Wednesday, February 25, 2009


A magical escape called Bikkuri Ichi Gourmet Carnival. Accessible weekends only, fresh fish market, bibimbap to order, and the nice lady who sells ice cream and beer included. If you look carefully (i.e. look at the full size image), you can see snow. I snapped this the day after Greg and Laurel co-hosted a "power animal" theme party, maybe fifteen minutes after our first snowball fight in the hallowed land of Nogata.



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

she's in parties

Bauhaus are widely considered the "grandfathers of goth" - post punk with a really dark side and lots of bat imagery. Pictured above is lead singer Peter Murphy, who is a textbook example of a rocker who is still sexy when he's old.

Here's their 1979-1983 singles collection. Thank me later. Volume 1 is more punk and Volume 2 is more wave-y.

Bauhaus - 1979-1983 Volumes 1 & 2

Monday, February 23, 2009

European condescension

I just read an entry in Sasha's blog that got me feeling incensed and bristly. I have (without her permission) copied and pasted a conversation that she had with someone in Amsterdam recently:

Dutch Guy bumps into me, like tall people do to short people.
DG: Oh! I'm so sorry!
Me: Don't worry, it happens all the time.
DG: No, really, I'm sorry! Where are you from?
Me: The United States.
DG: Ooh..ouch.
Me: Well...
DG: You're very beautiful.
Me: Oh...Thank you.
DG: Yes..very beautiful! For being from the US.
Me: I think you just complimented me and insulted me at the same time?
DG: Really! You're beautiful, for being from there!

What kind of socially retarded snot-nosed asshole says things like that, anyway? I've had similar conversations with people who make sweeping generalizations about Americans and the U.S., and then I find they've never even been there or MAYBE they went to like, Florida for a week or something. This is basically what's being implied:

DG: All Americans are uneducated, obese, hate the Mexicans, don't know anything about world history, are all Bible-thumping cowboys who think all Muslims are terrorists and love George W. Bush, and shit you guys don't even have passports - Europeans are so superior! Oh ho ho! Your beauty is tarnished by the fact that you are a scum American! Oh ho ho!

Maybe the appropriate response for Sasha could be

Why thank you, you're looking fine yourself for someone who is freakishly tall with a weak chin and a big nose, eats pancakes and rents hookers all day, and comes from a country which is famous for people who are rude and frugal and that crazy guy who made the anti-Islam propaganda movie and then wondered why people were angry!

Since you know, all stereotypes are the whole truth and all _________ people are totally alike...argh.

Ignorance. It lives everywhere, and no one's better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

many different kinds of beautiful


I watched Shaun (Cramp) beast one of those the other day at the mall. Download the .avi file and watch. Everyone asks me how big the burgers are in America and I'm just like...smaller than a MegaMac, you fools.


I've got a real love-hate relationship with being here, as those who followed my
dormant Japan blog were forced to read about every other day. Some days suck me in to the point where I feel like recontracting for a third year, but on others I sit on Orbitz pricing flights and fantasizing about running away back to the West. Generally speaking, Japan is okay. I don't really like it, but it at least amuses and befuddles me to the point where I can sit and chuckle.

The apparent absence of goats in this big pasture of sheep freaks me out, probably because I'm so goddamned American and I think even a collectivist society should consist of entirely individuals who prize uniqueness and go "rabble rabble rabble" when something's dissatisfactory. There's one guy in my biweekly English conversation club, Shin. who breakdances and has applied to be a comedian in Tokyo. His English is damned near perfect, he loves to talk about politics, and he does a great "Tickle Me Elmo" impression. We inevitably turn every meeting to the topic of Japanese complacency and collectivism, and Shin always bangs his fists on the table and says "we need a fucking revolution - it's not good enough." He may not instigate the complete overhaul and radicalization of Japan but it means way more coming from him than from the millions of angry teenagers in the USA who shout "revolution" because Jimmy Eat World told them to say so, you know? It seems to me that most Japanese who reject Japan's values would rather leave the country than try and change the nation from within, and I can't blame them at all. This is a country where staying at work until 10 pm doing nothing is valued more highly than being extremely productive and leaving on time, being 10 minutes late requires paperwork that will travel through three levels of bureaucracy, and people still buy CDs - which are twice as expensive here as in the States! I've met a lot of unhappy young, medium and elderly people who are looking for escape, through marriage or education or whatever, and I can totally see where they're coming from.

Even the impeccably stylish young demographic with their skinny legs and flawless makeup and amazing clothes all wear variations of the exact same outfit. Fashion isn't used to make statements so much as to fit into style niches here. Wearing Doc Martens with a studded belt doesn't necessarily say anything about you. Maybe the goth-lolitas running around still like SMAP and Lilo & Stitch. The massive popularity of reggae and cannabis paraphenalia has not educated the youth about Rastafari or the joys of pot smoking, and half of them still think Jamaica is in Africa. I always love to find the 3-4 kids per class with a cannabis pencil case and say "マリファナ好き?" ("so, you like marijuana?") and watch their faces as they recoil in horror. It just blows my mind how so many people run around professing their love for HEMPU and JAMAICA yet they haven't bothered to understand the meaning of that funny leaf that's plastered all over their grandma's air fresheners.

But then again, here I am the hypocrite, criticizing other people for being unaware and unconcerned about things - perhaps not even intentionally - while I sit on the other side of the world not reading the international news or thinking about anything terribly important. Ah well.


I have overslept every single day this week because I keep staying up too late. I'm so exhausted that it feels like I'm high. Maybe I'll go sniff some markers after lunch. They smell so nice. Oh my god, put me back to bed please

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

care package

My mother and I have a very special relationship that consists of approximately 50% what Commonwealth English speakers refer to as "taking the piss" and 50% (sarcastic) womanly gossipy love. We have gone on several package-tour vacations to Europe together and managed not to kill each other - a real growing up rite of passage, considering that about 7 years ago I was a "spoiled little bitch" and she was a "heartless slave driver" if I recall them correctly. I can always count on her to laugh heartily at my petty misfortunes, e.g. that fateful time I waxed my crotch incorrectly and ripped off all my skin in the process, and she's always got some juicy hometown gossip (often about the 8th or 9th neighborhood kid who has been diagnosed with Asperger's) whenever I call. She's a thin but mighty woman of principle who eats 100 calorie lunches, majored in math as a feminist political statement, and is completely convinced that Israel=yes, Palestine=fail. We've had our noisy battles and debates over whether or not affirmative action is reverse racism (it's sooo not!) and we make fun of each other's clothes from time to time, but generally she knows me and what makes me giggle, gasp and tick.

I have my packages delivered to me at school because I hate playing phone tag with the post office over failed delivery notices, and this always creates a moderate buzz in the teacher's room. Today I received a care package from my mom.

-A news editorial written by Charles Krauthammer about why Israel is right and Palestine is wrong
-My German textbooks from college
-Two bags of candy: Target store brand gummy bears and Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup hearts (she loves to harp on me to lose weight, but always sends me food and candy)
-4 pairs of black underpants, neatly folded in a Zip-loc bag so as to look less conspicuously like underpants
-The Vassar alumnae quarterly magazine
-Newspaper clippings on topics ranging from the new Doctor on "Doctor Who" to a famous cat at the Schenectady train station and the fateful day Denny's restaurants nationwide gave out free Grand Slam breakfast
-A huge Zip-loc bag full of tampons - I'm betting there are at least 108 or 144 in there (Tampax tampons come in packs of 36)

While the underpants were probably the highlight of this particular care package, I was also really happy to have a new distraction at work. I started reading "Treffpunkt Deutsch" from the beginning as I have shamefully forgotten all but the bare essentials of German. Soon I hope I will be onto more interesting conversations than Herr and Frau Ziegler fussing about the weather. Though I have to say, the phrase "was für ein Hundewetter" really does apply to today. A little less cold and a little more spring-like warmth, please.


He sounds far less pasty than he looks. Have a listen, please! "Schwarz zu Blau" represented the state of Berlin in the Bundesvision Song Contest this year and like, won by a landslide.

Moved most of my music from my external hard drive to my laptop tonight. I won't ever get enough sleep, and that's okay. At least tonight I'm not reading tongue twisters aloud to myself at 4 a.m.

Photos courtesy of Greg, who is regrettably absent in them:

Cramp, Kramp, and Ben. Kramp is stuffing her face.

The arsenal and our first (read: only) groupie, Shamisen. My violin is named John Crow, after the wonderful man who donated it free of charge.

Friday, February 13, 2009

off-season typhoon

It's unseasonably windy today, and also really warm. The first warm day after winter (or in the middle of winter) always has a catnip-like effect on me. Exacerbated of course by having watched the goofy skinny kid shove an entire baked good in his mouth in the seconds preceding class. He always seems to be in a hurry to eat right before the period starts, and he always makes eye contact with me while he unhinges his jaw and inserts approximately six or seven mouthfuls of carbs into his face at once. I couldn't stop laughing for a while back there but now I feel like I want to crawl into a hole and die. What's happening? Lately I have been like the emotional Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, but with no mass murder, muscular twelve year old boys in short shorts, or mustachioed dictator.

I wonder if I could grow a mustache if I took some kind of masculine growth hormone. Would my weight shift itself around to distribute in a manlier way? My genitals deform into the phallic beast featured in "One Night in Chyna?" What if I underwent female sex-change surgery as a person who is already female? It would probably just make me really sick, but maybe I'd actually start to look post-pubescent? Greg says I look 15 and I feel complimented in the highest order. The fountain of youth complex has hit me at a rather young age. I sometimes flirt with the idea of wearing clothing that is marketed toward high school students. Like septagenarians who wear leopard print bikinis to the beach and look young and tempting from the back, I could be every pedophile's worst disappointment. But it's not pedophilia if you go for girls who have hit puberty, really. Older women are just jealous when their husbands eyeball 19-year-olds at the bar because they'll never get that youth back. Same goes for fat chicks who say a healthy athletic girl needs to eat a sandwich. You're all jealous. Sometimes I wonder why I bother trying to look acceptable...I might as well just eat tons and tons of fried food and become huge and massive. At least I got all those extra cheese tutumiage sticks in there when I was still alive, young, and with all my teeth...

Do most people's minds wander this much when they are faced with hours of idle time every day? It could be the coffee. I want to write the next "Naked Lunch!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

krampy has a band?

I'm in a band now. We're not a real band, we don't even have a bass player, but this is as band-like as it's gotten thus far and I like it. For now it's mostly covers of songs everyone knows with heavily improvised violin and djembe beats, and everyone sings and switches up their instruments. Nothing professional or terribly innovative but a lot of fun. It feels amazing to be playing music again. My dreams of street musicianship appear to be well on the way to coming true. Soon I'll be shivering half-naked in tattered clothes in the Ita Gintengai shopping arcade playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" with my violin case open, imploring the octogenarian passersby for pocket change.

Meanwhile I'm hit with the pressing need to travel. It's almost as urgent as needing to urinate or that graceful word - what was it - "beeriod" after a night of drinking. Walter and I have been talking about going to Shanghai for a few days. I'd be happy to walk around not being able to read anything or speak to anyone, perhaps throwing out an emphatic "ching chong wing wong" here and there, eating street dumplings cooked in cleaning product, logically followed by diarrhea without toilet paper in some filthy hellhole, and maybe a classy meal atop a skyscraper.

Actually the other day a student said "nihao" to me. I said "HELLO" back.

Hello. I sort of love being hung over. That disoriented slightly achey haze does wonders for the introspective soul and fosters a nice kind of team spirit when everyone's feeling it. It's like smoking cigarettes. If there's nothing else to talk about, you can always just talk about what you have in common. Oh, Marlboro Lights. What are you, a homo? My gay ex smokes those. I think they're so foul. Here, have a Lucky Strike. What do you mean they're too strong? What kind of pansy are you?

Only 6 more hours of work.

P.S. Welcome to the new blog.