Saturday, January 31, 2004

My Day... Man! Its freezin'

It's freakin' freezin' in DC/VA. Wind chill takes the temperature down to below freezing: That's farenheit, not celcius! My head hurts, its so cold...

Hehehe... I just checked and its ONLY 18 degrees. With the wind chil its a balmy 5 degrees. I was out shopping with Musubi-chan.... We went out to return a video to Blockbuster: The Core. A corny movie I will talk out it later. But after we returned the Video, we went to Safeway to get some stuff--tomatoes, soda, chips, sausages--then stopped off at our favorite watering whole, Glory Days. As my regular readers know, I have been going there for a while, but recently, I have noticed another Asian sitting at the bar talking to some of the other patrons. I don't really talk to strangers unless I'm drinking alone, and since I'm always with Musubi-chan, I keep to myself. Well, tonight, the Asian guy was sitting next to Musubi-chan and when she went to the restroom--which she is prone to do after the 2nd beer--he asked me in Japanese, "Do you speak Japanese?" This, of course, was a stupid question, cuz' why would he ask me unless he had actullay heard me talk in Japanese with Musubi-chan? Well, being the easy going guy I am, I talked with him a bit and learned he was from Japan. He had come to the US in the early 70s, and he claims he was sort of a hippie: going place to place, from Japan to India to Europe and finally to the US. He was an interesting sort, who seemed to want to speak some Japanese. And I felt a little bit of a kindred spirit. And I figured out why after talking with him a bit: Soon after coming to the US, he made a friend who was from Nebraska, a town called Cozad to be exact, the king of alfalfa. He told me that was the first place he bedded an American... Guys will talk about anything when they're drunk, even with a stranger. Anyway, he said this was possible because at the time--the early 70s--none of the denizens of Cozad, Nebraska had ever seen an Oriental, and the girl he met was convinced he was Bruce Lee! Hah! That was good for a laugh, expecially since, from my Asian eyes, he looked NOTHING like Bruce Lee.

So why did I get this sense of a kindred spirit? He looks like Bruce Lee. And who do I look like, according to some of you? Hahahahahahahahahah!

Just outa curiosity, has anyone ever told you, that you looked like somebody?

Friday, January 30, 2004

Yeah, let's beat up Onigiriman!

Okay, I guess I deserve it. First Bane_vixen calls me a loser. Then triphopx tells me, "you were a pain in my a** my senior year." Whew! THEN Consummate_Leah writes, "Power tripping professors rock! (Sense my sarcasm)."

I know they're just kidding, BUT! Maybe I am, a pain-in-the-ass power tripper. Hah! But to all of you who think pop quizzes are bad, let me tell you what my pop quiz is like and then let you decide if you wouldn't mind taking my class. I administer pop quizzes in my language classes only. I teach advanced Japanese, and so I have them read material in Japanese. I give them a clean copy of the text--they don't have to buy a book. Each copy comes with a word list, and it is fairly extensive but not necessarily comprehensive. Click here for a sample. I require students to read it before they come to class--i.e. prepare--so that if there are portions that are difficult to understand, we can work them out in class. Unfortunately, there are students who do not prepare. There are a lot of reasons, I suppose. Some were sick. some had unexpected guests, some failed to plan their lives successfully and had to write a paper at the last minute. Whatever. I drop the lowest quiz grade, so if they have such an emergency, they should rest assured that I will not count the bad grade against them. (Am I a sweatheart or what.) But there are also those who simply come to class hoping to hear someone elses translation or ask questions on something they did not prepare. So how can I distinguish those who prepare from those who don't? I give a pop quiz. for the quiz, they cannot use a dictionary, but they can use anything else: the text itself with the word list, any notes they may have taken, any translations they may have written to prepare for class. It is basically an open note quiz. There is kanji as well, Chinese characters that are in the text but not on the word list. Don't know how to read the character? Well, that is a dead give away that you didn't crack a dictionary, that you didn't prepare for class.

So really, how hard do you think my pop quiz is? It's based on the text you were supposed to prepare, you can use all your notes, and if you did prepare, chances are you will get 100%, an EASY way to kick up your grade, and all you have to do is prepare for class. That's all.

But keep in mind, I don't do this to punish those who don't study. I do this to reward those who do. There is a difference. As I have said a thousand times here (well maybe 27 times): I love my students, especially those who put in the effort. I have learned over the years that studying a little at a time over the course of the entire semester will reap greater benefits than cramming for a midterm and final. This is my attempt to prompt students to study continuously. I do not want any of my students graduating and later saying, "I don't remember a damn thing!" No way. This may be my "power trip", but I will not allow students to not study in my class. And just for the record. When I came to this school in '96, I had only 2 students in the second semester of 4th year Japanese. J-minors do not have to take the second semester to earn a minor. This year, I have 17. Do you get the impression that maybe they want to take the course, in spite of this loser, pain-in-the-ass, power tripping, ego maniac? Dwahahahahah! * sinister laugh * Just kidding, don't take this thing too seriously--except for the quizzes, that's the whole truth.

So what was the best method a teacher used to get you to study?

AI: Artificial Intelligence

Whew! Today... uh, I mean, yesterday turned out to be busier that I expected. I didn't get a chance to update. Oh well.

Consummate_Leah brought up aninteresting topic: Intelligence. Apparently, she has begun to look at men using intelligence as crucial component in determining a man. I think she said something like she is more interested in a man who thinks about life than the kind of rims he wants on his car...

I must agree with her: Intelligence is VERY important. But intelligence must be more finely defined. Leah gave a Webster's dictionary definition:

\In*tel"li*gence\, n. [F. intelligence, L. intelligentia, intellegentia. See Intelligent.] 1. The act or state of knowing; the exercise of the understanding. 2. The capacity to know or understand; readiness of comprehension; the intellect, as a gift or an endowment.

Now, "knowing" and "understanding" and "comprehension" can refer to quite different things. I think that most would consider "intelligence" as understanding "facts." For example, a person who comprehends the Newton's law of physics or Einstein's law of relativity is likely to be intelligent. One who can explain existentialism and metaphysics intelligibly would certainly be intelligent in my books. Of course, this is not everything. Intelligence should also encompass some of the more mundane aspects of life. We should all be intelligent enough to know who the Secretary of State is, what H2O stands for, when the Declaration of Independence was signed (supposedly), where Tehran is, and why the Chicago Cubs didn't go to the World Series. We should also be intelligent enough to stop at a red light, keep the safety on on a loaded gun, and never piss into the wind.

And yet, this is not the type of intelligence I find the most important in a mate. My former wife has a Ph.D., spoke Japanese and English fluently and certainly looked both ways before crossing the street. But she didn't "know". She didn't "understand".

There's another kind of "knowing", another kind of "understanding". And that's the capacity to "know" when I'm upset, to be ready to "comprehend my "feelings", to excercise "understanding" by asking me questions when they need to be asked. This kind of personal intelligence is something that I didn't understand until I met Musubi-chan. She "understands" me perfectly... uh, sometimes too perfectly. She knows what I'm feeling, comprehends virtually everything I'm thinking, sometimes even before I think it--which has been scary sometimes, but amazing nonetheless. And I try to reciprocate in kind--although I must admit to not being totally competent in this area yet. Andwhile it is proving to be as challenging as the Ph.D. dissertation I toiled over (300+ pp.), I am trying....

So what critieria do you use for intelligence in your partner?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Please SNOW!
I don't wanna go to school... Does anyone know a good incantation for snow?

** Update 10:30am ** "UNIVERSITY STATUS: NORMAL
The University is OPEN today, Tuesday, January 27. Classes will begin at 10 a.m."

Nuts! How unfair. I know teachers who have Tuesday off so they get Monday AND Tuesday... Grrrr... I have to get my frustrations out. Maybe, I'll give my students a pop qu... oops, hope none of them are reading this... Dwahahahah!

** Update 5:30pm **

The gods have heard my prayer! Tonight's class has been cancelled!

** Update 9:48pm **
Okay, I didn't mean to sound so excited about not teaching class. As one student told me, "You should want to impart knowledge to the students." Which is true, but one of the main reasons for becoming a teacher is to be able to maintain the academic seasons I have enjoyed for much of my life. While the rest of the world lives from spring to summer to fall to winter, I live--with my students--from one vacation to the next. I look forward to Thanksgiving and Winter break and Spring break and of course the biggie, Summer Vaction. I savor the excitement of approaching breaks, I dread the pain of finals--for different reasons of course. And a sudden unexpected Snow day? My, is this not a treat? I wanna enjoy this with my students.

By the way, Bane_Vixen called me a loser. Me! A LOSER, cuz I was going to give a pop quiz to my students in response to having to go to school, as mentioned above. Well, truth be told, I was going to give them one anyway, and I was just having some fun. And my students know that I would never be mean to them. Strict, maybe. But not mean... well maybe just a little... hahahahahahah, so I guess that makes me a LOSER. Oh well, I'm sure (hope?) that Vixen was just kidding, BUT if any of my students read this and agree with her (or disagree), click on her name and tell her so. PLEASE!

So am I a pain in your ass? Hahahahaha. Whatever!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Will update later...

Yes, I really hate shoveling, and thought about going to school. But nooooooooo, our school has to cancel classes on a day I don't have any classes... Crap. So instead, I took pics as Musubi-chan and Unagi-kun cleared out the walkway... Okay, okay, before you bombard me with nasty remarks, I too did some shoveling, like the sidewalk and the parking spaces... I'm right-handed but for some reason I shovel snow like a lefty. That is, I hold the shovel like a left-handed batter, left hand above the right.

SNOW: Update
After shoveling, I made a light lunch. Using some of the sukiyaki leftover from last night--sukiyaki with o-sake on a cold night is kinda perfect, y'know--I made a mix between an omlette and tamago-toji--Japanese steamed eggs, but not quite a pudding. Then, we went to a nearby park and did some sliding down the small slopes on our round plastic sleds. All the neighborhood kids were there having a good time, as did we. It was, admittedly, difficult for me at first.

The pic above right is the wifey, Musubi-chan. She truly enjoys exercise--she was an aerobics instructor in Japan. So when we go out like this, she has a lot of fun as her smile will attest. Me? I'm the epitome of a couch potato. Not that I hate exercise, mind you, but if given the choice between a 3 mile jog and a 3 hour movie with popcorn and drinks, I'll take the movie (or football game or whatever). Just as Musubi-chan's smile attests to her enjoyment of exercise, my body--the round glob trying to slide down on the left--speaks volumes, or should I say pints and pounds?

There wasn't a whole lot of of snow, but it was cold enough that the snow that was there didn't turn into slush. I wasn't very successful the first few tries. When I sat down in the disc, it just sorta sank into the soft new snow and I was stuck. I tried to nudge my way forward with a couple of hip thrusts, but to no avail. Giving up, embarrassed, I had to let Musubi-chan and Ungai-kun slide down a few times first. After they packed the snow a bit, creating a mini sled-course, I was able to finally slip down the hill as well. I think I REALLY need to work out more rigorously.

Not to make excuses or anything, but the fall semester is usually very busy and I truly do not have that much time to exercise. I'm either teaching or grading or... ok, Xanga-ing. Hahahahahah. Anyway, to slide down the hill head first on my stomach, a la Musubi-chan, I need to cut out the potato chips and chocolate that I so enjoy. Indeed, I slid down the hill head first, once. And it was a rather smooth and quick run as my weight became a speed factor down the now firmly packed course. But I'm glad it was cold enough for the snow not to turn into slush. Had it melted a bit, the disc would have stuck to my belly like a suction cup. Now THAT would have been embarrassing!

Now if only it would snow just a little more so school would be cancelled tomorrow, too....

So, how was everyone else's Monday?

Monday, January 26, 2004

No More Lazy Weekends

I think this will probably be my last weekend of loafing around. I have some quizzes to grade but that won't take too much time. Starting this week, I will be getting a stream of papers to read for my film class and I will be spending more time on that than Xanga. While its more fun to be on Xanga, it doesn't pay for my food or mortgage, so I gotta focus on work... Life... or something like it.

The Good, the Bad, and it was Ugly
Last night, I saw two DVDs that I rented from Blockbuster. Sometimes I feel like I'm making them rich. As a BB member, there are a few perks such as getting a free video once a month, and a free video for every five I rent, as well as two-for-one on non-new-releases Mon-Weds. It costs around $10 to become a member, but I've already made up the difference. I've gotten about 8 free videos, and $4.53 per DVD (tax included) that's... well you do the math.

Anyway, I saw Open Range and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Once Upon a Time... is the "sequel" to Desperado and stars Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp. It was awful. Desperado was campy with Banderas as an action hero with a machine gun dressed as a guitar. The tale was simple and the movie was supposed to be for the action. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Time--perhaps trying to outdo its predecessor--was way too campy. Lots of blood, a few more gadgets, and a plot that was too vague for me. And what a waste of Depp. He plays a ruthless CIA agent who kills the chef that makes each excellent roast pork he eats in his attempt to maintain some sort of balance in Mexico--suggesting, I think, that Mexico is not supposed to have good cooks, a very condescending joke. It's so ridiculous. Depp walks around in a CIA t-shirt, and in the end has his eyes bored out, literally. The only thing good about the movie was Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong and more recently of Nash Bridges). His sarcasm is always great and he doesn't disappoint here. Sadly, he only has two scenes and dies early. I think he knew something that even the great Johnny Depp did not recognize. ** stars (look at left column for rating standards)

On the other hand, Open Range was actually quite good. It is an old time western when men adhered to values such as honesty and justice. Critics have called it the best western since Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, and this is true. Indeed, with its revisionist approach to the Old West--men regret and feel guilt for their killing ways and seek some form of redemption--it is perhaps a more "human" representation of people of the time. While Open Range is a throwback to the old western, it is not the same. There are no strong and silent types in this film. Charley (Kevin Costner) and Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) have their own speeches about what men are, how they feel and how they should approach life. As in Last Samurai, the fight scenes are riveting. As I think about it, a lot of this can probably be traced back to Saving Private Ryan where the fight scenes were grainy and loud and ugly... and ultimately realistic. When Charley strides up to the hired gunman Butler, asks "You the one who shot my friend?" then puts a bullet in his head, I knew this was going to be a classic gun fight. And I was not disappointed. Duvall is a great actor and I always enjoy his work. Costner is actually a piece of plywood with two arms and two legs. His acting is always stiff like a board, but when he plays roles such as this--a man awkward with and unsure of himself, as in Field of Creams and Dances with Wolves--he excels, I guess cuz he's just playing himself. A mild surprise was Annette Bening. I thought she was kinda cute in The American President (with Michael Douglas), but she is much more attractive with longer locks... Well Boss, I reckon I'm just a might partial to purdy long hair. Yup. *** ス stars

Or maybe the hair has to be longer than mine! Hahahahahahahah!

So did anyone else see a good movie this weekend? Or a good TV show?

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Weekend fluff and other stuff

Except for yesterday, the past few entries have been on the serious side. But in all things, there must be balance. The mother of an ex once told me: "Work hard, study hard, play hard. And you'll never regret what you do in life." For some reason, her words rang true in these then 21-year-old ears. I'm sure many of you have had a hard week so have a hard weekend as well.
Xanga 101, Section 004: What the...?!?
I mentioned that I have lost comments I had written on other sites, and received a few reponses from others who have experienced similar problems. (I have also lost my own entries in the Main Entry edit box...) While I'm sure most of you already know this, here are a few things to keep in mind

  • Copy your text before clicking submit. Someone--I can't remember who--said he composed on a text editor first and then copied and pasted. I don't do this when I comment on other sites, but I do it with my own entries.
  • To copy text, press ctrl+a to select the entire text and ctrl+c to copy it. If you have an old computer like me with little ram memory, sometimes it won't copy correctly so it might do you well to see if you can paste it, as well...
  • Check to see if your comment posted; if it didn't, try clicking the "Comment box not working? Click here." button below the comment edit box. Then paste the text you copied ctrl+v, and resubmit. You can also try clicking the "Edit HTML" box after you paste your comment. I sometimes wonder if plain (HTML) text goes through easier than "rich text".
  • We all have different tolerance levels, but for me, if I can't post something in 3 tries, I give up and go elsewhere. I figure the Xanga gods don't want me to post what I wrote...

Do you have another blog site?
It occurred to me that the last time Xanga was having serious issues with losing posts, it soon had a temporary breakdown. I don't know if the two are related, but my memory prompts me to remember it that way. Be that as it may, as a certified Xanga/bloggin addict, I posted on my other site--the JA Journal--when Xanga was down last year. If Xanga ever experiences problems in the future, I will be over there still posting. But I hate to post alone. If you have an alternate site, let me know your url. I will add your site to my list of non-Xanga sites I read. You can either post it on the comment site or send it to me by email.

Friday, January 23, 2004

My Lightening Rod

A number of people commented on my entries of the past two days, and more than a few saddened me, such as Kenshiro's Comment of the day. While I lived during a time of civil strife, today's world is supposed to be more enlightened. And, indeed most people I know reflect a greater understanding of our contemporary world, but there remain a significant few who still live in the dark ages and continue to spew their hatred to the detriment of not only minorities but all members of our society...

The topic I have raised is a sensitive one for many minorities, and given the number and length of the comments I have received, it has become a lightening rod of sorts for the thoughts and opinions of my visitors. But today, in an attempt to write something lighter, I want to talk about another lightening rod...

Back in October, I related my burning adventure with jalapeno peppers. As you recall, I had to use the restroom after handling some chilis and as a result, a very sensitive part of my body learned to shout: "Ai! Mui caliente". (To read the entire entry, click here--go ahead, I dare ya'.) Well, I had another stupid experience recently. As the the temperature has dropped, so has the humidity, leaving the air as dry as a bone. As a result, static electricity has seems to jump out from everywhere. I think static electricity is a product of electrons--those things that circle the nucleus of an atom--that can transfer from one object to another when they rub against each other. Now, I'm no scientist, but as I understand it, this transfer of electrons is easier in a dry environment and when one object gets an overload of electrons, a negative charge, it will jump at protons, a positive charge, the first chance it gets. This sudden jump is what causes the electric shock we feel... or something like that. Can someone clarify or verify? I have to have at least one visitor who remembers high school science.

In any event, the other day I came home from shopping and began to change into my homewear. As is my custom, I like to take my socks and pants off first and then my sweater--48% cotton, 27% linen, 25% acrylic--and as is often the case with clothing that contains degrees of synthetic fabrics, it cackled with electricity. Well, this piece of clothing was obviously looking for a postive charge somewhere... anywhere. I began to fold my sweater when it brushed that same sensitive part of my body...

CRACK! An electric jolt hit me where it counts, right at the tip. Man, did it hurt. You guys know how sensitive that part is. Imagine pricking it (no pun intended) with a needle. Now multiply that 3 to 10 times (depending on how sensitive you are). Musubi-chan, who was facing away and also changing her clothes, spun around surprised.

"Woah, that must have hurt, Where did it..." She stopped in mid-sentence and stared at me, as I was doubled over grabbing [insert today's title above] in an awkward attempt to chase the pain away (Itai, itai, tonde-ike!).

"Gyahahahahahaha! Are you okay? Hahahaha, I mean, kekekekeke, really, are you okay? Przupzufufu," asked Musubi-chan, in as sympathetic a face as she could muster.

"I don't think I'll need surgery, if that's what you mean," was all I could mutter. Y'know, for me to refrain from any sort of sarcasm, I think I would have to be dead...

So what was the worst static shock you ever received? (C'mon, let's share!)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Bad Xanga! Bad, Bad Xanga!

Is it just me, or is Xanga having a tantrum with you as well. On more than just a few occasions, I have written comments on other sites and clicked the submit button only to see my comment evaporate into virtual space. What the freakin-A is going on here? I've been anally copying the comments and then submitting just in case it disappears again. Although I have observed that if I click the "If comment box is not working, click here" button, I have yet to lose anything...

All Japanese School

Yesterday, I mentioned I went to an all Japanese school. ddsb2000 commented: "I didn't know they had all japanese schools in america." Well, they don't anymore, but they used to. I went to an elementary school called Maryknoll in Los Angeles. They stipulated--if I remember correctly--that a child had to be at least one-quarter Japanese to be eligible for admission. I don't remember if there was any specific law passed, but sometime in the 80s it became clear that the school could no longer discriminate based on race and they began accepting all races. As a Catholic Mission, Maryknoll attracted hispanics from nearby areas, but as the enrollment of non-Japanese went up, the number of Japanese American families went down. In the end, it closed its doors as an elementary school in the late mid 90s due to lack of enrollment. It continues today as a community center, the Maryknoll Japanese Catholic Center.

From what I can tell, the general consensus could be summarized as: "If our kids are going to a mixed school, they may as well go to public school; it's closer and free." It sound like a rational, economically sound arguement, but I have heard the whispers of some who did not like the idea that Maryknoll was desegragating. Some JAs took the pride thing too far, or they adopted some of the uglier aspects of Japanese culture.

Not that Japanese culture is all bad... But there is a distinct attitude of Japanese uniqueness that reverberates in Japan even now.

In any event, Maryknoll was a segregated school. It sounds awful now, but before you place judgement, let me tell you that it was also a blessing of sorts for Japanese in the beginning. It was established in the early 20th century when racism and the "yellow peril" mentality was still a part of mainstream society. It provided a place where Japanese nationals in America could worship in peace in a language they understood and study without fear of prejudice. The Catholic mission is located about three blocks from LA's J-Town, and unlike the current Lil' Tokyo, J-Town back then was a place where many of the Japanese community lived. There were a few houses, but most rented long-term hotel rooms--many are still there above the stores and restaurants on the north side of 1st Street across from JVP and Koyasan Temple. (My dad used to live there as well.) The kids could then walk to Maryknoll for their education. During my time, the school was still a source of community. I was born ten years after WWII, a couple of years after the Korean War and was a student there for nine years (kindergarten to 8th grade) during the Vietnam War. On the street, away from Maryknoll/J-Town, I was called a Jap, a Chink, and a Gook. Maryknoll provided me with a place I could study and play without fear of random and malicious harrassment, and sometimes violence--I have been beaten up for being "Japanese". While I wouldn't go so far as to claim that Maryknoll empowered me, it did allow me to grow without restraint and, in a way, innocently. Unfortunately, it also cultivated that attitude of being special to the detriment of others; by segregating others, we ultimately segregated ourselves.

When you were growing up, did you have the opportunity to congregate with those that share your heritage?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Comments galore

For the past few days, I've written about posting blogs and comments, and received more comments than I am truly worthy of. Thanks to all of you. As a way of showing my appreciation, I've started--as you may have already noticed--a Comment of the day box to the right, where I highlite the comment that caught my fancy. But yesterday, there were so many interesting comments: zettonv's "i bit my tongue and it hurts", bane_vixen's "women comment on my page faithfully. the men are fickle"; crotchety_old_man "i guess im just a man of few words..."; iiSoNySoUnDii's "I'm a regular. (^_^)"; Piratechan's "I leave comments when my brain can think of one, but sadly my brain has been MIA on me lately. It's the cliched 'it's not you, it's me' excuse." But SammyStorm's giri-commento really caught my attention. For those of you who don't know, giri-choco is, in Japan, the Valentine's Day chocolate that female employees give to their superiors at work out of obligation, and to a certain extent, the chocolate that men give to these women in return on White Day. (What's White Day? Ha! That's another entry). So with giri-commento, Sammy effectively merged Jap culture and the thoughts many of us have as we savor, indulge--some would say wallow--in our Xanga addiction. And he did it all in one short phrase! Speaking of which...

What's in your Culture?
Culture through Film class started last week as I wrote, uh... last week. And I introduced the course content and screened the first half of Seven Samurai.On Tuesday night, I started lecturing, but before going into my spiel of what Japanese culture is, I asked the class what they thought culture was. Very few hands went up... So instead, I asked: "If someone came up to you and asked you what was American culture, how would you respond? Keep your answer short." Still no hands. One student said that it isn't possible to give a short answer on what American culture is. Why? Too diverse. So I fine tuned it even more. "What might be a characteristic that most Americans seem to manifest?" The responses were somewhat predictable: The American Dream. Individualism.

So how do these characteristics affect a culture? Well, in a number of ways, I think The idea that we act as individuals, that we are responsible as individuals evokes a sense of empowerment in each of us, doesn't it? We sense that we can accomplish things, not because we everyone does it, or because we do it as a group. Instead, we accomplish things--or Dream we can accomplish them--because of this sense of individuality, that it is up to one's own self to get things done. None of this waiting for someone to do it for us.

And to a greater or lesser extent, this idea of individualism allows us to forge a cultural identity, and this is especially crucial for many of us Asian Americans, or at least for me as a Japanese American. Growing up as a JA, I had learned the concept of group consiousness from an early age at school--I went to an all JA elementary school in LA. But I always tried to wade into main stream society, to be a part of what I always saw on TV or in movies. While I couldn't identify physically with the Americans I saw--remember I look like Jackie Chan not John Wayne--but I was always drawn to the concepts conveyed in the media. Individual strength, individual accomplishment, individual responsibility. And so I am a hybrid of sorts, combining what I believe to be the better parts of both my identities: the idea that the group is an important aspect of society, that I should strive to support and complement the group; but I should also not rely totally on the group, that as an individual I had my own responsibilities and goals.

I consider this unique and special. I have been given a gift. In this society that celebrates diversity--at least ideally (sorry, had to throw that in)--I have a life that can channel two different cultures, providing me the opportunity to cull the best from both worlds and forging an identity that is distinctly my own. And ultimately, this is my definition of American culture: one that celebrates--indeed encourages--the freedom of distinct individuals to contribute to the larger culture. This is, of course, the ideal and we often find ourselves in situations that are far from it. But by the same token I have found myself contributing, and that, to me, is something that I relish. Indeed, that is why I teach: To reach out and touch as many people as I can. (Crap, I didn't mean to sound like an old AT&T commercial.) Sometimes I feel very fortunate...

Do you feel fortunate?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Xanga 101, section 003: Stealthy visitors...

japblkgrl--yeah the coy one with only half her face showing--commented yesterday: i get repeat visitors who never comment(u guys creep me out!...j/k). And this is something that has been on my mind lately, as well. Now, I use the word stealth as opposed to stalk because there is a difference: I think "stealth" is perhaps a bit more passive, whereas "stalk" can be more aggressive and a bit scarier--as a fellow Xangan has learned...

Anyway, I have noticed there are a few who come by often but never leave comments. Some leave comments faithfully, some used to but petered away. I presume they have better places to leave comments. (ToT) Oh well, that's okay. At least I know who you are. But there are those who I have no idea... If you have a site counter, you can probably look at the referrals link and see where people are coming from. There are some unknowns. I guess their servers prevent Site Counter from displaying the name of the site. Drat. But most Xangans are visable, certainly the people who usually come to visit, as well as other who go through their sites. But there are a couple of people who come from Flyingchair, the site where they had the "Asian Blog Awards." I know its the same person because the IP address is the same all the time. One person in particular who lives on the west coast comes virtually everyday. There's someone else who consistently Googles me, too. If you're gonna come by so often, just bookmark me or something. Who could you guys (or gals *fingers crossed*) be? How about an e-mail? Hehehehe. Just kidding. Really. We know what happened to one person... Anyway, its nice to know that some of you take the time to leave comments... cuz I usually do, don't I? There are those, of course, who will write a response to a comment I've written on their site, but they don't write anything that responds to my own entry. Boo hoo... Maybe my entries are too long...

So what motivates you to leave a comment? An interesting entry? The hope of getting a comment in return? Just responding to a previous comment?

Monday, January 19, 2004

Xanga 101, Sec. 002: How to build traffic...

Many of the comments I received from readers on Saturday's post--I love each and everyone of you, by the way--indicated that they enjoy getting comments, even from new people. And, getting comments, I thought, was contingent on writing something that people find comment-worthy, but Mr_Mephisto wrote: "If you put up pics, the comments multiply. *nudge nudge*."

Oooooooooh, is THAT right?

Doh!! If you look like she does with those huge bambi eyes--Sensei, there are soooo many kanji this week...--posting pics will obviously elicit comments! Unfortunately for me--as killawhale indelicately reminded me in yesterday's Comment of the day--I'm about everybody's father's age... Well, almost everybody--Paiky and Sammy are two regular visitors who I know are older than most of you. so I presume their fathers are older than me. Anyway, if I were to post pics of my chubby little self, I'd not only get fewer comments, I'd probably lose readership. So what works for Mr_Mephisto will probablly not work for me... Bleh!

However, I recently came across a strategy used by Sleepingcutie.

    It's so hard to make same sex friends on Xanga as well as elsewhere on the internet.

    That's why I value my female subscribers more than my male ones. Sorry, guys... but one female subscriber = 5 male subscribers to me, just because it's that much harder to get them! =)

    Thus... my goal this month is to increase the number of female subscribers! Yes, my tactic is to comment on the females that comment on my male subscriber's xangas! [Ms. C is invading your Xanga harems... muahahaha. Male Xangans, I hope you don't mind sharing your females with me! hehehehe.]

    If you're a female Xangan who has come to my page just because I've already used above mentioned strategy on ya, please leave me a message! I'm a normal heterosexual girl [with the occasional somewhat-lesbian encounter, but that's a story for another day]. don't worry... I'm not trying to hit on you. I think.

Hmm, I was thinking of subscribing, but if I'm only going to be worth one-fifth a subscriber, I'll save it for someone who'll appreciate me more. Hahaha. J/K But her tactic sounds Kennedy-esque. Apparently, she doesn't strive for the simple or the convenient; she is trying to increase a same-sex readership not because it's easy, but because IT'S HARDER! Go girl... Your approach is interesting, but I don't have to target any one group. My readership is 47% female 53% male. Not to sound homoerotic or anything, but I am pleased that I have as many male readers as female. It suggests that what I write appeals to everyone without regard to sex... I mean gender, of course.

Dahahaha! But I'm so full of it. Please ladies, subscribe! I'm easy. Really. I would NEVER consider any of you to be less than my same-gender readers.

So what do you prefer? Comments from the same gender (or orientation) or the opposite? Be honest now....

Note: Kennedy, in his speech at Rice University, stated that the U.S. will conitinue its exploration in space, not because it is easy, but because it is hard, that things that have value are always hard. It is THE speech that got the country eager to support the goal of going to the moon. Click here if you want to see Kennedy's speech. And click here to compare this to Dubya's speech on going to Mars. You decide which is more inspirational. If you watch Kennedy's speech, notice Vice-Presdent Johnson sitting behind Kennedy. The dude is not EVEN listening!

Sunday, January 18, 2004


Just got home. I went to the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center tonight to hear the J Street Jumpers perform. Click here to hear the performance, its already online. While the streaming video is kinda washed out, the music is passable. My friend, Adam, is the bass player, the guy behind the trumpet player in the video. You might hear me whoop in the background... But then again, maybe not...

Do you swing?

A Little Bruin Football...
After the concert, Musubi-chan and I went to Ballston to unwind further at Chevy's with some Dos X draft. There we watched the NFC Championship. After an atrocious season for my beloved UCLA Bruins, it was very nice to see the Carolina Bruins... er, I mean Panthers win. Former Bruins Deshaun Foster and Rickey Manning Jr. did a great job. Deshaun scored the second touchdown that sealed Philly's fate. It was an incredible play in which he broke at least 4 would-be Philly tacklers virtually by himself to get into the endzone. It was an awesome one yard run. My boy Rickey had three, count 'em THREE, inerceptions. I just love it to death. He'd been calling out the Eagle's receiver all week as not a problem for him, even ex-UCLA teammate Freddie Mitchell. For once this season, I felt truly proud to be a Bruin...

Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. I gotta say the Panthers. Who do you think wins? ** update: Vegas has the Patriots by 7**

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Xanga 101, sec. 001: Xanga and Me...

After being reminded that I've been a Xangan for over 200 days now, I've been thinking about getting Xanga Premium... again. The editing tools are beginning to sound attractive. I usually do my own HTML to create tables and position pix on this page. It's easy enough to do, but it take more time than perhaps I should be spending on Xanga. The x-Tools could cut down on my time... But that's the rub. If I get Premeum, I could do so many other things that I'm afraid I'd end up spending even MORE time on Xanga. This is truly turning into an addiction.

Like any addiction, there is a beginning. It started with Mr_Mephisto back in June 2003. She was going to Japan and told me to read her Xanga where she would keep everyone updated on her activities. I should have politely said, "That's nice," and ignored her, but noooooooooooooo. First, I can't ignore my students, and second, as the curious sort, I had to look and see what this blog thing was all about. I soon learned that I couldn't leave a comment unless I too became a Xangan, registered just to make comments. But this blog thing, hmmm... A place where you can write about anything you want in a sorta random way, a place where you can get comments/input from others... My interest piqued, I decided to try writing a log myself. At first, I thought that: "I would provide personal thoughts on my life and the world around me. I might even use it as a sounding board to talk about my research; y'know, a way to talk to myself, to see how my current thoughts look like in text form."

Well, the research part has kinda gotten lost somewhere, but I continue to write about my personal thoughts on things around me. But what got me hooked were the comments. As I mentioned a few days ago, e-props aren't that important, but I do place a load of stock in comments. It tells me--or anyone, I think--that people are interested in you or what you have to say enough to respond to you. That is, of course, narcissistic, but it is also true. Don't we all wanna be loved? After I posted my first entry, I was so excited to get a comment. When I clicked to read it said; "Congratulations on your first post! The Xanga Community welcomes you. Good luck and happy weblogging!" from TheXangaTeam... Hahahahahah! Oh well, no big deal. But from the next day I received a comment from students Mr_Mephisto and GDub1983 (who has since started a new blog). But what really grabbed me was the comment from Tiggerj. It was the first comment I received from someone I did not know. After joining the JapanII blogring, I received comments from Sleetse and Taku79 as well. I was hooked. I never knew how inspiring and moving it was to get comments from total strangers... So you guys--Mr_Mephisto, Gdub1983, tiggerj, sleetse, taku79--are the reason why I'm so stuck on Xanga. I don't know whether to kiss you or slug you!

So why did you become a Xangan?

Friday, January 16, 2004

Ichi the Killer...

On Wednesday, I saw Ichi the Killer by Miike Takashi, the trendy (in the US) director of ultra-violent blood-and-gore movies in Japan. Now, I am not a fan of slasher flicks. I saw the original Halloween and have since never seen any of its sequels. Nor have I ever seen any of the "films" like Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. I mean, I barely know who Chucky is (Tampa Bay coach?), and I still don't know what they did last summer. Don't get me wrong. I don't consider myself overly sqeamish, and I am certainly not a prude, but when it comes to violence, I want to have the movie place it in a greater social context. Violence for violence sake is, I think, unnecessary and those who relilsh in it are a minute and irresponsible segment of society. Unfortunately, they are also an influential segment as well, particularly on a young, impressionable, mostly male audience. While freedom of speech is an important concept within our society, with freedom comes responsibility and I often wonder if these directors hide behind the flag, behind this basic human right even as they cast a blind (read: ignorant) eye toward responsibility? Do they have any idea that maybe, just maybe, their films may be encouraging a generation of young people who are immune to violence only to crave even greater, more graphic violence?

Miike seems to have a response to this question by offering ultra-violence in this Ichi the Killer. This film focuses on the actions of two polar opposites: Ichi the ultra-sadist and Kakihara the closet ultra-masochist. Kakihara searches for the killer of his Kabukicho gang boss, Anjo, who also happens to be the one who--it's suggested--developed and fulfilled Kakihara's masochistic desires. He learns that the killer is a man named Ichi after torturing a rival gang leader. Ichi is a blubbering wimp, who is bullied by his manager at work--go ahead and die you idiot--but gets exxxcited when he sees someone sexually tortured and/or violated. And in the process of killing those who violate others, we learn he does this only so he can become the new violator. Ichi's violence is being manipulated with some kind of hypnotic technique by someone referred to as Jijii--although dealt with as a proper name in the subtitles and in various reviews, to me suggests his relationship to Ichi, his uncle. Now it is unclear whether Jijii took advantage of an inherent predeliction to sadism in Ichi or if he developed it, but it is clear that he is using it to direct Ichi toward killing all member of the Anjo gang, especially Kakihara.

The movie progresses from one violent scene to another as both Kakihara and Ichi work their way violently from victim to victim. The violence is way over the top. For example, the torture of Suzuki, the rival gang leader who gave up Ichi's name: this involved suspending him horizontally with multiple meat hooks, then pearcing his body with what looked like a crochet needle only shinier and sharper, and pouring hot oil over his entire body after cooking some shrimp tempura. Yes, this was a graphic scene, but by no means a spoiler. There are worse scenes, from extreme sexual violations to manga-like body dismemberment. You have to see it to "appreciate" it.

The two reach their confrontation at the climax, an inevitability in a Yin-Yang sort of way as they are perfect mirror opposites. Kakihara is in control, violent in public but masochistic in private; Ichi has no control of his fate, is passive in public but sadistic in private. Ichi, sometimes befuddled with his own violence, ultimately kills Kakihara, who for his part achieved a kind of ultimate maoschistic climax. The denouement--unlike the rest of the movie--was thought provoking: a scene with school children going through a park and Jijii shown hanging from a tree apparently having committed suicide. Walking behind the school children is Ichi. The effect is frightening in that it suggests that the manipulator, the one who had the violent intentions is dead, since he no longer had a reason to live as all the gang members had been elliminated. In contrast, the actual perpetrator of the violence lives on innocently like a child, not realizing his own actions, oblivious to any sense of responsibility, unaware to his nascent violent tendacies. Is this how Miike sees the future? Does he see the younger generation--out children--as Ichi? A pessimistic thought suggested by the same person who seems to be promoting it...

So do you watch slasher/violent films? Do you love the blood and gore or is it a complete turn off?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

A Narcissistic Moment: A Testimonial...

Kai read yesterday's entry and instead of leaving me a comment, she posted the following, which was kinda of nice. Makes me feel like its all been worthwhile.

    Onigiriman posted on his Xanga about trying to be a positive influence to his students and that we were probably rolling our eyes about him saying that.

    * He got me really wanting to (finally) get my (jiggly) butt to... Click here to continue on Kai

What Kind Of Asian Are You?
Triphopx sent me a link about Asian American stereotypes. It's provided by Nemesis, a company that promotes music by Asian American artists, such as Kristine Sa. The focus is on Asia and not on the individual heritage. For example, on, there is no indication of Kristine's heritage except for the fact that she is Asian. This is an interesting position to take, as some of you--and I--often make it a point to clearly identify our heritage, be it Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, etc... So instead of categorizing Asian Americans by heritage, Nemesis divides Young Asian Americans, using a criteria that may be familiar to many of you. They indicate that this categorzing is just for fun and not to be taken seriously, and so OF COURSE, I had to take it seriously... But after reading it, I must admit that I have kinda met members of each group, including me. Now, I am no longer a "young" Asian, but if I were to categorize myself when I was 20, it would have to be... Fobsta. Hahahahaha

So which one are you? The following is a list of the categories with just some of the defining characters (Except for Trendy Asian Bitch which had me nodding and cracking up at the same time). Click here for complete definitions.

- Besides your nationality, there is little to distinguish you from white people
- Your significant other is not Asian and never has been
- You have few Asian friends, if any

- You claim yourself as Asian, but real Asians think you're whitewashed and non-Asians see you as a foreigner. You fit in nowhere
- You are confused about your cultural identity and express this frustration through spoken word performances at your college
- You are only vaguely aware of the other Asians below

Yap (Young Asian Professional)
- You are in one of these professions: a) Medicine / Pharmaceutical, b) Engineering, c) Finance, d) Investment Banking, e) Accounting
- Most of your wardrobe was purchased at Banana Republic
- You did exactly what your parents wanted you to do and as a result, your life is hella boring

Fob (Fresh Off tha Boat)
- You were not born in America
- You do not have any non-Asian friends
- Your fashion sense comes from whatever country you're from and you incorporate nothing from American fashion into your wardrobe

- Your command of the English language is minimal and you don't care
- All the lights in your house are fluorescent
- You either smell like cigarettes or food

- You speak perfect English and you are fluent in your native language
- You have Asian friends as well as non-Asian friends
- You are equally aware of both popular American culture and Asian pop culture
- You are a good designer and have superior Html skills

- You are an Asian-American or Twinkie who has recently "awoken"
- You have a newly found fetish of Asian girls/boys
- You have taken the Asian Studies course at college

- When you talk, you sound like a cross between a Fob and an urban black kid
- You have a serious gambling problem
- You want to have a Tab girlfriend, but can only get Hoochie Tabs

Tab (Trendy Asian B*tch)
- You shop at A/X, Bebe and Club Monaco
- You only wear black and will occasionally wear white to "mix it up"
- You do not weigh more than 105 lbs
- You have never paid for dinner at a restaurant in your life
- You are a makeup expert, in fact, you appear completely flawless
- You do not smile in public
- You are the object of desire of all Asian men and you know it
- You smoke
- Your cell phone is completely customized
- On the inside flip of your cell phone is a sticker pic of you and your man
- Somewhere in your purse is a Sanrio item
- You only date Asian and will only date a boy with a nice car
- You are often seen with Rice-boys

Hoochie Tab
- Your boobs are not real
- Your boyfriend is a Gangsta Fob
- You cheat on your boyfriend
- Unlike most Asians, you do not do well in school

- You drive an Asian import. Usually a Honda or Acura
- Your souped up car (known as a Rice-ride or Rice-rocket) is unrecognizable from it's original stock form
- You are not afraid of dying in a crash, but you are afraid of speed bumps and parking lot on-ramps
- If you drive a Civic, your dream car is a Supra. If you drive a Supra, your dream car is a Skyline (which you can never have). Poor Rice-boy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Whew! And I thought I needed a rectal exam...

I'm glad I'm not being too anal. I was not the best student in the world, to be sure. I'd bet a bunch of old friends and former teachers would vouch for that. But, as I will eventually write about in the continuation of NLUTE, I met a human anatomy professor at a community college who was personable, concerned, encouraging and funny. The class--for those of you with wild imaginations--dealt with the entire body, but mostly internal structures such as muscles, organs, and nervous system. This professor has been my template, the one person I try to emulate. Damn, he changed my life! And it has been my goal to be a positive influence--in any measure--to my students... Of course, I can just imagine them rolling their eyes RIGHT NOW as they read this. You know who you are: Mr_Mephisto, korikai, CaptainGaijin, MarJa, jammkat, GOnews, hanazakari, Purin_kun, Shiroi_Norite, Grom, Christine0109, Windward_Skies, FanaticalSHORN, triphopx, ross229er, kizyr (hope I didn't miss anyone)... If you visit these guys--some don't post actively--leave them a comment.

Sex Education... from mmh
One day, a boy asked his dad: "Dad, why does making love feel so good?"
Dad said: "Its just like picking your nose. Of course it feels good."
Son asks: "Then why don't men feel as good as girls?"
Dad said: "Because when you pick your nose, its your nose that feel good, not your finger."
Son asks: "Then why do women feel bad when ... Click here to continue at mmh.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

First day of class...

Yeah, yeah, I know, I said school started on Monday, and it did, but MY classes started today... Readings in Classical, Readings in Modern J and J Cuture through Film. We did nothing in Classical; I just handed out the assignment for next class. In Modern, after a warm-up what did you do over vacation--in Japanese--we read a short piece by Murakami Ryu on how beer is great to drink after rigorous activitiy--wind-surfing, tennis, swimming--on the south sea island of Saipan.

In the Film class, I showed the first half on Seven Samurai tonight. And as I do every year, I got real anal before the movie. I make them sign a contract promising they understand all the requirements in class and that they will not cheat. Don't laugh. I inevitably get students rolling their eyes, but despite all this, every year there are at least three (3) students who cheat by plagerizing from the Interenet. We're talking about a 1-2 page paper. Why would you want to plagerize!!!!! Anyway, I do this to give them the opportunity to understand that I am dead serious. Some profs will not say anything and them when s/he catches someone--Boom--suspension. I think its nice of me to give them fair warning that I actually do check to see if anyone is cheating. And the main point is that I'm not trying to catch anyone who's cheating just to catch someone. I do it to be fair to the students who do honest work. Can you imagine if you did your own hard work and got a B+ and the person next to you got an A by cheating? Wouldn't you be pissed? I would, and I don't want any of my studnets pissed because of what I neglet to do...

So am I too anal?

And when is beer the most delicious for you. For me, its at the end of the semester after grading a stack of finals. That first gulp is mighty refreshing!

Monday, January 12, 2004

Response to yesterday's film list...

I didn't want to spend too much time on Xanga today--chool has started y'know--but I couldn't resist responding to some of them. Normally I will go to the individual sites with responses but since they are all movie related, I thought I'd share their thoughts and my responses with everyone.

Zettonv--what no movies that completely satisfied you? when i was part of a muay thai class we trained out in the woods and our instructor told us about the mothman, i got scared
No, there are rarely movies that totally satisfy me--photography (Mis en sen), story (plot), music, etc. But Last Samurai came pretty close--If they had two scenes that portrayed the typical samurai as a bureaucrat, it would have been pretty perfect. I think the last movie that truly satisfied me is Pulp Fiction. And yeah, the early scenes of the mothman were pretty eerie and scared me.

SammyStorm--Wow, you probably saw more movies than I did over break, and I saw a lot too! I think the person in the theater was trying to compare the trailer for the "Butterfly Effect," with Mothman Prophesies - but they are nothing alike.
Out of all the Blockbuster ones you listed, I think X-Men 2 was the best. Although Better Luck Tomorrow was also good for different reasons.
Yeah, I think it was the Butterfly Effect--don't get any perverted ideas, ladies... Anyway, likeyou said, the guy behind me didn't know what he was talking about. X-2 was pretty good, but A Clockwork Orange was the best, especially given the time in which it was made (1971). It was an anti-violence, anti-war, anti-govt. flick during the Vietnam War and just before Watergate, so it was pretty influential and eye-opening. And Better Luck Tomorrow, I think, strikes a chord in most of us Asian Americans who are often confronted with issues in our very Non-Asian society.

iisonysoundii--My favorite one up there is Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick's best film, in my opinion... Suicide Club was eerie...but I liked it. But have you seen Ichi The Killer? Now that's eerie.
I agree with you that A Clockwork Orange is ONE of Kubrick's best. Better than 2001: A Space Odyssey, certainly better than The Shining (that sucked) or Sparticus, but I have to rate Dr. Strangelove and Lolita right there next to it. Had Full Metal Jacket come out in the 70s it would have had a greater impact, I think... I was going to see Ichi the Killer, too but my wife hates gory flicks so I decided to see it later.

Sato--sorry to burst your bubble... but Wolverines power was not the adimantium skeleton, but his ability to heal at incredible rates... Anyways... I recommend a couple of Japanese movies... Audition, Suicide Circle, Yomigaeri, and Kuroi Tenshi. Really really good movies.. I don't know about Suicide Circle though... it was kinda creepy... and you have to really pay attention to the movie to understand the hidden message that they are showing... Suicide Circle is different from Suicide Club... that was a good movie also..
Okay, you Marvel expert... It's been a long time since I actually read the comics, and I was more an Averngers guy than an X-Men reader, so I won't argue with you. However, I am curious about the difference between Suicide Club and Suicide Circle. The English title in the US is Suicide Club--since they don't use the word Circle as they do in Japan. But on the DVD jacket and the intro screen to the movie, it says Suicide Circle in katakana, so I presumed it was the same movie. Is there anyone out there who can confirm any of this? Is Suicide Circle and Suicide Club the same movie or are there two different movies with virtually the same title? Any help would be appreciated.

Bane_Vixen--hmm, suicide club. is that the one where a bunch of japanese girls commit suicide by jumping in front of a speeding train (or was it truck)? interesting. my friend was telling me about it. i want to see that one.
Yeah, that's the one, but be sure to rent the correct one. See SATO's comment above.

Enigma81--You guys are wusses, we never have snow days here in Illinois. :P Also, I hated The Man in the Iron Mask almost as much as I hate The Count of Monte Cristo. They ruined the novels. And, A Clockwork Orange was okay, but once again, I prefer the novel, especially the English publication (21 chapters) as opposed to the first American publication (20 chapters). You get a better feel for the twisted language of the young thugs when you read it.
Okay, I admit it, I'm a wuss... I also agree that books are virtually always better than the movie, BUT to apply the same criteria on a movie as you would a book might be unfair, unless you want a long ass 5 hour movie to ensure the integrity of the book. That just isn't possible. I think the director has to somehow convey the book in an abbreviated form without compromizing its gist/thrust. Some are successful--The Exorcist, The Shawshank Redemption--others are total flops--The Shining. As for The Man in the Iron Mask and the Count of Monte Cristo, I was refering to the TV movies., and for TV movies they were enjoyable (for me) adaptations of the originals, but as you know--dear English major--nothing replaces the original. And when did you see them? They came out in the mid 1970s! Okay, fess up, how old are you REALLY? Hahahah J/K!

Consummate_Leah--Dude, please consider xangaing more and watching movies less.
Sorry, but I think I'm gonna hafta cut back on BOTH. I love watching movies, but I will be teaching a J-film class this semeser--as I do every spring--and I give out tons of work, which means tons of grading. (メ_・

Hamamoto--i'm curious to read your review on warm water under red bridge.
Yes, this was a weird one on the topic of a woman who blows water as a whale blows water (shio fuki), except she uses a different part of her anatomy. This is a legend in Japan, that there are women who actually accomplish this... And I actually knew one... If I had the guts that Paiky has, I'd talk about it here, but like Enigma said...

tanjf--yo dude, you sure got waaaay a lotta spare time in your hands. how long is your break? a year? haha!!! anyway, you better get ready to work man... too much holiday can cause your body to become rusty.
I'm already rusty.....

Barberic_bojo--wow, you watched alot of movies this break.. ive seen most of those.. wasnt a clockwork Orange wierd?>? man.. anyway.. ill have to check out some of the ones i didnt see.. Dragon Fly.. etc..
Yeah, A Clockwork Orange was weird, but still good. Don't go rushing ot Blockbuster to see Dragonfly. It was good, but not THAT good.

honey77--thats a weird sketch in your profile pic... wondering if they disfigured your face or not...
No, my face is already disfigured! Maybe I should relate my reasons for my handle, Onigiriman... You'll get to see HOW disfigured I am!

Ca1boy--Wow, I think you watched more movies over the break than I've watched this whole past year... :P As for X-Men series, don't expect it to be too true to the comic. As with the cartoon series, I expect the movie series to place its own spin on things. I just don't see how long they can maintain the same cast.
Like I said to SATO and Enigma above, I'm more af an Avengers guy--I should add that this was like 30 years ago when I read the comics religiously--the original, be it book or comic, is always the best. But screen adaptations can be enjoyable, as well.

PaikyPoo--ok, your movie criteria is whack... *1/2 for man in the iron mask? come one now!
Just for the record, I admit that I'm whacked, but I don't whack... at least not at this age; too few to spare, if y'know what I mean... And as I said, the ensemble was horrible! DiCaprio, Depardieu, Irons, Malkovich! I like these actors individually, even DiCaprio, but man! This group is way to diverse to convey even a hint that they are from the same society or culture or country!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

This is probably the last of my long ass entries...

Some of you have commented on how long my entries are. There are a lot of reasons for them: I have a lot to say; maybe I have too much time on my hands; Maybe I'm addicted to Xanga. Who know? Still, some of you actually read the whole thing, and I truly appreciate the comments you leave. But this is likely the last one for awhile because school is starting tomorrow. I can't believe break is over. It only seemed like yesterday when I was finally handing in final grades for last semester... Dear God, let it snow like 24-36 inches on Monday so we can have an extra week of vacation. Fro those of you who don't know, DC is not really a snow town, so if enough snow falls, the city closes, and along with it, the education system. And while the administration urges faculty to offer make up classes, I rarely go against the dictates of God. If He says snow--and as an all knowing Being, He has to know that school will be cancelled--then I will not hold make-up classes. The heck if I want to go against Him and risk His wrath. Hahaha!

I know what I did over break, Watch Flicks...
Anyway, I didn't too much this break: Except for my trip to NYC, I spent most of my time playing on my computer and on Xanga, and watching movies. So here's a list of the movies I saw at the threaters and DVDs I rented.

    At the Theaters
  1. The Last Samurai ****ス--Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe. I've already written plenty on this. If you haven't read them, go to Jan. 4-6. It took three days to write about it!
  2. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ****--This was pretty exciting and enjoyable, but I had to make sure I reviewed the previous two stories before I went, otherwise it would have been far to confusing. I was sad to see Golom die. He was so precious... And I got the feeling that Jackson didn't want the movie to end. It seemed like that it wouldn't. First Aragon is crowned king and they provide a panoramic scene from above. Great shot to end the movie... then they cut to the Shire... Okay, I guess it was about the Hobbits so they had to go. Nice ending... But no, they have to make one more visit to the Elves, where not only Bilbo Baggins, but Frodo too is going to the sea with the elves. Sad but perhaps fitting ending... Fade out... Fade in, back to the Shire where Sam has kids, balh, blah, blah... I'm sitting there thinking, will you end it already?
    From Blockbusters
  3. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ***--Sean Connery. Critics panned it, but I enjoyed it. What do they know. See Jan.6 entry...
  4. The Mothman Prophesies ***--Richard Gere. I rented this movie cuz as I was watching a trailer before LOTR, a guy sitting behind me says the trailer reminded him of the Mothman Prophesies... Well, it turned out the guy didn't know what the $hit he was talking about. A moth-like creature appearing in different manifestations--light, shadow, sound--appears to people when disaster is about to strike, and it appears to Gere in a town in West VA called Pleasant Point. Perhaps because I had low expectations, I enjoyed it. And I like Laura Linney, in a platonic kind of way.
  5. Dragonfly ***--Kevin Costner. Another flick panned by the experts, and perhaps with good reason, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Costner loses his wife, but she tries to communicate a message to him through people who are on the threshold of death. The ending caught me off guard, which is a good thing to be sure.
  6. A Clockwork Orange (1971) ****--Malcolm McDowell. A classic movie I had never seen. It's about a violent, arrogant young man, Alex, in London who is caught and sent to prison for 14 years for murder--I guess a person's life isn't worth much in England. He is released early if he willingly submits to a new treatment that will condition him to abhor violence and sex. The general message is one of anti-violence, but there is also a strong undertone of distrust in the government: Immoral treatments, police brutality, and the final scene of Alex with the Minister of the Interior cozing up to him in Alex's hospital bed for publicity photos reminded me of the phrase "politics make for strange bedfellows."
  7. Better Luck Tomorrow ***ス--A movie about young Asian Americans. It sorta reminded me of my early NLUTE days, except we weren't as violent... although I knew many who were: Drugs, parties, figuring out how to deal with being Asian in a white world, studying hard to get into college... Except I was more like Han, an in-school drop-out... These young Asians had many problems all the while trying to meet the expectations placed on them by parents, Asian culture and the scoiety at large (model minority began as a white concept). It was kinda scary to think that some things haven't changed.
  8. Terminator 3 **ス--Ahnole Schwartzeneggar. I saw it because I thought I was obliged to. Actually, it was more involved than T-2.
  9. Freaky Friday ***--Jamie Lee Curtis. Another movie I liked. Although it was corney, as these kinds of movies are, Jamie Lee acting like a punk 17 year-old was funny to watch.
  10. X-Men 2 ***--Patrick Stewart, Halle Barry. I'm a Marvel guy. Anything they put out--Spiderman, Daredevil, Hulk--I will watch. Of course, I am looking less at the movie than I am comparing it to the comic book: Is this a "true" representation of the comic? Anyway, it was better than the X-1, but that's probalby because, X-1 was mostly trying to set up the characters for everyone--see my powers, I can shoot rays from my eye, and control the weather, and unsheath titanium claws from my knuckles... Can't wait for The Punisher.
  11. Italian Job **ス--Mark Wahlberg. Ok flick, but predictable, something I hate. The chase seen through LA gives it the star.
  12. Hollywood Homocide **--Harrison Ford. All too predictable. Ford playing a homocide detective free lancing as a real estate agent provided a few chuckles and saved it from being terrible...
  13. S.W.A.T. ***--Sam Jackson, Collin Farrell. I went to Blockbuster when it first came out and it was not on the shelf so I got a rain check and saw it for free. I have to remember to go on the first weekend it comes out. Probably better than the original TV show, and Jackson will make any movie watchable.
  14. Bruce Almighty ***--Jim Carrey--I didn't see any on the shelf so I thought I could get another rain check but the store clerk "helpfully" went through the return bin and found me a copy... I'm not a Carrey fan but this was funny enough, especially the dog using the can. And like Jackson, Morgan Freeman will add class to any film he's in.
  15. Winged Migration **ス--Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, and a cast of thousands... It was sorta interesting but after the first 15 minutes, I was bored of watching birds fly north to breed then south in search of food. I like documentaries, and watch Discovery Channel frequently, but they tried to be too artsy fartsy. There were a couple of birds that piqued my interest--in strictly a zoological way--but the lack of narration or supplemental info left me wondering what I was watching. Actually the "Making of" segment was more interesting than the feature, as they showed th process of raising these birds and then transporting them to Vietnam or Africa to fly and film them "on location". In this sense, it was more of a movie than a documentary, since these man-raised birds were actually actors in a story of migration.
  16. Scary Movie * --Waylon Bros. Man this movie sucked major. It was crass and the jokes weren't even close to being funny. A parody? I think it was an "In Living Color" skit gone amuck, nothing more. What a waste of money.
  17. Man in the Iron Mask *ス --Leo Di Caprio. I mentioned earlier about the criticism that Tom Cruise was too modern for Last Samurai. Well this movie has it beat. You have King Louis XIV and the four Muskateers played by an extremely talented but culturally diverse cast. A modern American youth as Louis, Aremis by old-school upper-crust British actor Jeremy Irons, Athos played by the intense or intensely soft-spoken John Malkovich, Porthos by the gregarious French actor Gerard Depardieu, and the brooding Irishman Gabriel Byrne as D'Artagnan. This ensemble was laughable. But I give it star more than Scary Movie because the story is a good one. But it's hard to go wrong with a story by Alex Dumas: Three Muskateers, Count of Monte Cristo. For my money, the movies from the 70s with Richard Chamberlain--I think he was in 3M (1974), CMC (1975), and Man in the Iron Mask (1978)--were much better and far more enjoyable... for a TV movie...
    Japanese Flicks Later...
  18. Suicide Club
  19. Warm Water Under Red Bridge
  20. The Sea is Watching
  21. Millenium Actress
  22. Voice of a Distant Star
  23. Onmyoji

That's it for now.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Importing foreign words

Another stupid quiz ...

I got this from Bojo...

I did it in 18 seconds. (on my second try... hahaha)
I deserved an A-!!
Take the
How Dexterous Are You? Quiz!!

Importing foreign words...
Japanese just drives me crazy sometimes. I've gotten used to it, but I dont' think the Japanese really know how difficult they make their language. Of course, a lot of this is a reflection of their cultural personality, of course, which could be seen in both a negative and positive light. Let me look at the negative, cuz that's usually more fun... hehehehe.

It used to kill me when I would use the "wrong" pronunciation of an English word in Japanese: the original word is gum, so the Japanese word for chewing gum is gamu. Now rubber band is, in Japanese, "circular (wa) gum", but it's called wa-gomu. This is not a typo" one is pronounced gamu, the other is gomu. Or how about "glass"? A cold drink tumbler is called gurasu and a sheet of glass is called garasu. But allow me clarify this. The pronunciation of these words are based on when they were imported. Chewing gum is an American phenomenon and was imported as such, while the rubber in a rubber band was introduced by the Dutch way back when and they spell and pronounce it "gom" in Flemish. This practice is not only for western words. Depending on when a word was imported from China determines the pronunciation of a Kanji, Chinese character. The character for woman (Jp. onna) is pronounced nyou, as in nyoubou (wife), and jo in josei (female), because the word nyou finds its roots in Buddhism, a religion that was imported during the Six Dynasties China, presumably much earlier than the bulk of Chinese word importation.

BUT (and you knew there was a "but"), this doesn't explain why they say gomu-teepu for the plastic tape we use for shipping, or sungurasu for sunglasses...

I got on this subject cuz I was thinking about the distinction made with rice in Japan. When you eat Japanese food, it's called gohan. When you eat it with western food, such as curry, it's called raisu. Do you think its the distinction between long grain rice and short? Nooooooooo! you could be served exactly the same thing, taken from the same rice cooker, but it would be called differently based on how its served. I once was at a restaurant in Japan and asked for more rice.

"Could I have more gohan, please?"
"Do you mean raisu?" the waiter confirmed.
"Uh, yeah, gohan," I responded kinda confused
"Very good, I will bring raisu right away," he emphasized for me...

Jerk. And in case you were wondering, curry was imported to Japan by way of England--which was teh former "protectorate" of India. and soyou will find what many of us consider to be typical Japanese curry usually in western-styled restaurants in Japan, if not specialized curry places.

Thursday, January 08, 2004


I visited the site of some guy who recently wrote a comment. He wrote about anonymity on Xanga and it got me thinking...

Someone by the name of SAITO Ayaka once wrote an article/essay in the Asahi Newspaper about living alone in Tokyo. My students know this cuz I make them read it for my advanced J-class. It was, at the time, a controversial piece because she exposed the thoughts and acts of young single women in Tokyo: They live in cheap apartments, they have guys supplement their lifestyle in exchange for "favors", and if money really became an issue there was always the "water trade", i.e. clubs, cabarets and other seedy joints to work at as a hostess. Ultimately, she concludes that men and women use each other for sex, and this is a kind of self-love: the partner is just another face in the city, and you are masterbating using the other person as your tool (for her, I guess that wold be a dildo...)

Anyway, I mention this because she states that this is possible because she is able to stay relatively anonymous in Tokyo, a great big place populated by millions of people, who know and yet don't know the person they see everyday because they blur and meld into the sea of other people... kinda like Xanga...

Now, as narcissistic as Xanga can be, I'm not saying that I'm masterbating here, using your sites, your comments, your e-props as my dildo... uh, wait, bad example, but you know what I mean... But I think, Xanga is a place where people can pleasure themselves by freely expressing their thoughts and feelings with ease. Why? Cuz they can maintain a modicum of anonymity. Have you noticed or read the many sex related sites? There are a lot of people that talk about their sex lives, adventures, fantasies, histories; and virtually all of them are anonymous: no name, no photo, no location, no date of birth, no nothing. I used to read some of these and found some interesting, but ultimately they became boring. They were either rants or mere fantasies. Which is fine, but rants or fantasies are interesting only in context, the context provided by--at least in some measure--the identity of the writer. I mean, I don't need to look at you driver's license, but some background--occupation, approximate age, activities (besides sex)--allows the reader to make an investment in the "character". Without that, the stories become meaningless. Take Paiky for example. His stories are funny because I have come to know him, or rather his persona. I know where he's from (TX), how tall he is (over 6'), he tends bar (Orange), he's looking for a full-time job, his cousin (Ken), his siblings (he isn't on speaking terms with his younger sis). This is stuff he shared on his site. And while this information alone doesn't blatantly identify him, people who do know him would recognize him--his photo doesn't hurt either... Anyway, pure anonymity is fine for those who really need to get something off their chest, but personally I think it takes away from making the site interesting.

Practicing what I preach: I usually talk about myself and many can figure out my persona, but if you need more, go to the JAJournal to get a better bead on who I am...