Thursday, June 30, 2005

End of First Session


ell, that time of the year is here again. The first session is over and my students will take there final later today. You know what that means: Grading! But I have a small class so I will not be gone long.

Procrastinator with a capital "P"

I am--once again--in crunch-time mode regarding a paper I need to submit to an editor. Why, oh why, do I do this to myself? I wrote a comment on someone else's site once about procrastination and I think it applies to me perfectly: I am not focused on my future goals. If I sat down and thought about them as I should--and took them seriously--I would do what I need to do now, NOW. I think I lack discipline. I used to have tons of it--how else can you get a Ph.D.? Have I perhaps used up my lifetime quota? Ugh...

Anyway, with that in mind, I will focus on work for the next few days. If I end up getting buried with work, an unable to be on Xanga--as unlikely as THAT sounds--I'd like to tell everyone: Crank up your BBQs and have a great 4th of July Weekend!

And maybe I'll work on the senryu before whonose kills me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005



es, I saw two movies--count 'em, TWO--last weekend. Okay, vor most of you whipper snappers,, two on a weekend is no biggy. Thirty years ago, I woulda been right with you guys. But today, in my old and pennilessly decrepit state, two movies in one weekend is somewhat of a marvel. So besides Batman, I also saw Madagascar. And it was pretty funny.

Warning! Spoilers Approaching: The voices of Chris Rock as Marty the Zebra and Ben Stiller as Alex the Lion was pretty good. But it was the writing that was funny. The puns and the double entendres tickled me quite a bit as I watched four domesticated animals living in a New York zoo discover their true nature when they get stranded on Madagascar. The dialog included references to old movies--Alex screaming like Charleton Heston at the end of the Planet of the Apes in front of the destroyed Statue of Liberty had to have been over the head of most of the kids in the audience as I think I was the only one laughing. There were a few others such as the volleyball in Castaways and of course Marty strutting to the BeeGees a la Saturday Night Fever.

But I did have a few issues. The transformation of Alex's mane was indicative of his own transformation into a wild animal, but why didn't any of the other characters become wild either? The ending was kinda wierd, too. Why sushi? You can't kill mammals, but fish are okay? They shoulda had them eat insects like Simba and his buddies did in The Lion King. But then again, I'm partial to fish.

I'm glad the movie turned out to be a good one, otherwise I would have been totally bummed out. Before the movie started, I bought some popcorn and sodas, bumped into a chair, spilled the sodas and lost most of the popcorn. Ugh! I am such a klutz. I hit my right elbow and for those of you who know me, know that my right eye is suspect--scar on the cornea. So that's my excuse for bumping into it, but I was still rather embarrassed by the incident. In a movie auditorium filled with little kids, it's the adult who spills the drink.


A few of you were kind enough to point out my typo in the previous entry. Instead of "After this meal, I am usually in a very good meal," it should be "After this meal, I am usually in a very good mood."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Body Mass Index


need to get serious about losing weight. Work has gotten so hectic that I have become physically sedentary and the pounds just keep on adding on. If I was careful with my eating habits, this would not be an issue, of course. But I am not. I love potato chips, cookies, chocolate, et al.

Of course, the most essential component of my personal diet regimen for a healthy mind is a bacon swiss cheese burger with fries and a couple of beers. Protein from 100% ground beef; vegtables from the lettuce, onion and tomato; cereal/grain from the the bread and beer; and in modest aomunts, fats from the fries. After this meal, I am usually in a very good meal.

Unfortunately, this meal healthy for the mind and not the body. I am considered overweight and I need to lose a significant number of poundage. Like 20. At least. So I decided to calculate my Body Mass Index (BMI).

(Weight / Height [in inches]² ) x 704.5 = BMI

My current BMI is 27.8, which is considered overweight. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, but personally, a BMI of 18.5 is ridiculous. If my BMI was 19, I'd weigh a scrawny 114 pounds. But a BMI of about 23 to 24 would suit me fine. I'd be in the 140-50 range. By reversing the calculation, I get--bare with me, can barely add and subtract--the following.

704.5X / Height² = 23.5 BMI704.5X / 4356 = 23.5X = 145 lbs.

So to reach a BMI of 23.5 I gotta lose... Cripes! That's over twenty pounds... I better get moving.

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oogle, in all its infinite wisdom, decided to include the above div marker to every post. By adding this, it forces all entries to appear beneath any "floating div". Since my previous layout was designed so my posts would appear between two floating tables, the above div tag "clear:both" forced the post below the shorter of the two floaters. Ack. It made for a very ugly page. So I was forced to redesign.

You know, they should at least tell us in advance...

Monday, June 27, 2005



n the tradition of ESPN's Stuart Scott, I have to give a nice big "Booyah" to Booyahman for hookin' the O-man up with the theme song to "Winter Sonata". I can sleep well now that M can hear the song. The next challenge for me is to try to learn the lyrics... in Korean. Hahahahaha. I don't know any Korean, so I'll end up learning it by mumbling the sounds only. It should be interesting if not laughable... I will probably get the CD anyway because I think M wants the other song too.

On a side note, I usually am lucky to get somewhere between 10 to 20 comments a day. Actually, 20 comments would be a lot for me. But yesterday, I put up a post on a Korean home drama and I get more than 30 comments and a bunch of hits. Is there a correlation of which I am unaware? Heheheheh

Anyway, thanks again B-man. A big BOOYAH to you!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Winter Sonata


borrowed some video tapes from a friend of a Korean drama called Winter Sonata (Fuyu no sonata). It was dubbed into Japanese and shown on the national braodcast station, NHK. Okay, I know that a few of you will begin to hack and choke just from the title. I have talked to one who could barely stand to hear the name of the drama. A Korean student of mine told me she had wished if they were going to show a Korean drama in Japan, any drama would have been better than this one.

According to M, her friend told her that the story was kinda hokey--a guy and a girl fall in love only to learn that they are brother and sister... or are they? Well, it's very much like a soap opera and the ending was getting too hard to believe... although I must admit the finale was rather touching--okay, okay, I admit it, I watched it too. Anyway, this drama was an incredible hit in Japan and all the middle-aged women are goo-goo gah-gah over "Yon-sama" or Bae Yong-jung.

Be that as it may, I bring this up not to admit that I watch sappy home dramas--which I've done a couple of times--but rather to ask if anyone knows how I can get a hold of the title song. The Japanese title is Hajime kara ima made, which would translate into something like "from the beginning until now". After watching 20 hours of this drama, the tune is kinda stuck in my head. So if anyone knows how to get a copy of the theme song, I'd appreciate some guidance--or a little love. I guess I could alwys order it from Amazon dot co dot jp, but that would take too long.

Saturday, June 25, 2005



eeping my promise, I am avoiding work as much as possible at home. So yesterday, I went with M to see Batman Begins. We went to the matinee because... well that's all I can afford on my lowly teacher's salary. We went to the Cinema de Luxe in Fairfax and I was rather impressed. It is an entertainment center unto itself. A piano in the lobby, a separate Sbarro and Nathan's Hot Dogs concessions along with the ubiquitous popcorn, sodas and candy. Of course, what caught M's eye--okay, my eye, too--was a bar! Yes a bar with beer and other "refreshments". Why did they never think of this before?

Anyway, Batman... I must say first that I have never been a Batman fan. Indeed, I have never been a DC Comics fan. Super heros living in non-existing cities did not catch my fancy as a kid. Marvel characters seemed more realistic, I told M yesterday.

"Right. A guy shooting webbing from his wrist and swinging down Midtown Manhattan is more realistic than a billionaire dressed in a bat suit stopping crime in Gotham," sarcasm dripping like molasses from her mouth...

Okay, maybe Spiderman or the X-Men or the Hulk are not necessarily more "realistic" but there is something I can relate to. Especially Spiderman. He was full of teenage angst and sarcasm towards authority. The Hulk resisted authority. The X-Men had special abilitites that were persecuted by the authorities. These attitudes were compelling during the late 60s and 70s in my youth. Not the perfect Johnny-Do-Good Superman or the ever faithful Batman.

So when the first Batman came out with Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, I was skeptical. It was dark, certainly not like the comic book I knew, but it was also unexplained. At least to my satisfaction. But still it was interesting. More interesting than I would have thought. Then the next one with Danny DeVito as the Punguin was fun and campy. But campy is not what I wanted from a Batman movie and I stopped watching them. I did not see Batman Forever with Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carey--okay, I think Van Kilmer as Batman turned me off. Neither did I see Batman and Robin--George Clooney? C'mon.... And Catwoman? Well, I would have gone seen it just for Halle Barry, but I think M would have gotten upset so I refrained...

In any event, I had no reason to see Batman Begins... until anyone and everyone started to rave about it: Great. The best. So cool.

Alright already! So after taking a huge dose of skepicism, I went. Well, perhaps going to a movie with lowered expectations influenced my reaction, but I'm glad I went. I must say unequivocally that Batman Begins was pretty good. It was dark, the acting was competent, the special effects were interesting (if not mesmerizing). But the best part of the movie is the story. It is the back story of how Batman came to be. Warning! Spoilers Approaching: As I mentioned, I was not a Batman fan and so cannot vouch for the accuracy to this story--as I could about Spiderman--but it was very satisfying. It explained in great detail why Batman came to be. His decision to fight injustice was a response to the muder of this parents--this much I knew. But they also explained the process he went through: why a billionaire playboy excelled in the martial arts; why he had so many gadgets and a cool car--and this car was really cool; why he chose the bat as his symbol. It was very well done, I must tell you.

Perhaps what freaked me out the most was Christian Bale. Some knew him from American Psycho, a movie I didn't see. I only got to "know" him last week when I saw The Machinist when he played a 120 pound, guiltridden man. The more I think of the movie, the more I am impressed with it. It's worth renting. But even more amazing is the method actor Bale. He lost over 60 pounds to play the part. He did not use makeup to look skinny, and he was incredibly emaciated. I mean look at these pix. He is not the same person as the one above in Batman. His waist looks like... what? 27 inches? I haven't had a 27 inch waist since I was 14. I can't believe that this is good for his health, but it is impressive to see a man who is so dedicated to his art. It reminds me of DeNiro who gained 20-30 pounds to play an old retired boxer in Raging Bull and who plucked his hair to become a bald Al Capone in The Untouchables. But losing over 60 pounds is truly unhealthy. And according to Bale, he just stopped eating for weeks! This is scary devotion, the kind that perhaps I should show to my craft... no, just not my craft, maybe I can do this to lose the weight I need to fit into my pants again!

Anyway, If you're interested in action movies that actually have a story, see Batman Begins, not a bad flick at all.

So when was the last time you had a 27" waist and how much would you weigh if you lost 63 pounds? Only the brave need reply.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Matter of Time


was discussing a matter of time with another teacher yesterday. Students in her class were learning how to express time in Japanese. They were comparing different time zones and practicing new adjectives like "early" and "late". One student apparently gave a wrong answer and she asked me what I thought. I gave her an answer that sort of reflected the student's answer. The query:

If it's 6PM in New York and 3PM is LA, is LA three hours earlier or later?

In case anyone is interested...

I'll be in LA for two nights for a class reunion. July 29 and 30...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Teaching is My Calling


he other day, I mentioned that teaching--to me--was a calling. Indeed, I view it more as something that I was born to do rather than something I was trained to do. It's hard to explain. I just love imparting whatever knowledge I have to anyone.

LightPinkSheep: Where do you teach? Do you have to do research also? I am starting a Ph.D. program next year, I'll be TA-ing for the first time and scared to see how it will all work out. So far I've only taught 1-2 classes per summer and been able to devote lots of time to the class.

I teach at a university in Washington DC. I am full-time contract, which is different than tenured or tenure track, so I am not required to do research. But to get anywhere in this business, you must do research. My particualr research is late classical/early medieval Japanese poetry. As you might imagine, the demand for such research is pretty low, so I focus on my teaching. I may not get promoted bevcause of this, but I enjoy what I do. Good luck in your PhD program.

iiSoNySoUnDii: Don't know if this was asked before, but was teaching always your intended career? Do you enjoy it? I'll be starting my masters/phD program for East Asian history in about a year in a half and I too want to teach. Any gripes about the job or an exceptional pluses to it? Do I babble too much? Why is gas so damn expensive?!

Hahahah, maybe you're babbling just a little. And I don't know why gas is so expensive. Ask our president. But as to you first questions: No, teaching was not always my intended career. I wanted to be a rock star! Of course, an Asian American rock star had no prospects in the 70s, so it was pretty easy to give up on it. But seriously, I may have mentioned this before, but you should know that i was a total screw up in high school and could not get into college with my grades. So I had to first go to a junior college and then work my way up to a four-year college. Back then, I didn't know what I wanted to do so I planned to do what every other Japanese American was doing ack then: go into business administration at a local university, which for me would have been Cal State LA. I had the great fortune to meet a Professor V. Perez (bio-human anatomy) at the junior college who saw something in me that urged him to encourage me to set my goals higher. I got into UCLA and the rest is history...

I enjoy what I do because I love to teach. It is, as I said, a calling, something I was meant to do. This is important because teaching has its drawbacks. Pay is low. Seriously low. I figure anyone in any other field who has studied as much as to earn a Ph.D. is likely earning six figures. I don't even get half that. And some get even less than I do. It is a shame because I feel that teaching is the first line of defense in preventing our society from tumbling into ignorance and mediocrity. It's too bad that the people with power don't weem to feel the same way. Also, the hours could suck, depending on how much you will be required to teach. Many look at me and laugh, thinking I only work when I teach class which is 10 to 15 hours a week. They don't consider the time it takes to prepare for class, grade papers and exams, advise students, write letter of recommendations, and a score of other adminstrative duties. Also, the adage "publish or perish" is very true and the pressure to publish is great. And may I remind you that since money is tight in education, the politics that one sees in the department can be very disheartening, indeed.

So why do I stay in education? I love to teach and I love my students. There is nothing like imparting to inquisitive minds things that you know. Indeed, I tell my students that they are way ahead of me when I was their age. And I will give them what I didn't get: solid explanations of grammar. I was raised in a time when native speakers taught Japanese. They spoke Japanese well, of course, but they couldn't explain it. When we would ask a question, fi they didn't have an explanation, they'd just say, "That's how Japanese is. Just memorize it." Aaargh! how I used to hate that! So my students have the benefit of learning from someone who was just like them--I learned in college too--so I encourage them to strive and I fully expect them to surpass my Japanese ability. If they do, I feel that I've done my job. You gotta love this job to stick with it. Good luck in your Ph.D. program, too.

SunJun: Always been a fan. I've got a question: how did you end up at your current place of employment? Most prof-types, especially those employed at more prestigeous universities, tend to have a choice when it comes to places to work. Was it the school? Location? Little of both? Something else entirely?

Aaaah. If only I was working at a prestigious university. Well, Japanese is a field that is not very big. From what I understand, there are jobs for only 10% of all Japanese PhDs--language, literature, history, anthropology, art history, religion, et al--looking for a position in any given year. That was a tough market ten years ago. It must be even harder now. So I came to DC because this is where the job was. Pretty straigh forward, no? I applied to the university and they offered me a job my first time on the market. I was pretty lucky. To top it off, the university was located in our nations capital. It sounds pretty nice, don't you think? But they work me like a dog...

Momo5: I've always wanted to know, how do you continue to be able to put yourself on the same level as your students? It's the coolest thing ever. Most professors are so detached and superior, and most parents too, but you're so easy to relate to. I want to be like you when I'm older. ^_^

Okay you guys, this is exactly the reason why I love to teach. To get flattered by students like Momo5. I'm telling ya', it is sooooooooo much fun to be surrounded by young people all the time. They keep my spry... well, as spry as a soon-to-be 50-year old can be. But to be complimented by someone like Momo--she's gonna kill me, but she is really cute... *sigh* At my age and my position, I could never do anything that would even hint at a suggestion of the appearance of any impropriety--I never close my office door when a female student is in my office, no matter what the subject might be. But that doesn't stop me from chatting with them or basking in the radiance of their presence. Actually, I feel the same way with my male students as well. They are, to me, adorable, as only a father can adore a son.

The bottom line is that I just love to be with my students. It is, perhaps, this feeling that I have for all my students that allows me to indulge myself, to put myself at "the same level" as them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Howl's Moving Castle


enjoy Japanese films quite a bit. I was raised by parents who took the kids to Toho La Brea--a Japanese theater in LA that no longer exists--everytime a new movie came out. I saw comedies and dramas and, of course, samurai flicks. But the one thing that didn't exist back then was full length animation.

Now Japan had its animation. Tezuka Osamu was pretty famous in the 60s and his stories are animated, from Atom (Astro Boy) to Leo, King of the Jungle (Kimba the White Lion) to Mach 55 (Speed Racer). But these were mostly for TV. The only movie length animation I knew was Bambi, Sleeping Beauty and other Disney fare. So when Akira came out, I was pretty amazed. I was even more amazed when I saw Nausica. It was pretty amazing. This was followed by Laputa (Castle in the sky), Tottoro and Kurenai no Buta (Crimson Pig). These animations have been pretty consistent: They are all visually stunning, but a rather vague storyline. At least at first viewing. But much of the meaning comes to light, for me, after some reflection. And Howl's Moving Castle was no different.

*Warning* Spoilers ahead

The story is about a wizard named Howl who lives in a moving castle--duh! I haven't read the original story by Dianne Wynne Jones, but from what I gather, the characters are the same and the basic storyline is similar. A young girl, Sophie, is the eldest daughter of a hatter and she is doomed to spend the rest of her uninteresting life there. she considers herself plain and unattractive as well. One day she steps out, only to encounter a handsome man, who turns out to be the wizard Howl everyone is talking about, the one who eats the hearts of young girls.

Upon returning home, a fat old lady enters the hatter's store and remarks how plain and uninteresting Sophie and the store is. When Sophie asks her to leave, the old woman reveals herself as a witch--the Witch of the Wasteland as it turns out--who is after Howl, or more specficially, his heart. She then casts a spell on Sophie--turning her from an early 20s young lady to a 90-something hag--for associating with Howl. As a decrpit old lady, Sophie finds herself even more unattractive than she thought before and leaves her home, only to find a new one--thanks to a bewitched scarecrow she helps along the way--in Howl's moving castle. Here she first meets Markel, the wizard's assistant, and Calcifer, the fire in the castle's hearth that actually is the power source of the castle itself. The fire is bewitched as well, and Sophie and Calcifer make a pact to help undo each other's spell. Sophie decides to become the cleaning lady of the castle and makes herself at home when Howl returns home and makes no particular fuss over the new addition to the household.

It is from this point that the story grows complex. There are two non-descript, unexplained countries who are headed for war and they require the help of wizards and witches to defeat their enemy. Both seek the help of Howl--the wizard who turns into a feathered war bird in battle--as he apparently travels all over the place with his moving castle. His castle doesn't only move, its door can open to different countries and different settings just by "change channels". Howl is less concerned with the war than he is with escaping the Witch of the Wasteland, the reason why his castle is always moving. Ultimately, Sophie, who has since made herself an indispensible member of the household, convinces Howl to use his powers to stop the war, and they--a young wizard and an old hag--slowly fall in love with each other.

What is a mystery to me is that Sophie changes back and forth from a hag to a somewhat younger version of herself, although not completely to her original age--she still has gray hair. She seems to change when Howl shows an interest in her, but then there are times when it doesn't matter. M thought that Sophie seemed to change when she became excited and active in her defense of Howl. I thought that maybe the spell had to do with her self image: she intitally thought of herself as plain and unattractive, but slowly she feels more attractive, and indeed Howl says to her at one point, "You are beautiful", as her shift back to youth become more permanent. So maybe her physical self changes with her imagined self.

But what do I know?

The one thing I was able to grasp was the fire character, Calcifer--I suppose a combination of calorie (heat) and Lucifer. It is perhaps the central motif of the story. It represents Howl's soul or life force. Calcifer was--I think--the original spell that was cast on Howl. After it first entered Howl, he coughed it out as a living flame, as Sophie saw when she seems to have magically slipped back in time to witness this event. This is when she realizes that Calcifer is Howl's heart--in the Japanese, it is specifially referred to as "heart" 心臓 as opposed to "soul" 心, suggesting that it is the very source of his life. And this goes a long way in explaining why Calcifer insisted throughout the story that if he was extinguished, Howl would be extinguished too. I also explains why the Witch of the Waste wanted to eat Calcifer, even when she had turned into a powerless, even older hag than Sophie. As such, we can see Calcier as Howl's burning, emotional heart, one that restores Howl's humanity when it is returned to his body.

Anyway, I oculd be completely wrong, but at the very least, the visuals are beautiful, and the hand drawn animation of Miyazaki and staff are compelling, as usual. I just wish someone would tell him to make his storyline clearer, cleaner. He always seems to be open ended--which of course is not a bad thing... I think. It just seems like too much work for an anime...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Weekend report


ad a relatively nice weekend. Indeed, the past few weekends have been pretty nice since I've decided to leave work at work. For most of my teaching career, I took work home: grading, reading, preparing for class. But my work load was such that I could balance work with home/play. But the work load for the last academic year was way over the top. I found myself working 24/7.

And ignoring my family.

Well, no more of that shit. Starting in September, I will go to work earlier, spend a 35-40 hour work week at school, and then leave everything there. If I don't finish grading, then it doesn't get graded. If I don't have a lesson plan ready in time, then the students will have to live through a discussion session. I love to teach and spending personal time to teach is not a sacrifice, but I cannot expect nor will I allow M to make that sacrifice. I'm pretty sure that's not the reason why she married me. And I certainly didn't marry her to ignore her because of work. Otherwise I shouldn't have gotten re-married. So I will do my work at school, I will keep my office door closed more than before and shoot the breeze with students less.

This is a sea change in my approach to teaching. I've always seen teaching as a calling more than a career, and so I take my teacher-student relationship very seriously. But I hope they will understand when I cut back their time a bit for myself. And since this change is rather drastic, I am implementing it slightly this summer. I don't spend 40 hours on campus, but I arrive earlier than previous summers, and I try not to take too much work home.

The result is calmer weekends. Friday I went shopping with M, Saturday we went to Home Depot to get stuff to do yard work--mulch is too stinky--and yesterday we went to see "Howl's Moving Castle". It was in Japanese, so that was good. I didn't want to see it dubbed. That would suck.

The movie was visually stunning, as all of Miyazaki's animations are, but the story was a little confusing as many reviewers have written over the past few weeks. But when I sat down to think about it, it became a bit clearer. But I'll talk about it tomorrow. It's back to work for me!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Xanga is down again


reviously, when Xanga went down, the whole site crashed. Now, the site seems to be working but it won't allow comments, which is sad. (ToT) Oh well, can't be helped I suppose. But I do have this site, and any and everyone can comment here. You don't have to have Blogspot account to comment, although it will post as "anonymous" if you don't leave your name.

I suppose it is just as well that Xanga is down, since I actually have a ton of work to do. Besides the paper that is due at the end of the month, I have to pull some roots out of the ground from a nasty tree/bush that love to extend its roots everywhere. I want to dig it out and plant something else. Well, actually "I" don't want to do it, M does. She has a green thumb, sorta. But mine is absloutely black. Everything I touch dies...

Also want to go see some movies. I haven't heard too many good things about "Howl's Moving Castle" by Myazaki Hayao, but I figure to go see it anyway, if I can find a screening that is in Japanese and not dubbed in English. Unfortunately, since most anime is targeted to children, most are dubbed. Ugh. maybe the Cinema Arts in Fairfax, which specializes in foreign/independent films. If not, then maybe I'll see "Batman Begins". I've yet to hear anything bad about this flick. It stars Christian Bale who I just saw in The Machinist, a wierdly interesting film about guilt and how it plays with the mind. Coincidentally, Bale also voices one of the characters in "Howl's Moving Castle." I guess he's the new up and coming star.

Everyone have a good weekend and let's hope that Xanga gets fixed soon.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Making Friends


eing on Xanga has allowed me to make a lot of new cyber-friends. It has been, to say the least, a very interesting experience. And I got a couple of admonishments from my post two days ago:

SleetseII: hey......what about me...we were like good compeitiors on xanga 2 yrs ago...then my writing went kind of sour.

Hahahaha, Sleetse! How could I forget you? Indeed, you were one of the first people to subscribe to me. I think it was through your blogring, Japan II, that we first met. I joined it because it was a new blogring with few members and I thought it was a good way to stand out, so I joined. And I think we were "competitors" in hits. I was rather naive back then, not knowing what to write about or not realizing the ephemeral quality of garnering hits or comments. Maybe Sleeste was too. But we were conscious of each other's hit count, as meager as they were back then. Sleetse was a kind of lightening rod back then with an attitude that was very un-PC. It was funny to read, if not taken seriously, but then he moved to Japan to work and he slowly faded away. He even go rid of his site and started II. Oh well. At least you comment tells me that you are still alive and kicking. Hope you find that perfect wife in Japan.

simply_marie: dude.. how could you forget #15,000? and your own blogring master? I punish you!!!!!

You're right. How could I forget? But to be honest, you were actually #10,000. So you can spank me #10,000 times. But don't tell Spidey and I won't tell M--although everyone else here will know. Hahahahhaha. But seriously, as I was listing people in the previous post, I was referring to my subscribers list as a guide--two years ago can seem like yesterday, but also like an eternity--and you are listed as having subscribed in April 2004. But your comment got me thinking, and the blogring you created predates April and indeed you were my #10,000th visitor back in December 2003! I think the mixup happened because you unsubscribed once and subscribed under a different name because of some undesirables stalking ya'. Then you ultimately returned to your original site and name. Still: my bad. So you wanna spank this bad, bad boy? But, yeah, Marie created a blogring for me called Onigiriman Rocks, when I went on hiatus back in March 2003. Please feel free to join if you haven't already filled your quota of blogrings. If you read comments left regularly on my posts, you will recognize a number of people there. I will freely admit that it does wonders for my ego, too. (^_^) Luv ya' Sarah Marie.

I'm kinda afraid now to continue the list as I don't want to offend anyone by inadvertantly forgetting them, but hahahahha, here goes anyway.

I was blessed in the first half of 2004 with many new friends. Many, however, seem to have drifted away, either bored of blogging or just bored of the O-man, I'm not sure which. Or, again, I have been remiss in keeping in touch. But I miss guys like grbamboo, pallyatheart, Cboy918, sputtum, Omega01, mystic_creator, furry_raccoon, Tokyo41, MiSakO, inVOGUE, ldyalanna9, zhuzhu, KenjiNie, blu_jazz, ChiisanaHoshi, wildkat03, savagetai, StrawberriesNCream311, sorjen, elliottsez and s_yuki. Guys like scslider and silvermyst_ashke have gone to other blog communities like Live Journal and Blogspot. There are a few others who subscribed but I never got to know. If you're one of them, drop by and comment and we can begin.

Fortunately, I have come to know some of you, to varying degrees, and I appreciate the time you afford me: the incredibly cute but now inaccessible RieLin, the growing EndlesSkye, No1watching who I hope will give me a professional massage someday, the professional basketball player gokingsgo, my neighbor KENSHIR0, Andine who deals with life everyday, my Chinese master ekin, onigiri who blogs on both Xanga AND Live Journal, loyal reader dawn_1o9, the good daughter sekura81, the first real actor I know gyjcwang, the man who drew Onigiriman's alter ego globalguy007, angst in the Southwest with avidevi, the pianist iluvpajun, another NoVA neighbor bakababa, fellow Bruin tim00, the California College boy tif383335, our resident Asian fanatic whonose, the recently absent SweetLilV, computer dude in the NW fyzle, the British Asian boy Fongster8, and my Asian Heidi (she loves cows!) Eechim.

There are those who I have met and gotten to know fairly well--as well as you can get to know someone on Xanga--but they have gone on with their lives and I miss then dearly. Bane_vixen, the vixen whose wit, sarcasm and cynicism graced my comments area regularly for a while has gone and gotten engaged! Congratulations, girls. Japblkgrl has also gone one with her life, and I miss her just as much. She was rather shy, but we had some fun times.

But, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention SleepingCutie. This wildly honest, brutally frank, and sometimes shamelessy open young lady from Vancouver as one of my personal favorites. I mean, honestly, how many of you can write about the size of your boobs or crusty panties--yes, that's right, crusty! Now, this is not to suggest that she is some vile and perverted Xangan. She simply talks about things in her life with an openness that I know I would be anable to do. And that is perhaps why I find her so refreshing and quite fetching. The fact that she created cartoon characters of the two of us at a hot springs has nothing to do with my opinion of course. Heheheheh. She is, unfortuantely, rather elusive these days. She wanted to avoid readers whom she knew and moved to Live Journal for a awhile. She is kinda backon Xanga but had been taken over by the game World of Warcraft. Now how could a computer game be more interesting than being on Xanga? *sigh*

More to come.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tampopo: Dandelion


ummer is in full force, and even though I have to teach, I have a little more time than I usually do during the regular school year, so this is the time when I catch up on movie watching.

whonose: And whats your favourite movie? And favourite Japanese movie?

My favorite all-time movie is also my favorite Japanese movie: Tampopo.

I must have seen this movie at ten, eleven... okay, at least 25 times. And each time I see it, I find something that I have yet to notice. The story line is relatively simple. Leading man arrives in town with faithful sidekick and helps damsel save her livelihood as a ramen noodle shop owner. It is, ultimately, in the details that this movie truly shines. Food is life in Japan (as anywhere else), and it affects every aspect of it. Is it odd for the gangster character to introduce the movie by talking to us, the audience, in an attempt to make us a participant in the art? Is it a coincidence that an old master instructs in the complex subtleties of eating noodles at the beginning of the movie, and a baby reflects the simplicity of enjoying the most basic of nourishment sources at the end? The seemingly unrelated interludes/vignettes also offer not-too-subtle hints of Japanese culture: group conformity (business lunch/spaghetti etiquette), the marginalized/disenfranchised (elderly, criminal, woman/mother), and of course sex (raw egg, oyster, and dentist office). The frequent appearance of trains/monorail in the movies has caught my attention, but it simply teases me as I try unsuccessfully to grasp what it might suggest. Of course, none of this is essential to enjoying the movie. It is more than enough to just sit back and savor the sights and sounds of delicious food being prepared and eaten.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Two Full Years


ell, I finally made it. I've been blogging for two full years. And absolute miracle.

onigiri: But I really shouldn't be since I'm doing what I love too. :3 I know this is kind of late (and maybe you've been asked this before), but Onigiriman, what do you love to do?

The answer to that is really easy. Blogging on Xanga and meeting a bunch of new people whom I never would have met had I decided not to try this blogging thing. When I first started, most of the people who read me--all four of them--were mostly my students. Slowly I began to meet a number of new people. The first person to subscribe to me that wasn't my student was nefarious_hatter. I was on Xanga for all of three days when she subscribed and I have been a faithful reader of her site since. She is witty, at time acerbic, but always entertaining, and her artistic talents are incredible. And there is one post I will always remember: It had photographs with an essay that talked of a homeless man. It was beautiful.

Taku is the second subscriber. He still drops by as I also visit him--mostly to steal some new music. We are sorta connected as JA brothers, kinda serious, kinda rowdy. There are a number of other subscribers, some of whom don't update anymore, such as tiggerj, Lady_Phoenix, luzviminda, masumi, killawhale, ts3c6cwo, Rayenne, Zella, and those_days. I wonder if they still read? There are others who have subscribed but I think we've kinda lost touch, such as kayanized, megumi0329, gurlekka, mattblue, dAnxdAn, momototo, ddsb2000, Piratechan, Umeboshi, and SATO. I should do a better job of keeping in touch.

Of course, there are those who I have known for almost two years now, and I appreciate their sites and their comments here: the irrepressible PaikyPoo whose straight talk and totally un-PC attitude always cracks me up; the dude I have to meet when I get to LA Hamamoto (don't forget we gotta get a beer, dude), Florida States own HattoriHanzo, the Christian rocker fooky11, the always intelligent enygma81 who keep me abreast of AA issues, the cool SunJun, the poetic mommy msbLiSs, the Japanese-Chinese mmh, the cave man BarbEric_Bojo, always studying ikerton, surviving Japan Yohei, my favorite photographer detachable, the academic endeavorer iiSoNySoUnDii, and the evasive totoro1221. These and others--including my students--subscribed to me back in 2003 and I am grateful for their continuing patronage.

But of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the one person I would definitely have to meet before I die: SammyStorm. School and other concerns have kept him from being on line as much as I would like, but I hope he is well. Despite our age difference, I feel a certain connection between us. I hope the feeling is mutual. If not, then at least let me buy you a beer. Hahahah!

Anyway, thanks for reading guys. I'll continue the list tomorrow. If I missed anyone who subscribed in 2003, leave me a comment admonishing me! I love the punishment.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Random Q & A


ere are some answers to some of the random questions I received last week... or was it two weeks ago? I've kinda lost track of time. Is it still 2005?

EnderSatomi: where do you see yourself 10 years from now? 20?

Ender, I rarely look beyond the coming weekend. This is perhaps the problem of most procrastinators. I think if I actually considered my future--near and distant--I would do work that needs to be done now, NOW, and would stop putting it off until later. But if I were to stop procrastinating and did things as I should, then I suppose that in 10 years, I'd still be doing what I'm doing now: Teaching. And for better or for worse, at the same place.

Momo5: If you could live anywhere apart from Washington DC, where would you go?

Tokyo. I just love that city.

gokingsgo: Would you ever move back to LA?

Well, if there was a teaching job for me, I'd probably move... maybe... I lived my first 30 years in LA and I know its good side and its bad side. I was nine during the Watts riots of '65 and parts of the East LA riots happened right in front of my house. It was pretty scary. But worse, probably, is the traffic. I thought it was bad during the 70s and 80s, but its freakin' ridiculous now. But the worst thing is that the Dodgers are no longer owned by the O'Malleys. They were a dream organization: a pristine stadium, great service, and a competetive team. Doesn't Murdoch own the team now? Forget it...

Fongster8: Do you plan or hope to live and work in another country? Besides Japan.

Actually, if the opportunity to move to another country to teach Japanese arose, I'd consider it seriously. Virtually any country that had no wars or threat of terrorist attack would be considered. And, of course, an Internet connection to stay on Xanga.

aznquarter: what inspired you to create onigiriman?

My fat face. Hahaha. But this is what I wrote previously: "At work, since around 1997, I created and maintained most of our departmental website, and as a result, virtually everything on the site was about my colleagues; there was precious little about myself--you know how modest I can be. So I wanted to create a character to represent me, a way to deflect attention to myself through a different character. I remembered one caracature I had invented in 1998--let's call him Early O-man. He was crude--as you can see in this early original--with crooked glasses and fat lips. I would write this on papers and quizzes and books and videos to show I had been there. But it was for private use. To represent myself on a pubic Internet site, I had to redesign him for a more sophisticated look. Below is the final version I came up with on Microsoft Paint.

Dubbing him Onigiriman--no hyphen, one word--he became a familiar image in our J program, making appearances on our newsletter and other places. I remember one student telling me that he thought it was so cool, that I should make sure to copyright it. Hahahaha. I could only laugh."

DaddyLike: Question: what rhymes with orange?

How about "syringe", as in: I have such a love for oranges / I would hook them up to syringes / to inject my lozanges

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Karaoke and Fairfax, VA


have been a baseball fan all my life, but have been turned off recently by the greed and lack of loyalty to fans. Ball players used to be a member of the community and they developed direct ties to their fans. Now with free agency they move to the team that offers them the most dough. But, a lot of this was brought about by greedy owners. Oh well, despite this, I am happy that DC finally has a baseball team of its own--the transplanted Montreal Expos--and they are now called the Nationals. I will be going to my first game today. They play Ichiro and the Seattle Mariners.

Anyway, let's continue answering questions.

I don't particularly have a question, per se... but I have a demand. I put up another clip of me singing... this time, a full song. Now it's your freakin' turn!! BUWAHAHAHA!


now... that i wanna hear! singing!!!! yeah!!!!!!!!!


I swear, I don't ever remember saying anything like that, unless I was joking or just plain drunk. And besides, i don't have a karaoke macine to mixe the voice and music together. Unless there is some free mixing program on line that I can download onto my computer. Anyone know of one? If there is one, I'd consider putting up my vocals. You, Taku, are a brave man.

what are some of your favorite hangouts in VA? and what do you think of the housing here; will prices ever drop? or will everyone have to move either very far south or west??


The prices of houses in Northern VA have skyrocketed to ridiculous levels. My own modest little place has increased in value by about 2.5 times in about five years. I have heard that the real estate bubble may burst soon, but our location--about a seven minute walk to the Vienna station--will likely keep our land value high, I think. So keep your fingers crossed. You may still be able to buy something in the Fairfax area, but buying a place for less than 300K will be difficult, I think.

As for my local hangout: I have mentioned many times that I go to Glory Days in Pan Am Center near the Vienna Metro. I go there about once a week and know the bartenders there. It is a sports bar so the place is not known for haute cuisine. But I enjoy some of the items on their menu: beef on weck, steak salad, chili. I stay away from pasta dishes and M will not eat fish anywhere except at home or at fancy places like Kincaid's in DC, but Glory Days has a pretty good sirloin stake, especially for the price. Indeed it's better than Outback's and other similar steak joints. So if youever go there and see an Asian couple sitting at the bar, it will probably be us.

Other than that, I sometimes go to Famous Dave's on 123 in Oakton. I will go there on a Sunday afternoon maybe once a month or two. I sometimes think the service is suspect, but the ribs are incredibly good. I am no expert on this typically southern dish, but man, they are the best I've ever tasted. Head and shoulders better than Red Hot and Blue and other NoVA rib places.

The best place for my money, however, is Arties, right next to Lotte's just south of Fairfax Circle. It is a bit pricier than most are eateries, to be sure, but the food is excellent. Their chopped salad is amazing. Their pork chops are delectable. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they have a prime rib that is spectacular--although expensive. Their fish dishes are pretty good too--oh yeah, M will eat fish here too. But the grilled Tuna, I think, was just so-so. If they have halibut as a special, definitely order it. THAT is good. But because it is pricey, I will usually sit at the bar and order three or four appetizers with M instead of two full meals. I like variety.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The O-man and Kids


got this comment to Thursday's post regarding how I would deal with a 17 year old young man who refused to study.

You believe that you should let teenage boys, when even scientifically it's proven that adolescents don't have the sector of their brains that are responsible for the connection between actions and consequences fully developed, be free of pressure to perform well in school?


Yes, Lana... Or is it Leah? I'm so confused now. I don't know what to call you. But yes, I believe that, in general, teenage boys--and girls--should be "free of pressure to perform well in school". Most teenage boys who are strong-willed or have a strong independent streak will do what they want to do anyway. Any pressure applied on them will only serve to drive them away, and to me, that is a bad thing. But I added that one should also provide guidance: Reminders of the alternate options that may seem conventional but lead to conventional success, like studying, going to college and finding a job. But the advice should be gentle--appropriate diction and timing--otherwise it will sound like nagging and this will defeat the purpose of allowing the young man to find his own way. I have yet to see any man respond well to nagging and parental/sibbling pressure.

This doesn't mean everyone is doomed to fail. I have seen many who have done as they were told and become successful in the image of their parents. But the success is usually luke-warm, or worse, they ended up resenting their success and those who applied the pressure. I fully understand the temptation to go the "tough love" route, or apply continuous pressure. I have a stepson who probably could use some... but then I think back at my own youth and refrain. Yes, love and support. That's the ticket.

i'm quite interested in everything i've read here, onigiriman -- even though my subscription hasn't been too long. just wanna say i appreciate your writing. i do have some questions, and it might be rather personal, but i will ask and you can choose to not answer it.

do you have kids? if so, what are some of the life-lessons you've learned as a father? are your parenting styles more traditional / Japanese, or more liberal and American? and if not a father, do you think you will be one in the future, and what kind of a father do you think you will become?



ooya, thanks for the nice words. It's nice to hear that people actually read my site, even though many don't comment. Oh well. Some have told me that they like reading but they don't really have anything to say in a comment.

Anyway, to your question: I have have one daughter about whom I wrote about last year in response to a question from SilverAshke who has since moved to blogger. My daughter currently lives with her mother and is going to a vocational school in Japan to learn the ropes of the music/media industry. You can click the link to read about my relationship with her. As for the type of father I was, I'm not sure if I'd peg myself as either Japanese or American. You saw what I wrote above about dealing with young men. Is that traditional? Is it American? I'm not sure.

However, when my daughter, K, was preschool, I was pretty strict. I would not hesitate to spank her if I believed it would get my message across (I didn't strike her in any other way). I strongly believe that young people--like the young men I referred to above--need to choose their own path, but this is based on a firm grounding in high morals. This is, of course, subjective, but I have my morals and I tried to pass on to my daughter at a very young age what I believe to be right and wrong:

  • Do not jump out into the street without looking both ways.
  • Always help others who are in need.
  • Common courtesy is simple: Just place yourself in the shoes of the other person. Which is why--for example--you should not put your feet on the furniture if they are dirty or if you are wearing shoes--this includes train seats and school desks. Who knows what you've been walking on and what you're spreading on top of that desk for the next person to touch.
  • Learning from others--academics as well as life experiences--is easier than going through a process of trial and error on your own, but if you need to experience it on your own, it is not necessarilly a bad thing.
  • Don't cheat or steal. You are only cheating yourself.
  • Don't waste money--like you father.
  • Exercise and brush your teeth religiously. If you are not healthy, brains mean nothing.

This is just a sample of some of the things I told her when she was a young child. Individual morals and values are pretty much set in the first few years of life, so I was pretty adamant about her following "my rules" until she was about six or seven. After that, all I did was provide guidelines, although I would often provide them unsolicited.

So is being strict "traditional"? Is allowing her to find her own path "western"? I guess the way I raised her--at least until she was nine--is a reflection of who I am: a Japanese American, a mixture of both cultures. But I have a feeling that Booyah already knew this.

The weekend

This weekend is Celebrate Fairfax in Northern VA, and I was wondering if anyone was going to the fair

yup! i'm gonna be there, are u?


Nope. I wanted to see Rick Springfield for old times sake, but I'm a bit too busy. On Saturday, I have to go to a colloquium on Korea, China, Japan and Memory. On Sunday, I'm going to my first Nationals Game at RFK. Damn, tickets are expensive.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ask the O-man


have a lot more to say on words and the Bible--sorry, the discussion with the grad student got my juices flowing--but I will hold off until next week. For now I will address the questions you asked last week in anticipation of my two year anniversary on Xanga. The following is from Bakababa. It seemed rather urgent so I will answer this first.

Bakababa: I have a question for you Oman. How can you make lazy kid study? Do you ever have bad students who you give up and don't want to deal with? Is there a trick to motivate student?

I could tell from your blog that you are probably refering to you 17 year old brother who seems to have lost all interest in studying. Well, to be truthful, at that age, I never studied either. I was in a band and even when the band broke up, I had lost all motivation to study, not that I was a genius to begin with, but I always studied enough to pass. I got mostly Ds and Cs. I think for many young men, it is the result of one's environment. No matter how smart he is, if he has an independent spirit, he is likely to be influenced more by people outside the home, like friends and co-workers. In a way, it feels like being independent, away from family influences. And if you try to restrain him, he will fight back even more. My parents just let me be. They let me do what I needed to do. Fortunately, they thought I was smart enough--as you think your brother is--and they let me figure it things out myself. The bottom line is to love and support your brother.

This does not mean to ignore him. You should remind him how certain decisions will affect his future, but if he is smart, he will figure it all out before it is too late. I learned when I was 23 that I should go to college, and at 24 I realized that I should actually study in college. Hahahahah. Because of all the Cs and Ds in high school, I had to go to a junior college first, but I finally got my grades up and transferred and graduated UCLA at 27. And I ultimately got a PhD at Stanford. As I said, I am not a genius to begin with. But hard work will take many of us a ong way. My friends from HS are shocked whenever I meet them and tell them what I've done...

Anyway, bottom line: Love and support your brother. And remind him about the "right" path, but let him make his own decisions.

I will answer the questions some of you left previously. If you have other questions, please feel free to ask.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Translation vs. Interpretation


s a student of mine reminded me in a comment in the previous post, all translation is ultimately interpretation. Anything we translate is a product of the readers interpretation of the original piece. This is why I am such a proponent of reading works in the original. I teach a literature in translation course, because Japanese literature--as in all world literatures--should reach as wide an audience as possible. But to truly appreciate the work itself, it should be read in the original.

But the point I want to make here is that all translation is interpretation. Even if we interpret a single word, context will dictate how it is interpreted. Think of the word "dog." I can be a four-legged mammal, but on a hot afternoon, it could refer to the weather. It can also refer to a scoundrel or as a descriptor a person's looks. The point, of course, is that I will tranlsate the word into Japanese depending on how I interpret the word, and the interpretation is based on my reading of a given context.

The following is a famous poem by the poet Basho. I think many of you may have heard of it.

Furu ike ya kawazu tobi komu mizu no oto
old pond (exclamation) frog jump enter water 's sound

The English words are more or less the literal translations of each individual word. But of course, each word can be slightly altered in meaning depending on the context and how the reader "interprets" Basho's poem. Below are some translations by well-known translators and poets.

The ancient pond

A frog leaps in

The sound of the water.

Donald Keene

An old pond--
The sound
Of a diving frog.

Kenneth Rexroth

Into the ancient pond

A frog jumps

Water's sound!

D.T. Suzuki

Old pond--frogs jumped in--sound of water.

Lafcadio Hearn

The old pond

A frog leaps in,

And a splash.

Makoto Ueda

The old pond

A frog jumped in,


Allen Ginsberg

As you can see, each poem provides a slightly different rendition of the exact same poem, because each person has a different interpretation. Even the use of "The" or "An" can lend a different flavor to the poem. "The old pond" indicates specificity, whereas "An old pond" suggests an arbitrary "any old" pond. Does a frog "jump" in, or does it "leap" in? Is there a difference between these two words to you? And of course, the "sound of water" is rather open ended, as I think Basho intended--that is if I am privileged guess his intentions--and is a far cry from the specific "splash" or "kerplunk" of different authors.

Another interesting point is lineation. Most Japanese poems are composed in a single line. The poems are recongnized by the syllable count in each section. In a Haiku--as in Senryu--the count is 5 syllable-7-5. Since many translators do not apply an artificial syllable count in a translation, they will lineate the poems into three lines, thereby making it "look" like a poem. I think we can all agree that lineation is one of the hallmarks of English poetry. Indeed, if we leaf through a book quickly, we can probably recognize a poem without reading a single word. All we need to do is look at the lines and borders and margins. The above translators--with the exception of Hearn--have imposed their Western bias on a Japanese poetic form. That is certainly an interpretation rather than a translation, no?

Anyway, I usually provide this caveat to my students before we begin reading J-Lit in translation. They should know that any language translated can never be exact, and can never convey precisely what the original does. We may approach it, but it can never be absloutely the same.

Then what of the Bible? My old pastor told me that the Bible is the Word of God. Ignoring the fact that I am skeptical that man can ever know God's language, the Word in the Bible is a human language written by humans. Parts are in Aramaic, others in proto-Hebrew. Written right to left, these languages are very distant from us today. And they have been through the translation mill of many different human languages, including different English versions.

So the question is: Did the men who wrote the Bible receive Divine inspiration? And how can we be sure, really sure--if we believe the Word of the Bible to be Absolute--that the translated words are a true and exact representation of the Word of God? Or can we say that the writers were inspired by their belief in and of the Divine?

Please, don't think of my as some kind of aetheist or agnostic. I was born and raised a Catholic, but I have always believed that God gave me a brain so I may use it freely, even if it were to question my faith.


This is one of my favorite psuedo/ad hoc translations of Basho's poem. It was apparently found in a newspaper somewhere, the specfics of which are now lost for eternity.


Dere wasa dis frogg

Gone jumpa offa da logg

Now he inna bogg.


Monday, June 06, 2005

The Word


ecently, I posted an entry stating my love for words. And indeed I love them. I love to write. I love to play with words. I love to manipulate words. Not that I'm good at it, but I try to relate things in as interesting a manner as possible. Most stories are told by a combination of content--what the story is about--and how it is told. Is it straight forward? Is it twisted? Is it vague--intentionally or not?

Words often seem to have a life of their own. You hear a word and it demands attention or consideration. A word can make you laugh or cringe. Indeed the power of the word(s) can change history: Give me liberty or give me death. Indeed, THE Word seems to have something of the divine in it. Take the Gospel of Johh.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

What are the implications of this passage? John states that the "Word was God" and ultimately, the Word becames flesh, which suggests that the Word was his Son, Jesus Christ. Given the power of the Word, many will look to the Bible and see it as a reflection of the Word, or at least as the Will of the Word. In so doing, the Word--or in the case of the Bible, Words--is absolute, unchanging.

Or at least this is how it seems to me. I had a discussion with an intelligent graduate astudent today who insisted that the Words in the Bible are divine and therefore must be followed to the letter.

So are words absolute to you? Or is it only confined to the Bible? And if so, how do you seperate the divine in the bible, from say, the Koran or a Buddhist Sutra--since they are sometimes at odds with each other?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Real Survey


s many of you know, there are a lot of surveys flowting around Xanga, if not the virtual world of blog communities. Certainly, many of them are pretty funny, just as many of them are pretty lame. And I have been known to complete my share of the lame ones. But I went to Booyaman's site the other day, and found the following set of questions posed by James Lipton of "Inside the Actor's Studio" where--and I quote:

...the King of Suck-up asks these same questions to the guest du jour. Lipton admires or idolizes Pivot, a French talk-show host that first came up with this set of questions -- hence the namesake. I suppose the answers are supposed to reveal something deep and profound about your person; personally I think it's all just frenchie froufrou.

Far be it for me to contradict the knowledgable Booyaman, but I thought the questions were thought provoking. Imagine yourself as the bearded host on Bravo as you ask me these questions:

  • What is your favorite word?
    ˆ¤‚µ‚Ä‚é‚æ (ai shiteru yo : Love ya'): It's my favorite because I love hearing M saying it.
  • What is your least favorite word?
    Good-bye. Is there anything sadder than having to say "good-bye" to someone? I avoid this wheneven possible. I will say "see ya'" or "later" or even the abbreviated "bye", but "good-bye" has such a sense of finality that I use it only sparingly--usually when I'm annoyed or pissed.
  • What turns you on?
    A really juicy bacon burger: Once upon a time, I would have said beautiful women. And for me, beauty is not so much a particular characteristic, but a good balance. It is the entire package that also includes character and inteligence as well as good looks. But that is past me now. Nearing my fiftieth year, I am far more gratified by a scrumptious bacon burger. From the bottom up: French roll (bottom), mustard, three slices of butter pickles, a grilled quarter pound patty, two strips of bacon medium-well--not too soft, not to crispy--a single full romaine lettuce leaf folded in half, a thick slice of tomato, mayo slathered on the tomato, and the top part of the roll. Key is never mix the mustard and mayo, and the mayo must always be on the tomato. I swear, any deviation from this stacking order will change the flavor of the burger. Try it. Make two and put the mayo somewhere else on one; the flavor will definitely be different.
  • What turns you off?
    Unhygienic/unsanitary people and places: Ugh, I hate dirty people, and I really hate unsanitary places. I wrote previously about being disgusted by those who don't flush after useing the urinal. and the thought of shaking hands with someone who hasn't washed their hands after using the toilet is so disgusting, I wish America would adopt the East Asian habit of bowing to greet people. Yuck.
  • What sound do you love?
    The sound of a car driving by on a lonely afternoon. I don't know why, but this is a reassuring sound to me. It reminds my that I am not alone when I'm by myself. The voice of other people talking is intrusive and will simply accentuate my loneliness. Natural sounds--birds chirping, dog barking--confirm the solitairiness of the situation. But a car, a machine that was made by man, reminds me of the humanity around me without the intrusion of a live voice.
  • What sound do you hate?
    The sound of someone farting or having diarrhea in the next stall in a public restroom. I swear this is the worst. I wish they had those flushing sound systems they have in women's restrooms in Japan. Over there, women cover up the sound of their own business, but I wouldn't use it to cover my own; I'd erase the sounds coming from the next stall.
  • What is your favorite curse word?
    There are so many good ones, but if my favorite cures word was the one I used the most, it would be "asshole." Fucker or shithead are great words, but calling someone an asshole is the epitome of an insult: A puckered openning from which only shit comes out.
  • What profession, other than yours, would you like to attempt?
    Writer. I think this my Xanga speaks for itself. Not that it's good, but that it is obvious that I like to write.
  • What profession would you NOT like to participate in?
    A male dancer/stripper at Chip 'n Dale's. I can dance a simple two step and I have cha-cha-ed through a few songs in my youth, but in general, I suck as a dancer. Worse is the fact that if I basred myself in front of a ruoomful of women, they would laugh at what is referred to in Japanese as the "natural life saver" I have wrapped around my waist. That would be love handles in America. I swear, I'm gonna lose weight this summer! *sigh*
  • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
    "you know, I'm gonna let you in anyway."

Saturday, June 04, 2005



y stepson came from Japan last year needing to be with his family as he sorts his life out. He had seen some quack doctors in Japan and they put him on a regimen that I think was more hurtful than helpful. All he needed was a little love, a little support, and some honest discussions about life, responsibility and, of course, women.

Well, he is going home next week and I have been spending as much time with him as possible to encourage him to succeed in Japan. I expect him to be back eventually--not that I think he'll have problems in Japan, but I think he prefers the support he feels from us here. So when we finally resolve M's green card issues, we will apply for his immigration to the US, a process that will likely take at least a year. He's not getting younger--I think he's the same age as Taku--but better late than never.

Anyway, I have been spending most of my free time with family...

Peace and love, everyone--oops, sorry to sound so 6s...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ask Onigiriman


une 15th will mark my second year on Xanga. It is hard for me to believe that I have continued it for this long. I am the sort that quickly gets bored of things--usually three months and I'm out. I loved playing the piano and actually took lessons. After a year, my teacher had me play Oscar Peterson's arrangement of "That Old Black Magic" at a recital, and I never went back to another lesson after the gig.

But this bloggin' thing. It has really got me hooked. Two years ago, in my first entry I wrote:

In a way, this is like the Pillow Book –‚Ì‘Žq by Sei Shonagon ´¬”[Œ¾. She wrote her thoughts on poetry, on lifestyle, on likes and dislikes, on gossip around the the imperial palace; and her writing was available to many to read.

I don't know if I can do this regularly, but I will try to keep it updated.

Hahahah. Yeah right. I haven't counted them all, but I must have over 500 entries by now. I guess I just love to write. Actually, I think it's more like, I love to talk. I write as if I were talking to the screen, and what you read is what you would get if you were talking directly with me. Words, words, words. I just love it.

Anyway, as I did last year, I will open the floor for to any questions you may have about me. I think many of you know a lot about me already--I am, like Sei Shonagon, an open book on these pages. But if there is something you are curious about, or if you wanna dig a bit deeper, feel free to ask. I will try to answer any and all questions.