Monday, November 29, 2004

Christmas Season is here

W

ell, Thanksgiving has come and gone, leaving a few extra pounds on this sorry-ass body of mine. And now Christmas season is upon us. Ho-ho-ho. Time to warm up the credit card and buy presents that I really can't afford... Oh well.

In the spirit of this jolly season, I have loaded a song that I listened to often in Japan. Simply_marie has been playing it on her site since before Thanksgiving, bless her little heart. And Jerjonji has been asking me about the name of the song. Well, it's called Christmas Eve, and its sung by Yamashita Tatsuro. It sounds kinda cool, but its really a sad song. Here is a translation of the lyrics.

Christmas Eve by Yamashita Tatsuro


Past the deepening of night
The rain will surely turn to snow
Silent Night, Holy Night

I'm sure you won't come
A Christmas Eve spent all alone
Silent Night, Holy Night

Doesn't even seem as though
The feelings hidden deep in my heart
Can ever be fulfilled

I felt so sure that if it was tonight
I could tell you
Silent Night, Holy Night

Still lingering with hardly a trace,
my feelings for you
continue to rain into the night

The Christmas tree on the street corner
The glitter of silver
Silent Night, Holy Night

雨は夜更け過ぎに
雪へと変わるだろう
Silent night, Holy night

きっと君は来ない
一人きりのクリスマス・イブ
Silent Night, Holy night

心深く
秘めた想い
叶えられそうもない

必ず今夜なら
言えそうな気がした
Silent night, Holy night

まだ消え残る
君への想い
夜へと降りつづく

街角にはクリスマスツリー
銀色のきらめき
Silent night, Holy night

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Senryu Tsubame 川柳 September

F

rom msbLiSs: "See, you can observe how your online students' poetry is evolving with the feedback you provide and the model of others to follow. =o)" Well, I'm glad you appreciate it. Although, work has prevented me from keeping up lately. It is truly time consuming. Maybe if I charge tuition? Should I open a PayPal account? Hehehehehe. If only life were that easy.

Anyway, the topic, Beef, seemed to be a bit more difficult than I had imagined. There were really no poems that shined as with the previous topics. Perhaps the essence of beef was a vague concept. I thought it would be a delicious and satisfying image, with perhaps a touch of the carniverous urge in us. But expressing this in an snapshot-like image might be difficult, although Sunjun's imagery seemed to reflect this quite well. Anyway, here are the poems below. A reminder of the rankings: the best eight poems are chosen and given a rank. The rankings in Japanese are: ten (heaven), chi (earth), jin (man) and 五客 (five guests--honorable mentions). However, since there were so few submissions, I will limit the honorable mentions to three 三客. The following are this month's ranking. The other poems are listed in order of receipt.

August's topic was waiting.



Fingers all greasy
stripped beef rib bones before me
Contentment achieved

by SunJun

First impression: Texas style! Technical foul: Poet's Remark: I think back to all the time I ate Korean spareribs. Unfortunately, I had to strip down some of the more colorful cultural details for the non-Korean crowd: the explicit Kalbi references, the line of empty, green-glass soju bottles, sesame leaves, and hot chili paste (Gochujang). Comments: Good job. The image is a nice snapshot of a satisfying meal: greasy fingers and bare bones. The most basic essence of beef in this carniverous world, I think, is the joy of eating it, and what better place to enjoy it than at a BBQ? I would have caught the Korean reference you mention, but you correctly composed a poem for public evaluation that must be understood by all. Indeed, my first impression was Texas beef ribs. Everyone should take heed of your exceptional understanding of place. While poems are a private matter, composition for a poetic salon is specifically for public consumption.


Sizzling tenderloin
slips off the spit, to the floor.
Not well done at all.

by RachelsMommy

First impression: Oops! Technical foul: None. Comments: Pretty good. The image is very clear and distinct, a snapshot of an accident at a BBQ. The verse suggests a betrayal of expectation: a sizzling steak, its mouth-watering aroma teasing the olfactory sense. But the steak slips off the grill, and that sight alone is enough to disappoint anyone. The last line was clever, if perhaps a bit too punny. Senryu can be comical, but the image is supposed to convey it, not a play on words.


I can taste the steak,
as my eyes read the menu;
but Wallet says no.

by onigiri

First impression: I feel ya. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Yeah, i name my wallets Wallet 1, Wallet 2, etc., by the way, being specific is so ... difficult! You have a limited amount of space to state the what,why, where and whens of a setting. maybe i'll improve the 10th time around... Comments: The image is good: sitting at a restaurant and tasting the steak from the menu--maybe rib eye, maybe prime rib. But reality sets in as you realize your wallet cannot afford the price of a jucier cut. Not bad, kiddo.


Disgruntled bovines:
meeting today to discuss
the Atkins issue

by msbLiSs

三客 First impression: Funny, man. Technical foul: None. Comments: This is an amusing poem and the image is striking: a group of cattle making a ruckus in the stockyard, imagining them discussing the issues of being even more likely to be on someone's dinner plate thanks to the Atkins diet. The only thing that keep this from being rated higher is its absence of "reality". While the image of cattle is real enough, cows discussing the Atkins diet is more "Far Side" than senryu. Still, worthy of a sankyaku.


Hoping for beef stew,
But the wife used pork instead,
"it's better for you"

by SammyStorm

三客 First impression: Oh, I get it. Technical foul: None. Comments: At first I was going to toss this aside, as I didn't really grasp the essence of beef at first. but upon closer reflection, the desire to eat beef but being fed something else because it is better for you, touches a couple of aspects, I think. First is the betrayal of expectations, an idea that others touched on--wanting to eat beef, but not getting to, for various reasons. But what makes this betrayal interesting is the fact that it is good for you--perhaps hinting at the dangers of mad cow. Or even more revealing may be a wife who prefers pork to beef, and resorts to the tried-and-true "it's better for you" approach. Hahahahahha. I get this a lot, actually, which may explain why I was able to read it this way. *gulp*


Vegitarian;
A foreign word when scarfing
Juicy Cheesburgers

by ChiisanaHoshi

三客First impression: Oooh... Technical foul: Watch your spelling. Poet's Remark: This was a hard topic! Vegetarian and cheesburgers were the first things to come to mind when I thought of beef, so I ran with the idea. =) Comments: Yes, this was a hard topic, but that is the challenge, isn't it. But the image you present is interesting. The tension between eating meat and the idealism of the vegetarian dissipates as you begin to eat--no, devour--a juicy hamburger. The imagery here is a bit vague here, although I can imagine a discussion of vegetarianism among friends eating beef, and the interesting juxtaposition of these disparate ideas is insightful.


steak, minced, jerky
lots of protein indeed
so what now mad cow?

by Fongster8

First impression: (@_@) Technical foul: None. Comments: A laundry list of beef products. But I'm not sure what essence you are trying to convey. Different tyhpes of meat that you enjoy? Do you like protein? And what does "what now mad cow" mean? This could be construed a rant against beef. You hate steak, jerky, and now what do you give us? Mad cow. Focus on an essence that you can convey through a snapshop image.


Beef: One bite boosts me -
Like the magic mushroom from
Mario Brothers.

by SleepingCutie

First impression: Uh oh... Technical foul: None. Comments: Hahahahaha, at first glance, I thought this was mixing beef with drugs. But then the Mario Brothers game is a serious tongue-in-cheek play on words. Magic mushrooms would boost anyone back in my days in the 70s, and the only video game we had was Pong, so you can imagine what kind of mushrooms I'm talking about... Not that I have first hand experience, of course. Lets stick to the topic...


hm...dinner tonight?
beef bourgignon, what delight!
I smell and I bite...

by Eechim

First impression: Bourgignon? Technical foul: Is "hm" a word? A syllable? Poet's Remark: i love beef and I love beef bourgignon... Comments: If only I knew what beef bourgignon was. But the sentiment is easily grasped. It is a delight to eat anything you like, and certainly smell is a large part of the culinary experience. Perhaps expressions such as "hm" should be left out. You have so precious few syllables as it is...


the queen of talkshow
once encountered some bad beef
named mad cow disease

by aznquarter

First impression: Oh goodness! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: hi. this is my first time trying out, but couldn't resist contributing another mad cow...sometimes we're just sick like that. winks. Comments: To be honest, my mind went wild imaging this verse. Since Oprah--queen of talkshow--doesn't have spongeyform encephalitis to my knowledge, I figure you were talking about her weight! Hahahahahha. Oprah's body did look like a cow and when she gets excited, I guess she might resemble a mad cow. Or maybe some of her guests had mad cow. Anyway, next time focus on something more universal, something we can all easily relate to.


One inch thick rib-eye:
peppercorns and salt to taste--
rare if you would please!

by Simply_Lynne

First impression: I'm drooling. Technical foul: None. Comments: This is a nice straight forward verse. The expectation of eating a steak is always a great image, especially a one inch thick rib-eye. But the expectations would have been heightened had you provided a steak that was cooking or done. The smell or sound of a steak cooking would have provided more specific imagery of place. But a good first submission!


The Pope's Last Supper--
Lucky for Catholic cows
Today is Friday.

by jcangel311

First impression: Are you fasting? Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: My senryu debut! Behold... Comments: Interesting. Like the other poem on Atkins, you took the viewpoint of the cow, and I laughed upon reading it. The last two lines were great. But I'm not sure how the "Pope's Last Supper" fits in. Is the Pop gonna die? And does he die on a Friday? And when I think of it, even if the cows are Catholic, what's to prevent non-Catholic humans from eating them? The underlying concept and images were funny, just got to work on the locgic a bit...


drunk cows in kobe
massaged and happy make good beef
stuff MCD fear.

by silvermyst_ashke

First impression: How brave! Technical foul: Eight syllables in the second line. Comments: Kobe beef gets its name from Kobe city--not the basketball player--in Japan near Osaka. The cattle is fed beer to add calories to it diet, thereby creating fat. It is then massage to force the fat into the meat, giving it its marbles effect. All this makes for good beef that could make anyone forget Mad Cow Disease. But there are two problems, MCD is generally no associated with cows in Japan, so there would be no fear to begin with. Perhaps the last line should have been dircted to the image you created: drunk cows, happy cows. Something like: "If you gotta go".


Oh, Mad Cow Disease,
and Ebola. Why must you
Ravage my dinner?

by XanthochromeSum

First impression: Runaway from beef! Technical foul: None. Poet's Comments: This poem takes the opposite postion of Silvermyst_ashke. Instead of ignoring the dangers of MCD, XanthochromeSum worries about it. And I must admit that I have previously worried about MCD, and it ruined my appetite. But I'm not sure about the Ebola. Is Ebola transfered by beef? Is there something I don't know? Should I have a whole new thing to worry about?


Oh, philly cheese steak
I'm so happy to be the
Top of the food chain

by imahima

First impression: Funny. Technical foul: Split Article. Comments: This would have been in the top three if not for the split article--"the / Top" Don't do that! It makes for an awkward rhythm. All poems should should sound smooth in its entirety AND when recited with pauses after each line.


To all those people
Who give me beef, take your foot
Put it in your mouth

by whonose

First impression: Do we have issues? Technical foul: None. Comments: While this is a snappy poem, I think it takes away from the essence of the topic, as complaints is more of a metaphor than the "essence". Further, while I'm sure anyone who reads this will get the gist. the beef people give you is unclear. Senryu deals in specfic and/or easily identifiable--hence concrete--images and sentiments. Still an interesting poem.


I slice through a piece
Of a medium-rare steak
...It's all brown inside

by kizyr

First impression: Poor baby! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Ok, I don't eat regular meat, I keep to halal except in certain circumstances. But back when I used to eat meat regularly, I always had a problem ordering steaks when I went to Ruby Tuesday--to this day, I hate going back to that place unless I'm getting nothing more complicated than a salad. This senryu expresses my usual experience. Comments: Okay, now that you tell me its a Ruby Tuesday experience, its all clear. But the fact that you needed to explain it suggests that it needed more work. Indeed, I think I might have enjoyed the poem more without your extra commentary, because the idea of having your expectations betrayed is typically senryu. But your explanation suggests that the betrayal is a frequent occurence, and so predictable


If Xanga is beef
I'm a vegetarian
The taste does not please

by shiroi_norite

First impression: Well, we can't all love Xanga. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: I never much liked my writing to begin with, and so that is reason enough to pull the plug in my eyes, but the culture of comments isn't something I ever felt entirely comfortable with (and led to conflict on some occassions, a point I will not elaborate on), and checking the site to see if I had recieved comments just ate up my time ( it was pretty depressing too since you were my only regular, which is not meant to imply anything bad about your comments). For the time being I'm done, maybe just with Xanga, and maybe with blogging in general. I'm glad that you managed to find a social community that fit you here though. Comments: Unlike Whonose, who used beef in its metaphoric sense, you use it as a simile, comparing it to Xanga, and an awful tasting one at that. You're poem conveys less about Beef and more on a dissatisfaction of Xanga. Focus on the topic. Try to express what the topic itself is trying to express--does that make sense? But don't use it as a vehicle to express something else.


Should it be that dark?
Another stirfry wasted.
McDonalds ahoy!

by tinkarrific

First impression: Go Big Mac. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Haha, we've actually never *burned* any of the teriyaki we make, but my boyfriend tends to be too critical of his cooking. He always worries that he'll cook the meat too long or too short, so I end up doing that part. Comments: I get the gist of the poem and it is pretty funny, but the first line threw me off at first. What is "dark"? Is it an expression of meat bein overcooked? Or as your comment suggests, burnt? Then that raises the question, if you burn a stirfry, do the vegetables get burnt too? I think sentiment is funny--McDonalds, indeed!--but the imagery setting up the last line was a bit too confusing. Focus on consistent imagery. Remember that you are providing a snapshot of a moment in text form.


i'm a carnivore,
hear me roar. it's the raw, red,
juicy, meat i crave.

by SweetLilV

First impression: Me, too. Technical foul: None. Comments: My sentiments exactly, but the poem lacks a bit of imagery. As I said previously, a senryu is a snapshot of a moment in time. This, my dear fellow carnivore, tells me you like meat, but it doesn't tell me what kind a beef I'm lookng at, or where it is, or in what situation I would feel this way. Be sure to provide a photo with more detail.


hot dogs and chili
silence even the loudest
tailgaters... for now...

by cgran

First impression: Football season. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: We all know the bigmouth who can't stop bragging about how great his recievers are, or how intelligent his defense is... Except for when his mouth is full of food... Viva football! Comments: Geez, you have your own commentary. I guess you don't need mine? But, yeah, I get what you're saying--poems should speak for themselves. If you think you have to explain it, then something might be missing from the verse.
Anyway, this would have been great if the topic was picnic or football even. But if memory serves me right, most hot dogs have more than just beef. More like pork, no?


3 hours later,
the once magnificent cow
now floats in a bowl.

by iiSoNySoUnDii

First impression: How savory. Technical foul: None. Comments: Since senryu is supposed to be a snapshop of a moment, I'm trying to figure out what I'm envisioning here. A magnificent cow? And I presume beef floating in a bowl? Floating? Hmmm... I think the only time I see beef "floating" is in Pho (Vietnamese noodles), no? And, three hours? Is there something I'm missing? A mere 3 hours from living cow to dinner? Maybe a chicken, but a cow? Good try, but I think there has to be more consistency in the poem, although I can really grasp your attempt at humor. And this is always a good thing! Keep trying.


a magical phrase
yakiniku ikou ka?
host families rock

by gt_ninja

First impression: I wanna go too. Technical foul: Use of Japanese. Comments: This is great, but only to those with host families who "rock", and those who can speak Japanese. The poems are to be read and understood by all who visit here. Although I must admit, I used to love gong to eat yakiniku (Korean BBQ), but it's as expensive as hell in Japan.


Postscript:

Meat was a difficult topic but many came up with funny stuff. Mad cow disease seemed to predominate but there were many other ideas as well, but my essence of beef--perhaps my years in Japan have influenced me--was its pricey-ness. To be able to eat beef in Tokyo means you gotta have some cash in the pocket. And what better way to present this than to try to impress someone else.

To impress a date
on a humid Tokyo night
Korean barbeque

by onigiriman

Saturday, November 27, 2004

When a groove turns into a rut

S

ometimes things get into a rut without me even noticing them. I work 24/7 it seems. At school, I teach, talk to students during office hours, prepare for class the next day, then go home and continue to work--grading papers, doing more class prep. In addition to these responsibilities, I respond to requests for letters of recommendations, opinions on departmental issues. I often work late into the evening--if you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed that I ofen post in the middle of the night--and through the weekend. There is a rhythm to this life, a groove of sorts. I do certain things on certain days and I accomplish my work with a relative degree of success. In between I try to make time for family. On Friday we grocery shop, on weekend evenings, we watch DVDs or other TV shows to relax. But this is not enough. This is not what life is all about.

I was reminded of this fact on Friday.

Yesterday, M and I had to go to the fingerprinting office for her Permanent Residency, that fiasco that is slowly being resolved over time and money--lawyers fees and change-of-status petitioning fees now preclude me from buying a computer I desparately need, one I thought I could treat myself to as a Christmas gift of sorts. Anyway, we went to the office in Alexandria and the fingerpriniting went fine. M waited patiently as I began to grade a stack of quizzes, but the wait was not as long as we had feared, and we were out in little over an hour.

We then went to Burlington, a discount clothing store that centers on coats and jackets. Her youngest son is in need of a parka--down, at M's insistence--and we found a nice one for a reasonable price. As fate would have it, there was a Ruby Tuesday's right across the parking lot, so we stepped in for a beer before heading home.

At the bar, we talked quite a bit about buying Chrismas presents and about her friends in Japan, and how one was still not married, and other basically non-essential matters. When it was time to leave--two and a half hours later--she cheerfully told me how fun it was to have a conversation with me. There was no sarcasm or irony in her delivery. She genuinely seemed happy.

And it struck me. I never really thought that I was ignoring her before, but confronted with such a statement, I began thinking about our life at home, and it occured to me that our conversations center around essential matters: Are the bills paid? I have to go to a meeting today. What do we need to buy at the grocery store? The more I thought about it, the more mundane and boring our life seemed. I had not been paying attention and before I realized it, I had dug ourselves into a rut. Working to survive. Surviving to live.

This is not what I wanted. This is not how I had envisioned our life. So starting today, I will focus on the "non-essentials" of our life. I will create opportunities to spend more time with M, and hopefully figure out how to get out of this rut before it gets too deep...

I will continue to devote myself to my work, but I will cut back on the non-essential essentials. I suppose I should be glad that I came to this realization just when college football is winding down. Geez, or else I would really be confronted with a dilemma...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Xanga changes

C

hange is an inevitable part of life. Some for the good, some for the bad. What I need to work on is my ability to accept it and deal with it on its terms. This is, of course, easier said than done. But then, some of the changes make things easier anyway. Take Xanga for example.

The good people of this blog site have made a few changes. First, thing I noticed was the larger comment boxes. I actually appreciate this change. I sometimes edit comments... okay, I usually edit longish comments, and this is more easily accomplished when I can read a greater portion of what I wrote. Another intereresting change is the profile pix of my commenters. While I know the profile pics for most of my Xanga buddies, its nice to get an image in my head of a new or infrequent commenter. This is a nice touch.

One unexpected change is eProps. I had a script that disabled them, but it is obviously no longer functioning. Oh well, it might be nice to get eProps again... One irritating change--or at least I think its a change--is that I can't use the Back button on my browser afer I leave a comment. I usually leave comments and then use the Back button to go back to the page from which I started, such as my subscription page. This is kinda annoying. I guess i'll have to deal with it by using the "history" (down arrow) button next to the Back button.

Special Thanks

Thanks to Ekin. This is actually a long overdue expression of appreciation. Since some jerks were using META tags to send Xanga spam, The Xanga team disabled it. Unfortunately, I use META tags to enable Japanese on my site automatically. Ekin showed me how to bypass this problem. Thanks dude!

I also want to extend my appreciation to Tiffany Lee and Fyzle for bookmarking me at the RiceBowlJournal. While I am not a promoter for RBJ, I will say it is a nice community for Asian Americans to connect, especially those who hang out at their forum. I haven't been there recently... geez, I barely have time for Xanga. Anyway, thanks to TL and Fyzle for your support. I have added your names to my tomodachi list in the left column on the main page.

I'd also like to thank my recent Xanga subscribers, as well. I usally go to the subscribers site to leave a message of thanks in their guestbooks, but I haven't done it the past few months, but I will soon. In any event, it is always nice to think that people actually want to read what I have to say, as imbecilic as it can be at times...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

T

here are many reasons to be thankful for, truly... I just need a minute or two to think of a few... um. Yeah... like, I'm still alive, although that's debatable. As much work as I have now, I'd be better off dead... or maybe I'm so caught up in the grind I feel like part of the living dead--trudging through life aimlessly... Whew, gotta stop thinking this way, or else I might actually kill myself... So on a happier vein, I will think of... FOOD

Ah, the holidays, a two month period during which there is little guilt attached to over-eating. It starts today with Thanksgiving and ends at the end of January with the Superbowl. That's a good five pounds minimum... Gluttony, the only deadly sin I can live with...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving break

T

oday is the final day before Thanksgiving break. Now classes on Tuesday were fine. Attendance rate was about 90%. I love my language courses. I demand a lot, and these students give a lot. I recently showed the quizzes I give every class to the new Chinese professor, and she was surprised. She told me that it looked more like a test and that she would be afraid to see my exams! Kawabunga!

Yes, I suppose I really push my students. Hopefully, they are actually getting something from this course. It kinda surprises me. I really demand a lot from my students, but they keep on coming.

But then, I have my Literature in Translation course. I guess I am not challenging them enough. Monday was three whole days before Thanksgiving and almost half the class didn't show up. I'm not sure how many will show up today, but I had a very bad dream about it. It went something like this...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

On the Margins

T

hanks for all the ideas. There were a number of good ideas--I certainly like to write about my youth, and of course sex--but still, the will to write is faltering. I simply feel "blah". Is it andropause--male menopause? Or is it simply that time of month? Nah, I'm just over-worked and under-paid. That and the post-election blues. I watch the news and wonder where this country is going.

I know that some of you are supporters of the current administration. Other are not, but are still optimistic: This country is too big, too great for any one man to take over. I don't know. The news suggests that this administration is veering more and more to the right. The lone voice of reason--Colin Powell--is gone. It looks likely that Spector, the more centrist convservative, will be prevented from heading the judical committee because his pro-choice stance has marshalled the indignation of the religious right. This growing group has voiced its opnion and the administration is not necessarily ignoring it. Other republicans have complained of Spectors role in blocking the nomination of an earlier supreme court justice, Bork, who was nominated by Reagan. This attitude, shared by the administration, reflects their petty and vindictive attitude. If they are going to treat one of their own like this, how will they treat someone like me (us) who has opposed them on many more issues. Will my (our) voice be ignored? Will we be further marginalized?

I've felt marginalized for much of my life. Born an Asian American in the 50s was not easy. Ten years after WWII, a couple of years after Korea, I was viewed as the enemy by many in my neighborhood. I was the jap. I would be taunted on the street with words such as gook, occasionally getting jumped on my way to the library. I know all too well what it means to be demonized and marginalized by a group that is not necessarily unanimous, but large enough to feel emboldened to demean all those that do not fit their image of what is "normal".

Sorta like how gays are marginalized, their lifestyle demonized, today.

I look at current majority--represented by this administration and the religious right that have called for a federal amendment against gay marriages--and can't help but feel that this country is again heading down the road of discrimination and unequal rights.

And for me this is a bummer, a major one...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Uninspired

L

ately, I have felt run-down, abused, over-worked. Perhaps that is why I have felt totally uninspired to write. I am completely drained. I feel like a character in a Murakami Haruki story, the father kangaroo staring blankly into his feedbox like a musician whose talents have withered away.

So does anyone have any suggestions? Is there anything you want me to write about? Talk about? Not that I would, but maybe a suggestion will provide a spark for me to get excited with Xanga/blogging again. And please don't say senryu. I will get to them soon enough. I need something different.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

We won, 34-26

We played the University of Oregon in Oregon today. And we won, 34-26. The way we played against Washington State last week--a game we should have won, at home, in the Rose Bowl, against one of the worst teams in the Pac-10--the prospects were not very promising. I was optimisic of our offense and improving defense, but that optimism had taken a serious dip. Oregon is improving and they are in the hunt for a bowl spot, as we were last week. If they played like they wanted to go bowling--as we should have last week--then the Ducks might have handed us our butt in their house. But I guess for today, at least, we wanted it more than them.

In an attempt to make myself feel better, I wrote Onigiriman #3.


Have a nice rest of the weekend. I gotta write up a proposal for a new course with a sexy title... Bleh...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Bungo class

T

onight is the annual bungo--literary Japanese--class. It's a special class where we chant classical Japanese texts--行く川の流れは絶えずして--and sacrifice virgins. hehehehe. Actually, its a meeting for members and candidates of the O-man Club. Students who take bungo and have taken a minimum of 5 of my courses are eligible members. This is a new and very unofficial club. In fact, I'm sure there are former students who wouldn't even want to be members...

Anyway, I'm off to cook Okonomiyaki for my babies... Everyone have a good weekend. I'll be working on the senryu tomorrow...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

PTES

P

reviously, in the ever dramatic and tramatic life of a Riceball--that's Onigiriman to you and me--I mentioned how I hated the negative vibes I've been manifesting. Well, today I talked to a student who said something that gave me an "aha" moment. Mr. Oarbay told me that the problem he had with the Bush administration was not their pro-life postion or their definition of traditional marriage. What bothered him was their ability to grab centrists and polarize them, sorta force them choose one side or the other. Well, that might explain why I am acting this way.

Of course, this talent is not exclusive to the Republicans. Michael Moore did his best to polarize people as well with is infamous "Farenheit 9/11". So i guess there was a lot of this going around recently. And to top it all off, not only do I have a plausible explanation for my actions, I even have name for it, thanks to gokingsgo.

i think you're suffering from post traumatic election syndrome.

That would be PTES to you and me. Thanks dude. A professional diagnosis from an amatuer basketball player. No, wait, that a amatuer diagnosis from a professional basketball player.

Oh well, whatever....

40,000th Headwoman

Last week I reached my 40,000th hit. And that person lucky person would be--tadah!--SleepingCutie, that popular C³ (Canadian Corean Chica), the heartthrob of many a young boy. Although, currently she seems to be burdened with the role of housekeeper/mommy all in the name of beng an over-achieving elder sister. Gee, I wish you were my elder sister. But then you'd have to be 50 years old, and I'm sure you would not like that, althought you'd be a pretty hot for a 50 year-old... Anyway, 40,000 hits is kinda amazing when I think about it. That's a lot of people. I didn't know I was that interesting. Thanks to all of you for being such loyal readers, inspite of my PMS... I mean PTES.

Best at being smart and not rubbing it in or Most intelligent xangan

While I'm not sure this description would really fit me, this is the category I was nominated for at neuroticfitchmom. Voting has not started, and neuroticfitchmom will winnow the nominationsto a more manageable size. The other sites nominated are pretty familiar and popular sites--most of these sites get 50 to 60 comments a day!--so I know I have no chance of winning. But it's nice to know that someone thinks highly enough of me to nominate me. So whoever you are, thanks. I am unworthy. m(_v_)m

Update

Apparently, voting has started.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Sky is Falling

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ust call me Chicken Little, or maybe a Little Chicken. Actually, it's more like chicken and rice. In any event, Rachelsmommy is calling me a political extremist. Or at least I'm on the verge of becoming one. Me! Man, I have never considered myself political, let alone an extremist. When I wrote the other day about "shades of gray", it's precisely because I am neither black nor white. I view things in different shades in the middle. But everything I hear and read these days suggests things are becoming polarized and I don't want to get stuck in the middle.

Okay, maybe yesterday's post was a bit over the top. I certainly don't want to blame Bush backers because they don't see things as I see them. But things are happening that bother me. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector is a moderate Republican, the kind of moderate many Bush backers point to when reassuring me that the religious right will not take over their party. The pro-choice Republican said last week in reference to justice appointments by Bush:

When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely.... The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster (by democrats)... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning.”

Specter's words sounded like those of a realist, and let me breathe a sigh of relief. Perhaps I don't have to be so worried after all. Jerry Falwell may be on TV with Anderson Cooper or with Paula Zahn, but "nobody takes Falwell seriously anymore" (Rachelsmom) and he "isn't the most relevant political source." (cgran). I suppose he is simply put on the screen because he represents the religious right? That maybe the religious right is as irrelevant as he is? Well, however irrelelvant Falwell may be, the religious right is not, certainly not to Specter.

On Thursday, as outraged conservatives tried to block Specter's rise to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Pennsylvania senator issued a statement clarifying his remarks, saying, "I did not warn the president about anything," and "I have never and would never apply any litmus test on the abortion issue."

So as Specter backpedals, I see my brief mirage of optimism backpedal as well. I hate the way I feel right now. I am, by nature--I think--optimistic and non-extremist. I believe that most of you who have been reading me for the past year or so will agree, more or less. What was it about this election that affected me so negatively? I almost can't stand myself. Aaaargh!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Changing the Cultural Landscape

ith the election of George Bush, we could see a dramatic change in the cultural landscape. Who will be affected? Women, gays, and racial minorities. You see, if we are not with them, we will be viewed by the powers that be of being against them. And as a result, we will be marginalized. And believe me, we will be marginalized when Bush II gets his opportunity to appoint a supreme court justice. Or justices, plural. Certainly Justice Renquist will be going out as he has cancer. And the buzz is that three more may retire in the next four years.

If Bush appoints someone who reflects his ideals and those who support him--the religious right and other hardcore conservatives--then you can be sure that the first thing on the block will be Roe v. Wade. They will likely overturn it, as many religious conservatives have scremed for, and women will no longer have the freedom to determine what is right for their own health, physical, psychological, whatever. Whether I am for abortion or not is not the issue. I believe that every women has the right to control her own body and mind when she feels it necessary. For example, if she is raped and impregnated, she should have the right to abort. Overturning Roe v. Wade will likely take away that right.

Perhaps you think that Bush wouldn't actually appoint such a judge? Well, we all know that religious conservatives supported Bsuh strongly and faithfully. You should be aware that they have high expectations of Bush responding to their demands. This is what the Reverend Jerry Falwell said on Anderson Coopers' "360 Degrees" on CNN on Nov. 3, the day after the election.

COOPER: I know you think, no doubt, a lot of Republicans are saying the president has a mandate a clear victory. What happens now? Are you hoping to overturn Roe V. Wade? How -- where does President Bush go with his mandate? Where do you want him to see him go?

FALWELL: Well, there has never been a question about pro life people, if they're genuinely pro life, that we do want to overturn Roe V. Wade. That can only happen by the appointment of Supreme Court justices that are committed to the sanctity of life, born and unborn, and the strict interpretation of the Constitution...

We are hopeful that in these next 4 years, the president may get two, three, four appointments to the court and we believe -- we all trust George Bush. We believe in George Bush. I personally think he's the most overtly and open Christian that's been in the White House in my lifetime. I thank God for almost everybody who's been in the White House since I've been alive in 71 years has been a Christian, but this guy openly shares his faith unashamedly and he does it all over the world.

When Falwell said "we all trust George Bush," what do you think he meant? Does it mean that he trusts him to appoint justices who "want to overturn Roe v. Wade"? Sure sounds like it to me. And do you think Bush--who has already endorsed a federal ammendment that would ban same-sex marriage--will not try to satisfy Falwell? He already acts as if he has a mandate and has even stated that he has accumulated political capital that he plans to spend...

Are some of you as nervous as I am. I swear, I'm truly worried about how this new gardener will mow down our cultural landscape. If you voted for Bush, I hope you realize how your vote may affect not only the next 4 years of our lives, but for the lifetime of any new supreme court justices he appoints.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

"Hey, did you get that off my Xanga banner?"

H

ahahahaha. Sorry. Most definitely, Link_strife has the phrase, "Shades of Gray" on his page. But this is the title of a song by the Monkees from the 1960s--it should be playing if you are reading this on the comment page. And its a pretty common theme among "adults." Well, at least adults with a willingness to see the complexities of life, because as you know, and as everyone should realize, a world painted in black and white is simple, easy to follow, and ultimately dangerous.

When I was raising my daughter, I made sure that I painted her world in black and white. Yes, you must do as you are told. No, you must not lie. Yes, you must go to school. No, you must not fight in school. Black and white. Right and wrong. Ones and zeroes. Totally binary. But this I used to provide a foundation, a moral compass that would guide her in the general direction of North--right, good, lawful. But it wasn't meant to lead her in one direction irrespective of obstacles in her way, like cattle over a cliff. Is it wrong to lie? Well, yeah. But there are times when a lie is okay if it might spare someone's feelings. Is it wrong to fight? Well, yeah. But if you're fighting for a principle that you believ is right, then it's okay. If our forefathers didn't believe this, we'd still be a colony of England.

I am, of course, stating the obvious. Unfortunately, there are people to whom the concept gets muddled under stress, or under difficult situations. Yesterday, I spoke of how the world, in my view, is painted in varying shades of gray. I truly believe this, and no amount of terrorist act or Bush administration rhetoric is going to change that. The scary thing, of course, is that there are those who, willingly or not, knowingly or not, fall into step with this state of mind under the right (no pun intended) conditions. A comment left (again, no pun intended) by CultofDizzo makes this clear.

Shades of Grey?... That isn't how the terrorists think. They're not going to ask your party affiliation before they saw your head off on television. Or am I supposed to find some good in that?

No, there is no good in that. I think that these maniacs should be caught and punished for what they did. Damn, dude, I am pissed off too. But I also wonder, why are they doing that to us? Is it because we invaded their country? Is it because we maintain a military presence in a land they consider Holy? How would I feel if a battalion of Saudis stood guard on Wall Street claiming that they wanted to maintain the peace to protect their interest? And I'm sure they have a lot of interest invested in Wall Street. So there is some room for consideration, a kind of area that is not just black and white.

Don't get me wrong, now. I'm not saying that the US doesn't have business in the Middle East. We have just as much reason to be there as we have to be around oil drill sites in Alaska. But I believe that our military presence could be questioned by those who live there. No? Do you expect everyone to bow down and kiss the feet of the almighty Americans? Who among us is that arrogant?

The point I am trying to make is that there is room to question our actions. Are we doing the right thing? Can our actions evoke violent retalliation? And if so, should we respond in kind?

When 9/11 happened, I was pissed, as I believe most Americans were. I was willing, to a degree, to suspend the right of Arabs. Me! A Japanese American whose parents and relatives were the victim of the same suspension of civil rights. I am almost ashamed to admit this. But now, as cooler heads have prevailed, I have realized the idiocy of my position. Call me a flip flopper. But I, as an American who will exercise his right to change his mind when the situation demands it, will take a different position when I believe I am correcting a wrong one.

In any event, I do not condone their actions and indeed I believe they should be condemned for it. But should I react as they do? They seem to see things like you do, in black and white. Indeed, that is the one thing I have always viewed as ironic. The Bush administration manifests a mindset similar to the extremists. "If you're not with us, you're against us." Can you imagine if the Japanese had the same mindset? Forget about if its right or wrong; just focus on the mindset that the Bush adminstration and Islamic extrimists share: we're right, you're wrong. Geez, Japan could drop an A-Bomb on Seattle. I'm glad the Japanese see things in shades of gray. They realized that their way of thinking wasn't absolutely right, that perhaps there there are a number of things to consider and reconsider. They did not lower themselves to the extremists' level.

So, as for me, I may be the subject of ridicule. I may be labeled "unpatriaotic" by you and other US conservative, right extremists. But I'll take my own road, which I believe to be higher... And strangely enough, closer to God.... ahahhahaaha, just kidding. Okay, I'm gonna rot in hell for my blasephemy, but I would NEVER presume that any of us, Bush included, is a messenger of God, the recipient of somekind of heavenly mandate. If that is how Bush got elected, then I really have to consider moving...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Only Shades of Gray

A

s many of you know, my academic specialty is Japanese Literature. And perhaps the most important aspect of J Lit--as well as J culture in general--is that everything is portrayed in different shades of gray. Things are not divided into black or white, only shades of gray... Sounds like an old Monkees song. This concept, however, is not exclusive to Japan. It is, I think, a part of our very lives.

Concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, left and right, liberal and conservative, play off each other. There can never be anything that is absolutely good and absolutely evil. Our lives, our thoughts, our history, our existence is simply too complex to be categorized in bulk into one category or the other.

So when a president announces, "You're either with us, or against us," I am totally turned off. Sure he was addressing countries who would not participate in the Iraq war cum debacle--and many allies felt punished for disagreeing with US policy. But the target of this attitude cannot be limited to foreign countries. To think this suggests a lack of understanding of the effects of texts and context. Some would argue, "That's not what he meant." If this argument is enough for you, then you live in a limited, uninmaginative world. The Declaration of Independence states that "All men are created equal." Of course, the the framers of the Declaration meant "All white men". They did not mean women who could not vote. And they didn't mean the black Africans that people such as Thomas Jefferson owned as slaves. However, today, "All men are created equal" is all inclusive--well, at least in theory. And why is this so? Because the context is different. We live in a society and culture that recognizes the changing times. So are we misinterpretting the Declaration? Should we adhere strictly to what the framers meant and take away the vote from women, enslave Blacks, and return all Japs to internment camps? Of course not. Byt the same token, I find myself in a different context from the Bush administration. If I am against the war; if I question the validity and legitimacy of invading a country, especially when many of the reasons for invading Iraq have proven to be as fragile as the more than 1000 US lives lost in the battle, then I find myself in the same position as these foreign countries. Since I am not with the Bush adminstiration, I am, I guess "against them."

But, judging my patriotism based on opinions that deal with more than just "Are you against terrorism"--especially when that aspect is bundled with the US invasion of Iraq--is insulting. The invasion of Iraq has had so many negative consequences--a rising federal deficit, the increase of terrorists in the world, the declining prestige of the US abroad, not to mention the lost lives--it is hard not to hesitate, question, indeed express an opinion that is not plainly black and white. As an American, I reserve the right to my opinion, whether it agrees with the president's or not. His suggestion that any opinion that does not agree with his is unpatriotic is an insult to me. And it should be to every American.

And yet, it appears that the very president who insists on painting his vision of America in absolutes colors is the man that the majority of Americans want. My way of thinking--that there is more than black and white, that plurality is the goal we should strive for--is in the minority. And I could not be sadder...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Year of the Reverse

I

guess this is the year to change trends, destroy old superstitions. First, the Red Sox not only become the first baseball team to come back from a 0-3 deficit and beat the Yankees, they finally get rid of the Curse of the Bambino and win the World Series. Now the Washington Redskins are no longer the seers of presidential elections--although they continue to count votes in Ohio and New Mexico, Bush's lead seems is insurmountable. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the incumbent party often reflected the wins and losses of the last Redskins home game before an election. If the trend continued, the incumbent, Bush, would have lost because the Redskins lost last Sunday at FedEx field.

While it was nice to see the BoSox win, I would have rather have seen them lose if it meant that the Redskins remained accurate prognosticators.

So where the hell am I going to go now? *shudder* The Bush administration once announced, "you're either with us or against us." Compassionate conservatism? This is the attitude that convinced me to turn away from Bush. Like everyone else in the country, when 9/11 hit, I threw my support behind the president. With rhetoric like that, with an antagonistic attitude like that, I slowly change my mind. I became, like Kerry, a flip flopper, one who once supported Bush then changed his mind based on new information. And so, since I am not with him, I am--by their definition--against him, becoming an outsider, just another marginalized person. I presume that this is how I will be received by Bush supporters as well, because, hell, if they voted for him, they "approve this message." Perhaps it's time to leave.

But first...

40,000 Headman

I am approaching the 40,000 hit mark. Indeed, I will likely hit it sometime today or tomorrow. Please tell me if you are number 40,000. There's a counter somewhere on this site.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Decision 2004

I

voted today and man the place was packed. I went at 9AM and there were a kaziilion people. So I went home and returned at 11AM. There were only a million this time, so I decided to wait in line. As I was waiting, someone looked at me and accused me of being one of those lawyers checking out the polling process. Me! Onigiriman! I mean, what the heck could a blob of rice do? I could barely carry a clipboard, let alone push the right buttons to vote.

Anyway, here's my voting experience...


Did you vote?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Kerry Wins Presidency!

T

hat's right! Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate has been elected as the 43 president of these United States. Sorry, all you Bush backers. But it's official. Send the lawyers home. Don't need to count the hanging chads. Don't need to harrass voters with provisional ballots. The results are in:

Green Bay Pac-men 28 - Washington Redskins 14

Yes, in an historical quirk, a string of coincidences, the presidency has been foretold the past 17 times--dating back to 1936--based on the results of the last Redskin's home game prior to the election. Whenever the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins, and when the Redskins lose, the challenging party ousts the incumbent. For example, in 2000, the Redskins lost to the Titans 27-21 and Gore--the candidate for the incumbent Democratic party--lost to Bush.

In 1996, Clinton's is re-elected when Redskins bveat Indianapolis Indianapolis. In 1992, the Skins lose to the Giants 24 to 7, and the incumbent party represented by Bush I is ousted by Clinton. So on and so forth.

This is, of course, a bunch of BS and freaks out only those who actually believe in things like astrology, um... like President Reagan... no wait, that was his wife, Nancy. But ya gotta admit, this is a pretty amazing string of coincidences.

Anyway, if you haven't voted early and you're registered...

Be sure to vote tomorrow!