Friday, October 31, 2003

Curse you RBJ!

If you go to RBJ, don't get sucked in like I think I'm gonna... Their forum is lively with lots of posters, so I get a BAAAAAAAAAAD feeling about this.... Another addiction. Hahahahahahaha!!!! Better than, I think!

Kanashibari : update :
Have you ever dreamed of being awake but not being able to move? I have. In Japanese, its called kanashibari, or tied in chains. The first time, I thought that I was somewhere in a parallel universe. I was in my bed and I recognized the outline of the pulled shades in my dark room... but I couldn't move. My feet and hands would not move. I was beginning to panic. I'm paralyzed! I thought. I tried to screamed but couldn't. After struggling with my body, I slowly was able to gain a modicum of control, until finally I woke up fully. I was breating heavily. What the hell was that?!?

I had a few more experiences like that, and I realized that it usually occured when I was exhausted and/or stressed out. And I even figured out how to get myself out of it: take deep breaths. I learned that the one thing I could control when I was "in chains" was my breathing. Deep breaths. Long breaths that bring in lots of oxygen to the brain. Once it happened as I was watching TV. I was on my bed watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show when suddenly I couldn't move my body. Huh, wtf? I'm still watching the show, I can see what's going on, the room is the same, everything is the same! What the hell is happening? I took my deep breathes and eventually "unchained" myself. But it struck me: Now I get it. I'm sleeping with my eyes open. My body is asleep and cannot move, but with my eyes open, I am still taking in stimuli from the outside world and it gives the effect of being awake.

Now I'm no sleep expert, so what I have just described above is definitely a laymans diagnosis. But maybe, just maybe, some who read this page knows more about this phenomenon and will enlighten me. Please comment if you know anything about, or if you have had a similar experience!

Who's looking YOU up II
Someone looking for overly-Americanized Asians? Google "twinkie" "white" "inside" "yellow" "outside" "opposite"

Onigiriman's Xanga Site
... your "perfect English" and "patriotism"--although I doubt you are a twinkie. ... word
was banana, y'know yellow on the outside, white on the inside and after ... - 43k - Cached - Similar pages

Sorry Paiky, I think someone was looking for you and got me! hahahahah! Google "xanga" "paiky"

Onigiriman's Xanga Site
... I only know Paiky through Xanga, but I have been reading his sites regularly,
and from what I can tell, he is a straight talking guy. ... - 43k - Cached - Similar pages

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Who's lookin' you up?

On SiteMeter, the hits counter on this page, I can see from where some of the people have come "by referrals". Usually, they are other Xanga people from their own sites, through other's sites, or through blobrings. There are also "unknowns", I presume those who came through other sites--I'm hoping some are coming from Rice Bowl Journals. There's also those from searches, and I found some pretty strange ones.

Someone came through that is--by putting in the search words "Jimi" "Hendricks" "father" and "name". With Jimi H. on my faves list, this person reached this Xanga site.

  • onigiriman's Xanga Site
    ... All Along the Watchtower / Jimi Hendricks... ... I could never imagine having to change
    my name to Smith ... The only time he speaks Korean is when his father is around ... - 52k - similar pages;

  • Someone Googled "Korean drama" and "BitTorrent" and ended up on my mirror site, JA Journal--just click the about Onigiriman banner, but its mostly what's been said here, with maybe a little more info about me and the JA opinions organized a bit better...

  • JAJournal of Onigiriman
    ... well as Chinese (both traditional and simplified) and Korean. ...
    and apparently ... need to download in order ... - 65k - Cached - Similar pages
  • The strangest one was this Yahoo! search: "Pudge" "Rodriguez" and "gay".

  • Onigiriman's Xanga Site Open this result in new window
    ... the Cubbies beat the Marlins--the Pretenders, despite the presence of Pudge Rodriguez--they should ... to agree with Piratechan who said, "And i hate the gay thing ... - 43k - Cached
  • Can you imagine? This person is trying to figure out if the Marlins catcher is gay, and has the NERVE to click on the Onigiriman! Sorry dude. I don't discriminate, but I don't participate, either.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2003

    Disaster dreams

    Wierd dreams lately. For some reason, last week I had dreams about disasters two consecutive nights. Was this an omen?

    Tuesday Night--Meteor: I hear the news that a meteor is flying through space and it's gonna hit somewhere along the East Coast near Virginia. I go outside with Musubi-chan and the air is hot, how your skin feel in front of a heat lamp. I look in the sky and I see a round orange fireball, the same size as the moon. Armageddon... I turn to Musubi-chan. We're doomed. We don't have much longer to live. We decide that maybe we can go to California where my dad is. Maybe there's a chance we can survive this on the Left Coast. Nah, not a chance. The whole world is doomed. But, that means, of course, that money in the bank has little or no value. So naturally, I then find myself at Hechts, trying on corduroy pants... Hey! Maybe they were insulated, ok?

    Wednesday night--Floods: We go on an outing and return by train. At the Alpine-looking train station, we try to get on the bus home but for some reason, I'm by myself knowing that Musubi-chan will be on the next one. I arrive alone at our townhouse located in a rocky looking valley. Suddenly there's a flash flood and our house is being rocked. I somehow find my way back to the station only to find it completely trashed as well. Where's Musubi-chan! I look around and find a bus toppled over. Musubi-chan is inside safe, fortunately.

    I'm not much on remembering dreams but I remembered these two. Perhaps they were a premonition for my talk on film. Ack! Or maybe, I just had to go to the bathroom...

    Speaking of bathrooms....
    Thanks Hanzo and Kyzer. Your well wishes are appreciated.

    Sleetse: Take some seirogan--the medicine with the red trumpet mark in the orange know that thing was probably used in WWII...
    I know I'm old but not THAT old... sheesh

    SATO: I had the same thing yesterday morning... I couldn't get up in the morning... Take seirogan, the medicine they gave out to soldiers during the nisshin sensou, the war between Japan and the Soviets... That stuff smells like.... crap...
    Thanks SATO, but I'm not partial to putting naything that smells like crap in my mouth. Too gross, dude.

    Paiky: u got asspiss?
    As indelicate as that sounds, it's about as accurate a description I've heard. Of course, Paiky is all too familiar with this situation, especially after a night of generous imbibing! Does yours foam up, too? Just curious. Oh yeah, just fot the record, I got this asspiss, but it was not due to drinking... this time.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2003

    Ugh! Class cancelled

    I feel so sick today. I don't get it. Bruins won, I finished the presentation... Maybe it was something I ate... Ooooooh... Gotta go to the bathroom again... Where's my Biofirumin?

    Monday, October 27, 2003

    Bruins Win

    My beloved Bruins beat Arizona State University 20-13. It wasn't a spectacular win like the one over the University of Washington, but it was solid. Defense played well and the offense led by Matt Moore was adequate. The story of the game was Maurice Drew. Man, can that guy motor! He ran for the 178 yards, 83 of them on one run that showecased his speed. The line opened up a hole between left tackle and left guard, Mo hit it, and the ASU defense couldn't catch him. At the end, you could see him pulling away from his pursuers. Amazing. I don't think anyone else on the Bruin team has that kind of speed. His TD was the difference in the game. On a down note, Drew was playing more minutes because Manny White, the 6'3" 230 lbs. grind-it-out tail/full back, fracture his scapula and is out for the season. Leisle, playing with a bruised clavicle, sprained his ankle during the second defensive series of the game is out indefinitiely. So it was a costly win. Next week we play my other alma mater--Stanford at Stanford. If they played like they did tonight, they should win.... Of course, they were supposed to win over U. of Arizona, so there is no room for over-confiidence. No team can be taken for granted. Ask 'SC after they played Cal. Ha!

    Time flies: I read Paiky's recent blog--his topics always give me things to think/talk about, thanks Dude!--and it made me think about those indications of getting older. He listed a number, such as creaking bones, aches and pains, etc. For me, the most telling sign of getting old is how fast time flies. I'm sure everyone here feels the same as I do. When we were 5 years old, how long did it take for Christmas to come? I remember thinking the it was STILL Thanksgiving and Christmas was NEVER gonna come. Can you imagine? For those up us with a variety of responsibilities--school, finals, papers, children, spouse, rent, work--Christmas probably comes sooner that you want. Geez, I start thinking about Christmas presents on the 4th of July! The point of this, of course, is that there is no time to do everything. I wish I had 36 hours a day to do the things I need to accomplish on a daily basis. And that is the bottom line, I guess. We have little time to waste--like reading/writing Xanga--with all our other responsibilities. The world has become too busy and too much on edge. Ah, for a simpler life. But then, simpler would probably mean no Internet (and no e-mail), no cell phones (read: leashes), no automobiles (clean the air), no CD/DVDs (uh-oh, wait a minute), no TV to watch football *gasp*... Oh well, I guess we are all distinctly bound to this world.

    Of course, getting older is not all negative.... More later.

    Sunday, October 26, 2003

    Football Saturday

    My beloved Bruins take on Arizona State today. ASU started the season as a contender, then lost three games. Unfortunately, they have regrouped and are racking up yards like it was nobody's business. Walters--ASU's QB--is again playing like the Heisman candidate they said he was at the beginning of the season. To make matters worse CB Matt Ware is still ou with a severe high ankle sprain. Fortunately, DT Leisle--who was questionable because of a severe bruise to the clavicle--will be play. But only as long as he can withstand the pain. This is just great. We're up against a high powered offense and our defense is hurting. Just thinking that we have Keith Short playing with Matt Clark in the defensive backfield probably has Walters and the Sun Devil offense salivating. This is probably a biger challenge than UW was. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

    Full Lips
    Paiky once mentioned that he likes women with full lips and I must admit that I thoroughly agree. He mentioned Angelina Jolie and that is an incredibly good choice, no question. But my particular choice is Jolene Blalock. She looks sorta unorthodox with the short Vulcan hairstyle on Enterprise, but the skin-tight outfits they make her wear ellicit no complaints from me. And talk about full lips... Take a look at these pouting lips... Mmmm. This is what she looks like without the Star Trek get up. She's supposedly a blonde who would rather be a brunette. Go figure. She was a competitive surfer from the beaches of California which is probably where she gets that almost-nothing waistline.

    Saturday, October 25, 2003

    Finished *update*

    4:30 pm: Presentation over. I'm glad they don't give out grades for presentations. I HATE them. I get so nervous. I don't know. I do it everday in class, but when it's bunch of strangers, well, I just lose it. As I was telling Hanazakari, who was nice enough to actually stay to hear what I had to say--although she had heard it before, since she already took my Culture Through Film course--I learn the names of my students as fast as I can. Many students have marvelled at how I am able to learn their names and how cool it was. Well, I don't do it to be cool, I do it to famliliarize myself with them, thereby allowing me to relax since I kinda "know" my students. Anyway, I'm just glad it's over!

    It's like 5 in the friggin AM and I'll sleep for about 4 hours before I get up, shower, and boogie on to campus. The presentation is at 1:45. Hope they feed me.

    Home stretch
    Presentation in... oh, 12 hours? And I'm still friggin' working on my draft. Fortunately, I have the video portion timed and ready to roll, as long as the audio-visual material works. I also just finished the handout: a list of films I show in class and the significance of each. I've even given them MPAA-like ratings, like "Ballad of Narayama" R (sex, beastiality, violence). Yes, that's right I show a movie that has beastiality in it. But this is a great movie--not because of the beastiality--but of the struggles of rural Japan in the Edo period to maintain continuity for their family and community. It is based on the legend of Ubasute-yama, where the eldest son carried a member of the family upon reaching a certain age--70 in this film--to the mountains to die, regardless of their health. This practice, known as kuchiberashi (lit. mouth reduction) tried to limit the number of mouths to feed by eliminating those who were considered unproductive members of the community. A colleague of mine says it is pure legend and that no such thing could ever happen in Japan. Well, excuse me. I say, where there's smoke, there's fire. Besides, Musubi-chan swears that she had heard people talking--"so-and-so's grandmother was taken up to the mountain"--when she was a kid, growing up with her aunt in the rural hills of Yamanashi. The converation she overheard was in reference to what happened before the turn of the 20th century, more than a hundred years ago.

    And before you leave a coment, Sleetse; no, they were not trying to procreate with dogs...

    Anyway, back to work.

    Thursday, October 23, 2003

    Hot Chile Peppers

    I caught a glimpse of "Good Eats" on the Food Channel tonight. Alton Brown was talking about chile peppers, capsicum and Scoville units. He talked about how capsaicin--the oil that makes chile peppers hot--can lock into your taste buds and stay there for long periods of time. He also mentioned, as he was cutting jalepenos for a salsa, you should also wear plastic gloves when you prepare chiles beause the capsaicin can stick to your hands and stay there even after repeated washings with soap and water--remember, its an oil. I wish I had seen this program before I made my salsa this summer.

    I was using fresh jalepenos as well, and as I now recall, I was pretty careful with chile peppers, even though I never used gloves. But this time I kinda forgot about the heat; it had been a long time since I made something with chiles. I cut and seeded the jalepenos using my fingers instead of a knife--WTF was I thinking! Well, as you can imagine, the capsaicin oils began to make their presence known and my finger tips began to burn. I washed and soaked my hands and the burning sensation subsided just a bit. Not a lot, but enough to endure the pain and still function. After I finished preparing the salsa and put it in the refridgerator, I went to the little boy's room to relieve myself of the beer I had been consuming--maybe that's why I forgot about the heat. Anyway, in the course of taking care of business, I touched a delicate part of my body with my finger tips--aim is important, y'know. No sooner had I washed my hands and left the boy's room, I suddenly felt a warming sensation between my legs.

    Huh? What the...

    The sensation gets warmer then hotter and finally begins to burn. I run upstairs to the master bedroom bathroom, jump out of my pants and run cold water. I stand on my tippy toes and lean forward trying to soak little Charley. No good. I mean, I reached the water, but it still burned. At which point, in walks Musubi-chan.

    "What the heck are you doing?" she asks quizzically.

    I explain and she starts to cackle, bending over in laughter, pounding the dresser and the wall. Gera-gera-gera.

    "Uh, it really hurts...."

    "Okay, okay, what do you want ME to do?" She manages to reply shakily, her eyes damp with tears. Then she doubles over and starts to laugh again.

    "Ah, forget it..." I said, Charley shriveling up.

    So, girls and boys, ALWAYS wear a glove when dealing with hot chile peppers. And remember to take the gloves off before you go to the powder room.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2003


    I guess I'm a dork. I've had a couple of comments on the music, "I Confess" by the English Beat. It may not sound so "cool" to some, but that's okay. This is actually one of my favorite songs. And I love Rankin' Roger's voice. If God told me I could have any voice I want, I would take this one singing right now. It's unique and has a wide range.

    I'm also kinda dorky cuz' I'm supposed to be doing tons of work, but I end up watching Pleasantville. Yesterday, I have to do some exercise to relieve stress. So I'm running on the treadmill--I don't run outside because of my allergies--and I'm flipping through the channels as I run when I come across Pleasantville, and end up watching it to the end instead of doing my work. I really like this movie. I know its corny, but I like movies that try--as awkward as it may be--to address the inequalities of society. In the case of this movie, it's about race (ok, Paiky, you don't have to read any further).

    Gawd it's so corny, but I like the way the story is set up: Pleasantville is a pleasant location in a 50s sitcom, into which David/Bud (Toby Maguire) and his sister (Reese Whitherspoon) are transformed. Everyone talks about the false sense of happiness represented by the 50s characters: Everything is the same, nothing changes, everyone is always happy because there is only one way to interpret the way they lead their lives, a good way as opposed to a bad way. Everything is black or white. In the movie, David/Bud keeps saying that there is no one way to do anything, nothing is routine, everyone and everything changes. But the film is really a call for diversity. The original characters of the town are a metaphor for segregation: everyone is black and white, and everything is defined by these values, good or bad, right or wrong. The people who embrace change and diversity turn into "colored people". Get it? Get it? Its the "colored people" who listen to the blues, and rock and roll. It's the colored people who indulge in sex. It's the colored people who are artists. It's the colored people who draw graffiti on the wall. The court scene is the most telling. If you saw the movie To Kill a Mockingbird (Gregory Peck)--a movie about a southern lawyer defending a "negro" accused of rape and murder--you will have noticed the exact parallel. In the courthouse of both movies, the "coloreds" are in the balcony while the whites are on the first floor.

    There should be more movies like Pleasantville. It is well made, and it is amazing that it didn't even get an academy nomination.

    I also saw Field of Dreams the day before on Saturday. I love this movie too, partly because they made the author who is "kidnapped" by Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) an African American, Terrence Mann (James Earl Jone). In the original novel, Shoeless Joe, the author is J.D. Salinger.

    Why do I like such dorky movies?

    Monday, October 20, 2003

    Another ugly victory for the Bruins

    Leading 20-12, Cal makes a comeback to tie the game in the final seconds with a touchdown and two-point conversion. The Bruins won in overtime 23-20 thanks to Justin Medlock's field goal, but the real hero is Havner and Chillar, our stellar linebackers. Chillar already blocked on field goal. In the 4th quarter, on another field goal attempt by Cal, Havner jumps up to block it, Chillar picks it up and returns it for a touchdown. If not for that touchdown, Cal would have won in regulation. The vaunted UCLA defense looked better than last week against Arizona, but looked nowhere what they looked like earlier in the season. But a win is a win, even though we get no love from the pollsters. UCLA leads the Pac-10 with Wazzu with a 3-0 record (5-2 overall).

    Hamamoto: Onigiriman, I was at that Cal-UCLA game today. Nice win for the Bruins. I still find it funny how UCLA stole Cal's fight song. Is that Japanese restaurant you're talking about on Santa Monica Blvd?
    You dawg! I wanna see the game so badly. But ESPN Gameplan is cheaper than a plane ticket back west. I don't think UCLA stole Cal's fight song. UCLA was originally the southern branch of the University of California (Berkeley) and so would/should have the same fight song. I think they had classes at what is now LACC. Anyway, they became an independent institute back in the 20's (?) and I guess they just kept the same song. Not to sound partial (or impartial), but I think the UCLA rendition is more modern than Cal's. To me, theirs sounds "traditional"; it has kind of a "boolah, boolah" ring to it. As for the restaurant, I think it was on Santa Monica Blvd. We always went after studying so it was dark and when we left we were drunk, so I hardly remember the exterior, but I remember parking in the back and entering from the rear door, then down a narrow hallway. Does it ring a bell with you? If you know the name, could you give me a reminder?

    Things I gotta do before the week's out

  • Teach my courses: MW 2-3:15; T 12:30-3:15; Th 12:30-6
  • Hold office hours: MTW 4-6
  • Language Center meeting T 11-12
  • Create a quiz for Bungo class
  • Create quiz for Modern J class
  • Grade quizzes.
  • Create a midterm for the Lit class
  • Grade midterm for Lit class
  • Create a survey for langauge instructors at school by Tuesday
  • Crap! prepare a presentation for Friday's MAAAS Workshop! I'm dead! How do I get sucked into doing extra shit.
  • View Seven Samurai for the presention....
  • Give presentation at the international relations school's new building on E street.
  • Submit a final report on my research. I'm really dead now. Due Nov. 1.
  • Write, like 7 letter of recommendations.
  • Compose a suicide note....

  • Sunday, October 19, 2003

    Lost in Translation, cont'd

    This past week, I got caught up in other things and never go around to returning to Lost in Translation. I was asked if the movie suggested stereotypes, and I would say, "sorta, kinda".

    The massage/prostitute scene (Oh, Mr. Harris, lip my stockings, lip them!) was perhaps over the top, and perhaps is an reflection of one stereotype some American's have of Japan: Japanese will provide sexual opportunities for important guests. However, it is also true that there are many people and places that provide sex in Japan in ways that make this particular scene tame in comparison. Role-playing prostitution has been popular in Japan, and it isWAY over the top. Also, the interpreter during the Suntory commercial filming may have been a bit to incompetent. While the best interpreters charge $300 an hour, this is not a sum that Suntory could not afford, and there are many who can provide better English than that they showed in the film. But other than that, I think the movie was pretty straight-forward in portraying Japan.

    Some Japanese I have talked to have said, "That's not Japan". And they are right, it is not Japan. But IT IS the Japan that many foreigners come across when they go for the first time. The Japanese rarely entertain at home, so when business men go to Japan, they are usually treated to the nightlife by their host. That's why in the film you see: Bob Harris and Charlotte going to clubs and karaoke. The rest of their time is spent in the hotel, since their hosts do not associate with guests outside the business context. Unable to speak Japanese, they are isolated from the rest of society and so spend their time in the Hotel pool or hotel bar. On the other side, they see the typically "oriental" Japan: Bob golfing in the shadow of an aesthetically misty--and hence, appropriately mysterious--Mt. Fuji; Charlotte visits a shrine where a wedding ceremony is being held. So I guess the film does focus on stereotypes, but in a way, its a stereotype created by the Japanese, because this is the Japan--fun nightlife and the mysterious orient--that the Japanese themselves present to overseas guests.

    On a side note: Watch how Bill Murray separates his wooden chopsticks at the sushi bar. He doesn't hold them at the top or middle and break them in the V-shape manner. Rather, he holds it towrd the bottom and separates them in parallel fashion. This is typically Japanese, and shows that Murray has done his share of eating at Japanese establishments. Actually, there was a restaurant in West LA, near UCLA, where my friend was a bartender--I went there to get drinks at significantly reduced prices. At the sushi bar, Bill Murray was a regular customer--Gawd, but I can't remember the name of the restaurant.

    Football Saturday
    Today, UCLA hosts Cal at the Rose Bowl. The main concerns for the week are the defensive backfield and, as usual, quarterback. Matt Ware, the Loyola Cubbie, sprained his ankle is will not play, breaking a string of 30 consecutive starts since he was a fresheman. Indeed, he is the only Bruin in history to start every game from his freshman year. It is unfortunate that this record will come to an end, but his ankle needs to be solid against the stronger opponents down the road. Of greater concern is his replacement, Keith Short. Will he play like everyone expects him to or will he play short? We will see. Expect Cal to throw his way often. The other problem is the quarterback situation. Drew Olson is improving and maturing week to week making it harder for Matt Moore to return as the starter. HC Kar Dorrell has stated for the record that starters don't lose their job because of injury--and Matt was the starter at the beginning of the season. However, he and Drew were virtually neck and neck. After Matt's injury in the first game, Drew has gained valuable game experience, while Matt, anxious to return as starter, is making decisions on the field in his few opportunities that may not please the caosching staff. And he is doing a poor job of masking his displeasure at not being the starter. Anyway, We'll see what he does today.

    Go Bruins!

    Saturday, October 18, 2003

    BoSox Lose, too

    I guess the curse is complete. There is balance in the world. The Chicago Cubs lose an opportunity to get to the World Series. The Boston Red Sox--with their best pitcher on the mound--succumb to the Yankees. Now, if the Yankees beat the the Florida Marlins, then the status quo will have been maintained. Tradition will march on. And the world will continue...

    Todays outcome lies directly on the manager, Grady Little. He is not very good. I mentioned this to my kids the other day. He doesn't know how to use his players, it seems. When Jeter doubled to right, I thought that Pedro had pitched a great game but he had to sit down. Williams comes up and singles Jeter home. Now, Pedro HAS to sit down, right? You have the tying run coming to the plate. Alright, so its the little Japanese boy, Matsui, but heck, Torre moved him up to the 5th spot cuz' he's hitting better than Giambi in the series. GIAMBI! Torre knew what he was doing. I wish Little knew what he was doing. He goes to the mound to talk to Pedr

    "Hey, Pedro, how you feeling?"
    "Cansado, un poco, pero I still got a little left."
    "You think you can get this guy ChopSuey?"
    "Como? Matsui? Yeah, no problemo."

    And he leaves him in. Pedro is a fighter, a competitive son of a buck. What the freakin' else is he gonna say? No mas, no mas, take me out?!? Little blew it. They will question his decision throughout the winter. But don't feel sorry for Little. The guy you wanna feel sorry for is Steve Bartman, the guy who interfered with Moises Alou's attempt to catch a foul ball. The Sun Times published not only his face and name, but where he works and the neighborhood where he lives. What would happen if someone brought serious injury to him, or if he felt so bad that he would do something drastic, heaven forbid. Now, there are many who say, Hey, he did what anyone would do. Well, I'm not so sure it's that simple. As kids sitting on the sidelines at basketball and baseball games, we always got out of the way of balls heading our way for any potential play. So I don't know if its that clear cut. But this kind of reportage crosses the line. It places the Sun Times right with the journalistic traditions of the National Enquirer and the Globe...

    What is this world coming to?

    Now, the only thing I have left to look forward to is to see Clemens get a hard one high and tight when he has to bat in the National League stadium. But knowing the Yankees, they'll wuss out and have Clemens pitch in games only in Yankee Stadium where he doesn't have to bat.

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    Cubbies Lose

    Since Tuesday night when the fan interfered with Alou's attempt to catch the ball, I thought this was it. It only takes a small mishap for another team to grab the momentum. Of course, in any sport, all teams have the opportunity to make up any fouls or mistakes by players, umpires/referees, or fans, but this one seemed ominous. I sat there thinking, Prior better not walk this guy, cause if he does that means a guy who should have been out is on base for free. Well, Prior walked him, and that was all she wrote. It seemed like the Cubs were a shoe-in. Is there really a curse?

    Well, we'll see tomorrow. Another Martinez-Clemens match-up. I should mention that there was a lot of crap about Martinez pushing Zimmer away. Oh yeah, Zimmer was hit in the head as a player so he's ultra sensitive about pitchers like Martinez throwing it high and tight, so that's why he decides to try to slug Martinez. But I don't get it. Everyone seems to have forgotten what was smoldering in the background: Mr. Headhuner himself, Roger Clemens. Isn't this the guy who not only threw at Mike Piazza, he actually hit him in the head. Then in the next meeting--a freaking year later--Piazza cracks his bat, Clemens picks up the broken half that flew near the mound and THROWS it at Piazza as he was running toward 1st base! What was that?!? Did the bat slip out of his hand? And where was Zimmer when this happened? Where was his ultra sensitivity then? Does it manifest only when the Yankees are the target? What kind of bull is that? Oh, and by the way, was there a coach running out to slug Clemens? Of course not. People who are defending Zimmer suck. This would definitely include Tom Boswell of the Washington Post. What a joke. I thought he was a fine sports writer for a while, but I realize now that he is biased, or he has a really short memory. Either way, bad news for sports fan.

    Anyway, the Red Sox are aware of Clemens and are ready for his antics, which is why tempers were running high to begin with. Well, the Bosox won yesterday and I can only hope they win today. But there is a part of me that hopes the Yankees win so someone on the Marlins can drill Clemens in the head. Siince he's retiring, this is the last chance anyone has to do it.

    Thursday, October 16, 2003

    Tuesday night...

    a storm came through the DC area and it was kinda scary. As usual I went to pick up Musubi-chan from school around 9pm. As we headed home it started pouring like crazy. Y'know, a down pour so heavy it seems like someone is simply pouring a buck of water over your windshield. The wipers swish left and right as quick as they can but they seem virtually useless. To make matters worse, I was on a stretch of road that is a bit hilly, and has no street lamps, so it's hard to tell if your going straight. I try to focus on the red tail-lights of the car in front of me, praying that that car knew where it was going. Whew! We finally reach a more lighted area where I can at least make out some landmarks to get my bearing: A traffic signal, stright path to the next signal, Ruby Tuesday on the left, IHOP on the right. Red light, stop. Man, my heart is racing. I continues to pour. Green light, cross intersection slowly. I've been driving much slower all throughout of course, and the other cars around me are not taking chances either, thank God. Next signal, cross I-66, right turn at next signal. Almost home, but the road veer to the left as it swings around Oakton HS. Narrow road, and I can tell there's a CUE bus heading in the opposite direction... toward me. I presume he sees me, but I veer as much as I dare to the right of the road. Bus passes me on the left, and I see that the lights of the high school parking lot are still on, so a stop sign should be right in front of me. I turn right, go a couple of blocks--I can see a little better, has the rain slacked off? I turn left and drive into my parking slot. Where the heck is the rain? It's barely sprinkling. Hmm... Why is it always like this?

    Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    Lost in School

    I think I'm dying. I was gonna continue writing about the movie, Lost in Translation, but I'm just too exhausted. I wanna see a movie every now and then. I wanna see my football game. But the price I have to pay--spending virtually the rest of the entire weekend, no, the entire week dedicated ONLY to grading, class prep, committee work, administrative work--is killing me. One of the things I enjoy is cooking, and I used to find time on the weekend to do that. Not only does it give Musubi-chan a break, its kinda therapeutic for me. But I haven't cooked anything since the school has started. Of course, Musubi-chan hasn't complained. She's an angel... or is it she doesn't like my cooking? Hmm...

    Gawd, I don't even have time to Xanga! How pathetic is that. I wasn't able to go to the many sites I read regularly and felt rather guilty, so I just spent the last hour and half visiting and commenting.... Whew! If I missed you, don't worry, I'll catch you next time.

    Adult E:
    I need to chill. I should take up Nefarious' suggestion to write about sstrip bars, but in all honesty, I've nevver been... What is a lap dance? I here its the nasty, nasty, but I don't know the exactly what activity is taking place. I guess it's not one of the more important things in life, but I here the phrase so often on TV, I'm just curious. I have, however, seen a strip show, and I must admit, that it was... interesting.

    But first, some background...

    At the age of 17, when I was ditching high school, and being your typical good-for-nothin' GLOB (good little Oriental boy), I would walk around the seedier streets of downtown LA. Not that I consciously sought this area, but it was an area I passed through everyday from school on the westside on my way to work in J-town. For those of you familiar with LA, this would be an area between 3rd and 6th and Main and Hill. There were the ubiquitous adult book stores, and I would wander in pretending to be lost. Sometimes, the proprietor would ask me for ID, and he'd chase me out when I told him I had none. But more often than not, a flunky would be at the main desk and he never cared who came in, as long as they looked like they could afford something. Oh my, the variety was amazing. Heretofore, being only exposed to the soft porn of Playboy, hardcore had a distinct allure to a young trying to come to terms with a libido that was frowing exponentially. I was not a virgin at this age, but I was naive and unsure of the techniques of sex. The stories I heard from older guys were intriguing, but they always seemed to lack the specifics--it now occurs to me that they were probably as clueless as I was. But the hardcore magazines were eye opening. My mind would race with each magazine, with every turn of the page.

    "Wow, you mean you can do it standing?"
    "Man, doesn't that hurt?"
    "No way, that fits."

    When I left the store--usually without a plain brown paper bag tucked underneath my arm--and head for the bus stop to take me to work, I would pass a place that always seemed to call me like a siren, the Pussycat Theater. It was on Hill about a block and a half from the Biltmore Hotel. Now this isn't the famous theater in Hollywood; it was its poor step-sister in downtown LA. It was rundown and always had down-and-out looking people hanging around the front. But for me it was different. With titles like "Debbie Does Dallas" and stars such as Seka and John Holmes, it was a gleaming citadel of potential information, the best and worst of sex education, and like a magnet it pulled me, inviting me in. But as a punk kid with little experience, I was embarrassed. I mean, geez, going into an adult bookstore was daring enough for me. But I just had to see for myself, maybe next time. I have to go to work. No time. Yeah, next time. Maybe next time. Always next time.

    Saturday, October 11, 2003

    Gaijin vs. gaikokujin II

    Ok, there seems to be a difference of opinion, and I think I should have put more thought into it than I did. This is what I get for talking off the top of my head. Takunishi, a JA (sorta? Weren't you born in Japan?), says that he is called gaijin when he goes to Japan. Gurlekka says that her mother who is East Asian (Chinese?), is also referred to as gaijin. Now that they mention it, when I go to my dad's birthplace in Kitakata, Fukushima--for those who don't know, this is really in the sticks--my cousin parades me around as the gaijin. But, then he never tells me this, only to others. I suppose its a way of exoticizing (is this a word?) me. At least that is the sense I get. On the other hand, my grandmother on my mother's side in Hiroshima ALWAYS made sure that people referred to me as gaikokujin, because I was not a yoso no hito--an outsider. She also has a white daughter-in-law--my aunt--who my grandmother referred to as a gaijin. Further, haven't many of you heard Japanese refer to Americans as gaijin WHILE IN THE AMERICA? I have heard people who have lived in the US for over 10 years say this. Yes, usage may vary, but I still get the sense that gaijin, in general, means non-East Asian, and hence can be construed as a racially-charged term.

    Another point was brought up by Fooky. He is correct when he said that Koreans in Japan are called Chenjin. But they are still gaikokujin--as they are required to carry their gaikokujin tokusho (alien registration card)--not gaijin, I think.

    Now this may seem like a lot about nothing. Indeed, I once thought that these terms were a reflection of traditional and historical usage, and so did not imply a condescending attitude--Americans are foreigners, so they are outsisders, gaijin. Its just a linguistic thing. What's the big deal? But I have come to think differently. Words carry different--sometimes derogatory--connotations for different people and I don't want to ignore this. Can you imagine people using the term "colored" for African Americans today? It's traditional/historical, is not an intrinsicly racial "slur" and the user may not necessarily harbor a malicious agenda, but the African American who hears it will certainly be offended. Should we ignore this? I think not...

    There are other racist terms as well, as Fooky pointed out. The term Chenjin is used as a derogatory term by many. Indeed, the word bakachon is a perfect example. The term was born during the early generations of Instamatic cameras, those that required little fuss to operate. The simplicity of its use was relfected in this term: even a baka (idiot) or a Chosenjin can use it. Many have tried to convince me that the chon meant the sound of the camera, or some other likely story. But the effect is the same. Koreans I know have told me that they hate the word bakachon because of its connotation. The fact that the term is no longer used publicly in the media suggests that it indeed implied something derogatory.

    But really, I get exhausted writing about race. It is, for me, an emotional topic--being beat up for being a jap/chink/gook during the formative years will do that to you. I need to take Nefarious' advice and talk about... what did you say? Strip bars? Hmm... Maybe tomorrow... I love this girl...

    Friday, October 10, 2003

    Gaijin vs. gaikokujin 外人と外国人...

    Njel wrote about the term gaijin 外人. Okay, gaijin IS a racist term because its usage is based on race, but not in the way Jap, or Gook or Kike or the N word is used in English. First of all, it is not an abbreviation of gaikokujin 外国人. These are two separate words. As you know, gaikokujin is used to mean "a person of a foreign country". In contrast, gaijin is "outsider" or perhaps in a more familiar, official term in the English: "alien".

    But it's usage is race-based, because the term is used mostly for non-East Asian people. I am Japanese American and when I go to Japan they usually refer to me as gaikokujin, not gaijin. However, a black friend of mine is BOTH a gaijin and gaikokujin. They often refer to Koreans and Chinese as gaikokujin as well, not gaijin. Indeed, I cannot recall a singel occasion when the Japanese refer to Koreans born and raised in Japan with Korean citizenship as gaijin, just gaikokujin. (If someone know differently, please let me know.) Conversely, a naturalized citizen of Japan might be considered a gaijin (non-East Asian) although not a gaikokujin (foreigner). So the words are not, in most contexts that I am aware of, interchangeable.

    It is sad that the Japanese feel the need to make this distinction. Paiky mentioned that in America, initial perception is based on how we look, and it seems that it's the same in Japan, as well.

    Didn't I mention recently that I would ease up on "race" for awhile. It is an exhausting subject for me because it hits close to home and I get heavily involved with it. I guess its just a part of who I am and so need to comment on it.

    Thursday, October 09, 2003

    Apologies to my kids...

    A few days back, I wrote about some of the conditions surrounding my divorce, and in the mix, I mentioned that the school where I teach is "middling first tier". I got a tongue lashing from purin_kun, telling me that this could be considered "offensive" to my "kids"... And he is right, of course. Reminiscing about my divorce put me in a feisty mood, and the current situation at school perhaps pushed me over the edge. As some of you know, our program was scheduled to hire a replacement for a full-time position, but the powers that be suspended our search (in)definitely. From what I understand, other departments suffered the same fate, arousing some dissatisfaction. But, as purin_kun pointed out, this is a problem that has nothing to do with their education--the best possible my colleagues and I can provide--and I shouldn't allow my frustration to manifest in a manner that suggests my kids are "middling", for they are not. My deepest apologies to them.

    To the people of the great state of California, my old home, Ahnold is now your governor. Actually, I think it should be fun, although I don't think he will be able to fix all the problems that need fixin' in California.

    Seat Belts....
    Mmh posted the warning Wear your seat belt. And I would like to second that, for it has saved my life once--perhaps to the regret of some of my kids? After a night of heavy drinking--I was at UCLA studying Mushakoji Saneatsu, so that make it 1982, I think--I headed to J-town for work the next morning, a Saturday, at around 9am. With a major hangover, I was my usual irritable, short-tempered self. I was headed north on the highway 10 bypass (connecting the San Bernadino and Santa Monica freeways) just before it merged with the Hollywood freeway. Around the 1st St. offramp, a slow moving vehicle cut in front of me.

    Hung over and cranky, I began to tailgate this slow driver as we headed beneath the two-lane underpass that curved left toward the Hollywood freeway (101) at 45mph. Suddenly, this car steps on its brake. I slam on mine, and my car veers left, crosses the left lane and crashes into the concrete wall of the underpass. Dazed, I look up to see the car that stepped on the break speed away. The cars behind me, thankfully, were NOT tailgating, so they were able to stop before hitting my car that was, I was slowly realizing, perpendicular to the road. A car could have easily broadsided the drivers side of my car. And as the driver, this small miracle was not lost on me. Just as amazingly, I had my seatbelt on and it prevented me from going through the windshield and hitting the concrete wall. And even more amazing was the fact my car, my 1973 Chevy Camaro, was still running, and I was able to back it up and drive it off the freeway. That car was a tank, a fast one, but still a tank.

    Since that day, I have always counted myself as one lucky sumbuck. I buy lottery tickets with the full knowledge that I will never win, for I used up a significant portion--if not all--of my quota of luck that Saturday morning in 1982. And I NEVER tailgate anymore. I rarely exceed the speed limit, and generally drive safely. So always buckle up guys...

    Wednesday, October 08, 2003

    No more about race...

    ...for a while anyway. Getting tired of it. Racial differences exist and is easily perceived. The trick is to convince people to not make distinctions based solely on this perception. But it will take forever to convince everyone... Anyone have a good idea as to how to approach this? Or should we just give up?

    Cubs vs. Bosox
    I don't mean to make light of the situation. There are people I know who are crushed by the defeat of the Giants and A's. Man, what happened to Bay Area baseball? I think Dusty took all his SF mojo to Chicago. Dude! He turned it around in one freakin' year! Now if... no, when the Cubbies beat the Marlins--the Pretenders, despite the presence of Pudge Rodriguez--they should play the Sox, cuz I HATE dem damn Yankees. I was born and raised a Dodger fan, and it is my birthright to HATE dem damn Yankees. Grrr.... But of course, the consolation would be the Cubbies BEATING the Yankees. That might be worth it.

    Worth Mentioning
    1. Bosox Jackson and Damon run into each other in centerfield going after a fly ball in the 8th (?) inning. They say Damon was unconscious for a minute or so. I hope he is okay.
    2. Payton Manning is too awesome. Indianapolis is down 24-7 and 35-14 in the 4th quarter to the toughest defense in the NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs. But with two touchdown drives and a kickoff returned for a TD, they comeback to win it in OT. Amazing. Even Musubi-chan was watching in amazement.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2003

    Asians in America II

    My post from last Thursday elicited different comments. I responded to Paiky on Friday. Today I will address Dizzo who provided an opposing comment suggesting that, as far as he is concerned, all races in America are equal.

    CultofDizzo: to be completely honest, i never considered asian americans any different from regular americans until they told me they were. I didn't know about the cultural differences until I became friends with a lot of asians. A lot of these negative stereotypes we're trying to get rid of were first introduced to me in the context of being told they weren't true. In an American city like DC or NYC, when you see an asian or a black person or any other "minority" you don't bat an eye, because it is normal. I'd be much more uncomfortable if I was in america and everyone was white! Posted 10/2/2003 at 11:44 PM
    Ah, Dizzo, I love people, like you and Paiky, who are "completely honest." You are the counterpart of Paiky, my Pollyanna side. You are my hope, my dream of the future. Indeed, while there are differences in heritage and the cultures that represent them, we are all first and foremost Americans, and enjoy a shared American heritage and culture. But your statement also reveals a reality that continues to keep things complicated for AAs. You see all members of society as being equal, and that is wonderful to hear. But it is also surprising to hear you say that you didn't know there was a problem until you made Asian friends. There is dissatisfaction within society and you didn't recognize it on your own? It took Asians to open your eyes? What might that say about you and your environment before you met them? What of people who have yet to befriend AAs? How do we make them aware? Further, you should keep in mind that your attitutde is your attitude, not someone elses. You may not bat an eye when you see a Black or Asian in NYC or DC, but I have had people bat their eyes at me in DC and certainly Virginia. It is usually brief, non-violent and subtle, but disconcerting nonetheless. Do you know how irritating it is to not be served by a waiter right away while other tables with white patrons who were seated after receive instant attention? (It happened most recently at Famous Dave's, the rib joint in Vienna.) Or the sales clerk who turns to a white cutomer before he turns to you? (This happened most recently at Macy's in Pentagon City) This has occured more than a few times, believe me. Some will say, "Well, you should have left." I say, no. If I leave, they win. But, of course, you wouldn't really know what I'm talking about. Now, I am not raggin' on you. Please believe me. But I hope you see what I am trying to say. Many non-Asians see no problems with the status quo, whether it is due to a lack of awareness, or a baser lack of acceptance. In either case, nothing changes and AAs remain a disenfranchised segment within society.

    There are many non-Asians who have told me that they received similar discriminating treatment in Asian countries. And that is true and unfortunate. But there is a basic difference between our situations. For the most most part, the non-Asian probably chose to go to Asia and has the choice to leave, as they have a place to return to. I had no choice and nowhere to return to. I did not choose to be born in the US; I did not choose to be educated in a system that paid lip service, telling me that I was "legally" equal to everyone else in our great land; I did no choose to be raised in a culture that made me feel different, that convinced me that I WAS different from other "regular Americans" through images of typical White middle American values in the media. I also have no where to return, for I am an outsider in Japan. I look Japanese, but my passport guarantees different treatment when I go to find a job, try to find an apartment, get a loan, etc. So I live here and try--in my own small way--to effect change from within, to influence young people positively. I have to believe that its possible, that there is a goal to strive for; perhaps not a Utopia, but a better place than this.

    To those of you who have read these past two Asian American posts: Don't think I don't respect these two gentlemen, or that I have singled them out for rebuttal. I only know Paiky through Xanga, but I have been reading his sites regularly, and from what I can tell, he is a straight talking guy. He is totally cool, and I respect his opinion. I have met Dizzo, and although we have never had a real heart-to-heart, I know enough about him through mutual friends and his Xanga site that he is a kind and gentle soul. And I respect his opinion and observations as well. But I needed to make a point and I wanted to address them here. They are good people who I'm sure will accept a difference of opinion.

    Monday, October 06, 2003

    Weekend Entry II: Word Selection A

    I have to agree with Piratechan who said, "And i hate the gay thing. I always read it as people thinking that if something is uncool and thus "gay" it's fluffy and unimportant and ignorable.... It seems very redneck to use the term "gay" in that manner." Yes, it does seem redneck. A lack of familiarity or just plain ignorance breeds fear and/or contemp, which may explain the use of this term in a derogatory manner.

    To everyone who enjoys reading my site: Lets stop usng this word. There are lots of alternatives, and here are a few you can use... just don't tell your parents I suggested them: awful, horrendous, uncool, sucks, F(elonial)U(se of)C(arnal)K(nowledge)s, shiet.... haha, as if you didn't know these words already.

    Word Selection: B
    The opposite of "suck": I often feel very old when I use dated terminology. I do use words as alright, cool, and nice, but my kids give me a hard time when I use words like boss, bitchin', and the all time dead-as-Latin word, groovy. I really like this word, now, probably for its shock effect. I never used it during my wonder years in the late 60s and early 70s when it was in vogue, the reason being it was too pop, too whitey. JAs in LA were into being "black". Hence, the most popular term we used was "bad" as in "that was a bad movie", or "the new Hendrix tune is totally bad". Haha, 300 year in the future, when some college kid decides to learn 20th century pop culture, they are going to have a fun time deciphering which is bad "bad" and good "bad".

    Saturday: UCLA killed the 18th ranked team, the University of Washington, 46-16. I was very impressed. They seemed to struggle in the first half, but they came to life in the second, thanks mostly to the defense. Leisle, who was suspended for the first half because he punched a SD State player in the stomach last week, recovered a fumble on his first play in the second half. A few minutes later, he also had an interception. Washington moved the ball in the first half thanks to the Cody Pickett-Reggie Williams connection. Williams is 6'4" 225 lbs. and there was just no freakin' way Clark was gonna cover him. DC Kerr finally woke up and put Matt Ware--6'3" 225 lbs. and graduate from my high school, Loyola of LA--on him. Williams had only two catches for the rest of the game. On one of the catches by Williams, Matt literally threw him to the ground. Yeah, show him who's boss. Matt is a freak who will play on Sundays in the future. Go Loyola Cubs ('74) and Bruins!

    Sunday, October 05, 2003

    Weekend Entry

    Saturday: UCLA plays the University of Washington. I aml hoping for a break out game by the Bruins. They need it. Matt Moore has returned from badly bruised tibia (or was it a fibula?), but he is apparently very rusty, so Drew Olsen will again lead our team on offense. He seems to have clicked in the second half of the SD State game. Let's hope that was precursor of things to come. Washington is ranked in the top 20, so no pushover, and the Bruins have to play a flawless game to even have a chance of winning. Fortunately, we are playing at home in the Rose Bowl, perhaps the only thing that is in our favor. I wish I lived in LA. I'd go... Does anyone know of an openning in Japanese lang. and/or lit. in SoCal? I'd go in a heartbeat...

    Vocab Question
    As I read the Xanga sites of people far younger than me, I've come to realize that I'm rather out of step with their lingo. I think I grasp the meaning of most and the nuance as well but I'm not always sure. So I was wondering if someone could clue me in....

  • Why is "shit" often spelled "shiet"? I have seen this spelling on many sites. Is there a reason?
  • Gay: It seems to be used to express a derisive attitude, as in "Work is gay." Is there a specific definition?
  • What is the significance or using "3" for "E"? Is it just stylistic?
  • Why do many mix large caps and small caps? I hAv3 tO AdMit tHAt iT SoMtiM3s giV3s M3 a h3adAcH3... aM I jUst b3iNg gAy?

    There are others and I will post as I come across them.

  • Saturday, October 04, 2003

    Asians in America I

    My last post elicited different comments, which is, in my opinion, a good thing. Discussion--even if divergent and at times conflicting--is always good in that it is the first step in understanding each other and getting along--but please, don't call me Rodney King:

    PaikyPoo: we live in a world of physical senses. your idea where we're all equals is a utopia which will never be realized. no matter how twinkie i am, how perfect my english is, how patriotic i am, how abercrombie & fitch i dress, how white my gf/wife is (if i had one), or how much money i make i'll always be seen as a yellow man. doesn't bother me tho... one of the advantages of being older is i've had more time to contemplate about such things. i got over my insecurities about it several years ago. Posted 10/2/2003 at 7:37 PM
    Paiky, you are my darker side. I am, at heart, a realist. I was, as a kid, beat up a couple of times just because I was a jap, a gook, and/or a chink. I was disparaged verbally more times than I can count. So I KNOW that I am, as you put it, the "yellow man." How can I not know? Being the target of countless insults has provided me with a thick skin and an even thicker skull. Interestingly, in spite of this, I still see my self as an American like you, as you suggest with your "perfect English" and "patriotism"--although I doubt you are a twinkie. (haha, in my day, the word was banana, y'know yellow on the outside, white on the inside and after you rot a bit you turn black...) But I have never gotten over the fact that I am still seen as "yellow" which suggests outsider, or worse, inferior. It continues to bug me. This may be, as you put it, an insecurity. And maybe I am insecure. But I dwell on this issue and the emotions it arouses. I don't revel in it. I don't enjoy it. And I don't forget it, as it is my way of keeping this situation in the forefront of my mind. I refuse to accept that I am an outsider or inferior to White America. I want to scream to others the fundamental flaw of this social condition, the obvious contradictions it manifests vis-a-vis the American Constitution. But, as I know you are fully aware, this is a difficult if not impossible task, as once people are set in their ways, they refuse to change. So I have taken another path. I have decided to teach. No, no, I am not some Asian-American studies rabble rouser. That defeats the purpose as the only people you attract are usually other disaffected Asians. I teach Japanese literature, for in it is the concept of the reality of change and the inevitablility of difference. I tell my young students that the Japanese of a 1000 years ago realized that meaning is not stable, that things change and change is good, diversity is natural, indeed it IS nature. Yes, modern Japan continues to be "homogrenous" (what a joke!), but the diversity and change embedded in the ideas of literature and art are perfect in understanding our lives and, by extention, our society. And if I can affect a few--or even just one student--to open their eyes to this, that's more than I would have done by accepting the status quo. Okay, maybe I'm a Pollyanna, for we all know that Utopia is virtually impossible--Huxley already showed us that--but I cannot give up trying, for the alternative would be too depressing.

    CultofDizzo also left a comment that reflects the other side of the spectrum. I will respond to that tomorrow...

    Friday, October 03, 2003

    Koreans in Japan

    Pirate-chan called me out on my last post:

    Piratechan: while the sushi talk is making my mouth water, i got stuck on how a "North Korean" who is "Japan born and raised" can be "North Korean". Isn't this partly what NLUTE is all about? Where you are born and live is a greater shaper of your culture than your ancestry?
    Yes, where you are born and raised determines who you are to a great degree. Koreans are in many respects Japanese, that's why I said my friends sushi was exceptionally good. She's Japanese in many ways. But Koreans in Japan--particualrly Zainichi Chosenjin--go to great lengths to maintain their identity. The fact that the Japanese government marginalizes them compounds to the situation.

    Many of the parents and grand parents of my friends were brought over from Korea during WWII. When Japan colonized Korea, the Japanese govt. went to great lengths to have both citizens "intermingle." Many Japanese went to Korea and Manchuria--the govt. provided incentives, I think. I presume the J-govt. thought that by populating these countries with Japanese, it would somehow make these occupied areas look and feel like "Japan". My grandparents, in fact, went there, and my unlce was born in Korea. This was okay if you're Japanese, I suppose, but many of the Koreans were froced in to labor in Japan. From what I understand many of these Koreans never really wanted to remain in Japan--indeed, this is the argument that many right wing Japs and stupid foreigners always bring up: If you don't like Japan, go home, reminiscent of our own redneck expression, "America: Love it or leave it". Unfortunately for these Koreans, if they went home they had to deal with the brewing Korean war, the subsequent communist regime, and the ultimate economic and social failure of No. Korea. How were these Korean's going to go back? It would have been going to certain hardship and suffering. Who would go? How could Japan send people back to such a situation when it was them who brought the Koreans to Japan in the first place? No compassion...

    Also, no citizenship. I believe the J-govt. offered citizenship to Koreans, but they had to turn "Japanese". Unlike the "melting pot" of America where we try to promote diversity and celebrate different cultures within the American culture, Japan demands total immersion. They could only go to schools approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education. This means that Koreans would no longer have the opportunity to learn their own traditions... but then I don't remember getting Japanese history lesson in elementary school. But I did get Japanese language lessons. If these Koreans went to regular J schools, there would be no Korean language at all. And if they go to Korean schools? Since they are not approved by the MOE, the diplomas they earn will not be recognized by universities, and so cannot gain admission.

    Perhaps most significantly, they would have to change their name. I'm not sure how accurate this is, but I have been told by many--Japanese and Koreans alike--that those who "naturalized" took names that were similar to their Korean ones. The name Kim, for example, is read Kane in Japanese, so names such as Kaneko, Kaneyama, etc. find their roots in Korea. But really, I could never imagine having to change my name to Smith or Jones, or--closer to Onigiri--Oneill.

    The Koreans-in-Japan (KIJ) situation might be similar to my own life as described in NLUTE. Many of the KIJ are a true hybrid in everything except their passport. Language and customs are blurred. My friends son--Matt I'm lookng for the business card of her restaurant--is incredibly Japanese in attitude and behavior. His Japanese is impeccable as is obvious. He talks to his mother and sister in Japanese. The only time he speaks Korean is when his father is around--you know those old school East Asian males. But if asked about his cultural heritage, he would adamantly say he is North-Korean, even though he has never been there, doesn't really want to go there, and everything from his language to taste in music is far more Japanese than Korean. To make it worse for him--in my opinion--is that he looks like the Japanese. I and my JA/AA buds look distinctly different from Mr. White America. They see us approaching, we know we are being watched. We do not melt into the background--unless your in Chinatown, J-Town or K-Town. But he looks no different than anyone else in Japan, and yet if and when he decides to go to college or get a job, he will have to confront the kind of discrimination reserved for us AAs here: Yeah, you're smart, you capable, but you're just not one of us. (I might mention that my step-son is half North Korean--Musubi-chan's late husband was North Korean, and Unagi-kun looks llike any other FOB from Japan.)

    I wait for the day when we can all be equals. There are many young white people indeed who want this to happen--Capt.Gaijin certainly has been open about his opinion about this. But this is not the reality. Even now. And there are certainly many young whites who show no desire to change the status quo, and there are many young Japanese in Japan who don't even realize that there's a problem.

    As for me, I am an American. I know that without a trace of doubt or regret, as I have tried to convey in NLUTE. But I still have to deal with the situation, the reality of our current society. Just as my Korean friends who struggle for recognition in Japan must face theirs.

    Thursday, October 02, 2003

    On Getting Married

    I posted a comment on ekka's page a few days ago that got me thinking about how I chose a marriage partner. Once, about 10 year ago during my previous marriage, a school bud asked me what I thought was important in choosing a girl, and I gave him a list of "priorities".

    1. Intelligent. This meant a person with an advanced degree, at least a masters degree.
    2. Balanced face. I don't get into discussions about big or small eyes, or long or round faces, high or no cheek bones. It is a matter of balance. The preference among many is big eyes with double eyelids--which explains the popularity of Halfs--but I have met many girls with single eyelids who are sexy as all getout, and girls with big eyes that I wouldn't even ask the time of day. I've come to realize that its not the individual parts but the balance of all the parts. Sound stupid? Yeah, I know. But I Knew a lot of guys who focused on one part of the face. There was a time in Japan when men went crazy for Yaeba, one canine tooth that was no inline with the rest of the teeth. Many guys I knew swore by this, What was up with that?!? There is one thing that I insist on, however: full lips.
    3. Bilingual, Japanese/English.
    4. Bi-cultural, American and whatever other culture. I insist on American because I am American. But another culture is necessary to understand the differences between between all people.
    5. A good cook. Duh.
    6. Must enjoy nooky.

    My ex-wife fit these criteria to a tee. She has a PhD from UCLA. She's a Half--Japanese/German--good face, full lips, and even taller than me. She's bilingual and bicultural. She's a decent cook. And she liked sex, but only as a means to procreate--not to have fun. So except for #6, she seemed to be perfect, but still we got divorced. And I think its because we were too "analytical". We both had certain expectations in a partner that could be catelogued and prioritized. And we approached life in this fashion, as well. Everything was done for a reason, everything we did had to make economic, social, cultural, and academic sense. I think she was happy with this, but for me, life became too predictable and rigid.

    We lived in Japan where she was an assistant prof. at Hitotsubashi--not a shabby place--a job, I should mention, she got through my connections: yes, kon・(connections) is really important still. Anyone who tries to convince you Japan is an egalitarian, meritorious system is full of it. Anyway, when I got my Ph.D. and decided to return to the US, she refused to return with me; she wanted to pursue her career in Japan and have our daughter continue her education in Japan. Hitotsubashi is a prestigious national school ranked 3rd in Japan. It didn't make sense to her to quit it for a job I got at a middle first-tier university? (The school is, solid in many areas but it is not a Harvard or a Stanford or a Michigan or a Berkeley...) And "practically" speaking, she was right: it did not make economic or academic sense in terms of HER career. And the education our daughter was receiving was good as well. And Japan is a far safer environment than the US. Can you say, Columbine?

    Anyway, what was missing from the equation is a sense of passion. My first marriage--for both parties, I think--was calculated, whether it be what we expected from each other or how we lived our lives and planned our future. For her, living apart was not a big deal; it made sense in many different ways. But I began to question the type of relationship we had and we ultimately divorced, as she wanted to pursue her career. You may ask why I didn't decide to stay in Japan. Well, I earned a Ph.D. in Jap. Lit., and there was not school that would hire me, an American, to teach Jap lit. to Japanese. Indeed, I tried; I applied to two different jobs, but it was always, "no sankyu". And my ex-wife was an anthropologist in Southeast Asian, but her main responsibility was as an international student advisor. So she wasn't really working in a job that she had studied for. I guess taking the path she set out for herself was not so important, but it was for me. I had the opportunity to do what I had trained for. Should I have turned it down? I said, "No". And she said, "Be my guest." So I went.

    But that was then. I had to re-evaluate how I saw relationships. Should I continue to be calculating? Should I adhere to the priorities and standards that I thought were so important in a relationship? Well, Musubi-chan answered that question for me. We were friends and we were out drinking with friends one night in Fuch・ As we were walking back to the train station to go home, she slipped her hand into mine and bang! Electricity! I know, it sounds so corny. But its true. I never thought this could be. I have read in novels about "true love", about how you get this electric feeling and how you just know that this is the right person. I was a skeptic--"baloney" I'd say--for most of my life. But I am now a believer. I tell this to my friends, and all they can say, sarcastically, is ご馳走様 (gochisou-sama: lit. thanks for the feast)

    It took me 40 years to find the right girl, but I found her in Musubi-chan. Is everything bliss? No. We have differences of opinions and argue, but who wouldn't? I mean, we had 40 years to develop our own personalities. Do we have a perfect relationship? Yes, but I can't explain it. She doesn't fit all the criteria I had set out above. She dropped out of college, she is neither bilingual nor bicultural. And, not to brag, but I think I'm a better cook, although I should let my kids weigh in on that one, since they've actually eaten what I've made.... Anyway, Musubi-chan doesn't fit all of my previous criteria--but I think we have a passion for each other that transcends mundane--albeit important--issues such as money and career.

    The point is, however, finding a mate is not an exact science, at least any science that is currently found in a textbook. It is about the feeling and the passion. Musubi-chan quit her job as a successful and popular aerobics instructor to be with me in the US. She gave it up, not because it made sense, but because of her passion--I'm embarassed to say--for me... I guess, I'm pretty lucky.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    The Predator Connection

    Hamamoto just clued me into an interesting bit of info I had overlooked. Arnold, the guy running for governor in California, was in the a movie--my favorite Arnold flick, as a matter of fact--Predator. But what's interesting is that in this movie there was another soon-to-be politician: Jesse "the Body" Ventura, Governor of the Land of Lakes, the great State of Minnesota. Does anyone know if anyone else in the movie is planning to become a politician? Kinda scary...

    Shadow Puppets: Monkey sex!
    Mmh provides a link to a video of shadow puppets that is really pretty funny: Monkey sex. It's amazing. I thought your fingers were only for eating sushi, typing, digital sti... nevermind. hahaha.

    Sushi: Japan, Korea and smoke
    On the recommendation of a colleague at work--the same one whose power of suggestion caused me great gastro-intestinal distress a few days ago--I went to a Japanese restaurant called Yama in Vienna last Saturday. She told me that the sushi was passable... I should have known better. This is the same person who told me that the all-you-can-eat seafood place near Farifax Circle called Peter Pan was great... It was plentiful but a bit heavier, than I enjoy. I think maybe its good for young people with great appetites, but not for the elderly, like me. Peoples tastes--likes and dislikes--are contingent on many factors, including age and culture and environment. Anyway, Yama has a sushi bar and Musubi-chan and I sat down and order the basics that were available. There wasn't a lot--I mean, this IS Virginia, not LA or Tokyo--but that's okay, if it's good. Maguro (tuna), hirame (flounder), and hamachi (baby-yellowtail). The hirame was over two days old. Fresh hirame is almost crunchy... its hard to describe, but it is never soft or mushy. The maguro was passable--the neta (fish itself) was cut too thin--and the hamachi was pretty good for farm-raised, as most hamachi served in the US is. The Vienna roll--eel, asparagus, avocado--was a waste of money. But the spider roll--soft-shell crab--was almost excellent. I say almost because the biggest problem for me was the rice.

    The operators of this establishment are Korean--no, no, they do not serve Nemo-maki--and the service and freshness were adequate, certainly better than some Japanese-owned places I have been to. But the problem is the seasoning of the rice. I've come to the conclusion that this could be a Korean thing. It's not bad, just different, but not what I expect in sushi meshi (rice). It seems to me that Koreans like there flavors bolder than Japanese. This might explain their taste in spicy foods, such as kimchee, a favorite of mine; and the tendency in Korean-made takuan, the yellow pickled radish, to be sweeter than its Japanese counterpart. Sushi rice is, IMHO, supposed to be subtle in flavor, otherwise it would mask the subtle taste of the fish, for sushi is, after all, about the fish and its freshness.

    Don't get me wrong. I am not saying Korean sushi tastes bad; it is a bolder--perhaps sweeter--taste than I am accustomed to in sushi. And I am definitely not saying the Koreans can't make good sushi. That is something I would NEVER say, for it has nothing to do with race or genetics. There are many stupid Japs who say that only Japanese can make good sushi because it is uniquely Japanese. That's a bunch of crap, as that would be tantamount to saying--as I have mentioned a number of times previously--that Japanese cannot make good pasta or steaks or even ramen. But they can. And I know for a fact that Koreans can make good sushi as I have eaten tasty sushi by Koreans before. But these were Koreans born and raised in Japan. I guess it simply has to do with the environment in which one is raised. The Koreans in Japan have been raised with Japanese food and know the subtleties of sushi eaten in Japan, even as they still maintain the flavors of their "own" culture--of course, if they were born and raised in Japan, there "culture" is also Japanese, but that's an issue for another day. I have a Japan born-and-raised North Korean friend who runs a Korean BBQ restaurant in Tachikawa, so I'm not giving you a bunch of BS or trying to kiss anyones arse (re: Chaucer). She makes excellent sushi, to go along with her kakuteki (gaggduki?) and she should bottle her tare (Korean BBQ sauce?!?), it would make her a millionaire over here. Oh yeah, her pickled seseme leaves--egoma in Japanese--almost brings me to orgasm, its so good.

    But the greatest obstacle to eating sushi is smoke. The one good sushi place in DC is a dive called Cafe Japonais. The owner is a jerk, and the place is filled with smoke, y'know, the kind of place from where you return home and your clothes and hair reek of cigarette smoke. If I ever get lung cancer from second-hand smoke, I'm gonna sue this place. But the sushi there is pretty good, far better that Kaz's Bistro near school. But the smoke prevents me from going there. It's so rare to eat good sushi; to think that it's spoiled by the smell of smoke exhaled from someone else's lungs. Yuck. Hahaha, all this bitching from a former two-pack a day Marlboro Red smoker. Well, it's usually the ex-smokers who are the most annoying. So Taku, you quit smoking, yet? I've been clean for over three years... except once, when I had to bum smokes from my students at Cafe Japonais. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em... bachi ga ataru ze.

    But even back then, when I was a heavy smoker, I would not have a cigarette when I sat at a sushi bar. When I refer to the subtle taste of sushi, I am dead serious. I would never alter my tastebuds with tar and nicotine when I eat a delectable slice of hirame or madai (tile fish?) or, aaaah, the perfect shime saba (pickled mackerel). Ooooh, you have not lived until you've eaten the perfect shime saba. Ooooo, talk about orgasmic. Man, now I hafta take a cold shower...