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Today In CA

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Over 462 Served


5/11 11:25 New days, new ways, and a bowling ball.

For the last week I've been living a life of pure weirdness; whether that's the entirely unpredictable weather patterns, my even harder to predict music tastes or the fickle tendency of my email inbox.

Today, for example, I had envisioned a day of updating the website with pictures and info from Kyushu, a day devoted to email, and even a day devoted to playing Xenogears. I had planned all of this only to remember that Brian and I had scheduled to "kick it" with Tomoko today.

Kicking it was fun. We went to a store named Tokyu Hands that is the most random collection of things I have ever seen. Then I had hisashi buri no Thai food. Green curry roxorz to the maxorz. Afterwards, we played two rounds of bowling and went drinking. There was fun to be had by all except the scary old lady who worked the izakaya.

I still don't believe Tomoko and her insistence that liver and cartilage taste good. Japanese people eat weird parts of the chicken. Make no mistake about it.

On the way back we ran into a waitress from TGIF’s who speaks entirely fluent English. That she recognized us makes me sad since it means that we go there too much. Her name is Maria and she lives a stop away from me so I might end up hanging out with her. Why am I meeting so many people now that I only have 2.5 months left here? Chikkusho.

Also, today I heard from Maya for the first time in a month. Another hisashi buri. It was nice to hear that her and her husband are starting to do better since he quit his band (Green Velvet Crapper) a month or two ago, and doubly good to hear that he would be attending music school next semester. She also sent me information on a mutual friend's next live show.

And that's just today. Speaking of unpredictability, this week has moved in a steady gradation from last Saturday's California-summer hot but not humid to yesterday's I'm-in-Canada cold and rainy.

On the music front, I'm listening to Takako Minekawa's first album right now but have been running the gamut from the Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass's Dracula Soundtrack to Pharcyde.

Yesterday, I was supposed to go to a Yasunori Sunahara live DJ appearance, but it was raining and I was cho-tired and the girl I might have met there had decided to stay home because she had school so I decided to stay home and catch up on the "Grasshoppa!" series. My ultimate impression is that it is something to be watched after one in the morning: Weird…and only sometimes interesting. Of particular note is series three's anime inspired piece about an Irish warrior. Worthy of particular derision is "Fishing With John," a film so un-interesting, that merely hearing the opening song will put you to sleep.

Yaru ki is still nai.

"Well I'm a-gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a holler, about workin' all summer just to try an' earn a dollar. Everytime I call my baby, to try to get a date my boss says, "No dice, son, you gotta work late". Sometimes I wonder what I'm gonna do 'cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues." -Eddie Cochran

5/7 12:25 AM (A New Hope/A Funny Story)

Hey everybody, hisashi buri. Genki?

I’m back from Kyushu but will not talk about that trip just at this moment for I am tired and just want to do a short update to let everyone know I still love you all. I've been in this whack-ass funk ever since I got back and haven't gotten around to answering any of my mail or updating or living very much at all.

Well, except for tonight.

Today, in particular, had been one of my least pleasant days in Japan. With my new CD player giving me smack culminating in the cover breaking off, I just hadn't enjoyed any of today. The weather had been cold and overcast, everywhere I went were happy couples in arms and on top of all that no one has been writing me (this could be a result of me not responding to anyone, but...). About the only good thing about the whole situation is that I'm getting better and better at blues guitar.

So around eight tonight I committed myself to writing email and/or updating the site but only found myself fed up with everything to the point that I only wanted to lay on my bed and sleep. But it was eightt and I couldn't justify that extravagance so I moped around my room like Eiyore (gah, you know, the guy from Winnie the Poo. How do you spell his name?) looking for something to do.

I needed to get out of my room so I decided on an old standby: Heaven's Door. It was already 8:30 by this time, so I felt silly throwing down $23 for only an hour and a half of music but I knew it was the only option available to me in my current condition so I set out for the club.

I went to Heaven's Door completely confident that the bands would be terrible, there would be no one there and I would just stand there and bob around a little. It's what's happened every other time I had ever gone there right? I didn't even bother to ask what sort of music was on. Anything would be better than sitting at home.

Heaven's Door was packed. When I walked in the third band was already halfway through their set. I had to stand over near the drink area at the very back of the club. I couldn't see a thing, but the music was this happy funky stuff. Not Emo.

I watch through the whole set, having a decent time. For once, the band is interesting and the crowd is moving; even the video played in between bands was un-vomit inducing (cannot find the correct grammar right now).

In between sets a bunch of people went outside for fresh air, so I moved up to the front of the club where there was just enough room for me to stand on the side. There were some girls to the left and front of me, but I'm in the gah mood, so gah!

I thought...

The next band starts up and this time the band is somewhere between helmet and old school rap core. Like, from-about-five-years-before-Limp-Bizkit-was-even-created rap core. The house is bumping, there's a mosh pit, even I have resigned myself to dancing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not dance. It's really not my thing. But at this point I no longer cared what anyone thought of me. In fact, I didn't change clothes or even style my hair before leaving for the club, sono mama. So, that was it, I was going to dance. And you know what? It made me feel better.

So I'm dancing, and the girl in front of me, the girl to the left of me and I are all in sync, the bass is thumping, the crowds a jumpin', and this tall guy turns around and gives me the thumbs up. He's just like "hey, 'sup! havin' fun?" only he's saying it using the gesture of putting his thumbs up. I respond back "yes" by putting my thumbs up. Conversation over.

The next song he looks back at me and raises his hands like a big double high five, so I do the same. For some reason we are having a good conversation in hand gestures.

Now some of the girls are looking at me. Obviously looking at me, but not in a bad way, so I look at them. They wave so I wave. Guy comes back, waves at me again and then asks me my name. "Dan!” Before I can ask him his, the music swells in volume, he holds out his hand, I go to shake it and he pulls me into the heart of the pit.

So now I'm in the pit. We’re all dancing and jumping, and I'm feeling like I'm back at one of my old high school ska/punk shows. For some people this may invoke a feeling of revulsion, but for me: cho-natsukashii.

I am surrounded by a group of really drunk girls. Actually, there are a couple of guys too, but mostly it's girls. They're falling on each other drunk. A short, kinda chuncky girl with bleach blond hair gives me a thumbs up so I do the same. She responds with an "Alright!" in a wacky Japanese accent.

Suddenly all of the girls want to give me a thumbs up. All the girls around me are staring at me, smiling, waving: it's a wacky beer commercial like dream. We all hold our hands up and sway to the music. We all jump up and down. We all get kicked in the head by crowd surfers (somehow my glasses survive a couple of seconds on the dance floor).

Nothing like this has ever happened to me ever, especially not at Heaven's Door. Good music is hard enough to find at Heaven's Door.

The band ends their set and a shirtless Japanese man (further bringing me back to my old punk shows) comes over and asks me my name. I ask him his, then the girl next to him says my glasses are really kakkou ii. I say thanks, then the guy says I have a "HUGE" nose. I say, "um…thanks". He sticks his fingers in his nose and says it again, so I stick my fingers in my nose and make a pig face at him. I am feeling pretty good.

I sit over to the side again and fade away when the new band strikes up and I'm once again summoned to the floor. I guess I'm in. So we're all dancing, when more girls approach and start dancing with me. Now it's just getting weird. But good weird! So we're all dancing and giving high fives and picking up people, and I run into this guy I met at Heaven's Door something like six months ago. I don't say hi yet, but still…

Now it's just wackiness. I turn and look at the girl next to me, who is not part of the group of girls I am apparently dancing with and she's smiling at me. I think okay and go back to dancing. The song ends and a new song starts with the audience shouting its chorus. The whole crowd is shouting "hamburger". I am not sure, but the girl next to me confirms this. She tries to help me along, mouthing the words, I make a sandwich-eating motion, she nods and we're shouting "hamburger” together. The audience raises their collective arms. We are standing arm to arm waving together; it's damn near cute. Then the band strikes up; we're all dancing again.

More people jump on us; the audience is shaken up. Beer is being dumped and spit on people. We all touch the fat lead singers sweaty bare stomach like we’re rubbing the Buddha. I'm back into the center of my original group of girls. They take turns dancing with me. One puts her arm around me, grabs my other hand and we're dancing together. The chorus kicks in and everyone's jumping so we separate and jump. I'm somehow being tossed around from one unable-to-stand drunk Japanese girl to another. Everyone's having a good time, even the people that fall on the floor.

I'm guessing that the moral of the story is that the gaijin powers that everyone claims I have only manifest when everyone is drunk enough not to care.

Everyone's asking my name; they think it's neat. I don't even have time to ask them their names. The last band's final song comes.

"Oni-san no machi, SHI-BU-YA"

We're all shouting along and waving our fists. It's like the inside cover of a Dropkick Murphies album. The crowd is pulsing, Buddha's singing and crowdsurfing; I'm tired and yet jumping up and down. And then everything ends, the crowd dissipates, and I go home.

No numbers, but a fun night none the less. Before I left I said hi to Akira, the guy I knew, and ran into another member of his thug group of friends.

Upon reaching home, I found myself unable to work again. I needed music, and wanted to listen to Rancid but had already listened to "...And Out Come the Wolves" a number of times earlier. I resolved to go to Tsutaya and check out "Let's Go".

They stock the CD normally but sadly it's not there when I show up. However, I run into some of the people from the club again on the way there. We all say hi but they have to run because the trains are about to shut down. At Tsutaya someone recognizes me but I only hear the "that's the guy from Heaven's Door" part of their conversation and don't see them at all.

So, now it's all done. Thus, I am here, typing. I am going to bed now, sooner or later I'll tell (some) of my story about Kyushu and upload the pics.


Sangenjaya: old school hardcore

"Never fell in love 'til I fell in love with you. Never know what a good time was until I had a good time with you. If you wanna get the feelin' and you wanna get it right. Then the music's gotta be loud. For when the music hits I feel no pain at all. Here it is Here I am Turn it up fuckin´ loud. Radio, Radio, Radio, Radio, Radio, Radio, Radio. When I got the music I got a place to go" -Rancid

4/28 3:28 PM

Blah blah new haircut blah blah update blah blah.

Sorry about the lag but I've been busy answering questions about the shape of Tokyo. I'll try and recap.

Actually, I won't, I can't remember much of what happened last week; it was simply uninteresting. Tuesday was a holiday so I took Monday off to seize a four-day weekend. Then Wednesday I had my first chapter test for 3G. Stupid chapter test.

Our teacher decided to choose the point where I was exactly at my weakest to call on me incessantly. In the period after the hour and a half long chapter test (same class) the teacher kept making me recite sentences. I got frustrated and ended up taking off Thursday as a mental health day.

I bought my ticket for the shinkansen too. $230!

This brings us to Friday. Brian, Dustin and I went to GuruGuru to celebrate the beginning of Golden Week (one week of vacation, woo hoo!) and then finally I got a hold of Coru who I will be visiting for the next couple of days. Much giggling.

Which brings me to adown note. For Golden Week I am going down to Kyushu so I will not be able to update at all until I get back. As a compromise, I promise to bring back lots of pictures. And maybe I'll even post them!

I really did get a haircut. Here are the pictures. Why can't I take a decent picture of myself?

Me, beforeMe, after

"Let's run away for a while, you and I, to a strange and distant land, where they speak no word of truth but we don't understand anyway" -Weezer

4/20 11:00 PM

Yay, I am back to updating semi-frequently. Today wasn't much of anything except much-needed rest. For some reason, I've been getting up early (9:30). The happy byproduct is that I'm getting more things done. If by things I mean Starcraft. I am now the Zerg, yay.

Yesterday, Brian and I went to Shibuya to play Counterstrike/shop. I got two pairs of pants and a cool jacket out of it. I finally replaced my ailing wallet too. Then we went to GuruGuru again.

The topic of the last few days has been the seeming ineffectiveness of the upper level Keio classes. In my class they claim that the focus is on writing. However, their teaching method is for us to memorize speeches that, aside from not being in written form Japanese, are also horrendously planned out. As in the speaker taking up a lot of time trying to remember what he's saying. So we are memorizing such fun phrases as (PS: The Yamanote Line is a famous train line in Tokyo):

"At the beginning of Meiji, Tokyo was, for the most part, the interior of the Yamanote Line, the area between the Yamanote Line and ocean, in other words Tokyo bay, right, well that space enclosed between the Yamanote Line and the ocean, and then the Yamanote Line and river, in other words the Sumida River but, the area enclosed there as well."

This is a pretty strict translation so that you can see what I'm talking about. Just so you don't think that it's my bad translation, I will present you with the Japanese (for you speakers of nihongo)":

"Meiji no hajime no Tokyo wa, daitai, yamanote-sen no uchigawa to, yamanote-sen to umi, tsumari Tokyo-wan desu ne, kono yamanote-sen no umi ni hasomareta tokoro, sorekara yamanote-sen to kawa, tsumari Sumida-gawa desu keredomo, sore ni hasomareta sono kurai no chiiki datta wake desu."

Yes, that is all one sentence, yes that is the correct punctuation in the Japanese, and yes, we were supposed to have memorized the sentence in class.

I will stop my whining now.

"Every second counts, when I am with you. I think you are a pig, you should be in a zoo." -New Order

4/18 11:11 PM

This semester came to me in the garb of a friendly old man, but in fact was the shape shifter Shang Tsung, here to steal my soul. Aside from having no desire to learn about Tokyo's geography, I've also found that as a result of all the work I've been doing I've been unable to maintain correspondence with my friends and even real Japanese people. Right now I am feeling that my time would be better spent in the company of actual Japanese people and not in class.

Today a bowl of ramen tried to kill me. I knew something was up when one of the guys behind the counter came over to confirm that I wanted my order even though it was hot (it was called "Explosion Ramen"), but by that point I had already bought my food ticket. When it arrived it was regular pork ramen with this oily red broth. You could see the pepper flakes collecting around where the sides of the bowl met with the ramen's surface. I swear that with every bite there was a second where I couldn't breath. The ramen did not taste bad but I value my life. I am still exhausted from the ramen.

Hmm, what else has been going on? Yesterday, I didn't do anything, except when Dustin and I duked it out over my "Space Invaders" game to see who could beat the level the fastest. I edged him out by beating the game in 178 frames. Not to give the impression that the game is playable, it was fun to actually see it being used.

Anyway, I think I am going to go to bed now. I don't even think I am going to move the old page to the archives yet [Update, actually, I did, and you can find the old page in the archives now]. Before I go I have to say, I was going to put a picture below of MK's Shang Tsung doing the "Soul Steal" fatality but it seems that such a photo simply does not exist online. To compensate,

Go Chelnov Go!

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All works this site copyright D. Szkoropad, 2001-2003 unless stated otherwise. This means don't steal it or I'll tell your mother on you. Domo-kun copyright NHK.

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