Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I'm a Soul Man 2...


ane the Vixen is grabbin... uh... I mean, bustin' my butt again. I suppose the cont'd tomorrow is amateurish but I did it for a reason. M came home yesterday from Japan but she got stuck at the airport. Border patrol/immigration wouldn't let her into the country because... her green card expired! Crap! What a headache... So, I got back late and had to run to school. To me, that's a legit excuse, so you wanna cut me some slack, girl? Or are you jealous I don't give you the same attention? Hehehehehhe...

Anway, back to the issue at hand...

My first wife seemed perfect to me in that she fit those qualities that I thought would complement me. How stupid of me. There were two things that bothered me, and it progressively worsened as our marriage went along. One: she had little love for my mother. I don't want to go into too much detail, but just let me say that since she was old school, she expected my mother to come to help her out when our daughter was born. It is traditional in Japan--and many other customs--for a mother to help out a daughter or daughter-in-law in such a manner. But my mother, for reasons of work and health (she had a bad heart at the time), could not come and my ex held it against her until my mother died couple years ago. She did not treat my mother well when they were together, and it coming to a head.

The other thing is just as important. While she fulfilled my "objective", albeit silly, criteria, she--or perhaps I should say we--lacked one ingredient so crucial in any marriage: Passion. Our marriage was pretty cut and dry and I thought that we fulfilled each other's needs and I hoped the passion would develop over time--as many expect in similar marriages, especially arranged marriages. But I was wrong. We had a healthy respect for each other, but the passion never developed. When I decided to come back to the States to teach and she wanted to remain in Japan, she insisted that this was normal, that many Japanese couples live apart--in Japanese, its called tanshin funin--and she fully expected us to remain married. Well, for me, that was the straw that broke the camels back. I could not live with that attitude toward our marriage. If either of us felt passion for the other, one of us probalby would have relented, but we didn't. We didn't have the "need" to stay together. Economically, intellectually, adademically, being apart is fine. But two people who feel passion for each other could never live in separte countries, don't you think? Indeed, our individual decisions suggested that we had no intention or desire to encourage our relationship to "develop". If you were to talk to her, I'm sure she would have her story to tell, as well--and hse has according to people I have talked to in Japan--but this is my Xanga, and this is my side of the story...

But with M, things were different. As I mentioned before, I held her hand and I knew instantly that we were meant for each other. I knew right away that passion for each other was seething within us, ready to explode--um, you can stop me at any time, y'know... So with regard to Simply_Marie's initial query about "soulmates" developing, I would have to say that it didn't happen for me. I think it's easier to work through the tangible, objective differences rather than the intangible, subjective ones. I found my soulmate by accident... at 40. She "hatched", to use your terminology. She didn't "grow" from a mate into a soulmate. She existed previously, and I found her. She just was. To rephrase your quote:

Soulmates are hatched... They don't grow. You make the connection, build the relationship, but you've always known, 'This is my soul mate'

Ok, ok, stop gaggin! Take those fingers out of your mouths now...

Oh, don't get me wrong. Our relationship is not without those bumps in the road. We have our issues and arguments. Certainly, if I held M to my previous standards, she would fail miserably. Not even close. But it doesn't matter to me anymore. I will do anything to ensure that we stay together. Man, do I love this woman...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I'm a Soul Man 1...


kay, I know that there are a LOT of people who have been a Xangan longer than me. But after a year and well over 300 posts, I kinda feel like a veteran. But I still have a lot to learn, I'm sure, and so I will continue to seek the advice of many of you out there. どうぞよろしく...

I have been so busy lately. I thought summer had come. Geez, if this is what the rest of my summer is going to be like, come on Fall semester! I need a break! Anyway, I haven't been able to log onto Xanga as much as I'd like to, and I feel my posts have been unfulfilling in a way... Further, I have not commented on many of the sites I subscribe to because of this lack of time. What I have been able to do, however, is comment on the sites of those who comment on mine. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is busy, so if someone generously offers the time to make a comment on my site, I will always try to return the favor. Of late, that's all the time I've had for...

In response to a recent post, simply_marie asked if I thought of the following statement was true.

Soulmates aren't hatched... They grow. You make a connection, build a relationship, and then you realize, 'This is my soul mate'

Well, Simply, to give you the answer I give to virtually every question: That depends. Hehehehe... No, really. We're all different and we all approach things differently. I'm not trying to give you a bunch of BS, but this is so true of virtually every aspect of our lives. Reality, as we know it, is based solely on how we interpret things we see and hear and feel, and the interpretation is always influenced by our point a view, a view that is an amalgamation of our own individual experiences. As such, my views, as stated here as Onigiriman, are hued by my personal experiences. So let me tell you mine.

I have had my share of girlfriends. Not a lot, but enough to be able to come to somekind of personal conclusion concerning the male-female relationship. All these previous girls were nice--an obvious statement, because I was initially attracted to them--and I began to pick and choose traits that I thought were appealing--or worse, appropriate--in the person that I thought would eventually become my wife. She had to be able to cook, sew, know Japanese, understand Japanese culture, be good with kids, be understanding of my selfish tendancies--such as indulging in drinking and sports--accept that fact that I would be the male in the household, be intelligent with an advanced degree (MA/PhD) in the humanities (no MBAs or engineers, please), and have a good sense of humor. Oh yeah, if she was good looking, that would be a plus...

Ouch! Man, who threw the rock? And stop hissing! I'm not finished...

Anyway, I thought I found her: K's mother (my first wife). She could cook and sew. She was great with kids. She was born in Japan and so obviously knew Japanese and Japanese culture. She already had an MA in sociology from Meiji University and was working for a PhD in Anthropology at UCLA. She had a sense of humor, as well. The only possible flaw that she might have had was that she was older than me by 8 years. But her age perhaps allowed her to accept my selfish tendencies. She was old-school. I don't mean to suggest that she walked three feet behind me when we stepped out, but she was more accepting of the old ways. But she was also the product of contemporary and higher education in the US, so she made sure that there was some sort of balance in our household. Indeed, I learned many of the finer points of cooking from her, as well as cleaning and rearing children. So in case you think I was a chauvanistic pig, I wasn't... well not that much, anyway... To top it all off, she was a "half": Japanese and German. She was not unattractive. But even better, as a half, she had been subjected to discrimination while growing up in Japan, and so was sympathetic to my issues as a minority in the US. Sounds perfect, right?


Cont'd tomorrow...

Monday, June 28, 2004

Still Time Out...


'm still on a Time Out! Damn this house is a mess! Just to answer some of you: No, Fongster8, 27" is NOT a big TV. As I said, it is "larger" and I'm speaking in relative terms. My previous TV was 20" and I have had students comment on how small it is: a thoughtful comment after I'd just fed them... And I'm not surprised to hear that the average size in the UK is 32". That's probably true in the US as well. But, since that is the average, there are those who buy larger and those who buy smaller. I bought the smaller one because on a teacher's salary that's all I can afford.

Yes, bane_vixen, I can say "whipped" as in p-whipped. I'm sure many of you know what the "p" stands for. If you don't, then you're not old enough anyway...

Yes, SunJun, I have my fingers crossed. A messy house just may distract her long enough....

Yes, KENSHIR0, M does clean the house. And she is very good at it. You can eat off our kitchen floor, not that you'd want to of course... And before you women get any ideas, let me say that I would help to clean the house as well, and I have, but she usually tells me not to bother. I don't know if its because I do a lousy job or if she would rather have me work harder and earn more money...

Yes, enygma81, I am the typical guy who lets the house get messy and tries to clean it up before she comes home--emphasis on the word try. But the dishes are washed and the floors--all 3 floors--are vacuumed. I left the windows open all day to air out the house--yes, two guys can make a house stink pretty bad! The throw rugs were also hung to be aired yesterday. The laundry was done and folded at 3 AM last night. Oh yeah, and I bought a couple of speakers to give me a little surround sound... Do you think M will notice?

No, Purin_kun, it is not plasma but a regular TV. I didn't know that plasmas can go bad so quickly. Can anyone tell me the difference between plasma and LCD? Eventually, I will invest in a larger TV, but I need the info. Which is better, which will last longer, which is clearer, which will cause fewer prblems? Should I wait until the bugs have been worked out? Or are the bugs already worked out? Is there a newer generation comeing soon? Oooooh. So many questions!

Finally, I will post bane's comment to Saturday's post, because I don't think she will post it on her own site. I was going to write a similar comment today, but she beat me to it, and she is more eloquent than me anyway:

the ideas for a documentary film come from the directors'/producers'/creators' (what are those blokes called?) concern for a certain subject matter. For example, the film supersize me pertains to the health hazards of a fast-food nation/world. In order to portray his views, the maker of the film only conveyed the stuff he thought necessary to get his point across and probably taken things out of context. Yes, fast food is ultimately unhealthy if one eats it to the extent the person in the film did, but fast food chains is one of the reasons why America is somewhat flourishing and keeps a certain class of people employed (not to sound like a snob). So documentaries, in general, are subjective, since they are issues that are close to the maker's heart - in most cases, head - and have been manifested nationally, and even globally, on film. although, from the looks of it, Michael Moore's film seems more like a satire than a documentary

Anyway, gotta start dusting the house! Ugh. I have a new appreciation for those who clean house, like M. I'd better take her out to dinner...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Time Out...


irst it was a coffee break, now its a time out. Sheesh! Anyway, the coffee break was Friday, and I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11. Yesterday, I went out and bought a new TV. It's not so big as I can't afford a 42" plasma, but it's 27" and satisfies my desire to see college football on a "larger" screen. Can't wait! But today? Clean, clean, clean. M is coming back on Tuesday, and I gotta take care of business. First the TV, and today the house... or else! I can already hear her. Look at this sink! Look at the dining room table! Did you think we live in a self-cleaning house?

(yellow for chicken. hehehehe... why am I laughing?)

So, I'm on it today... See ya guys later.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11


am not a political animal. I do not spew my political views because I have none that perfectly reflects any one party. Socially, I might be viewed as a liberal. I am pro-choice because I believe every woman (or man, for that matter) has the right over their own body and their own destiny.

I believe in affirmative action, as well. While minorities should strive to achieve success on their own, we cannot ignore the overwhelming social consequences of a long history of discrimination. Secretary Colin Powell and Justice Clarence Thomas are shining examples of self-determination, but each minority--African American, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian--has a different background and therefore a different experience, one that is usually, to varying degrees, stained with bigotry and prejudice and discrimination. And these experiences do not always lead to success.

However, I consider myself right-leaning on other issues. I think that role of government--particularly the federal government--is to guide and support the people, not to dictate to them. As such, government should play a smaller role in our everyday lives. Indeed, local government is far more important than the central government because in a country as wide and as diverse as ours is, local officials have a better idea of the people's needs. I also believe in a strong military, as our country needs to protect itself from the outside as well as play a leading role in protecting the world for everyone's interest--not just US interests. But this is my opinion, and I think everyone is entitled to have their own, no?

Anyway, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I have my own set of values and refuse to follow the "party line" of any political party. I have, in my day, supported Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, and voted for candidates that I feel not only reflects my beliefs on various issues, but also represents me with dignity. Whether he is a governonr or a president, this man will represent me--us--to others. As a result, the most important thing I ask for in any public offical is intelligence, followed closely by conviction to his beliefs and the strength of independent will. As such, I did not support Jimmy Carter--his convictions seemed wishy-wahsy--remember his speesch on the crisis of confidence in the American people? (Damn, Jimmy, it was not your place to judge us!) I have never been a stong supporter of the Bush family, as well. Neither father nor son. When George H. W. Bush gave his speech on the 1000 points of light, he lost me. He seemed intelligent enough and far more effective declaring the evils of Reagan's "voodoo" economics during his first presidential campaign in 1980. But he had the bad fortune of becoming Reagan's vice-president and his successor, and he was obviously trying too hard to be the next "communicator". He did not have the strength to be independent, to be himself.

And then there is his son, the former alcoholic. Now, I'm glad he had the fortitude to overcome this disease and he has worked hard to make a name for himself: Governor of Texas, owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. But leader of our country? Puleeeeeeze... At every turn, he has failed to impress me. Interviews during his campaign showed he had little knowledge of foreign affairs--remember his inability to name the president of Taiwan? And in speech after speech, he has not looked very presidential to me, the only exception being his speech at the ruins of the WTC when he praised the efforts of the rescue workers with a bullhorn. Of course, I am inclined to think that anyone with a bullhorn in a position of leadership at the site of a disaster of this magnitude would have looked impressive. In fact, I'd bet George Steinbrenner would have looked just as impressive, if not more so. But in virtually every situation I have seen Dubya, he seems as stiff as a board, as though everything that is comes out of his mouth is not coming from his heart but from others. And the administration seem less like an administration, than a board of directors with Bush as the figurehead chairman, the man who is the face of those who really make policy: Cheney, Rumsfeldt, Rice, maybe Powell. Just listen to ANY of their interviews on Meet the Press or some other news program. I don't agree with a lot of their views or some of their activities prior to taking public office, but at the very least these guys have strong convictions and are more intelligent than Bush... by lightyears. Bush seems to have gotten the job because of his daddy's connections.

And now we have Fahrenheit 9/11, a documentary by Michael Moore that underscores all these impressions I hold. He has put forward all that seems wrong with Bush and then some. His connections got him elected--specifically Florida. Many of his decisions are made by those around him, particularly decisions that are in the personal interest rather than the public/national interest. And, of course, Bush's intelligence is questioned to the point of incredulity.

* SPOILER WARNING * skip the next paragraph if you don't want to read about one specific scene in this documentary...

On 9/11, Bush was sitting in on an elementary class in Florida for a photo opportunity. He apparently knew that one plane had crashed into the WTC but he continued with his phot opportunity. With this, Moore presents Bush as either callous or insensitive to or uninterested in an event that is obviously disastrous. If you could effect change, if you were expected to lead a group of people--say, like, the USA--who among you would not have cancelled the photo op and moved to do something, anything? Did his handlers tell him to go on anyway? Then, he is insensitive to the magnitude of the event or, if he does, he is not independent enough to make his own decision as president. Then, when he gets word that the second plane has hit, he continues to sit in his chair in class. His face suggests that he is concerned, that he realized that something terrible has happened. But it took seven minutes for him to move. Can you believe this? When two planes fly into the WTC, he had to mull over a decision to begin to take action. I think any of us would have decided in two seconds--if that long--that we had leave a class and do something--anything--to address this event. Of course, there is the possibility that he was being polite and waiting for a good time to interrupt. Shame on Moore for not considering this possibility. (Now, let us all roll our eyes collectively...)

* End of Spoiler *

There are a number of other scenes and at first I laughed and shook my head at the absurdity of it all, but as the documentary progressed, as it delineated the decision go to war against Iraq and interviewed those who have gone and those who have lost loved ones in Iraq, I lost my willingness to laugh. The film was becoming un-funny. And scary. As technique, Moore did a great job. I'd bet this is exactly the reaction he wanted.

As I mention in my film class on Japanese culture, I never show a documentary because the director always has an agenda and it is never fully objective. This film is no different. Michael Moore is totally subjective. And given his well-known political leanings, I have to take this film with a very large grain of salt, despite the fact that he focuses on many of the doubts I myself have harbored. But some of the information is incredible. Forget about his manipulation and presentations of facts, if only half the documents and/or connections he presented are true, there should be a grand jury investigation.

But I think there will be one eventually. Not because of Moore, but because of the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission made public last week. According to the report, there is no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam, and there is no indication of weapons of mass destruction. This would suggest that the Bush Administration has manipulated and presented the facts to the American people in a way that is far more harmful and, to many families, more devastating than any film Moore could have directed. No one will ever be put in harm's way by watching Fahrenheit 9/11.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Coffee Break


he past week has been the week from... well I don't want to say hell, because it hasn't been bad, but it has be exhausting. M had to go to Japan suddenly and unexpectedly due to a family issue, and she has been gone during what has turned out to be the busiest two-week period of the summer for me.

The day after she left, I gave that talk on contemporary Japan at that K-12 school in DC. The talk went fine, but I still had to "try" to prepare for it when I was running around trying to help M get things together for her sudden trip to Japan. I also had some extra work for our program: Language placement exams for freshman orientation last Sunday and yesterday. This entails grading, interviewing and reporting results of incoming freshmen who have had some Japanese training previously. Most are pretty ill-prepared--high school Japanese is not college-level Japanese, and my evaluations of their ability elicited more that a couple of frowns of dissatisfaction. (Sorry, dudes, it is what it is...) Also, these past two days--as I've mentioned earlier--I went to that workshop on incorporating culture into language teaching. It was fun and informative, but still required effort and time.

And so, I've been doing these extra things while teaching summer session Monday through Thursday nights, as well as talking care of and seeing to the needs of my stepson while his mother is a way. The workshop these past two days started at 9AM and my class ends at 8PM, so that was two 11-hour days back-to-back. (This should explain why I haven't been able to comment on your sites recently as I normally do. Do you guys forgive me?) To top it all off, last night I met with some students who I had promised to meet a few weeks ago--before I realized that M had to go to Japan--and went out for a beer or three. I didn't drink a whole lot, because I wanted to get home as early as possible, but I had a nice time. But because I was really tired, I think I may have been a bit punchy (punchier than usual?), and so if you guys are reading this, I apologize.

Anyway, that's it for today, just some uninteresting ranting with a dose of good-old self-pity. I just need a REAL coffee break. You know the kind: Big mug of coffee, curling up on a sofa and reading a book or magazine. I just need to chill today. No grading, no preparing, no cooking, no laundry, no students, no Xang... wait, well maybe a litle Xanga. Hehehehe... Some have written, "Well, if you don't have anything to post, don't write anything." You know who you are, because I certainly do--even though I may not have a *ahem* photographic memory. I will try to visit you guys sometime today, and I'll be back tomorrow with some more stupid insights from the O-man.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sample Evaluation


ow! Some of you guys are so anxious to whip out a poem! Be aware that, as in previous contests, I accept only one poem each from subscribers and I will judge your first one. If you submitted a revision... well, okay. But, this time only, hehehe... Anyway, most of you are fine, but some of you should read the entire post befor submitting. I won't mention names... In any event, I thought I'd break down a current submission to let you know how I approach these poems and how I would compose my own. The following poem is by imahima. She is an actual student of mine who is pretty cool, so I'm sure she won't mind me using her as an example. While her second poem is funny with no fatal technical flaws, I want to point out a few things to see what might be done to augment it. (I'm keeping her first poem for the contest.)

Wearing a tanktop
But the AC is blasting
Gives me hard nipples

by imahima

First impression: Funny. Technical foul: Grammar is awkward making the goro awkward. Comments: This is a funny poem that has a lot of potential. But what would I do if I were composing this one? First is to decide on the essence of the poem: An air conditioner provides cool air. But why would you need it? Because you're hot? Duh! Too obvious. We need to set up the poem by determining a cause for the heat, so a time or situation is appropriate: Summer, or excercise is fine. Next, how does the time or situation affect you and what is that relationship with the AC? These are the things you need to think about as you develop the poem.

So lets consider the diction that might be key: "Air conditioner" is 5 syllables and takes a lot of space. Imahima decided to choose a well-known acronym for it, AC, which uses only 2 syllables. This is fine because of the ubiquitousness of the abbreviation. The other key elements that Imahima wants to use are "hard nipples" and the element that makes them visible, "tanktop".

Wearing a tanktop
But the AC is blasting
Gives me hard nipples

First, the image is of a woman wearing a tanktop in front of an air conditioner and her nipples get hard. Woo hoo! Nasty... and funny. But we are, perhaps, missing a time or situation that sets up the image. So let's forget the poem and think prosaically about the situation. A young woman parks herself in front of an air conditioner trying to cool herself off after--why is she wearing a tanktop?--a brisk jog, at which point her nipples harden, an expression of youth and perhaps innocence.

Besides hard nipples and tanktop, words such as jogging/running, and sweating might give life to the poem.

After a hard run
a tanktop cools before the
AC--hard nipples

Okay, the image is better--the woman has returned from a run and she is in front of the AC--but the goro needs work. Can't split an article from its noun. You will notice that I personfied "tanktop" using it to represent the woman as well as what she is wearing. In the following rendition, I made the AC the subject, making it more "active"--the AC cools the woman. As a result, I no longer need the word "before" or "in front of" and can now insert another word. I chose "braless" to provide a more vivid image.

After a hard run
the AC cools a braless
tanktop--hard nipples

Okay, some of you might think I'm a pervert, but it is vivid, methinks, no? Not that this poem is perfect, but I hope it gives you an idea of how I will approach these poems.

Sooooooooo, if you want to revise your poem, I will let you this once. Hehehehehe. But remember, I will only judge one poem from each subscriber. If you're not yet a subscriber, its not too late. If you don't want to subscribe... oh well... Anyway, have a good week end all. Peace, the O-man.

My Japanese Culture


he first day of the workshop got me thinking about a lot of things. As I mentioned yesterday, I am not much into incorporating culture into my course except for that which is embedded in the language or in the text that we are reading. But the presenters of the workshop--one is a friend and colleague of mine (you reading, MG?)--put together a panel of five students: two from elementary school, one in high school and one undergraduate and one graduate. This was perhaps the most interesting part of the workshop in that it openned my eyes to what students thought.

I believe I have a pretty good rapport with my students and they can usually talk to me about a number of things. But perhaps one thing they may have reservations about is the content of my class. They may be satisfied, they may not. But there is--for better or for worse--a power relationship going on, and I am not ignorant of that fact. Neither do I take advantage of it. But I must recognize that it just may prevent my students from expressing their thoughts, and so it was good to hear the thoughts of these students with whom I have no relationship. Their answers were varied. One young one thought that language and culture should be take equal parts of the class. One student who admitted to studying approximately thirty minutes per in-class hour (one credit unit) stated that culture should take up 100% of the course. I won't discuss the merits of their comments--or lack thereof--until I have had time to mull it over a bit, but I must admit that one thing stuck to my brain: They really wanted to have culture incorporated into the course. And so I will now spend time trying to develop some kind of lesson plan to successfully fulfill their interests. but as I said, I need to think about it further...

Thank's to sweetphuong for bookmarking me. I hope you don't mind that I have included you in my list of RBJ buddies on the left (or top on the comment page). I can really feel the love...

BTW: I seem to be approaching 30K. I count myself among the fortunate to have so many visit me... I am, as always, your humble servant... (you getting this Vixen?)

Hey, Whonose. I asked for some input and I guess you've read some of the suggestions from yesterday's comments. Hehehehehe. If I may add my two cents. Don't listen to some of these guys. Tokyo is the place. As I stated earlier, it has many of the features of the different cosmopolitan cities of the world without the crime and dangers usually associated with large urban centers. Certainly, Osaka and Kyoto have their charm; of this I am fully aware. My mom was from Hiroshima and I have a deep affection for that city as well. But Tokyo is the CENTER OF THE FREAKIN' UNIVERSE. Did I make myself clear enough to you? Hehehehe. I can already imagine the ragging I'm gonna hear from others. But I lived in Tokyo on my own for over seven years. Not with mommy or daddy, not with Uncle Tsuyoshi, not crashing at my friends place. I experienced Tokyo. I lived Tokyo. And I love Tokyo... Geez, and I haven't even experienced all of Tokyo in my estimation. It is huge. What the heck are you gonna do in one week?

Okay, okay. enough of the ranting. As everybody else said, you should devot an entire afternoon, at the least, to Akihabara--north of Tokyo station on the Yamanote, east of Ochanomizu on the Sobu line. It is the electronics capital of the world, for retail that is, and much of the prices ARE retail. You can find bargains, but I unsdrestand you can't haggle as much as you could before, unless you go to some of the back streets and are willing to settle for an older model of whatever catches you fancy. Of course, an "old" model by Japanese standards can sometimes mean only 4 months old...

For something pseudo-cultural/religious, go to the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the Meiji Emperor who "led" Japan into the modern age. If you're inclined, and have the time. A stroll around the Imperial Palace is okay. I don't mean "around" literally; it would take you half a day to circle it. Just the main gate. You cannot enter, of course, but it is the psychological and emotional center of Japan.

But I think to really feel Tokyo, you should--as my favorite Xangan, SammyStorm, mentioned in yesterday comments--invest an afternoon and evening in Shibuya to just walk around and breathe in the humanity. It is awesome. This is where young people like you hang out to eat and drink; to see and be seen. I would also go to Shinjuku and wander around the are around it. Its' amazing. 3,000,000 people go through Shinjuku station everyday. That's the equivalent of the population of New Zealand, which gives you an ideas as to how busy the busiest train station in the world is. Shinjuku is where I used to hang out. Lots of places to go eating and drinking or just watching the sea of humanity ebb and flow around you. I would also suggest some time on Omotesando, the street that leads to the Meiji Shrine. It is a broad (by Japanese standards) thoroughfare lined with ginko and other trees. Find an outdoor table at a pub and drink a beer as you watch the young people stroll by. My friends and I used to go girl watching. You'll often see Japanese celebrities walking around as well. It is, to me, the Tokyo version of the Champs Elysse. Nearby is Takeshita-dori (street) where the highschoolers bop around. It is young, but usually a must see for young people on their first visit to Tokyo. If you go on a Sunday, a short walk toward the Olympic Stadium (toward Meiji Shrine) will lead you to the crazy goth and 50s rockers who dance in the street.

As for food, if you have a friend, have them take you to eat yakitori (grilled chicken) maybe at an izakaya, the Japanese version of a pub: noisy, informal, boozy. Also, ramen. This is not your instant ramen! I have certain ones I go to: virtually anyone at Ogikubo station, or to Bannai, on the south side of Chofu station (negi ramen!). If you eat ramen, be sure to eat regular chashu (bbq pork) ramen. Don't let anyone talk you into eating anything else. No miso ramen, no shio (salt) ramen. They are good, but always eat, savor and learn from the basics, and that is shoyu (soy sauce) ramen with chashu. You may not have the time to go to the ones I favor, so any busy looking ramen shop at virtually any train station should be fine. If you have to walk more than 5 minutes away from the entrance of the station, don't enter. Major rule of thumb: the closer to the station, the better the food (well except of the fast food joints like Mcdonalds). If you got further, it had better be on someone's recommendation... Like the soba place in Kunitachi. I swear Sarashina Jingoro has the best soba in Tokyo. They use Shinshu soba and it is always al dente. The best dish is the Tanuki soba. This is different from most--usually Tanuki soba is just the deep-fried batter used for tempura. Here the topping a Kakiage--a mix of vegetables and seafood deep fried in batter--and it comes out so hot, I have to wait a few minutes for it to cool down. So I usually have to dig down beneath it to start to eat the soba first--don't want to let it get soggy. Note: This shop is south of the station. Do not go to the Sarashina north of Kunitachi station. It is a bogus imitator. If you like sushi, good luck. There are many places but they charge an arm and a leg. When I would go with M, it would cost me about 20,000 yen at least. You can go to the kaiten (revolving) sushi, as many young people do, but that is not for me. I'm no longer young...

Anyway, dude, hope you have a safe and fun trip to Tokyo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

What to do in class; What to do in Tokyo


oday and tomorrow, I go to a workshop for teaching foreign languages sponsored by the National Capital Language Resource Center. The topic is teaching culture in the classroom. I have basically been an opponent to teaching culture in the class, unless it has a direct correlation to the language. In Japanese, for example, calling each other by last name instead of first, or using the person's name instead of the second-person pronoun "you."

I used to hate books that incorporated cultural aspects or situations in the dialogue and exercises. I mean, when I was studying French, I couldn't care less about the Champs Elysse or the Arc de Triomphe. I don't need extra clutter in my mind. I would rather learn words and phrases that would be applicable in my everyday life, so I can actually try to use them with classmates or with the teacher. Teach me how to borrow a book/video; how to use a computer; how to talk about food or movies. Something I can use with my classmates. How am I going to hold a conversation on something neither I nor my classmate have yet to experience? Oh, how old is the Arch of Triumph... Uh, how many restaurants on the Champs Elysse. Big deal. The conversation will end in 15 seconds. Give me something I can use.

But I want to keep an open mind. There may be something that I have overlooked and so I'm going to this workshop to see if they can teach me something about incorporating culture into the classroom. If not, I will play devil's advocate and wreak havoc. heheheh Just kidding. Wreak havoc? Moi? I would never do such a thing... hehehehehe.

whonose: Ok one question for you, although if its not answered by friday I wont be able to read it, because this fellow xangan will be in Tokyo! Any advice on what I SIMPLY HAVE TO DO while in your favourite Japanese city?

O-man: Well, I'm off to the workshop and so I will answer this later, tonight maybe. But in the meantime, I'd like to ask you all the same question.

When you go to Tokyo, what do you have to do? Eat something? Go somewhere? See something? Tell me so we can give this Britisher something to do while he's in Tokyo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Sugarland, eggs and motivation


wasted another night of my life. Well, I didn't really waste it and it wasn't even night. More like 2AM in the morning. I watched Steven Spielbergs first feature film "Sugarland Express". I didn't necessarily have low expectations for this movie, like "Zoolander" but I didn't expect to be amazed either.

Starring Goldie Hawn and Ben Johnson, "Sugarland Express" is a story of two ex-convicts--a married couple--who kidnap at rookie lawman and have him take them to Sugarland, TX where they intend the retake the son whom social welfare had taken away and placed in a foster home. During the course of their trip to Sugarland--which is 92% of the movie, they make stops to get gas, eat pried chicken in the car, and receive warm encouragement from well-wishers along the road as word of their journey hits the air-waves. It was reminiscent of OJ, but 20 years earlier. During the movie, I was thinking how hokie this was. I was going to turn it off and go to bed on at least three different occasions. I mean, a movie by the man who brought us "E.T." and "Close Encounters" (which actually preceded "Sugarland Express") and starring the bubbly Laugh-In girl, Goldie Hawn, had to have a happy ending, right? Two convicts pick up their two-year old son and escape into Mexico, leaving the cops eating their dust. Well, I don't wanna spoil it, even though it is an old movie, but I was glad I watched until the end. My faith has been restored...

A few more random calls

kizyr: Say, here's a question for you if you'll ever get to it: what made you enjoy cooking so much? I rarely meet another guy like myself who enjoys it to that extent--and, unlike myself, is really good at it.

O-man: Hmmm... My stock answer is that I enjoy cooking because I like to eat. But that's not the real reason. Have you ever laughed or giggled when you eat something really good? When I first went to Kinkead's--a seafood restaurant in DC, I couldn't stop giggling. There is something about delicious food that tickles the palate and makes me smile. And I want others to smile as well. Whether it's from acting silly or saying something funny in class, I want to make people laugh. And cooking is an extention of that desire. Not that I'm a great cook. I'm not. But I try. Occasionally, I'll pull off a a good dish--usually one of my stir fried number. I mentioned the tofu pomadoro recently. I have a beef, tomato and egg salad that comes out well, on occasion. 4 eggs lightly beaten, two tomatoes chopped, 3-4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces, half a pound of thinly sliced beef (marinated in 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 teaspoon of sake, 1 tsp potato starch), half a head of lettuce (I like romaine) chopped into narrow shreds and place on a large serving dish leaving it thennest in the center. Mix eggs tomatoes and green onions in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Saute the beef in garlic. When it begins to brown, add half a cup of chicken stock. When the stock is almost almost evaporated, pout the eggs, tomatos and green onions. Stir as gently as possible as you want the eggs to be as light as possible. After the eggs are cooked to your level of doneness (I like them fluffy,barely cooked), pour into the center of the lettuce on plate. Unagi-kun scrafs this down instantly. The question is: What makes you think that my cooking is good? You've never really tasted it, have you? But you'll get your chance this Fall, I suppose. Okonomiyaki!

Fongster8: so can we try out your cooking??

O-man: My cooking? Well, you can try my recipe, but to try my cooking, you'd have to be one of my students--students are the best because they'll appreciate virtually anything. I also cook/cooked for my wife/girl friends. Any takers? Didn't think so...

Fongster8: I have another question: What is your favourite Japanese city?

O-man: My favourite city, period, is Tokyo. I think it is the best city in the world. It can keep up with the best fashion trends of Bond Street. It has as many great restaurants as Paris. And it is a buzzing city that never goes to sleep, always alive and vibrant like New York. And the best thing is that it has a crime level that would put London, Paris and New York. Of course, Tokyo has its bad elements, but there is nothing that even remotely resembles the criminal element of the other major cities of the world. You could walk around Tokyo and never worry about life or limb. You could lose time, because it is huge and at times confusing. You could lose money, becasue it can be so expensive. But you will never lose your life. Not in Tokyo. Gawd I love that city. I want to go back soooooooo bad. At least once more before I die. But for a variety of complicated reasons--least of which is money--I can't get there...

detachable: Tell me, was Mr. Perez and his words your only motivation and drive? Or were there other factors to make you go all out like that? How do you get so focused??

O-man: Hey Detachable, where you been? You aren't posting much lately... Anyway, Mr. Perez was perhaps not the only person, but he was definitely the catalyst. Being comfortable with J literature probably has a lot to do with my Dad, who is a senryu poet--come to think of it, I have some poems to judge, don't I. Another factor might be simply a love for my heritage--well, it's probably more of a love-hate relationship. While I have come to terms with my American-ness, I cannot easily forget my younger days when I--we--thought that we were really Japanese. Silly us. But these are basically the positive things that got me where I wanted to go. There is one negative force, and an important one at that. At UCLA, I had a prof, BB, who had NO confidence in me. He would look at my work and my playful attitude toward my work and call me insipid. I would tell others behind my back that I would never amount to anything, that I would never get a Ph.D. Fortunately, I had enough people who supported me, who believed in me, to offset his negativity. But his attitude compelled me to prove him wrong. There was not way I was going to let him get any satisfaction, to allow him to get the last laugh. It is, in a way, a kind of revenge: getting back at him for his words. And as we all know revenge is a powerful motivator. Fortunately, to affect this revenge, I had to do well in school and in my career, so it turned into a postive.

Monday, June 21, 2004

A Little blue


ost of us, I think, have a variety of expectations for the different things in our life. We expect a date to go well, or a meal to taste good. Chnces are, expectations are high or there are no expectations at all. But occasionally, low expectations can be a good thing. Especially with movies.

This weekend, I saw Zoolander. I should say I had no expectations, but I'd be lying. I had low expectations. I expected it to be bad. Zoolander was on a cable network, TNT, I think, and so as I was working out with my weights in the basement, I decided to leave it on since it probably would not effect my concentration. But as I cought glimpses of it, I started cracking up. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson usually rub me the wrong way, but the roles they played were perfect: good-looking and stupid male models. I mean they made male models look really stupid, but the laughter started when I noticed that Stiller's father Jerry had a major role. Even his mother was in an early scene as a crazy tree hugger type trying to get at Mugatu (Will Farrell), the guy that Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald foil and save the Malaysian Prime Minister from getting assassinated. Yeah, like right... Hahahahah. Anyway, it was totally mindless, but some of the scenes caught me off guard and I found myself actually enjoying it. I mean, the secret voice that exposes the secret of the conspiracy is none other than the X-File's David Duchovny. Anyway, low expectations allowed me to enjoy the movie. You're on the air...

Link_Strife: Let's see, I might have a question as well.... Okay, so how do you manage to always sound so cheerful on Xanga? Well, okay, not cheerful, but at least you never sound angry. Except for that one time, but you didn't use swearwords, like I am often tempted to do. Life is trying, I use Xanga to let out steam.

O-man: Well, Link, I guess being cheerful is one of the things I do best. But that doesn't mean I'm always cheerful. There are a number of things that anger me, and anger can be presented in a number of ways. For example, I get upset at certain issues related to race and discrimination, and I will present my views, but in as civilized manner as I can. Why? Because these issues will never be resolved in a shouting match. I prefer to confront issues as calmly as possible here. But that doesn't mean I am a calm person. In person, I can get visibly upset and digusted with many things. The beauty of Xana is that I can edit and re-edit what I write before I make it public. Sometimes, if the topic seems inflamatory, I will leave it for a few hours are even a day or two, and then re-read it later to see if there is any excessive hostility. This, of course, is not the case with comments on other Xangan sites, and I have unfortunately left some comments that I wish I could take back. But such is life.

There are also times when I feel kinda down, as well... Like today.

Yesterday was Father's Day, and I was hoping I'd hear from my daughter. As I mentioned in previous post, I get the impression that my daughter feels I have abandoned her, and that I feel her drifting away, week to week, month to month, year to year. Well, I opened my e-mail account hoping to find a message. There was one in which the sender name and subject was unintelligible. In Japanese, it is known as mojibake, or "character transmogrification", and looks something like ・&,!,A, ‘,%,^,*,@,|, This happens when Japanese characters appear on a page expecting characters encoded in English. I was a bit excited thinking it might be K, but when I changed the encoding it was just spam from Japan. I checked my e-mail several times throughout the day, but today I am resigned to the fact that I will not receive a message from her.

I suppose I should have applied my approach of low expectations to my daughter as well. It would have saved me from being disappointed. But, then I would hate myself for having low expectations of her. She is no "Zoolander". Better to be disappointed than to have lost hope.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Hello, Fellow Xangan


aturday was a first for me. Over the summer, my school offers several "inaugurations" for incoming freshmen. It's basically a fancy orientation. The freshmen stay in a dorm for three days, enjoy dorm food, and register for Fall classes. Another thing they do is take placement exams and I am in charge of Japanese this summer.

Today was the first day of the second inauguration and I had five students take the exam. The last person to hand in her paper, walked into my office and I looked at her exam. She did quite well, actually. Quite impressive as a matter of fact. I told her that she could probably enter any of the advanced courses, and asked her where she had learned her Japanese. Well, after high school, she studied at a university in Nagoya before entering an American university. I was surprised because she gone to a university that many of our students go to. And she tole me she knew imahima. I looked at her information and saw her e-mail address: endersatomi. Hmmm... why does that sound familiar... I was desparately recalling and discounting in order any and all conceivably embarrassing, damaging or career-ending situations (haha, just kidding), when it hit me. I looked at her and said: "Xanga!" She looked at me and said, "Onigiriman?" Hahahaha. What a moment. She said she had heard of me from my other students, so I suspect she kinda new who I'd be, but I was caught totally off guard.

On the train ride home, I found myself lost in thought, imaging what it would be like cruising the country and "bumping" into people I know. I'd probably have to recruit a partner in crime like Vlade, and we'd leave LA and first go up north to the Monterey peninsula to check out pair of intriguing lips and eyes, then to Vancouver to grab and shake a sexy shoulder from behind., We'd then head inland across the country to Chicago and scope out Orange and look for small aircraft flying in the wrong direction, all the while canvasing universities in Illinois looking for a hairy dog. Then maybe to NYC to find a sarcastic chick for a tongue lashing (I shudder at this thought) and a girl who walks her guinea pig. Then we'd head south to check out the campus of FSU to look for two squabbling sibblings who think they look cool as gangsters and an artist who paints his dog. Then to Atlanta to look for the screwiest JA in the south, then to Texas in search of a really cute coed who is a self-proclaimed tomboy... Then we'd head back to LA to check out my Bruin Xangers hanging out at UCLA. Whew, I figure it would take a month and a half. If you know the regular commenters on my site, you would know who I'm talking about. But this kind of time, I don't have, although Vlade seems to have the time to go rafting in speedos... hehehehe. You're on the air.

SunJun: Here's my question: what is your greatest regret in life? As an instructor, is there's one basic concept you could manage to stick into the minds of each and every one of your students, what would it be?

O-man: Regrets? No, I think I mentioned earlier that I am happy with my life and so do not have any major regrets. I mean we all have little ones--"Oh I wish I hadn't said that," or "Crap, why'd I send that e-mail?" You know, stuff like that. But nothing I would really point to. As an instructor, one basic concept I tell all my students is to

Do what you want

I know it sounds hokey, but in college this is the best advice I can give them. More than a few students have come to seek advice as to what to do in the future, and I tell them to do what they want, not what others--usually parents--want them to do. I think I touched on this previously, but I think it bears repeating. Do what you want. I believe that most parents are thinking of the welfare of their child when they tell them to study so they can go to law school, or medical school, or business school. And this is fine if the sudents hopes and dreams coincide with the parent. But what if the student wantes to do something else? Chances are that students, who do what they are told to do when they want to do something else, end up wondering what life would have been like had they chosen what they wanted. They may even regret not having pursued it. Those who choose what they want usually excel because their is no pain in doing something they enjoy. They end up spending a lot of time studying because, for them, it is not longer a chore. Ultimtately, they can follow whatever path they want or need, but if it can incorporate some of what they enjoy doing, it makes it all the more rewarding.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

While we're still on the air


is in Japan, and so I get to play step-dad for real with Unagi-kun, instead of the usual the-guy-mom-married. Her kids were adults already when I stepped into their lives, so I guess I'll never be a "dad" in their eyes. Even when the grandkids came two years ago, I was simply Mr. Driver 運転のおじさん. *sigh* But as ddsb said, I should give them some latitude. You know, this is what really makes Xanga great. I get to hear different voices with different views which helps me open my own mind. Thanks Petey...

Anyway, besides running, I have also restarted my weight training. I was so embarrassed to find that my strength had decreased so much. I guess when you get old, you lose it really quickly. My max bench used to be 200 lbs, but now it's about 155. In case you guys are wondering, I don't do weight training to build some kind of he-man physique--although a cut body would be nice--but muscular strength is a major consideration in health and longevity. I intend to be teaching when I'm 70, so I gotta stay fit. For you ladies out there, weight training supports and strengthens your bones, thereby preventing osteoporosis. Asian women are just as susceptible as anyone to this disease. I'm no doctor, so you should check things out for yourself, but I've heard that some women in their 40s have manifested the symptoms of osteoporosis, so its never too early to start. Besides, who wouldn't want a little toning in their body? M works her triceps to prevent what is called in Japan, "natural kimono sleeves" 天然振り袖, the flab beneath the upper arm. Hahahah... hey, stop throwing things!

Random questions

O-man: Well, I've answered all the questions that were left on my post from June 5 (?) or something like that. But I see from the lights that I still have some callers. You're on the air...

Fongster8: what happened to my question??

O-man: Now, now, lets not get too excited, hehehehe. I realize you and others have left questions throughout the process so I will try to get to them, including yours... *click* Your on the air.

zettonv: why am i never on air?

O-man: Hahahah, cuz you never asked a question! But you are now... *click* Your on the air.

bane_vixen: how much longer are you going to do this Q&A thing? just wondering...

O-man: Hahahaha, methinks someone is getting bored with the format. Well, until I finish answering the questions. But you gotta admit that some of the questions elicited responses that weren't too boring... *gulp* I hope. But I know that with you as a loyal listener, you have terribly high standards and keep me on my toes. Don't worry, this is just a temporary format... *click* Your on the air.

onigiri: so onigiriman, how do you come up with all these topics that you talk about on xanga? i've stopped by here a couple of times and you always seem to have something different and exciting to talk about. (have the cicadas made their arrival yet? :D )

O-man: You mean you don't come everyday? Hehehehe, just kidding. Anyway, the topics are from my loyal listeners. I always try to respond, although sometimes I forget or miss a question... I hope none of you are angry... Fongster... are you... upset? As for the cicadas, they have come and gone, which is why I have changed my banner. No more cicadas, just a well cooked yaki-onigiriman. That's a nicely roasted riceball man you see up there, brushed with some soy sauce and cooked on a grill. Mmmmm. I almost wanna eat myself! Hahahaha Just kidding! How gross! Oh, yeah, the cicadas. They came and there were a number of them but it wasn't such a big deal. Everyone told me how they covered the ground and made a noise like a jet plane. Well, I was sorely disappointed. They were present and i could hear them, but a jet plane? Not even close. And did they cover the ground. I wish. I mean there were a lot of them, but their numbers did not meet up with my expectations. What a let down... Ha! And this from a declared entomorphobe... Hi, you're on the air.

iluvpajun: hi onigiriman! i have a question... you might have already answered it and i'm sorry if someone else has already asked you. what exactly is JA journal? is it like xanga?

O-man: Hahaha, not even. The JAJournal is my other site. It's basically a repository for my past Xanga posts. But I have highlighted some of the more popular entries and have sorted some of the entries into categories. But it is a work in progress... I think people who come to my site for the first time, go there to see who I am. It's also the place where I post when Xanga is down, as some of you already know. In fact, I think some have even bookmarked it, since they come when Xanga is actually down. That way we can keep up without Zzzzzzzzzzanga.

Friday, June 18, 2004

You're on the Air: Last


must have been really tired. I went to sleep at 3 last night and didn't wake up until now, 11:45 AM. That's almost 9 hours, which for me is a long time. I feel really relaxed. I feel like going back to sleep. Hehehehe. Nah, I have too many things to do still.

This past year has been pretty hectic and I haven't been able to do some of the things I normally do, like exercise. As a result, I have gained weight, and ballooned to 170 lbs. On a 5'6" frame, that is way too much. So this summer, I have rededicated myself to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Since June 1, I have been watching my diet--less fat, less carbs--which simply means more reasonable portions. Also, since I have been out of shape for so long, I am also slowly increasing the intensity of my exercise. I started out with fast 30 minute walks, and am now walking/jogging about 40 minutes. I've lost about 3 lbs. Okay it isn't much, but its a start...

Anyway, this is the last of the question that were asked on for my one-year Xanga anniversary. Many of you have asked questions subsequent to the initial post that asked for you questions, and I will try to answer them in due time. But for now, this is the last of the questions from June 5 post. You're on the air with the O-man.

Last questions

tim00: jolene blalock!!!!!!!!! :D UCLA men think alike! sophmore year my roommates and i had a poster of her on our door hahaha. how YOU doin' haha.

O-man: Oh man, I wish I had a poster of Jolene on my door too, but I think M would tear it down in the blink of an eye. She can get pretty testy about things like that... So what's your question?

tim00: Here is my question sensei. What is the most important thing in the world to you? And why?

O-man: Oh, is that all? You mean besides world peace and the end of poverty, starvation, disease and bigotry? Hmm... Let's see. I think the most important thing for me is M. It sounds corny but I will do anything, endure anything for her. I love my daughter and my students, and truly they are right up their next to her. But if I was forced to choose one thing over everything else, it would be her. And this is all for selfish reasons: with out her I would be nothing. Okay, okay, you guys can take your collective fingers out of your throat and stop gagging, like right now. I swear I can can hear ya all the way to DC. Okay, you're on the air...

spygirl: Yaay~ omedetai omedetai >_< I've got my xanga screen name because I wanted to put comment here. Hm...m that was exactly a month ago! (May 5th)

O-man: What? Wait a minute. Do you mean to tell me that you opened a Xanga account just so you could comment on my site? C'mon, you've got to be kidding! Anyway, what's your question?

spygirl: What's your favorite christmas present? When did you receive it and who gave it to you?

O-man: Wow, as I think back, I can barely remember any of my Christmas presents, let alone my favorite one. Perhaps, my favorite gift is one I recived a few years ago from M. It is a 10 volume set of the Shinkokinshu, an imperial anthology compiled in 13th century Japan. The set is editted and annotated by Kubota Jun and is worth over $1000. It has been out of print wince the late 70s and I thought I could never find a complete set, let alone afford it. But M scoured the used book stores of Tokyo, found a set in an obscure used-book store, and sent it to me. I think the effort she put in to obtain it is as important as the gift itself, so yeah that would be my favorite. I bet some of you were thinking I would give some other answer, one a little less work related. I mean, this would be tantamount to a mother being overjoyed at receiving a used but well-preserved, original GE microwave oven. But to be honest, I don't ever remember receiving a memorable Christmas present. (bane, is that redundant?)

As a kid, I got a walkie talkie from a family friend, and as a teenager, a turquois ring from a girlfriend... or was that my birthday? My birthday and Christmas are ten days apart so not only do I confuse gifts, I recall often getting one combination birthday-Christmas present. I often thought it seemed unfair, but these are things you get used to, since we were never the richest of families. I certainly never got a large gift. I remember wanting certain things in my life and realizing that I had to earn them. As a young teenager, I wanted a radio-cassette player so badly, but my parents could never afford a then $40 Panasonic radio-cassette. So at 15, I started to work at my old elementary school as a janitor/maintenance over the summer at $1 dollar an hour (plus lunch)--I cleaned the toilets, rewaxed the classroom floors, painted walls, stripped and resealed hardwood floors--it was real work. But I was able to buy my first player in two weeks. It was silver and black, with a radio tuner that ran vertically. It even had its own AC adapter. Woo-hoo! And I could blast all my favorite tunes whenever and wherever I wanted: "Beginnings" by Chicago, "Eli's Coming" by Three Dog Night, "Vehicle" by The Ides of March... okay, I'll stop. Anyway, at that time I learned the satisfaction of buying things with your own money. No one, not my mother or father could tell me how to spend the money I had earned. Save it, they would say, and I would laugh, Make me. Yes, I was moving away from the GLOB ideal very early. Working my butt off, I bought my first car from my mother ('73 Camaro as is with dents for $2000). My first computer, I bought as well when I was a grad student, using money I had earned through my scholarship. So I feel like I've been working a long time, but it has been a good ride. Do you have another question?

spygirl: Your job history. What have you done to earn money until you became a sensei?

O-man: Well, that's a nice segue. I think some of you who have read NLUTE know that I worked in a Japanese confectionary. I started as a sales boy and worked my way up to manager at one point. In total I worked there for about 11 years. And this was before I went to grad school. Other than that, I done many odd jobs such as work as a dilivery boy at a travel agency, and as a teller in a bank. In Japan, when I went in 1990 to do my disseration research, I got stuck for about two and a half years working as a secretary at a think tank. It was a plum job. They paid me lots of money--$50 an hour, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, you do the math--to basically read a newpaper and drink coffee. As the secretary of the library for policy research, my main job was to keep my boss informed on trends in policy research abroad, chiefly the US, and serve as his secretary regarding English langauage correspondence. He'd tell me that he'd want to write a letter to so-and-so at the Brookings Institute, give me the gist of what he wanted to say in Japanese and I would write it up in English. Piece of cake. However, correspondence didi not fill up an entire day so I was also required to read and collect articles that were written by or that quoted top researchers at other think tanks around the world. So I had to read all the major new magazines--Time, Newsweek, and The Economist, et al.--and newspapers such as the NY Times, LA Times and Washington Post to search for these articles. Of course, in my little cubicle, I spent most of the morning reading the sports and entertainment sections first. However, regardless of how great this job was, I wanted to complete my original goals of earning a PhD. So I quit, finished my dissertation, and began my career as a college professor, at a significant pay cut... *sigh* Anyway, I hope that's the last one...

spygirl: What are you wearing today (complete answer please)? ^_^

O-man: Okay, one last one. Let's see, I have been sitting in front of this computer since I woke up, so at this moment I am wearing a black T-shirt that says "ELAC" in front and a pair of Guess shorts. No socks, no shoes, no makeup. Hehhehe... Signing off before you ask another question!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Back on the air


fter a good nights sleep--relatively speaking, since there are those who would not consider five and a half hours adequate (this is what happens when you get old!)--I feel a bit more relaxed. Yesterday was a killer of a day. The heat wasn't too bad, about 90 degrees which is nothing for an LA boy, but the humidity was a killer.

When I went to the school in DC to give that talk yesterday, I didn't realize it was so far from the Metro stop. It was not a ridiculous distance, but it was difficult given the humidity. Indeed, yesterday reminded me of one of those perfect days in Tokyo: Walk outside in the humidity, enter an air conditioned train, get off at Metro Center into a stifling underground station, then board another air conditioned train--this one like a refridgerator--then get off on Wisconsin into the heat and humidity again, walk 15 minutes, then enter an air conditioned building. Adjusting to these different environments wreaks havoc on my body and I got a stomach ache. And all this on top of being nervous of giving the presentation. Ugh. Anyway, your on the air.

Just chillin'

onigiri: whoo, one year! :D and since then you have met a lot of people, havent you? well, these posts of yours are always full of meaning and causes one to think. :D so... did you ever get a copyright on that image?

O-man: Thanks, Onigiri! I feel like I'm talking to a relative. As for the copyright, I have never applied specifically for a copyright, but according to US copyright law, any publication of text or images on a public venue is automatically copyrighted and the possession of its writer/creator. I consider Xanga a public venue, so everything I put up here is copyrighted. This would hold true for all of you, too. If someone takes your stuff--and especially is you have stated specifically that you deem your material to be copyrighted, as I have at the bottom of this page--then you can sue the plagerizing asshole. It seems that there are those on Xanga who go to other sites, copy, then post it on their own Xanga presenting it as their own material. Kinda pathetic, isn't it? Hi, you're on the air.

kizyr: You know, Sei Shonagon once had to lift up her skirt to prove that she was a woman. It's true!

O-man: Uh... and?

kizyr: Anyway, here's my question: have you ever had any, well, cross-gender desires? Anything major (e.g., wanting to dress in women's clothing and wear makeup), or minor (wanting to have nice-looking nails--with which there's nothing wrong, by the way).

O-man: Man, dude. I think this cross gender karaoke thing has kinda got you obsessed. But I have, in fact, dressed as a female at a party about 20 years ago--I'm always ahead of my time, on the cutting edge. Actually it was for a song number. We were having one of our karaoke contests and our team did a group rendition of "Do ni mo tomaranai." Our team had more guys than girls, so someone had to play a girl. Being the eldest and most responsible, I volunteered to save my younger kohai (juniors) from embarrassment. The other girls put on make-up and I wore a flimsly blouse and red gym shorts--I drew the line at hotpants. However, to my disappointment, I didn't fool anyone. My friends recognized me instantly: Hey, look at them hairy legs, and that beer belly. That's no girl, that's Onigiriman! Oh, look, look, MT can barely lift him! Hahahahahahaha. Oh well. It was a fun time in my life, good old college days. I wish I had the guts to post the pic... hehehehehe. You're on the air.

imahima: Oooh, Kizyr's question was quite spicy! A little more mild: What about M's children, do you get to see them a lot? Omedetou on one year!

O-man: Thanks. I don't get to see M's children a lot. Although I think another one will be coming to our house soon, which may put a crimp in my BBQ plans--sorry guys. The eldest I barely know since he's already married and lives his own life. Unagi-kun, the middle kid, is with us now. He has special needs and so he lives with us. The youngest wanted to live in Japan because he had a girl friend and because I don't think he liked living in a household that had an asshole as its head. Unfortunatley, he is having trouble living in Japan by himself. M, being the typical Japanese mom, is in Japan to see if he's all right. Apparently he is not, so he will be coming to our house soon. He better bring a lot of toilet paper, because the asshole is still here... Anyway, M is out of town until the end of the month *wink* *wink*... Hehehhehe. just kidding, NOT. But it was tough taking care of the middle one and preparing for that presentation yesterday... man, I was nervous.

imahima: You get nervous?! I can't imagine you being nervous about something...

O-man: Ah, goes to show that even my student's don't know me completely. There are a ton of things you guys don't know. Hahhahaha. But yesterday, I was nervous because pressure was brought to bear by a higher-up. After learning that I was going to give a talk at the school where Chelsey Clinton and other DC celebrities have gone--and this includes the kids of the current dean--this higher-up told me to "impress"... Sometimes I really... aahng, never mind. You never know who's listening... Hi, you're on the air.

Windward_Skies: You mentioned how all of your readers are able to laugh, as you joke, make sarcastic remarks, and flirt via your Xanga. What do you get out of online flirting, and what does that do for you?

O-man: It gives me a woody. Hahahahaha. Did you laugh? Did you smile? Not that I'm flriting with YOU! Hahahahahha. Anyway, flirting is a natural part of my existence. I don't know where I got it, when is began or how it developed. It just IS. And actually, I don't think it's flirting. Really. Despite what others may think. I think it is mostly my sense of optimism. I joke a lot as well, and the combination of optimism and humor makes people smile and feel good about themselves--well usually, depending on their ability to take a joke. I think in contemporary society, life is pretty hard and everyone wants to feel good about themselves. And anyone who can make you feel good is pretty welcomed, no? But when this occurs between male and female, it is often construed as flirting. "Hey girl, you're pretty sharp," or "Man, your profile pic is so cute!" To me, I'm just telling it like it is. But being the optimist that I am, I usually have something good to say. Further, since I am really just saying what I think--and not using some stilted or stale pick up line--it sounds fresh and sincere. So this flirting that I talk about and others accuse me of, is really nothing but me being myself. But I think you already know that... And for no other reason, I do this because it makes me feel good. Anyway, next. You're on the air.

Grom: when was the last time you threw up from drinking too much?

O-man: Hmm... I think that last time... um, man, that was a long time ago... I think it was about 20 years ago, at the same party I dressed up as a female in the group number. Projectile, too, as I remember through these layers and layers of forgotten memories. Why would you ask me this? Feel a challenge coming on?

Grom: Also, how many drinks does it take to make the onigiriman drunk?

O-man: Well that would depend on what the drink is, what I ate and my disposition at the moment. I can drink anything, but obviously beer is not as strong as scotch. And I will drink at different paces depending on the mood. Drinkingon an empty stomach will also get me drunk faster. And my disposition is important too. If I know that I have to stay sharp--i.e. in order to drive or when there is someone "important" in the same room--I will not get very drunk. I have to have the "just let it go" mentality. Of course, for me, that is not a difficult thing to do. In general, I will feel tipsy after 3-4 pints of beer. I often talk a lot and laugh a lot when I'm drinking, but that is not necessarily an indication of being "drunk" although I am feeling mighty good. But honestly, I can't drink as much as i used to. I'm just getting old...

And nervous... This line of questioning from my students is weird. How much do I need to drink to get drunk? What do I get from flirting? Do I harbor cross-gender desires?!? Okay, guys, I know some of you are in DC this summer. Do you guys have something *gulp* specific in mind? If so, make it fast. M comes back in a couple of weeks... Dahahahahhaa. Just kidding!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Off Air


hew, what a day. I'm exhausted. I gave a presentation on contemporary Japan to elementary school teachers at a private school in DC. I was a little nervous at first--as usual--but it went off pretty well. Perhaps someday I'll talk about my views of contemporary Japan here if there's enough interest, although it isn't always a very pretty picture. Anyway, no update for today. I'm too tired. I'll be back tomorrow....

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

You're on the Air XI


ell, today's the day, June 15. It has been exactly one year since I've started Xanga. Man, it's been a great year for me... Um, I mean, it hasn't been a great year in a lot of respects, but with regard to writing on Xanga and meeting a bunch of new people, it's been pretty cool. Over the past few years, I hadn't been writing very much, and Xanga has provided me a space that allows me to hone this particular skill--as meager as it is. I want to thank all of you, my readers for coming by, and especially to all of you who leave comments. And really especially and particularly to those who leave comments that related to what I write... Heheheheh.

Like it's 1989

Hydralisk96: A lot of people sure seem interested in your sex life. Okay, here goes. WHERE WERE YOU ON THE NIGHT OF AUGUST 21ST OF 1989?!

O-man: On Monday, August 21, 1989, I was at Stanford. I was a TA for Beginning Japanese during summer session and had finished grading finals over the weekend and had turned in grades to S sensei in the early afternoon. I was pretty exhausted after a grueling nine-weeks: two hours a day--1-10 or 10-12--Monday to Friday. So I relaxed, with some wine and watched TV. Man, that was easy. Is that all yo0u wanted to know?

Hydralisk96: Just kidding. If you could start life all over again with the choice of who you will become, who will you be? Famous? Rich? A teacher? A hobo standing on a corner in NYC holding a cardboard sign reading "wil wurk 4 rice balz"?

O-man: Oh, a "real" question. There aren't many things I would have done differently, because I'm pretty much happy with who I am and what I do, as I've mentioned earlier. But let me try to address some of your points. Famous? To degree that would be nice, since I'm a narcissist. Rich? Gawd, if only! But that would mean that I wouldn't be a teacher, not with my salary. To be honest, I can't imagine what my life would be without the students I've met throughout my teaching career. Most fade away after graduation, but that doesn't diminish my time and experience with them. They are the reason why I still feel young and hip and current. I am not the "real" old fogeys most of my friends have become. I have the same responsibilities as them--family, work, mortgage--but my outlook is still, comparatively, very young: hopeful, expectant, optimistic.

Of course, as my ex-wife used to repeatedly say, "the best and worst part of you is your optimistism." She meant, basically, that I was terrible since I would never take things seriously. Don't save enough money? So what, I'll earn it somehow. Don't focus on my dissertation? No sweat, I'll finish it on time. But it was the best part of me as well, because I would never give up. Didn't go straight to college? Well, I'll start now. Bomb a midterm? Heck, I'll ace the final.

Anyway, I don't think I'd do much else. But if worse comes to worst, then I guess I would work for riceballs. Hahahahaha.

I'm giving a presentaiton tomorrow and so I'm gonna have to cut this short. And I will try to visit everyone's site soon. Work, work, work....

Monday, June 14, 2004

You're on the Air X


ave you been watching the NBA Finals? Where the heck are the Lakers? I know the team they sent to Detroit is not them. I know that Karl Malone is injured, but where is everyone else? I think Kobe has to go back to Colorado for another hearing. He seems to perform well when he goes there. And where the heck is Gary Payton? Cuz if he's the guy who's on the court, then the Lakers seriously overpaid that Seattle reject. I was screaming at the boob tube, when M asked me if I could do better. Of course not, I shot back. But Jerry Buss doesn't pay me 4.5 mil either. Anyway, let's get back to some other callers. You're on the air.

Mooning and living in Japan

Andine: The early picture of O-man's lips reminds me of a woman's lips. The newer version is so much better and it is cute.

O-man: Thanks. I like both, but the newer version is cuter. But it's been a year since I've put it up online.

Andine: It is scary how time flies~ I have no question in mind yet. Later. Have a beautiful day :D

O-man: Oh okay, You have a nice day, too. What a sweet person. Anyway, you'r on the air. What's your question?

No1watching: Ever moon anyone in a moving car?

O-man: Hahahaha. Uh, yeah. Hasn't everyone done it? At least once? Heheheh. Just kidding. But I did it once, accidently, on the way back from the beach. The band's singer, Voz, and I used to go to the beach a lot, at least 3-4 times a week in the summer of 1973. For some reason, the song "So Very Hard to Go" by Tower of Power really sticks in my memory. We would listen to it on the radio as we sunned ourselves all afternoon on Hermosa Beach. At the time, I worked part time at the sweet shop and usually had to leave the beach by 3 PM to get home and shower before I went.

But once, we were having a grand old time and I lost track of time. It was 4 PM and I had to get to work by 5. Well, there was no time to shower, so I asked Voz to take me straight to work instead of taking me home. As we were heading down Artesia Blvd, I had the great idea of changing clothes in the car. I started to change in the front seat of Voz's Volkswagon, but is was too cramped, so I crawled into the back seat. Voz of course is laughing, daring me to moon somebody, since I was taking off my trunks anyway. Ah, fuck you, I said, but I daringly raised my ass toward the window in jest. At which point Voz swerved his Bug a little, I lost my balance and my butt pressed against the small but hot backseat window.

Goddamnit, Voz! I yelled. I regained my balance and sat back down, pulling my pants on when I looked outside. Whew! I didn't see anyone close enough to have noticed, but Voz assures me that there was a middled-aged lady with her mouth open who swerved into a parking lot just as she saw my ass.

"Eh, you're full of shit," I said.

"No, really. She looked really freaked out," he insisted. "It musta been that hairy ass of yours."

O-man: Why am I telling this story? You're on the air.

Link_Strife: HAHA! That was funny. So was the Jalepeno incident, it was hilarious! That must've sucked. I dont' think I'll cook, ever.

O-man: It did suck! And all M could do was laugh! Ugh. Always wear gloves... *click* Hi, you're on the air.

EndlesSkye: I love the early o-man. i think the recent version is just adorable...

O-man: Thanks. You got a question?

EndlesSkye: Well, a question... Do you think living in japan, [being born there], would have changed your life/character in anyway, or what do you think you could have gain/loss by living here ack...this is hard.

O-man: Hahaha, you think asking a question is hard, try answering them. Anyway, your question is related to some of the answers/responses I've given already. I believe that we are the sum total of all are experiences and living in another/different culture simply broadens our view. I was born in LA but have spent a significant number of years of my adult life in Japan. As a result, I have seen the good and bad of both countires. It is always good to look at one's own culture--for most of us, that would be the US--through the eyes of a foreigner. It can be very enlightening, in that they don't take anything for granted. Conversely, i have learned a lot more about Japan living there than just reading about it or seeing it in movies or TV. Of course, I'm not sure how much anyone could learn about contemporary culture by watching Zatoichi, the blind swordsman. Oh, I''m talking about Katsu Shintaro's version, not the new one by Beat Takeshi. He doesn't even register on my radar screen... Anyway, you're on the air.

gokingsgo: Question to everyone: Where were you on June 15, 2003?

O-man: Hey, Vlade! What's up man. That's a very interesting question. Thanks!

Okay everyone: Where were you on June 15, 2003?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

You're on the Air IX


ow. I just realized that its almost the 15th. I can't believe the number of questions I have left unanswered! Well, like I said, I will try to answer all questions in order, and answer them as fully as I can. I've fielded questions from silvermyst_ashke, pallyatheart, Eechim, tif383335, Whonose, takunishi79, SweetLilV, Ekin, SleepingCutie, Detachable and sekura81... Whose next? Hi, you're on the air.

My Ms. Xanga

Andine: The early picture of O-man's lips reminds me of a woman's lips. The newer version is so much better and it is cute. It is scary how time flies~ I have no question in mind yet. Later. Have a beautiful day :D

O-man: Thanks, Andine. The lips do look thick, but they're better to kiss with. Hehehehe. Anyway, you have a beautiful day too. Hi, you're on the air.

bane_vixen: I remember one of your early comments well.

O-man: Bane, you Vixen? Is that you? Man, you tell me that I shouldn't flatter myself, but you DO seem to remember a lot of what I write. Hehehehehe. Just kidding--sorta. So what's the comment you so remember?

bane_vixen: "There's a difference between Japanese and Japanese American." Or was it Asian and Asian American? Somewhere along those lines. And I remember thinking to myself, Oh ho. Now there's someone who feels strongly about his identity. I'll get on his good side for now. Then I'll let my true colors show..... hehehe

O-man: Um, let me get this straight. You think I feel strongly about my identity and so you'll get on my good side, then you'll show your true colors... I'm not sure I follow the logic here. Unless you mean that you respect me for feeling strongly about my identity? Mwahahahaha, just kidding. So what's your question. I bet it's a douzy.

bane_vixen: *evil smirk* Ahem. Among your female subscribers, if you had to choose ONE woman to spend the day with and then some, who would it be and why? And M doesn't count.

O-man: "And then some"? Are you trying to be suggestive?

bane_vixen: The question was supposed to be a bit NC-17, or R, but I decided to go easy on ya...

O-man: ........................ (@_@;)

bane_vixen: ... just this one time.

O-man: Ooooh-kay. This is the most difficult question so far. If I had to choose one woman to spend the day with... Well, let me think. Hmmm.... Um.... Hmmm... Maybe I should try to do this through a process of elimination. Let's see.

  • First, I guess, meeting another Xangette would mean someone whom I haven't met yet, so all my students and former students are automatically disqualified. Not too hard.
  • I am the sensual sort. No, no, not in THAT way! I mean that sensory perception--like any human being--plays a part in any decision I make. On Xanga, we cannot touch, taste, or smell one another, and in most cases we cannot hear each other--although SleepingCutie once put her husky voice on-line. But Xanga--being what it is--forces me to rely only on a visual perception. I am not trying to see who is "good" looking, but I would like have somekind of perception as to who the other person is, and on Xanga, the only option given to me is visual. Which means I would have to disqualify all women who do not have a profile pic or have not otherwise revealed themselves to us Xangans. That would eliminate a relatively large number of people, including Eechim, sylvermyst_ashke, blu_jazz, dawn_109, sekura81, japblkgrl, and others. You guys can now breathe a sigh of relief... I am now left with a relatively small group of women now: AsnHoopla, Bane_vixen, SleepingCutie, Enygma81, Nefarious_hatter, iluvpajun, mmh, Sorjen, msbLiSs, RieLin, lichunsah, No1watching, simply_marie, Piratechan, detachable, totoro1221, Misako, megumi-329, thosesdays and masumi.
  • I am not a cradle-robber, so I must disqualify the young... but virtually everybody is young compared to me, so I'll lower my age-line of demarcation to those who have graduated college. Based on the Xangette's stated age and/or content of the blog, the list should look like this: AsnHoopla, Bane_vixen, SleepingCutie, Enygma81, Nefarious_hatter, iluvpajun, mmh, Sorjen, msbLiSs, RieLin, lichunsah, No1watching, simply_marie, Piratechan, detachable, totoro1221, Misako, megumi-329, thosesdays and masumi.
  • Also, I would feel uncomfortable with someone who's attached--or wants to be attached--to someone else, so those who are married, currently have boyfriends or have explicitely stated that they have an interest in someone else will be crossed out as well. This narrows it down some more. AsnHoopla, Bane_vixen, SleepingCutie, Enygma81, mmh, Sorjen, msbLiSs, lichunsah, Piratechan, totoro1221, Misako. I can hear all these collective sighs of relief. Whew! I'm glad I got crossed off the list. You can't fool me...
  • That's about all of the straightforward "objective" qualifications that would narrow down the field. What's left is more subjective. Hmm. I think that if I were to meet someone, it would be nice if I had already developed some kind of rapport with the individual, so I guess it should be someone who comments on my site regularly--meaning at least once a week. So that would be: Bane_vixen, Enygma81, Piratechan, totoro1221.
  • Oops, oh, I mean, okay. Um, now, uh, the... rapport should be well developed, so she should be a subscriber who has commented regularly for more than just a month or two, bringing the list down to: Bane_vixen.
  • Wow, that really shortened the list... Let's see. I guess the Xangette would definitely have to have a sense of humor. I can be pretty sarcastic and the merriment (some would say havoc) that I create--like with this list--would poke fun at some people. It is, of course, all in good fun and the Xangette would have to understand this. Indeed, if she too had a biting wit and sarcastic bent, she would understand my sense of humor, leaving me a list of: Bane_vixen
  • Hmmm. Let me think. Give me a minute... Oh yeah. I am a drinker, and I rarely go out and not drink. Indeed, I can drink rather heavily and occasionally get bombed-out-of-my-gourd drunk, so the Xangette would have to be a hard drinker as well, unafraid of a hangover. Heheheh, so now, the list has been shortened to: Bane_vixen
  • Uh, wait a sec... Er... let me think of a good one... Yeah, yeah, yeah. I teach literature so the Xangette would also have to have an interest in literature. Not only in pulp stuff like Anne Rice or Harry Potter, but "real" literature. Further--hehehehehhe--she would have to have a firm grasp of literary concepts, of critical methodology--structuralism, deconstruction, intertextuality--to discuss this literature. This should eliminate everyone on the list, leaving: Bane_vixen...
  • Uh, let see, now. Hmmm... Ah, yes. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love sports, so the Xangette would certainly have to... Oh, wait! Look! There's only one person left on the list. *gulp*


Oh my, aren't you the unlucky one! Hahaha, just kidding. Since you asked the question, you had to know that I wouldn't let you off that easily. But I must admit that it would be interesting to meet you and to talk to you about things... and then some. Hahahahah.

Okay, query: How many of you think that Bane's question was flirtatious?