha. I also use fewer four-letter words, exclamations marks and rAnDoM cApitALiZAtioN RuLEs... I should say, though, that I am truly pleased that I can effect a response from even one person like you... but then, that's my job, sorta... As a post-secondary instructor, my goal is not for students to memorize stuff like names and dates (well, maybe kanji is the exception), but to think in new and different ways... A number of my kids subscribe to Onigiriman, but there are now more subscribers who are "not my kids", but I welcome them and treat them as I do my own... or at least I try to... Speaking of which, there's a HS girl in Okinawa named...

Masumi: [ translation in brackets ] 沖縄も [ Okinawa is also ] isolated, safe, protected, and comfortable. it's definitely not the real world. ずっとこのままここにいたら、何も変わらないし、何も経験しない [ If I stay here like this, nothing would change, and I would experience nothing ]… "one where i would never grow up."でも、こういう所もっていいと思うなぁ [ But I think that a place like this is good as well ]a place where you can always go back to and realize that nothing really changes in some places. 居心地がいい所。 [ a comfortable place ]… さぁーね!思い付いた事言っただけっす・・ほいっ! [ Well now, I just said what came to my mind… so there! ]
Masumi, ALWAYS say what you think and feel. It's good for the soul--especially if you're going to college! (haha, inside joke.) BTW: is the translation/interpretation okay? (Sometimes its hard to tell with Japanese exclamations...) I think that anywhere anyone grows up in a safe, secure environment, he or she feels comfortable. And it is fine to have such a place to return to. Whenever I go back to LA, it is reassuring to see the same people and the same sites as before... But I always have to leave. It looks comforting for a moment, until I realize it's kind of a stagnant pool. I see many of my old classmates still playing basketball on Sundays with the same members, representing the same team, hanging out with the same crowd, except with kids now. Do they ever wonder if there are opportunites in other places, meeting new people, striving for new goals? I'm a flowing river kind of guy, ala Kamo no Chomei. I can't help but think, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Thanks BA...

Tomorrow Just some weekend fluff--An Alphabetical list of priorities I stole from dAnxdAn...

Friday, August 08, 2003

Not Living Up to Expectations

As a Xanga addict, yesterday was a good practice run for September when school starts. I showed few symptoms of withdrawal. Hope all of you survived, as well.

Again, thanks to those who have commented and showed me that young--and younger--people today aren't as frivolous and self-centered as I was as a youth. Your comments suggest that you are also serious and thoughtful. Back to the story...

Not Living Up to Expectations
This is the fifth installment, the continuation of last week's entry. If you have not read the previous installments, click here to view all available entries.

Back in LA, I did very little. I went back the sweet shop, but their new hire was competent and I worked only on the weekends. While all my high school buddies were going to universities, I led an aimless existence Monday through Friday. I wasn't sure what to do, and I still struggled to understand where I fit in the greater scheme of things: am I Japanese, or Japanese-American, or American? Compounding to my confusion was the absence of a parent. When I returned to my home in East L.A., I learned that my mother had decided to leave the house. The marriage between my parents had been strained for a variety of reasons--which I am not inclined to present in detail on as public forum as this--but I will say that she was in many ways frustrated by the limitations life placed on her as a wife and mother... or more specifically, as a Japanese wife and Japanese mother.

As a result, I had very little to do during the days except read a book or watch TV. I never reconnected with my band buddies--we had all sorta went our separate ways--except for one: our female lead singer, BA. She had kept in touch with me while I was in Japan, and we saw each other from time to time after I cam back. By the summer of 1975, we had committed to a relationship. Of course, a relationship, as defined by a 19 year-old with no direction, was a pretty shallow thing. But a relationship it was, and BA was just the person for me. She could sing, she could play the piano, she was a cute Westsider, she was an honor student, and went to the other major university in LA (UCLA, of course, being the premier post-secondary school in the city). She had looks and brains. She was kind and generous and thoughtful, and she could cook... Far too good for the likes of me... but she was mine.

ca. 1976
Thanks to BA, I had a sense of where I wanted to go. The stability of her presence--her outlook, her attitude--gave me a sense of direction: Go to school, get a "regular" part-time job, and none of this J-Town, coolie-wages gig... Yes, BA was not into the JA scene. She became singer of our JA band almost by accident, through the introduction of a casual friend. She knew no Japanese, and little about its customs and history. I wouldn't mark her as a "banana"--yellow on the outside, white on the inside (Marja tells me that it's "Twinkie" now, but it would seem to me like the skin is too thick)--but she showed little interest in JA issues and things Japanese in general. But actually, we were a pretty good match. I introduced her to a few things Japanese which she liked, and she showed me how JAs coped in the "real" world, outside the insulated environment of J-Town. I went back to school--a local community college, because my grades in high school prevented me from matriculating into a four-year institute. I also got another job, working at a major bank--the one that consolidated with Nations Bank. I felt that I was beginning to understand what it was all about. Being JA was cool, but you had to temper it with a dose of reality. I got along with my fellow workers at the bank--I was the only Asian and that was a completely new experience for me. I could be a bit assertive, casting aside the yoke of the reserved Glob (good little oriental boy). There was a trade off, of course. There was no more running through theaters waving a Japanese flag. But that was okay. I felt like I could cope in this world now.

It sounds so obvious, its ridiculous, but for me and many of my friends it was not so. Going to an all Japanese American elementary school and church. Shopping and working in J-Town, where virtually every worker and certainly most visitors were of Japanese descent. Hanging out and going to dances where practically everyone I associated with was Japanese American. It was a comfortable world, a world where Chuckles the Clown would never invade. But it was also an isolated world, one where I would never grow up.

I owed a lot to BA. She was the best thing that could happen to me at a time when my family situation was rocky, and she and her family accepted me with open arms. But of course, young men at 19-20 years of age boast a psychological age of a 13-year-old, or at least this young man did. After about 14 months, we broke up because I was selfish, narrow-minded and just plain stupid... and I did what I was inclined to do... find another girl...