You asked for it. Photo credit goes out to Andy.
Archive for October, 2002
In order to calm fears about Mad Cow Disease and other such bovine ailments, McDonald’s has a lot of propaganda about how safe their Aussie Beef is. They used to have this tray liner where some kids go to the farm and talk to the farmer about where the meat comes from, but I guess people wanted to hear it straight from the meat itself. So here’s Meat-Patty-kun, telling us all about how it’s oh kay to eat him. I had to go to McDonald’s like five times before getting this tray liner again so that I could take a picture, so I hope you enjoy it. Andy, a dude from my Japanese Women’s History class who has become a good friend of mine in a matter of like three days, has promised to translate the whole thing for us. What creeps me out is that at the end of this little explanation, we get a picture of Meat-Patty-kun about to eat a hamburger.
Tom came down from Sendai to hang out with Leah, Shannon, Kendric, and me. While the three of us guys were waiting to meet up with the girls, we did the proper geeky thing and found an arcade. Down in the basement is where they kept the music games, and this dude was playing Dance Dance Revolution with his coat on the dang screen! He even had it set up for a routine that makes use of both players’ dance pads, just for himself. This is what we like to call “awesome”. Tom has a theory that there’s some greater scheme behind Dance Dance Revolution and other “bemani” type games. He thinks that Konami forsees a need for people with particular physical skills such as stomping on things in sequence or hitting things with sticks in a particular pattern, and that someday those who have mastered the ever-increasingly-difficult DDR and DrumMania type series will be called forth to save (or conquer) the Earth. Or something.
Tets came home one night and dropped a vaguely squishy spheroid, in a bag, into my hands, and said, “You can take care of this”. Turns out Yoppii-san from Photo Club took a little trip to Korea and brought back some kimchi for Tets and me, and the way they store kimchi out there is to wrap it in this Saran-Wrap-like stuff until it has taken on a disturbingly organ-like shape and behavior. We puzzled about how to open it for a while, until Tets finally just started stabbing it with a knife, to which it responded by squirting out red kimchi juice and dripping a lot. I then had to squeeze the singular mass of kimchi out of the hole Tets had made, thus bearing it into this world. Heh. Now our apartment stinks.
I’ve got to hand it to Japan for their continuing disregard for release dates. [Clammbon]’s id is the third CD I’ve bought before its official release. This CD came with a postcard with which I can win a chance to see Clammbon play a special private show a few weeks from now. I’ve got my fingers crossed. The displays that stores build for new releases are very impressive. Pretty much every CD that comes out has this little shrine built for it, and these are scattered throughout the store showing off the new CD, the band’s previous CDs, magazines that include interviews with the band, flyers for upcoming shows, a set of headphones for you to hear the whole album, and sometimes a TV playing the band’s videos. Even older CDs often have a little hand-written placard hanging from the shelf, or a card-insert stuck to the packaging, describing the band and letting you know whether you might like them. Neat! : http://www.clammbon.com
This girl was in a trio of really cool-looking goths, but when I asked, the other two kind of looked startled and escaped while I got her photo. I can never tell if people are really flattered or really annoyed.
This weekend I went with Kendric, Shannon, and Leah, three anime-geek-friends of mine, to Harajuku. We even got a little dressed up, ourselves, but sadly the rain scared away most of the cool weirdos. Here’s a couple of brave weirdos that stuck around for a while.
Well, here’s what a Kernel Panic looks like in [Mac OS X]. If you’re a Windows user, this is the equivalent to your Blue Screen of Death. It’s annoying that this happened when I was almost done encoding a [movie] into DivX, a six-hour process. On the other hand, it’s reassuring that this was the first crash I’ve had since OS X was officially released 19 months ago. : http://www.apple.com/macosx : http://www.midnighteye.com/reviews/suicclub.shtml
Twice a week I have Tokyo Urbanism class here in room K-3. On the first day, it took me a good while to find out where K-3 even is; there’s a tiny building out behind the main building, and I didn’t even know it existed. This building has three floors, each with one room. For the 3 hours or so before my class starts, both the room and I are free. That means I get to sneak in here and chill out for a couple of hours while other students have to put up with studying in the bewilderingly noisy library or the sub-appealing cafeteria. Having free time in the middle of the day and a quiet place to hang out means getting work done is no problem.
I don’t know why but I’ve always liked this view from the platform at Yotsuya Station. This is the station to which I ride every day to get to school. This semester my first class is at 09:15, and my classes end around 17:00 three days out of the week, which means I’m on the Marunouchi subway for at least one rush hour each day. It is not fun or cool in any sense of either word. Imagine that you are on a crowded train. Let’s say it’s crowded enough that you pretty much can’t avoid physical contact with the two or people nearest to you. Okay, that’s a little uncomfortable, but you can still kind of phase out and maybe hold up a book right in front of your face and get some reading done. Now the train stops, and some more people get on. Actually, a good number of people get on. You’re a little squished, and you start to fear that something in your bag might be breaking. You’re kind of pressed up to the dude next to you, who’s kind of sweaty, and the other dude behind you has teamed up with the lady in front of you to crush your arm so that you can’t grab on to anything, and when the train moves you’re doomed to kind of fall onto the people behind you while the combined weight of everyone in front of you, likewise, falls onto you. It’s bad, but at least you know that it can’t get any worse from here. There’s no way they could fit any more people into the car, so it’ll probably either stay like this until you get to where you need to go, or it might even start to thin out. But no. Shinjuku Station is next, and as the train comes to a stop you see the crowd of people waiting to get onto the train. Your train. Your car. Here they come; you are introduced to the intricacies of the standard Japanese businessman’s comb-over, commonly known as “barcode-head”, as you are literally crushed into him by the half dozen human bodies around you. You really find out exactly what other people smell like. You are very lucky if you actually have enough floor real estate in which to put your feet. Any surviving contents of your bag no longer stand a chance. You are done for.
Matsuya is a chain of gyuudon(“beef bowl”) restaurants in Japan. It’s the closest thing I can think of to “Japanese fast food”. There are a few key factors that make Matsuya one of my main sources of nutrition: 1. **Food:** You get a lot of food, and it is tasty. You can go with the standard gyuudon (a bowl of rice with strips of beef and onions on top) and miso soup, or you can opt for the curry. If you’re especially hungry, there are bigger sets with salad and raw eggs in little dishes and such. It’s all, as they say, good. Also, Matsuya offers kimchi, unlike other gyuudon shops. Dumping the kimchi on top of the gyuudon makes for an especially delicious meal. There are also pitchers of water on the table so you don’t have to keep asking for more. 2. **Price:** You can fill up for 290 yen. As of 6/30/2002, that comes to US$2.42. In expensive-as-heck Tokyo, that’s a downright miracle. 3. **Service:** Your order is placed by buying tickets out of a vending machine. This means your order will never get messed up. The folks that work there are friendly, and their “irasshaimase!”s and “arigatou gozaimashita!”s and “mata goriyou kudasaimase!”s sound pretty genuine. 4. **Convenience:** The speed is nice; you can walk in, order, eat, and leave in a matter of 15 minutes. There are Matsuyas pretty much everywhere, and they are easy to spot by their bright yellow signage and distinctive circular logo. Finally, and this is a big one, every Matsuya I know of is open 24 hours. This means that when it’s the middle of the night and you need a hearty meal, your two options are Matsuya and Origin Bentou. I’ll get to Origin in another post; that’s a whole other story.
I went to get a printer cartridge for Tets, and came across this apparently very popular conveyor-belt sushi joint. The lineup was impressive.
If you come to Geos English conversation school, you too can have a big, long, poorly Photochopped nose and big sparkly eyes just like Western barbarian!
I took the Shinkansen down to Mishima to see Kiyoshi over the weekend. Kiyoshi was my roommate during my 2nd and 3rd years at SNC, and now he’s back in Japan living with his sister and finishing up at Nihon University. We watched four movies in three days; for some reason that’s one of our favorite pastimes. It was really good to see Kiyoshi and to meet his family; he’s such a nift hombre, and his family is appropriately nift. His sister stays in all the time studying and caring for these little tiny botanical projects she has set up, and for some reason that’s really cool to me. The real highlight of the weekend was our trip out to Fujikyuu Highland with Kiyoshi, his sister Mitsue (I love Japanese names ending in “e”), and an Ayako from SNC. They have what’s supposedly the world’s tallest roller coaster (they have the certificate from Guinness there and everything), and also another coaster that’s supposed to be the world’s fastest. It was all terribly fun, and I can’t think of any other time in my life that I more regretted forgetting my camera. Sorry. I’ve been invited back, though, so sit tight, as they say. Er, anyway, this is a picture of some people practicing Kyuudou. It’s really, really precise what with all the specific motions you have to go through before shooting an arrow. It takes like five minutes just to shoot once. I hope they didn’t use this form in battle, or anything.
I’ve become a major worldwide distributor for this book. @_@
Here’s the view from a landing on the stairs leading up to the Gamers in East Shinjuku. This is one of the main streets people walk along in this infamously shady part of town. I had a short anti-Japan fugue today in which I found myself annoyed by the crowds and noise around. A few minutes of looking down from here and watching the people go by made me feel better, like I could distance myself from the bustle and just watch the humans do their thing. People are easier to deal with when you can look at them as ants scrambling around, bumping into each other, tracing pheremone trails, trying to pass out flyers for night clubs… Well, whatever.
Ewan McGregor really wants you to come to Aeon english conversation school.
Check it out; I have a friend now! This is Kendric; he came with us to the Tokyo Game Show, and since he lives reasonably close, we arranged to meet the other night in Shibuya. I’d kind of forgotten how I don’t really like Shibuya so much; it’s too hip and happening for me to deal with sometimes. Anyway, we went and had good ramen, and I read some of his fine original fiction. He’s good at that stuff. Here he is talking on the phone to a friend who’s out in the middle of Kyuushuu with nothing to do.