Here’s [The Angel] practicing in a friend’s basement. This is the first I’ve seen the Angel in years. They’re amazing, and now have a full-length CD out on a real label. I’m often tempted to say that I used to be in this band, but because they have a new name and don’t play any of the same songs they did when I was a member, I can’t really say that with honesty. : http://shatteredangel.com
Archive for December, 2003
Piroko picked up these Korean snack-desserts at the Koreana grocery in Appleton. They’re terribly delicious, but what cracks me up every time is the slogan IT’S NOW! Hey, look out! It’s Now!!
I’ve been getting a disproportionately large number of very pretty photos from just outside of work when my shift ends in the morning. It’s kind of nice after 12 hours of getting bombarded by CRT radiation to step outside and see something like this stretching from one horizon, over my head, to the other horizon. I think I’ve figured out one key point that I can use to describe the difference between life in Tokyo and life in Green Bay: Trains versus cars. When riding trains around, you get a nice little walk to the station, then while on the train you can read, listen to music, play Game Boy, email on your phone, or just enjoy the scenery. Then you get another nice little walk to your destination. During these walks you can stop by any little cafe or bookstore that seems interesting, or just walk around and explore. Driving is much more deliberate: you get in your car, and fifteen minutes later you’re somewhere else. You may as well have teleported there. In a train culture, things are there to be discovered. In a car culture, you already have to know where you’re going. Well, this train versus car thing is probably just something I’ve made up because I’ll probably never live in Tokyo again and I don’t want to think that I’ll never have that kind of life again.
An unfortunately placed sign changes Badger Wood Products’ name to… this. I’m not sure if this is hilarious or if I’m just losing my mind.
I got into the car one night and found these wacky ice patterns on all of the windows. I guess there are some nice little things to be found in the miserable Wisconsin winter.
The student discount, developer discount, work’s reimbursement, and resale price of my old PowerBook, made a new 12″ PowerBook G4 1GHz with SuperDrive only $650. I couldn’t really pass it up. Besides, Hiroko needed a new Mac to do her graphic design work on, and my old PowerBook would be a perfect match. I went ahead and ordered it. Here I’m rearranging the keys on my old PowerBook from Dvorak back into QWERTY for her.
These lights outside of our building keep turning on and off at random, shining in Jon’s eyes. They’re very annoying. One night, though, in the freezing-rain, they were actually rather pretty.
Friend, classmate, Timesplitters 2 opponent, and Mac-fanatic-in-arms Peter has a pumpkin patch in his yard, and he allowed us to raid it for Halloween. Yes, that’s how far behind I am on updating this site. I’m two whole holidays off. Much of this year can be described in terms of my trying to play video games whenever possible. For a while, work, school, sleep, and other obligations were all just perceived as “obstacles in the way of my playing Timesplitters 2 with Peter”.
This is right outside of work, on a very misty morning.
Some construction vehicle was lifting this light pole and accidentally dropped it right on top of someone’s car. It’s been lying there ever since.
My brother Dave had a pretty huge block party, complete with this country-band. It was fun to see the reaction of our friend Sangik from Korea.
And I’m back to Mundania. This is where I sit on my butt for 8 to 12 hours a night, watching numbers on screens and making sure little green indicators don’t turn red. I’d interviewed for [the same job as Jon], but when I was hired they put me over here across the room instead. After about 10 minutes of sitting here thinking of how to explain my feelings about the situation, I’ve come up with nothing that I’d like to write in such a public place. My official stance right now is “whatever”. : http://context.metalbat.com/index.pl?860
Eventually my eight days were up, and it was time to teleport back to the mundane land of Wisconsin. Busy city streets, shops open all night, and fascinating characters would be replaced by cold suburbia, lots of sitting in front of monitors worrying about backups and batch processing, and Packers fans. I’d like to pretend that I can make myself enjoy life exactly the same amount regardless of where I am, but it just doesn’t work. Japan is the most fun I’ve ever had. Wisconsin is depressing. Bleh. This customs guy was very careful with my box; he put on white gloves and gently untied the twine from it. They made Tets take the paint thinner that was in the oil-paint set I was bringing for Hiroko. The guy then re-tied the whole complicated twine getup for me. When I arrived in Detroit, before my flight to O’Hare the customs lady there also wanted to open up the box. She looked at the way it was tied, muttered, “I’m not going to be able to tie this back up for you”, took a big knife and slashed through the twine, rooted through the stuff and gave the box a shoddy tape-job. “Welcome home”, I thought.
Hiroko really wanted me to enjoy a fine French dinner, so when she was home for the summer she left some money with her parents to take me out to this French restaurant they’ve been patronizing for years. I can’t say the food was really up my alley, indeed, the food rather splattered all over the buildings on either side of my alley, without any of it actually making its way up the alley itself. It was an interesting experience, though, to try the French food she’d been raving about for years. I guess. Seeing Hiroko’s family again was quite nice; they are always so accomodating and generous. I was reminded of the weeks I spent at their house toward the end of my stay in Japan, when I was unwell and spent the days lying around reading Nijuuseiki Shounen comix. Ahh.
It’s pretty fascinating just to look at the magazine racks. Sometimes it’s kind of overwhelming to see the volume of seemingly pretty neat stuff going on, and how much of it is very involved and is followed by people passionately. Comix, electronics, television, anime, weird niche video games, music, et cetera: walking around Shinjuku or Akiba I feel like I want to get involved in all of it. I have to reassure myself that I’ve already found great stuff to get into: Toume Kei for comix, all the neat electronics I’ve already got, Pussuma on TV and whatever other neat shows I can catch, Arjuna and such for anime, Sakura Taisen and Xenosaga for my video games, Clammbon and Shiina Ringo for music. I don’t have to go out of my way to discover and involve myself in pop culture, because I’m already there, and I’ve already found some of the best stuff there is. Well, my connections to this stuff are pretty random. I found Clammbon by taking a chance on some song I saw a 15-second commercial for. I found Toume Kei by picking up a random attractive-looking comic book at the store and buying it on a whim. Sakura Taisen, well, that’s [another story]. On one hand, it’s these random connections and lucky chances that make my perception of the works more valuable than that of something I found under more contrived or mundane circumstances. On the other hand, their fleeting nature makes me wonder whether I’m missing out on something even greater just over the horizon, and this thought sometimes causes me to panic a bit and search frantically for something truly awesome. Eventually I come to my senses and realize that the things I already hold dear are better for me than any of these shiny items lined up on the shelves. I can try out as many quirky games as I want, but will any of them really be as good as Xenosaga or Sakura Taisen? No way. Maybe I’ll find some more neat games by chance, but I don’t need to seek them out. The same goes for comix, music, or anything else. That was a weird little divulgence. I’m currently searching for a relatively easy-to-read Japanese novel I can get engaged by. Juuni Kokki seems neat but might be a year or so above my level. Suggestions are welcome. : http://jetfuel.metalbat.com/sakura.txt
This is a return to the site of an old [(out of context) picture]. This time Andy was with me and we ventured way up past the “do not enter” signs to the roof of the building. It was scary to be up there leaning over the flimsy railing and taking photos, but if anyone were to show up and ask us why we were up there, we could use our Gaijin License to get out of it. You can pretty much get away with anything in Japan just by looking foreign and confused. I can only imagine what went on behind the locked doors above the Gamers and the arcade. : http://context.metalbat.com/index.pl?760
I wanted to show you what a Japanese McDonald’s looks like. Next time you’re in your fast-food joint of choice with an indignant teenager glaring at you, muttering, “what do you want”, imagine a land where attractive young women in impeccable uniforms greet you cheerfully, address you respectfully, and bow to you when you order your quarter pounder with cheese. Granted, not all fast food restaurants in the USA are so bad, and not all of them in Japan are so nice. But there’s a definite disparity. The only thing I really hate is when I walk in and as soon as they look at me I can sense their “white person alarm” go off and they pull out the English menu. I’m usually tempted to tell them I don’t know English and act all offended, but I usually just make a point of showing off my Japanese skills instead.
This is the main street outside Shinjuku East Exit that marks the front of Kabukichou. It’s one of the seediest areas of Tokyo, and yet I feel totally safe walking there by myself at 2 AM.
There are huge bike-parking areas around Tokyo, and bikes tend to be parked alongside pretty much any sidewalk you see. All of them are these old-fashioned steel jobs or tiny little portable ones, and all have a bell and a light, and usually a basket. After a couple of days in Japan you learn to listen for the telltale ringing of a bicycle bell and jump out of the way of the unassuming middle-aged lady barrelling at you.