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Today In CA

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Over 453 Served


10/8 Demo Gyaku Ni Sasarechatta Mitai Da

After four years living with glasses I've finally made the switch to contacts. The glasses themselves were an ordeal because I first chose the design of my glasses I had this long-haired, Berkeley, hippy thing I was trying to counteract. But when I moved to Japan and cut my hair I found myself staring into the unblinking face of indie-rock. So, by getting contacts I'd hoped to once again match my hairstyle to my eyes. Then I got a mediocre haircut and messed the whole thing up.

It's been two weeks now and my hair has grown out enough where I look ok. I can get them in about five minutes too. But, man, the first couple of days...after 20 minutes of eye poking to get the contacts in...only to capture an eyelash under the lens. There is nothing cooler than screaming like a little girl and no sense of failure like having to take them off again to spend another minute giving your eye the finger.

You will never know whether I just took this picture with my glasses off...

So, in the time that I haven't spent poking my eyes I've been developing a minor fetish for Chiaki Kuriyama and dub music. What can I say? I've got a thing for scary girls and wacky noses (possibly the result of my own wacky Italian nose?). And gigantic, gigantic bass lines.

9/14 Yume De Aetara

A new live album from UA featuring Naruyoshi Kikuchi from Spank Happy (including my current ring tone “Milk Tea”), the first release from Ego Wrappin in two years, and a sci-fi concept album from Bird: what's a boy to do?


I know! Boy is to get a haircut.

“Saaabiiishii yoru ni wa, yume no naka ni, kimi o tazuneteku ” –(The ever sexy) Keyco

9/7 Tadaima

Ok, so I’ve been back from America for close to a month now.  Most of you probably know this, but what you might not know is that from the moment I got off the plane I got beat down in a steady stream of work.  I promise, this is actually the first time I’ve been able to update since my arrival home on the tenth of August.

So, the last month has gone something like: get off the plane, get a job translating manga, get home, start teaching a Japanese (<-- not a typo) class, meet with Brian, run a crepe stand, begin developing a game (horror), get more work translating for the manga company, learn the phrase “sisterly power” (also from manga), go on vacation with my office (including the ancient Japanese tradition of being forced to drink at 8:00 in the morning) and plan a barbecue.

Things I still have not done: learn the truth behind Ryoko; find out what happens when you put an average high school student in a house with six beautiful young sisters (hehe…manga humor). Also, Digital Devil Saga is a great game with a puzzling plot.

But that is NOT what I am here to talk about.  America…I’m going to keep this short but here I go.  The first day I stayed home and ate my first family dinner at Flames in a year and visited the newly remodeled Oakridge mall.  The second day I went up to Berkeley for Hans and Betina’s wedding rehearsal, picked up my tuxedo (I was in the wedding party) and then stayed over at Rebecca and Tim’s place in the North Bay.

The third day was the beautiful wedding –I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here- but it was one of the best times that I’d had in a while.  Congratulations you guys!


I had a couple of hours to kill between the wedding and reception so I hung out with Darcey (who’s house I would be staying at) and got pizza.   The reception was at a Chinese Restaurant in Oakland and was also very, very cool.  Betina changed dresses something like three times –each of them beautiful Chinese style garments- though I only got a good picture of one.  They also began the tradition of singing songs with “love” in them to get the newlywed couple to kiss (as opposed to the traditional banging of forks on glasses).

The next day Darcey, her friends and I all went to a kite festival in Berkeley.  This is where that weird picture below was taken.  Then we caught “Zatoichi” in Albany and hung out.

Then I went home for a few days where I got to meet up with my friend Dan, and see a play with my family in San Francisco.  Then my mother, father, sister and I all went to San Luis Obispo for a quick family trip before I flew back to Japan.


And here are the pictures to prove it!

Hans and Betina’s Wedding
The America Trip Except the Wedding

Also, Bryan has moved out near Matsunoyama! Oh, and I passed that driving test!


8/2 Ittekimasu

I’ll be here until the 10th. America is a strange country.


7/13 Kabuki-mono

We Americans have this word, “kabuki”. “Kabuki” is a type of derogatory term for any situation where meaning must be derived from esoteric gestures, and, of course the root is drawn from the traditional Japanese Kabuki theater. I love the word because hearing it I can imagine a confused foreigner watching Kabuki theater while his Japanese friend enthusiastically explains “see, when the man playing the woman tips her fan that conveys favor!”

Politics is kabuki. Relationships are most certainly kabuki. What I’d like to talk to you today, however, is the Japanese driving test.

Driving Kabuki

Let’s just presume that you’re a resident alien in Japan who has driven for the last year. You’d probably think that if you are careful you can survive the test. First, there’s a premonitory overture when you are signing up for the test where everyone you contact has to indicate that you will fail your first x times.

What they don’t tell you is that you won’t be taking your test on a normal road, and you won’t be tested in normal driving conditions. There is a multi-laned obstacle course-come-go cart track set up specifically for the test.

Course Map

The first thing you will notice during your driving test is that the man grading you will not give any directions around the course. Instead, you must memorize this map and the path directed by the arrows (and then another map with arrows since there are two possible paths for the test, which alternate by day of the week).

Now then, after checking your mirrors, adjusting your seat, doing a mini-lap around the course (which you are graded on, though it is not considered part of the test), and then exclaiming, “Here we go!” (“hasshin” or “staato”) to the man who will be grading you, you start your test. When you approach that right turn, you don’t just turn on your blinkers and check the corners. You are riding the left side of the road (position is important) approaching a 45 degree bend in the road before your right turn. First, turn on your turn signal about two seconds before hitting the bend and check to your right (even though you haven’t hit the bend yet so theoretically you can’t see what’s going on in the direction of the road you are turning into). Now, you must convey that you are slowing down, so where you would normally ease into the turn, you slam (ahem, pump) on the breaks two times to convey to the grader that you are breaking, then you accelerate so you can make the bend. Now you begin to veer from your place on the left edge of the road towards the center divide. You’ve made it to the divide? Now, check to the right once more (and only once), face the direction you are going and, without thinking about the cars that could have turned that same bend you just went around and therefore hit you, turn.


Got that? Mirrors, seat, graded mini-lap, “start!”, accelerate, blinker, look, pump, pump, accelerate, blinker (after re-adjusting the wheel for the turn), veer, look, look, turn. “Yooooooh!”, (bang drum twice). What, you weren’t supposed to turn there?

Driving Kabuki

In other news, I bought a bass and new, small cell phone/digital camera.

bassPapaya Phone

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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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