Friday, December 31, 2004

Passing-to-the-New-Year Noodles


t is a custom in Japan to eat something called, toshikoshi soba. Toshikoshi literally means to pass over to the next year; soba are the buck wheat noodles that are sold by vendors in and out of virtually every railroad station in Japan, although not as numerous as the ramen noodle shops. Ultimately, though, the noodles can be eaten anyway you want--in a broth, cold with dipping sauce, rolled up in seaweed like sushi. They become toshikoshi soba by virtue of the date that you eat them, December 31st, the last day of the year.

To me, good soba is as good as good ramen, and there are few things in this world that will surpass either of these meals. But as I just mentioned, there are many more ramen shops. You can leave the turnstiles of any station in Tokyo and you will find a soba shop right outside. You'll also find about five ramen shops.

But if you ask most Japanese, they will share my opinion. While some will even say they prefer soba to ramen, I have met few who prefer good ramen to good soba. And maybe that's the key: Good. Few of the ramen vendors make their own noodles. They get a shipment every morning from some nameless noodle factory, and if the shop owner has a great broth, then the noodles are bound to be good--althought I admit to being pretty picky about my broth: Soy sauce base with BBQ pork chashu. *sigh* Shit, I'm getting hungry...

But most soba places cut their own soba. You can get dry soba, packaged much like spaghetti is, at any supermarket. Heck, they sell it at Whole Foods here in Virginia. Speaks volumes for their shelf life, I suppose. And it is not too bad, if you're the type who doesn't mind eating spaghetti from the package either. And I don't mind. I nice, fresh al dente noodle--spaghetti or soba--is nice, but not necessary. But hand made fresh noodles in the states will cost you a pretty penny. Go ask Mario Batali. He'll be more than happy to sell you some at $18 a plate. But in Japan, you can still get a bowl of fresh soba for a song... well 400 yen, hold the karaoke... I haven't been to Japan for a while, but at the train station, you can probably still get a bowl for under 300 yen in some places. (Think 1 dollar = 100 yen)

Of course, this is the plain version. Still good piping hot on a cold evening out, while your waiting for the last train to go home. You can add things to it at a price, and they range from tempura crumbs, fried tofu, to eggs to tempura shrimp. My favorite place was actually quite a haul from the station, about a 15 minute walk in the opposite direction from home. But it was worth it. It's called would Sarashina Jingoro in Kunitachi, Tokyo, south exit. 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 is 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.

It could be the hottest day in the summer, and I would crave this. I sometimes have dreams about eating this one dish. I salivate. I'm salvating right now...

Woah! gotta go. M has just made some toshikoshi soba with the mixed seafood-vegetable tempura! Yum!

Have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Kama Sutra

As part of their final, students were required to translate a story called Kama Sutra. This is my own translation. It is not as literal as any I would require my students to submit, but then I'm not being graded...

by Murakami Haruki, from Yume de aimasho, 1986.


appy Birthday" she said, as she held out a pretty small box tied up with green ribbon.

We were eating roast beef, while drinking scotch and water in a splendid restaurant on the thirty-second floor of a high rise building. It was, after all, my birthday.

"So what do you think it is? Take a guess."

"Hair clippers," I said. But I was joking, of course.

When I took off the wrapping paper, there appeared a small box, ruby-red and shining with a glitter. Inside this small box was a piece of paper the size of a movie ticket. And on this piece of paper was written, "Pleasure Ticket."

"You can redeem it any time you like," she said.

When I got home, I opened the top drawer of my desk. Tucked away inside were seventy-eight "Pleasure Tickets" of various colors that I had received from seventy-eight different girls.

When I took them out, I added the new ticket, making it seventy-nine.

A manageable number.

I dug a hole in the garden with a shovel, and buried the seventy-nine "Pleasure Tickets" I had stuffed into an empty grape-candy can. And then I pulled out the hose and watered it.

That's the... how can I put this? That's the kind of personality I have.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bad Christmas



t's hard for me to remember a truly "bad" Christmas. I have been blessed for most of my life. I can truly say that most of my Christmases have been nice to some degree: Being with family and friends, exchanging gifts. So when I did Japanese Studies at Waseda in 1984, it was my first Christmas alone. I was a poor soul, as I mentioned in a previous post, and could not even afford a phone back then--for those of you who don't know, it cost something like 60,000 yen to "purchase" a phone number in Japan (this is re-sellable), which is probably why cell phones took off like a rocket with young people in Japan before it did here.

Anyway, I couldn't even phone home. I have no presents to speak of, and the only thing I had that was Christmassy were three greeting cards I had received and scotch-taped to the wall. But I was healthy, and living in Japan on my own, studying what I wanted to study. The situation was "self-inflicted", so to speak, so I could live the consequences, albeit by myself, with a bottle of shochu (soju), and a small TV.

Well last week, when I saw my beloved Bruins lose to the Wyoming Cowboys, I had no inkling that this Christmas would develop into a badder Christmas. After the game and doing some more grading, then cooking the ham for the Christmas Eve get together we were having the next day--I was cooking in the middle of the night--I decided to check my e-mail at 8 in the morning before going to bed. To my shock, I learned the mother of my former boss had passed away.

"The mother of a former boss?" you my ask. Yes, she was very special to me. She was kind and generous and firm when I was a rambunctious youth. As I have written here before, my boss and I got along very well and was in many ways my elder sister. Her mother was my mother. Of course, she was like everyone's mother. (There is a lot missing in the details; I am still sorting out any limitations there might be.) But we would watch the store every night, she would cook dinner six days a week for those of us still at the store after 7PM, and I would drive her home after we closed shop at 9PM--10 PM Friday to Sunday.

She was deific. She could do nothing wrong. She was the sweetest person I have ever known or ever will. She was over 100 years old when she died last week.

I thought about going to LA immediately for the funeral this past weekend, but the next morning, Chrismas Eve, I woke up with a fever. By late afternoon, I was at 100ーF by late afternoon and 104ー by midnight. I was delirious. No way I could get to LA. I could barely send off a coherent email of condolence to the mortuary. For most of four days, I was horizontal--short of breath, hacking, burning up, only to sweat out tons of fluids as M lowered my fever with force-fed Tylenol, then getting chills as my fever worked its way back up. I finally got to the doctor the day after Christmas.

I had told M to have everyone open their presents on Christmas as they should, but the family would wait for me to feel better, she insisted, and on the evening of the 27th we opened our presents. I got underwear, socks, and sweats. Pretty typical for this husband/father, I suppose. Nothing elaobrate, always essential.

Besides the presents, perhaps the only good thing to come out of the last few days is that I lost 5 pounds. Go figure...

Friday, December 24, 2004

Death around the holidays can be very depressing. Mrs. H was not my mother or grandmother, but in many ways she was both.

I will be back in a few days.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Where did our poverty go?

by Murakami Haruki, from Murakami Haruki asahido, Hai ho!, 1989.


ot that I'm bragging, but there was a time long ago when I was quite poor. Around the time we had just gotten married, we lived quietly in a room with no furniture or anything. We didn't even have a heater, and on cold nights we would hug the cat and steal some of its warmth. Even the cat was cold and so it clung to us humans with all earnest. When it gets to this point, it's something like symbiosis. When we walked around town, we never had occasion to step into a coffee shop even if we were thirsty. We didn't travel, and didn't buy clothes. All we did was just work.

However, not once did we think we were unfortunate. Of course, I would think, "Ah, if only I had money," but you don't have what you don't have, so I would just think, "Oh well, can't be helped." Once, when we were helplessly troubled for money, we were walking on the streets in the middle of the night with our heads down and came across three 10,000 yen bills. We thought is was wrong, but we didn't turn it into the police, but instead paid back a loan. I thought at that moment, "Life ain't something to thrown away..."

We were young, fairly naive, in love with each other, and had no fear of poverty at all. I graduated from college, but didn't want to be employed somewhere, so I lived just as I pleased. An objective view would have pegged us as society's losers, but for us there was nothing that even approached a sense of anxiety.

But man, were we poor.

I Love Xanga


ho said Xanga was a waste of time because it's populated by a bunch of young people? Man, it's precisely because its populated by today's youth that I find it has value. Like a couple days ago, I was confronted with the problem of converting m4a files to more the more standard mp3. I asked some old geezers at work--of course, "old" still meaning younger than me, hehehhe--but they had no idea.

So I asked my friends here on Xanga. And it's because you guys are young--well, most of you anyway--that they know the latest things going on.

Thanks to all who responded to the query. Ron2 hooked me up with 3ivx for Windows. Now I can hear all the m4a files on Windows Media Player! although I haven't figured out how to convert... From what I can tell, I still need to get QuickTime Pro, and maybe I will after Christmas when my credit card cools down.

But I figured out how to do it anyway, thanx to SweetLilV. She told me about I downloaded two sample programs by ImToo and Xilisoft (search "m4a" and "convert") that converts most audio files. Unfortunately, because (?) they are sample programs, they sometimes don't convert the entire file to WAV--the song would end after about two minutes. Those that would convert were strangely out of synch. They seemed slower. A 4:09 song turned out to be 4:34. The difference in speed is noticable. But for some reason, these programs would convert the m4a programs to mp3 with no problem!

Of course, being the anal retentive I am, I still needed to convert to the WAV format to burn CDs that will play in my car--a '96 Maxima. And also had for free the CD-DA Extractor. It won't burn (I think), but it will rip and convert the mp3 files to WAV with no problems. So while this has become a two step process for me, it was worth it. I mean, this stuff is for free, so how could I complain, right?

Anyway, thanks to you guys, you are now listening to what Kizyr recognized as the same song as yesterday, the slower, more romantic version of "We Are" by Do As Infinity.

Now, I have a few other blogs, but Xanga is my baby. I love it, and more specifically, I love you guys for your help and generosity! By the same token, I hope that you find some of the crap I write helpful... or at least good for a laugh, and that being old on Xanga is not always a bad thing either. Geez, it's like a freakin' family here.

Anyway, I'm still grading. Finished Literary Japanese last night (this morning?) and will now tackle Readings in Mod-J now. I am half-way through. I hope to pull myself away from Xanga long enough complete it by 9PM tonight so I can watch the UCLA Bruin game, guilt free! We play Wyoming and this should ge the start of something big--but more about recruiting later... For some of you who have explicitly manifested disinterest in my sports entries, do not worry, this is the Bruin's bowl game--okay, okay, it's only the world famous Las Vegas Bowl--and so their last game of the year. Of course, there is always basketball! Hahahhahahahaa.

Anyway, I hope to be around soon, but just in case I find myself falling behind in my work...

Merry Christmas

The best to you and yours

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Grading Update


Lit, grades submitted on-line. J-Lit exam consists of essays so it takes longer--if you were wondering... Well, that and procrastinating... One down, three to go.


New Christmas song--"We Are" by Do As Infinity. I don't know get the name of the group either. A student of mine in Japan sent it to me, telling me its one of the songs playing in Japan for Christmas? Well, she likes this group especially. Anyway, I heard it and thought it was pretty good and wanted to share it with those of you who don't get the opportunity to here J songs very often. Lyrics to come later... after grading... GRRRRrrrrrrRRRRrrrrRRrrr...............



know that there's gotta be someone out there who can help me? I friend let borrow a disc with M4A audio files, but of course I can't hear them without converting them... I think. (I use Windows XP.) It will play on Real Player but not on Windows Media Player or Winamp.

Does this mean that even if I burn them to a CD, it won't play on normal cd players? If so, what do I need to do to convert them to WAV or MP3 formats? I presume I would need a conversion program. Any suggestions? This old non-tech old man would appreciate any help...

Oh yeah, I'm still grading.... hehehehhehehehee, really. I'm half way through Advanced Modern Japanese.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

About Onigiriman: FAQ


ve reached the home stretch of the grading the finals... for my first class. I have two finals--count 'em, TWO--for Tuesday. This is not a Dominoes ad. This is two days before Christmas Eve. This is hell. So I don't really have time to spend on Xanga... well, except to procrastinate. It's 6:50AM and time for me to go to sleep!

In the meantime, I thought I'd post something that is actually at the JAJournal, my original site where I archive my stuff. However, I'm in the process of moving over to Blogspot. Archiving manually is a pain in the booty, and Blogspot allows me to enter any date I wish, so I'm moving all my old entries over there. This is a slow process, particularly since this too is a procrastinating tool... But if you're interested in what I had to say a couple of years ago, check it out.

Frequently Asked Question about Onigiriman

Inquiring mind: So who are you?
O-man: Me? I'm just a lump of cooked rice squished together. But seriously, I'm a Japanese American born and raised in LA... that looks like a lump of cooked rice squished together.

What generation are you?
I'm technically a Sansei, but I refer to myself as a phony Nisei. My mom was born in Japan and my dad is a Nisei born in Idaho, so that make me a Nisei and a half, sorta. But he's a Kibei Nisei--a Nisei who went back to Japan for his education--so his Engrish is not so native. So while I'm a Sansei, I often feel like a Nisei.

Do you speak Japanese?
Don't you?

Is it important?
To speak Japanese? No, not really. I used to think so. I used to think that any self respecting JA should understand Japanese, but given the history of Japanese Americans in the US, then it may not be too much of a surprise that they more or less abandoned the language.

What do you mean?
Well, the mom of an ex-girlfriend once explained it to me. After everyone was interred during WWII, many JAs felt that they had to prove their US citizenship, that they were really Americans of Japanese descent. The first casualty of this attitude was the language. I mean, what other everyday act brands you as different from the rest? Speaking Japanese pegged you as a Japanese, not an American. But I thought we were talking about me?

Yeah, right. Uh... So why do you speak Japanese?
Working in J-Town. That's Japanese Town or Nihonjin-machi to you, and Lil' Tokyo to everyone else. I hung out there for many years, but started working part time at a sweet shop in 1st street. I worked part-time as I went to high school. At first, my Japanese was very crude, but working there 4 hours a day, 6 days a week in an environment where all the workers and customers only spoke Japanese got me to speak at a basic level rather quickly.

And now?
Well, I have been regarded as "near" native, whatever that means, but I still strive to improve. Japanese is not a language that is easily mastered. Ask any Japanese. They're very good at reminding me of that fact.

What do you do when you're not on Xanga?
I teach at a post-secondary school, Japanese language and literature. I believe that knowing Japanese is beneficial to all, for if nothing else it allows people to learn how to think in different ways, to perceive "truth" from a different perspective. Have you read "In a Grove" by Akutagawa?

Uh, I thought this was about you...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Still Grading


an, grading sucks. But I love my students and I want to make sure that they all get the grade they deserve. Can you imagine some profs barely scan the final exams? Not me. I think it would be unfair to the good students. There has to be somekind of separation between the solid students and the slackers. And with take-home exams, the overnight no-sleep writing style is pretty evident--students had a week to do the work...

Anyway, its 2:30 in the wee hours of the night and its time to call it a night. But before I go, I thought I'd tell you that I started another site just to write Japanese. The cool thing--I thought--was that I could write vertically. Well, after investing far too many precious hours into this project, I found out that many people may not be able to see it properly. I kinda expected that the html coding wouldn't be compatible to old browsers and older machines--my own 4 year old notebook at home reads the characters sideways--but Macs can't seem to read them at all. In fact the vertical writing becomes horizontal! Ugh, how frustrating! Characters and frames overlap each other and it looks like a mess, someone told me. Damn, and I thought it looked really cool on my computer.

Anyway, if you can read Japanese and you have some time to kill, do you think you can go over to my site on Blogspot? And tell me if the site is readable and vertical or if it just looks like a lot of crap? You can leave a comment on that site or here. All comments in English will post sideways (vertical) over there...

Anyway, it's time to give my red pen a break and let it cool down... and time for me to sleep... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, December 17, 2004

Many thanks


must express my appreciation for your many good wishes. While I still feel like I'm getting old--wait until you guys approach 50 and tell me I was wrong--I am, as I have stated a thousand times, young at heart. Immature in the eyes of some--certainly M would not go out of her way to disagree with this characterization--but... but... um... er... nevermind...

Anyway, thanks for the wishes. Geez, I know that I had disabled the eprops on this site until Xanga revamped itself and the particular script I was using didn't work anymore, but getting lots of eprops was like a birthday present in itself. 80? As well as some early and later well wishers. I hadn't received that many comments/eprops since, since... last February when I stated I was leaving Xanga because of some jerk... Ah, but that's in the past...

I'd also like to extend a special thanks to jerjonji for her many e-cards and her efforts to encourage others to send one, too. Thanks to: Hanzo, aznquarter, carey, cgran, chie_wo_sagashite, eechim, the mongoose, detachable, peachesLv9, PiscesTiff, wolferasdreams, simply_marie, crotchety, ekin, enygma81, fyzle, no1watching, iamTOFUBOY.

I also received cards from a few others, but I can't identify them. I'd like to extend my appreciation to you anyway: emptylott, mslott (the same as emptylott?), ellie n.(I think I know who this is, but I'm not sure), and jason--I know at least three Jasons on Xanga. If you guys wanna e-mail me again so I'll know who you are, I'd like that a lot.

Anyway, thanks to you all! I have to admit that I am so incredibly flattered by all the attention.

(domo arigato gozaimashita)

Also, I have to extend a double thanks to enygma81, who recently bookmarked me on RBJ, the Rice Ball... I mean Rice Bowl Journal. Her bookmark put me into the top ten for the first time! I've added your name to my Tomodachi list on this page, as well as to the gallery on the bottom of the main page. Thanks, girl.

Now, back to grading... grrrr.....

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Up, Down, or Sideways


ost languages are are written horizontally: English, Greek, even Arabic, albeit in the opposite direction. East Asian languages, on the other hand, are written vertically, with the lines progressing right to left. This is probably old news for most of you since most of you have East Asian Heritage. But I've always wondered if this approach to writing had a cultural explanation, perhaps a reflection of how East Asians view the world.

I'm no anthropologist, but I have made a few observations over the years that may seem rather mundane and obvious. Reading texts horizontally, left to right, suggests that perhaps people read verticall. The opposite is true of Japanese; reading vertically, up to down, is is conducive to reading laterally. A consideration of reading scrolls--or even the internet for that matter--is revealing.

行く川の流れはたええずして、しかももとの水にあらず よどみにかぶうたかたはかつえかつむすびて、ひさしくとどめりたるためしなし の中にある人とすみかと、またかくのごとし

You'll probably need Windows XP or a Mac to read this text properly. It will appear like horizontal text typed sideways. to some.

Back in the day of when the Greeks and Romans wrote long texts on scrolls, the text was lateral but to advance to the next line, the next paragraph, one had to "scroll down". Chinese, Japanese, and Korean texts on scrolls are written vertically, but to go to the next line or paragraph, the movement was lateral. Indeed, many of my students have been amused by the phrase, "as mentioned to the right," when they realize that it is the same as "as mentioned above" in English.

In a way--and in a very amateurish conclusion--it always seemed to me that in English lateral movement is a momentary convenience to read, but to understand the greater text the movement was ultimately vertical. East Asian languages are just the opposite: read vertical but to advance into the text one had to move laterally, right to left.

Does this have greater implications? Probably not. But it is interesting to note that the West sees things in vertical terms and Japan--I don't know enough about China and Korea to make any generalizations--views things laterally. In religion classes, I think the general perception is that heaven is above and hell is below. While I think we can all agree that heaven and hell--for those who believe in such concepts--exist in a realm that defies such human distinctions as up and down, but terms such as ascending to heaven or descending to hell are pretty common, are they not? Remember, I'm considering cultural--i.e. human--perceptions. In Japan, paradise is not viewed in vertical terms, but in terms of distance. In Jodo Shinshu, one only needs to chant the name of the almighty to guarantee his/her place in paradise, the Western Paradise. Of course, back in the day, that would mean China. Hahahahha. But that's not the case. They realized as well that paradise is a place beyond the realm of our existence, but still labeled it in lateral terms.

Social phenomenons are similar. Struggles for power also move vertically in the West, and this is best illustrated in the horizontal structure of groups. In this horizontal society, people sharing characteristics--a lateral spread, as it were--try to gain power against another strata of people: the bourgois class against the French monarchy controlled by the Roman Catholic Church (those ne'er-do-wells), the commoners against Tsarist Russian government. Even in our modern society, people of the same occupation--a lateral construct--form unions to stand up against executives. In contrast, Japan is a vertical society. Groups of people do not bond because of shared traits--peasants, Russian intelligentsia, retail clerks. Instead they bond in a vertical fashion--a construct from which the ie, household, system came. Everyone from the head down to the lowliest member of a group will bond to fight against their perceived nemesis. That is why you never hear of the kind of social unrest you hear in other cultures. The peasants never revolted against their masters, they bonded with them. Modern day unions are structured similarly: by company. Mistubishi Heavy Industry, Sumitomo Chemical. They all have their own unions, usually made up of the rank and file of the company from the maintenance worker up to mid-management.

Again, I stress, I am not an anthropologist and cannot back anything I've said. But the observations are correct, as far as I know. And the parallel between vertical and lateral is something I find interesting. But of course, an old geezer like me tends to ponder about things that have nothing to do with his work, and adds absolutenly nothing to the social dialogue that is... Xanga? Hehehehhehehe

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A new start here on blogspot

I will be moving the JA Journal here. It will allow me to archive in a much easier way. Doing it manually at the other site was a pain in the you-know-what. Blogspot will archive things for me automatically.... So keep an eye out as I slowly prepare for the move.

49 down 1 more to go


ell, today students in my lit class must turn in their take-home exams, and this is the first bunch of exams I have to grade. But the title above has nothing to do with the number of finals I have left to grade--one left? I only wish... Unfortunately, it is that fateful day when I enter the last year of my first half century. I feel old, I look old. Who am I kidding? I AM OLD. *sigh*

Anyway, I may be scarce the next week or so, cuz I'll be grading my life away...

Monday, December 13, 2004

My Faith


was born into Catholicism. I was baptized a few weeks into my life, and I trudged along with my parents every sunday to Mass. I went to a Catholic schools from 1st to 12th grade. And during those years, I was innundated with the teaching so the Church: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain.

Okay, most of what they teach is socially acceptable. I mean, I think most religions base their beliefs on guidelines that make for a moral society. Thou shalt no take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain. (i.e. don't break a sworn oath or contract.) Honor thy father and mother.Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's property--including his wife.

Okay, maybe we shouldn't take the 10 commandments to literally. Women are not property. Indeed, there are many tings in the Bible that are no longer applicable in today's society. However, the Church I was brought up in tried, to the best of their ability, to apply the teachings strictly, saying that if it was good enoughto be put in the Bible, it's good enough for us now. Even today, many religious conservatives believe that the head of the household is the man, and the wife has to follow the direction of the husband without question. This is a quote from the Southern Baptis Convention of 1998.

...A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband... She...has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household...

This is based, no doubt, on the Bible. The one section I recall is from Ephesians 5,

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Everyone is free to believe in what they want. And I suppose to them, a single male leader in the home makes for a stable home environment. God knows, that it takes effort to work through two conflicting opinions about hearth and home... I hate PMS... But I digress...

Anyway, the church tries to apply various teachings of the Bible, as is, to this modern world but allowed some alterations at their convenience. Manservants--slaves--populate the Bible, and that is something that no one would dare view as acceptable.And for the most part, Catholics don't accept the above words on the role of a wife as literally as, say, the Southern Baptists. Except when it comes to the priesthood. No woman can become a priest, likely because it is a leadership role within the Church, and how could a woman lead a man?

As I grew older, I began to question these changes, these conveniences, these contradictions. Many of them seemed so hyporcritical. In Catechism class, our priest would defend the commandments--thou shalt no kill--but outwardly defended the war in Vietnam, with all its senseless killing in the name of... what? Anti-communism? Man, that would seem to be the modern version of the Inquisition, the Crusades, the persecution of non-believers. Don't believe in Christ? Then you are a pagan. What, you are not a Muslim? Then you are an inifidel...

This cycle of us versus them, right versus left, right versus wrong (in their minds), is something I cannot and do not accept. Life is far more complicated. It is not black and white. Black and white makes for a more structured, uncomplicated world, I suppose, but we live in a complex world, and there are absolutely no easy answers. I believe in inclusiveness, respect and compassion... Not that Onigirism is the paragon of compassion and understanding, but it is the goal...

So... why am I talking about religion--I mean besides the fact that Christmas is coming up? Well, msbLiSs had a religion quiz on her page and I took it and kinda surprised my self. I answered 20 questions about what I believe vis-a-vis reigious belief. I wasn't particularly surprised that my views were more in line with Unitarians, but I was taken aback at how low Catholicism ranked, above Jehovah's Witness but below Judaism, Scientology and Islam! My current beliefs--a hodgepodge of various thoughts based on my own readings and experiences--is more in line with Sikhism (73%) than Catholicism (17%). They even pegged me as a Neo Pagan (95%)! I wonder if Catholics and conservative Christians will come to convert me, and failing that, kill me... *gulp*

Below is my results. If you wanna take the short quiz, click on msbLiSs, tell her "hi" and then click on the link on her page...

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (99%)
3. Neo-Pagan (95%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (88%)
5. Reform Judaism (88%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (86%)
7. New Age (80%)
8. Bah・・Faith (78%)
9. Sikhism (73%)
10. Secular Humanism (69%)
11. Theravada Buddhism (67%)
12. Jainism (63%)
13. Taoism (59%)
14. Hinduism (58%)
15. Orthodox Judaism (56%)
16. New Thought (54%)
17. Scientology (53%)
18. Orthodox Quaker (50%)
19. Islam (49%)
20. Nontheist (43%)
21. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (33%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (27%)
23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (26%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (23%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (17%)
26. Roman Catholic (17%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (13%)

Sunday, December 12, 2004



o, it's not not some stupid quantum physics mumbo jumbo. It means 0 to 49 equals 50 numbers. It made sense to me yesterday, I wrote "Next week, I will turn 49, the last year of my first half century." But I got the following comment from the enigmatic enygma81.

To be completely anal, 49 is the second to last year before the end of the your half century. ;p Anyway, 50 isn't very old. You're still pretty youthful, or at least, you seem that way to me. :)

Thanks, I feel young--as I said, I am emotionally immature... which is why you'll have to let me be anal-er than you.

Now, I'm pretty sure that my 49th year is my last year of my first half century. I know the argument about the turn of the millenium, when the 21st century began in 2001 not 2000, but that's simply because the first year of the first century began with the year 1. You count 1 to 100 and you have exactly 100 years, the equivalent of one century, and the next century would begin with 101. As a result, the first 2000 years ended at 2000, and the next millenium would begin on 2001. Right?

But when I was born, I was considered--as I suspect everyone else here too--0 years old. I couldn't call myself one-year old before my first birthday, not only because I couldn't speak yet, but because that is the custom in our modern society: One has to live the whole year before you can be called that age. In other words, my first years of life I was 0. When I turned 1 year old, I could them be called one year old, but I had actually entered the 2nd year of my life, no? On my 2nd birthday, having lived 2 full years, I began my 3rd year. See a pattern emerging here? So on my 49th birthday, I will have lived 49 full years, and begin my 50th year, at the end of which, I will have lived an entire half century, 50 full years.

In Japan, however--and you knew something wierd would come from Japan, right?--they used to count age by the actual year in which a person lived. This method is called kazoedoshi 数え年. In other words, you receive an age for every calendar you are alive, and you turn you the next age on new years, since your age is based on the calendar year. I was born on December 15. On January 1st, I would be two weeks old in this modern world, but if I was born 100 years earlier in Japan, I would be two years old! Get it? I was one year old at the moment I was born and alive in my first calendar year, say 1855. Then in the next calendar year, 1856, I would be two years old. In this system, I would already be 50 years old.

Man I'm glad that I'm they've let the past be the past...

Speaking of weird things from Japan....

I got two e-mails from women I don't know. Really freaking me out. (translation in italics)

久美だよ。。 この前、電話ありがとう!話せてよかった♪ ・・会えるんだねッ楽しみぃ♪ ( It's me, Kumi. Thanks for the previous phone call. I'm glad we were able to talk. We're gonna meet, right? Can't wait! )

Say what? I did not call this girl. Did she input the wrong e-mail address? Is someone calling girls using my e-mail address? Or is this some kind of scam? I ask because I got another e-mail as well...

はじめまして☆平田と申します。えーとですね、以前メル友募集してましたよね??その書き込みにとても興味を持っててアドレスを控えてたんです。ちょっと前の書き込みでしたけど。ぜひぜひ仲良くなりたいと思ってるんです☆ ( Nice to meet you. I'm called Hirata. Let's see... you previously advertised for an e-mail buddy, right? I was really interested in what you wrote, and took down your address. Tho' I wrote it down a while back. I really really want to get to know you... )

最初ですので、自己紹介を致しますね☆平??智美、22歳でフリーターをしております♪ 趣味は旅行と読書で、好きな作家は筒井康隆さんです。筒井さん、初期の不思議な実験的な短編が特に平田のお好みでございます☆ ( Since this is the first time, let me introduce myself. I'm Hira?? Tomomi, 22, and am free lancing. My interests are travelling, reading, and my favorite author is Tsutsui Yasutaka. I especially like Mr. Tsutsui's early strange experimental short stories. )

平??のスリーサイズなんかはまだ言わないほうがいいかな(笑)?そんなワケでして、平??、お返事待っております!趣味や、どこに住んでるのか教えて欲しいです☆ あ、あと何て呼んだらいいでしょうか?
平??のことは、平??と呼んでください☆ ( I suppose I don't have to tell you my measurements yet, right? Anyway, I await your response! I want you to tell me your interests and where you live. Oh yeah, what should I call you? As for me, please just call me Hira??. )

Damn, if she told me her measurements, I might have responded. Heheheh Just kidding, guys. The fact of the matter is that this is really freakin' me out. These did not come to my onigiriman e-mail, but to my other private hotmail account, so its not what I wrote here... I hope its just some mistake. This has never happened to me before. Has it happened to any of you?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Father Time


motionally, and perhaps to a degree psychologically and spirtiually, I am immature. I do things without thought sometimes--to my everlasting regret--but usually, I just shrug my shoulders and promise myself that I'll do better next time. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I will be afforded fewer and fewer "next times." Yes, my biological clock ticking. No, I'm not trying to have a baby, althought as a miracle of science, I'm sure it would be worth a few bucks. No, I'm just talking about getting old. Next week, I will turn 49, the last year of my first half century.

Scary, ain't it?

Well, to celebrate the last year of my first five-0, I thought I'd offer up some information about this old geezer that might interest some of you. This is a list--with a few alterations in italics to fit my personality--I borrowed from Ender. WARNING: My students may want to go elsewhere if they don't want too much information about me.

TEN random things about me you may not want to know--from things you may not want to know to things you REALLY don't want to know.

10. I was a two-pack-a-day Marlboro Red smoker for 16 years.
09. Since 18, my weight has fluctuated between 128 lbs. to 180. I'm 168 now.
08. I love making quizzes and exams, but hate grading them.
07. I was--and can still be--rather crass and vulgar.
06. I had a really bad trip once.
05. I don't close the door when I use the toilet at home.
04. I was an alcoholic once.
03. I love thick, soft, luscious lips.
02. I am a butt man. J. Lo looks like an angel to me...
01. I popped my cherry in the back seat of a Plymouth.

NINE ways to win my heart--in order of importance

09. Show an interest in current affairs.
08. Enjoy sex.
07. Be honest with me
06. Be healthy
05. Be independent.
04. Trust me.
03. Love sports
02. Love me. NOTE: #2 and #3 are interchangeable.
01. Cook better than me...

EIGHT things that remind me I'm really getting old--from the mundane to the grossest reminder.

08. Time goes by at light speed.
07. I am getting very forgetful.
06. I need reading glasses.
05. My knees and ankles hurt while and after I run.
04. I don't lose weight as easily as I did before.
03. My joints crack everytime I stand up.
02. I am losing my ability to control burps and farts.
01. I have hair growing out of my ear.

SEVEN things that annoy me--from least to worst

07. People who don't stand on the right side on an escalator.
06. Kiss ups--brown-nosers.
05. Slow cashiers.
04. People who butt in line.
03. People who have to be told what to do.
02. People who take up two seats on the subway or bus.
01. Students who cheat, because it tells me they are lazy.

Last SIX places I've lived--in ascending order

06. Seattle, WA, summer, 1984.
05. Tokyo, 1 year, 1984-85
04. Los Angeles, 1985-86
03. Palo Alto, CA, 1986-90
02. Tokyo, 1990-96
01. Virginia/DC, 1996-2004

FIVE things I'm afraid of--from least to most

05. Getting fired for not publishing.
04. Getting fatally ill: heart disease and cancer run in my family.
03. My own stupidity.
02. The dark. I still run after I turn off the lights.
01. Musubichan.

FOUR of my favorite items in my bedroom--from favorite to most favorite

04. My books.
03. My bed.
02. My computer.
01. Musubichan.

THREE things I do every day--in order of importance

03. Watch some TV.
02. Take multivitamins.
01. Xanga!

TWO things I am STUPIDLY trying not to do right now

02. Researching to write something publishable.
01. Grading.

ONE person I want to see right now

01. My mother. It's been two and a half years since she passed...

Find anything interesting in the list?

If you're curious about me, I'll try to answer any and all valid questions--emphasis on try and valid. Have a good weekend everyone.

Friday, December 10, 2004

How many blogs is too many?


y name is Onigiriman, and I am a blog addict. Jiminy Crickets, I just love to start new blogs. I don't mean to cheat or be unfaithful to Xanga, but when I find out about a new place that seems cool, I go for it.

My first blog was, of course, Xanga, about a year and a half ago. As I slowly grasped the idea of what a blog is--a chronological record of my thoughts and feelings on the web--I started venturing here and there to see what blogs looked like elsewhere, and learned a terrible word: archiving. Other blog sites allow a kind of archiving system, but most are chronological. But some bloggers who maintain their own site independently archived in different ways, many by category. So after a few months I thought it would be cool to figure out how to maintain my thought and feelings by topic. Xanga doesn't have a functoin for that, but I have another site through my cable company where I can create a homepage and store pics, and so I decided to use that as my archives, the JAJournal. Unfortunately, it is not a blog site, and maintaining it is a bitch since I have to create each page using HTML--I don't like using Dreamweaver or any other web site maker. I feel like I lose control, and it usually puts in a lot of extra garbage encoding anyway, so I avoid it. I am old school, I guess. But a typical page looks like this to me:

<html><head><title>Onigiriman's RiceBowlJournal Archives</title>
<META content="text/html; charset=x-sjis" http-equiv=Content-Type>
<style fprolloverstyle>
A:link { text-decoration: none; font-weight:bold}
A:active { text-decoration: none; font-weight:bold}
A:visited { text-decoration: none; font-weight:bold}
A:hover { COLOR: #ba0000; text-decoration: underline; }
table { FONT-FAMILY: Tarzana, Arial, Helvetica, sans serif; FONT-SIZE: 12px;}
h1 {margin-right:0in; margin-top:9pt; margin-bottom:12.0pt; font-family:comic sans ms;line-height=130%; color:#000000;}
h4 {margin-right:0in; margin-top:9pt; margin-bottom:0.0pt; font-family:arial;line-height=130%; color:#ba0000;}
p {margin-right:0in; margin-top:0pt; margin-bottom:0.0pt; margin-left:0pt; text-indent: 15pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:times new roman;line-height=130%; color:black;}
p.first {margin-right:0in; margin-top:0pt; margin-bottom:0.0pt; margin-left:0pt; text-indent: 0pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:14.0pt; font-family:times new roman; line-height=130%; color:black;}
BODY { FONT-FAMILY: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-TOP: 10px; font-size:12px}
<BODY aLink=#ba0000 bgColor=#ffffff link=#ba0000 text=#000000 vLink=#ba0000>
<div align="center">
<A href="" target=_parent><img src="" alt="Click to go to Onigiriman's Xanga Weblog" border=0></a>
<hr align=center width=600>
<TABLE align=center border=0 cellSpacing=5 width=750 cellpadding="5">
<TD id=textcopy vAlign=top width=200 align=right>
<div style="margin-right=10.0pt; margin-top=7.0pt">
<A href="Home">Home</A><BR>
<A href="">
<A href="
JA'>">JA Website List</a><br>
<A href="
About'>">About Onigiriman</A><BR>
<A href="
< xanga' >">Xanga Weblog</A><BR><br>
<h4>Featured Entries</h4>
<A href="">Cruisin' J-Town: With Family</A><BR>
<! E N D L E F T C O L U M N B E G I N R I G H T ************************>
<TD id=textcopy vAlign=top width=*>
<H1>Hot Chile Peppers</H1>
<p class=first>Original date, October 22, 2003</p>
<P>I caught a glimpse of "Good Eats" on the Food Channel tonight. Alton Brown was talking about chile peppers, capsicum and Scovilles units. He talked about how capsaicin--the oil that makes chile peppers hot--can lock into your taste buds and stay there for long periods of time. He also mentioned, as he was cutting and jalepenos for a salsa, you should also where plastic gloves when you prepare chiles beause the capsaicin can stick to your hands and stay there even after repeated washings with soap and water--remember, its an oil. I wish I had seen this program before I made my salsa this summer.</P>
<! E N T R Y E N D **********************************************>
<hr size=3 width="75%" noshade color=maroon align=center style="margin-bottom:10.0pt"></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE align=center border=0 cellSpacing=15 width=600 cellpadding="0"><tr><TD id=textcopy vAlign=top>
<h4 align=center><i>RiceBallJournal</i> &copy; All material is copyrighted. Reproduction without the express written permission of the author is prohibited.

Well it's a little neater than this, but you get the idea. These are the tags I put in to develop and design my page. But it is a hassle. It is so much easier to just type into a textbox like Xanga's. Then Simply_Marie introduced me to Diaryland. I tried it out, but I needed to do the HTML schtick to make it look the way I wanted it to, so I decided to go back to my original site. Recently, a loyal reader has left Xanga and gone LiveJournal and I was lured into its world as well. It is a very intimate place where bloggers don't feel too exposed. So I occasionally post a Xanga post that I feel is more personal, and have occasionally written a post that is exclusively LJ.

Well, I figure with a public Xanga, a private LJ, and an archive at the JAJournal, I wouldn't need another blog, right?


I think I'm gonna kill jerjonji! She has informed me of a new site--well, its new to me, anyway--called Spaces, and guess what? I'm testing another site to blog. Aargh! Anyway, I can't be writing all the time, and I'm stil not sure what I'm gonna do there, but for the time being, I think I will use it as my time machine. I am posting smae date entries from one year ago. In a way, its a place for reruns. So if you're interested in reading what I was thinking a year ago, visit me at msn Spaces. There's a link above, as well...

Lordy, what am I gonna do?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fighting Genes


s painful as it is to admit at times, I am turning into my father. Growing up, my old man was very much into his own thing and most of my childhood memories center on times spent with my mother and uncle. My memories of my father are limited to the guy I rarely saw except on Sundays, and even then, only occasionally.

Since he came home late, he often ate after we kids did, by himself, usually lost in his hobby of judging and commenting on senryu poetry. After which, he would crack a can of beer, plop himself in front of the TV, only to sleep through his favorite shows, westerns like Rawhide, Gunsmoke, et al. And how's my life? I get home late, eat dinner, crack a can of beer, and often fall asleep as I watch TV. Or I go online on Xanga and evaluate senryu. But these are superficial resemblances that are pretty harmless in and of themself. But it is symptomatic of a pretty selfish side of the O-man.

It became a truism in our house that work took precedence over everything and each individual was free to pursue his or her own interests in the meantime. And even as I swore I would not follow in the footsteps of my father, I indulged myself in this rather selfish independence once I was old enough. If I had a place to go to, I'd go. Thanksgiving dinner with the family? If I had an invite to a friends home, I'd go. Christmas Eve? Spent with the girlfriend of the month. And this was true of others in the family. I had a piano recital, my father would never come. He had his senryu meetings which were more important to him. When I advanced as a finalist in a singing contest--one that I ultimately won, I might add--the parents wished me luck and went on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Was I hurt? Not consciously. It was the way our family was. And for good or bad, I maintain this mindset.

My mother had no problem with this situation and she would do what she wanted too. But M is another story. She will wait fro me to come home before she eats dinner. When I fall asleep in front of the TV, she will cover me with a blanket. And when I'm on line doing my own thing on Xanga, she says nary a word.

I feel pretty lucky to have met M.

So I fight the one selfish gene I inherited from my old man: indulging myself socially by myself. She is an extension of my being, as I hope I am of hers. As my friends and students know, I will do nothing without her. If I get invited to a party or step out to a sports bar, I will always bring her. If my students want to hang with me, they gotta hang with M, too. And get along with her. If she doesn't want to go, then I won't go. It's not a big deal, and its the least I can do...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Japanese Christmas


t never occurred to me how many people might really enjoy the song "Christmas Eve" by Yamashita Tatsuro. When I lived in Japan, this song played in the background all over the place, and it has become a sort of Christmas anthem in Japan.

The song is about a guy who wants to spend Christmas with a girl he likes, but ends up waiting for her all by himself. It's rather sad, so I often wondered why it was such a holiday hit. That is, until I thought that perhaps the song was a reflection of how the Japanese view and celebrate Christmas.

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

The first verse is rather inocuous. As Christmas Eve deepens, the air turns cold and the rain will turn to snow. A silent night, a holy night. But then, the lyrics reveal that this is not about a peaceful Christmas Eve, but rather a sad tale, one of unrequited love.

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 song tells us of a lonely Christmas, about feelings that will remain hidden in the heart, unfulfilled. Indeed, it will remain silent night spent alone. And Holy? Perhaps a reference to the purity of true disappointment, the tranquility of loneliness. But the last stanza--except for the repetition of the first two stanzas--reverts back to a serene, almost recognizable Christmas scene.

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

The first and last stanza seem to underscore the purity of the scene, the spirit of Christmas--at least in the Japanese mind. But what is the effect of these bookend stanzas? What is between them that is so pure as the snow and the glitter of silver? Loneliness.

Japan is not a Christian culture. It is about as secular a country as there is, as I'm sure most of you know. As a result, they're version of Christmas is quite different than ours. Is it all about buying presents? Is it a Christmas focused on the materialism that is growing prevalent in the West? To an extent, but not quite.

The Japanese, it seems to me, often pursue the mood, the atmosphere. While many things in Japan are very detailed, they seem to always be selling an image, a tone. Car commercials never mention mileage or durability. Some commercials don't ebven look like car commercials. They sell a mood: how cool is the car? Even beer commercials advertise how it might taste when watching fireworks or when at the beach. How cool, how refreshing. But they never refer to its cost, its birthdate, and never its taste. Christmas is the same. Christmas is not a holiday but an event. Christams trees, presents exchanged, all in the name of this event that no one really understands. Santa Claus is seen in person maybe at day care or elementary school, or somebody's party costume.

And while, some enjoy--not celebrate--Christmas in a western way at home in Japan, the commercial Christmas is about romance. As such, Christmas is not for the family, and certainly not for the older generation. It is for the young. By October you will see ads for Christmas packages to resorts: two nights at a posh hotel, a special dinner show with a popular entertainer. This attitutde would explain the popularity of Mariah Carey's rendition of "All I Want for Christmas Is You." But strangely enough, it is Yamashita's song that gets heavy air time during Christmas, because it pushes all the right buttons: Snow, glittering silver, and loneliness--sad yet oddly pure, serene, tranquil--at a time when a young person should be with the someone he or she loves--although, admitedly, this might be overstating it. For the Japanese, romance equals sex, and love--by the strict western definition--may have less to do with it. But the feeling of loneliness is the same.

So for those of you who have the holiday blues--I count myself among them--take the path the Japanese take. Things may be sad and lonely, but loneliness has its own beauty. Accepting it may make the holidays bearable...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Being Open Minded


ast week into the weekend, I was my usual stupid football self. I get so caught up in the rivalry, and I recall many of the actions taken by Trojan fans that have upset me in the past. As a result, I was taken to task by a Trojan.

momototo: you know, not all usc people are like that. and there are ucla people who don't really portray the best of ucla either. hope you are open-minded enough to see and accept that.

Now, momototo is a young Korean student who seems fine and level headed, and certainly not the image I have in mind when I start my rants against USC. My apologies, young lady. I refer to the USC football fans who resort to hooliganism. This is how Bill Plaschke or the Times described events at the game.

In the final seconds of Saturday's backyard broil, an ingrate in the USC cheering section threw an orange that landed at the feet of UCLA linebacker Spencer Havner. He picked it up. The USC section jeered. He wound up to throw it back. The USC section howled.

Then he paused, as if thinking ・What did he have to prove? After a raucous Rose Bowl afternoon of wobbly legs and iron wills, what did any of the Bruins have to prove? That they could take a punch? That they could grab a handful of pulp and punch back?

Havner shrugged, and gently tossed the orange to the ground.

Good for Havner. I'm glad he didn't lower himself to their level, or the level of some fans and basketball players in Detroit a couple of weeks ago. But I hope you understand where I am coming from. A significant number of USC football fans have acted like this for years, ever since my preteens. Their shenanigans often urged me to rededicate my loyalty to UCLA even before I was a student there.

But don't get me wrong, girl. While in football I am rabid, I have nothing against USC as an institute of higher education and its students. You should know that my sister went their to earn a masters degree. And the one girlfriend from my youth that I remember with great fondness and warmth was a USC student as well. Imagine that! Indeed, as I wrote in the brief story of my youth--NLUTE--she changed me in many positive ways, more than any other girl or guy in my youth--I was 19-20, about your age I would imagine. So yes, I do know that not all SC students are hooligans, but when it comes to football... well, you know...


You guys should go to momototo and congratulate her for taking me to task!

Extra points: More Weekend Tidbits

I forgot to tell you what I did on game day. I wrote that UCLA lost, but I failed to mention that I went to the local UCLA hangout to watch the game. All the UCLA fans in the DC area go to the Grand Slam, a sports bar in the Hyatt Regency. It was nice to root for our team even though we lost.

Before the game, the DC Chapter of the UCLA Alumni sold raffle tickets to benefit UCLA students who intern on Capitol Hill in DC. The money is modest but worthwhile. I am always willing to donate a few bucks for the starving students of my alma mater. During halftime, they conducted the raffle and I won an embarrassing number of times: three. There were only ten prizes in total. Last year, I also won about four or five things. I buy a lot of tickets--more than most others I think--and in previous years I have bought the same number and won nothing, but these past two years I was lucky. Last year, I got a wallet, a clock, a UCLA alumni license frame, Nautica gloves and muffler, and a UCLA calendar. This year I got a T-shirt, a large Vegas style game set--all wood with roulette wheel and craps/blackjack table--and an official NCAA basketball signed by UCLA coach Ben Howland. The Bruins are currently 4-1. If they somehow make it to the big dance in March, this basketball will have a wee bit of meaning...

Speaking of basketball--many of you are gonna really unsubscribe; I can feel it--our school (not UCLA, but the one I teach at) beat two ranked teams over the weekend. Thanks to that, we worked our way into the top 25. I have 4-5 basketballers scheduled to take my film class. I wonder if they'd give me a ticket to the games? Not that it would change the way I grade them, of course...

Monday, December 06, 2004

My Place

"It's your blog and you should write about whatever you enjoy writing about."


his site is called Onigiriman. While it's not my real name--in case you were wondering--it is still me, and I will write about what I want to write about because... people encourage me to do so. The words of wisdom above are from RachelsMommy--God bless her--from a couple of months ago. I guess this was when I was writing different things. Well, lately its been football, and what does she say now?

When I saw your name jump to the top of my sub list on a Sunday afternoon... I knew it would be about football! Bah!

But, but, but... it's my blog and I enjoy writing about college football.

Allanwr: I must admit that reading the last two or three entries has been pretty dull to me.

Okay, okay, I have to admit, in all honesty, that I'm a pretty dull guy. These last few entryies have sorta sealed the deal...

jerjonji: First- write about what ever you are feeling passionate about when you sit down to write and we'll read. i'll love EVERYTHING you write.

Well, I'm glad someone loves what I write. I have been told by others that they enjoy my writings. I'm not sure why. I don't consider myself a particularly skilled writer, but I do enjoy writing what is in my heart--as dull as it may seem to some. Indeed, with me, you get what I'm all about at any given moment. Whether you enjoy it or not, agree with me or not, I think you can trust me to be straightforward with my thoughts and feelings. And perhaps that is what some may find attractive. I love to write and I write with a passion... and for this past week, my passion has been with my alma mater, UCLA, and their game with our dreaded rival--all the more so because they are ranked number one in the nation!--USC.

cgran: Heh, it doesn't really matter what we think, does it? I mean the blog is in essence a way for you to vent about the things you want to talk about. I'm interested in reading things that the reader is obviously interested in, because it shows in the way that they write. The way you write passionately about UCLA is just as interesting as the way you write about your life, your family, you job, your views, etc.

Well, anything I write about, I have a passion for. As many of you should know, the most important commodity you possess and control is your own time. I have precious little of it, so I commit time to write on topics that I believe are worth it... to me. Of course, who's to say it is worth it to you? Many probably don't think it's worth it at all. I have subscribers unsubscribe occasionally, and it is usually when I write a string of entries they find dull or disagreeable. Man, my entries on the presidential race caused a significant number of readers to unsubscribe. Oh well, I guess they want to read only those things they want to agree with. Me? I read anyone who is interesting, whether I share their view or not.

Anyway, I am what I write--I was gonna use this as my title--so if you like what I write, you'd probably like me in person. Ask my students--they're usually pretty identifiable when they leave the occasional comment. They'd probably tell you that my online character is pretty much what they get in class and in my office. And if I knew you were coming to visit, I'd even take a shower to make the experience bearable. Seriously...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

AAAARGH! Kudos to the Trojans


es, we lost. The game was close, but we lost. We played tough against the number one tema in the nation, but we lost. That is the bottom line, no matter how you look at it. We lost. Except for two spectacular runs by Reggie Bush, SC didn't score a touchdown. Matt Leinhart did not throw a touchdown for the first time in his starting career at SC. The officiating was a joke. On Bush's second "spectacular" TD run, UCLA linbacker Spencer Havner was obvioualy held by the collar by SC wide receiver Stephen Smith. But the official didn't call it. At the end of the half, Justin London obviously stripped the ball from Bush, and Havner picks up the ball and could have ran it back for a TD. But the official whistled it dead AFTER Havner picked it up and ran for ten yards, claiming that Bush's forward progress was stopped. Stopped? A guy who breaks tackle after tackle is judged to be stopped by one defender after a split second? Totally bogus call. Instead of a 17-17 halftime score, it's 20-10, a ten point swing. The margin at the end of the game? 5 points, SC beats us 29-24.

Were we robbed? Well, on that play we were. But still, bad officiating is part of the game, and we have to be a team that overcomes calls like that. So my hat's off to the Trojans. You won... just barely, but you did win, and that's the name of the game. Now go to the Orange Bowl and play for the National Title. Play hard, but I will be rooting for Oklahoma to kick your butts.

Well, what did you expect me to say?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Blood Bowl II



kay, today's the day! No more abuse from the $UCsters. It's time to get mad. Time to get down. Time to get even. I was reading a message board where a fellow Bruin was in line at the Bruin gift shop and there was a $UCster in line buying Bruin stuffed animals, bragging that he would burn them in effigy. And he's raggin' on the cashier, about how the Bruins are gonna get embarrassed and crap. The guy was about 30 something and giving grief to an female undergraduate student who is working--as you should know, she's on the clock and smart enough not to give a customer any lip. She's just taking it. Well, it's just another reflection of how low class $UCsters are. This guy feels empowered because the football team at his former school is ranked number one. What a dweeb. I swear, there are $C assholes all over the place. I dare any of you $C people to justify this asshole. Just try...

Anyway, I'm getting mighty antsy now. I feel the rage welling up within me. Today is THE day. Anything and anyone wearing mustard and ketchup colors are the enemy. Some of you may think I'm crazy, but this is truly a serious rivalry. And I will have nothing to do withthat school. Wold I ever take a job there, even if they gave me loads of money? No, Never. A student asked me once if I'd write a letter of recommendation to SC for her. I told her yeah, but that would be my last recommendation for her, forever. She thought I was kidding. I told I was serious.

This rivalry is serious. There is bad blood all over LA. You have to go to one of these schools to understand it, I suppose. I suppose that many UCLA students resented the rich boy attitude of the $uc students. I bet that $UC students resented not going to a academically highly ranked school, settling for $UC. For them, its all about the money. A high school classmate went to pharmacy school there. He told me he took a tax class that taught how to find loopholes after they start raking in the money. Okay, maybe that might be a good idea, but what got me was that this was a REQUIRED course to graduate in pharmacology. How sick is that. Physician, heal thyself... by taking a handful of 'ludes all at once.

Sammy: If I was in DC I would hang with you....and root for USC! Gahahaha!

Thanks, dude. Exactly what I needed to hear to get me even more pissed off. I'm gonna be huffin' and puffin' by game time. M is praying for the Bruins to win also. She is fully aware how sour my mood becomes after any Bruin loss. A loss to $UC sends me deep into a dark chasm.

Kizyr: The more you talk about football, the more you go over my head. Comparatively, bungo is easier to understand {^^}.

Then stick to bungo. Grrrr....

WolferasDream: Are teachers allowed to say 'shit'? ;)

Unbeknownst to some students, teachers are humans too. We have emotions. We have foibles. I know you think we are perfect human beings, but if you cut me, will I not bleed? Sorry to disillusion ya' girl... But I have to get pissed off right now. I hope all Bruin Nation will be pissed off and that the team can feed off of this. An angry defensive line is a pretty effective one. I was talking to a student recently who reminded me that a undermanned Hawaii team once killed a superior BYU by playing angry. Football is one of those sports where playing angry works...

Tim00: clap clap clapclapclap ucla ucla ucla fight! GO BABY GO! 100% HEART! know what they say about snowflakes and chances in hell...

Dude, a snowflakes chance in hell?!? Where's your UCLA student ID? Turn it in. This is no time to get practical or realistic. You have to believe! If we dont' believe, then the players won't either. I know its hard, but we are Bruins. We can take it. We have to! So screw that snowflake. We are sending Frosty the Snowman to freeze those condumbs! BTW: you don't have to turn in your ID. I know what you wrote on your site, and we are Bruin Brothers for life....

Go Bruins! Beat $UC!

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Blood Bowl



omorrow is the game: the Blood Bowl. Actually, that isn't the real name. In fact this traditional rivalry has no name. The Oregon - Oregon State game is called the Civil War, and the Washington - Wazzu game is referred to as the Apple Cup. Even the game up north--Stanford vs. Cal--has a name, calling itself the Big Game. I read somewhere that we should call our game the Bigger Game just to piss them off. Perhaps, this game is so big, it doesn't need a catchy phrase. However, there is a game between school newspaper staff: The Daily Bruin and the Daily Trojan. And they call their game the Blood Bowl. I think it fits.

Anyway, if you're an $C fan, you don't need to read further. STOP HERE...

SammyStorm: UCLA has a tough task ahead of them. Norm Chow is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country and they are clicking on all cylinders now.

No shit. They're only undefeated and ranked number one in the nation. But they have had teams score on them. Cal was pretty close for most of the game, and Stanford--Stanford!--almost beat them. They have a solid defense but nothing like they had last year. Last year's team was scary good. This year, teams are scoring on them, but its that Norm Chow offense. Damn. I just gotta hope and pray that our offense--which has been clicking better than last year--keeps their offense off the field. If we are close in the 4th quarter, I like our chances. We have had good second halves. The coaches this year are making much better halftime adjustments. But then, we haven't played a number one team yet. But I like our chances. Certainly more than last year. While $C wasn't ranked number one last when we played them, they should have been. They were the best then. This year? I like Oklahoma.

zettonv: dang you take your football too serious onigiriman. wasn't rival week last week with UM and OSU or like FSU and UF?

No shit. But for some fosaken reason, they moved the game to this weekend at the behest of ABC... And yes, I take this feud very seriously. As I mentioned yesterday, I have met some jerks at $C and they act in ways that have been hurtful and insulting. So I take this personally. Seriously. Even my students know not to mention that school in my presence. This rivalry is for real. What most people fail to grasp is the proximity of the two schools. Ohio State and Michigan are in different states, as are Notre Dame and $C. Florida-Florida State, Washington-Washington State, et al. are in different corners of their respective states. Stanford and Cal are perhaps the closest to what we have, seperated by the San Fransisco Bay. But UCLA and $C are in the same city. Many people who go to high school together end up going to these rival schools. Many of the UCLA and $C graduates work in the same companies and so have to deal with their rivals the whole year, not just during rivalry week. Every place I worked in LA, there were always UCLA and $C people. So yeah, the rivalry is intense and continuous throughout the year.

When I was an undergraduate at UCLA, this was the week of pranks and mischief. $C students would come to campus and mess with our Bruin, while loyal Bruins would bravely venture to South Central LA--where $C students kept the local crack dealers busy--and painted Tommy Trojan true blue. Yeah, the guy is in a skirt! I'm sure you've heard the brouhaha over the movie "Alexander." Greeks in skirts kinda fit the image. And at $C, the tradition continues.

enygman81: hmm...I sense some bitterness. And you know as well as I do that the condoms were named much later, after the school was created. =P

No shit. But the parallel is nonetheless hilarious. Hahahahaha! But I guess I should show more compassion for these guys. They couldn't prevent a company from naming a condom with the exact same logo as their mascot in the skirt--yes, he's very manish in his armor and brocade; but I'm not into that sort of thing. Can you imagine them screaming with pride. "I'm a Trojan." Hahahahaa, sorry, I imagined it.... Gawd, what do they do at parties? I bet they have great conversation starters like: 1. Are you allergic to latex? 2. You can trust me, I don't break. 3. I'm America's #1 brand. 4. Feel me, I'm textured. 5. I come [oops, no pun intended] in three sizes.)

Ah well. Enough of this foolishness. Have to put my game face on for tomorrow. I plan to go the UCLA hangout in DC. Anyone wanna join me?

To all the football gods in heaven, hear my prayer...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Rivalry week

Okay, it's Rivalry week. Saturday, we play crosstown rival USC. I you are a student of USC or a fan, do not read any further. I don't like to rag too much about 'SC under normal circumstances. My sister got her MBA there, so the institution is part of our family--to my unending regret. They promote their football ceaselessly, mostly because their academic standards suggest that they have nothing else to be proud of. Yeah, truth hurts... Anyway, you guys don't need to read further. STOP HERE...

(The following is a repost of last year's rant.)

I have been a Bruin fan since I was a wee little lad. Watching Gary Beban take our Bruins to the Rose Bowl and winning the Heisman (UCLA's only one), Wendell Tyler and John Sciarra beating a number one Ohio St. team with Archie Griffin (that is a game they play often on ESPN Classic). When my dream came true and I actually attended this world reknown academic institute, I saw the Bruins go to three Rose Bowls! Damn, they were hot. Althought our crosstown rivalry was always heated, it was really hot then, because the football queens that are $C had dominated LA with the student-body-right smash mouth football. Damn, if they weren't always in the top ten or top five, and the "gutty little Bruins" had to kick and claw for any kind of recognition. But in the early eighties, we ruled. And these queens viewed us a usurpers, and they became really nasty assholes. Wanna know how much? Let me tell ya'. My mom--God rest her soul--used to volunteer at a local Museum. Well, one guy there used to tease her about how her sons--my younger bro' also went to UCLA--were losers cuz they were Bruins. This is a 20-something $C graduate ragging on a 60-something woman. My mom had a heart attack in the late eighties; now this jerk is not the cause, I'm sure, but hell, does he stop raggin' on her? Noooooo. He's having a great time, "Oh its just in fun." But my mom told me it stressed her out to hear his garbage. I suppose my mother should have told him to quit, but as a member of the old generation, she was kinda of reserved and non-confrontational. While this $C jerk shows no sign of empathy or thoughtfulness whatsoever.

Now, is he representative of $C? Maybe, maybe not. But have you been to the $C blogrings here on Xanga? Try University of Southern California which states, "USC University of Southern California students and for people who fucking hate f/ucla. fuck ucla!!! USC FOOTBALL KICKS ASS!! USC FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPS BABY!!

If you're a Trojan do you want to be associated with this kind of attitude?

How about *U*C*L*A* *S*U*X*, "4 all u ucla haters...mostly usc fans".

Obviously, the tradition continues for the people of the University of $(outh) C(entral)... Its been said that you can only use a Trojan once but a Bruins is forever, but I'm not so sure, these jerks seem to be forever, too.

Anyway, this is the only time I allow myself to vent about this university of $(poiled) C(hildren), the so called Trojan--who the hell wants to be named after a condom?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Senryu for December


t took me a long time to judge the previous poems, so I wasn't sure if I should do another one. But it seems that many of you are getting into this senryu thang. So I thought maybe we should do another one. As before, this salon is open only to subscribers. If you are one, then please do not hesitate to submit a verse. The only thing you have to fear is my sarcasm and a public evaluation. If you can handle that, then by all means submit a senryu poem.

As previously stated, be sure to create your poems in the 5-7-5 syllable count. Also remember that senryu is a textual "snapshot" of a moment. You should avoid abstract images, and instead convey whatever abstract emotion or sentiment through the images of the "moment." Please read the poems and commentary from August salon on "waiting". The July salon on "air conditioner" was good too, especially the top three, which used specific images--vinyl seats, sea waves, frozen food labels--as vehicles to convey a moment in time and a sentiment. As always, PLEASE SUBMIT ONLY ONE SENRYU, rewrite it, edit it, think about it, AND THEN post it as a comment to THIS ENTRY.

For a refresher on the basics, read this. Rule of thumb. Maintain the syllable count, try to draw a picture that is evocative through text, and reflect a moving or insightful aspect of the topic, preferably in a comical way. All submissions should be posted as a comment to this post, must be in English, and should reflect the topic... which is on the left column of the MAIN PAGE. Clicking on the topic will bring you to the comments area of this post.

You can interpret the topic any way you want--noun, verb, adjective--but keep in mind that you want to grasp an essence--a quality that is conveyed in, through and by the topic--and express it as an image through text.

Good luck everyone!