Saturday, August 20, 2005

I missed Japlish...

"Japlish" [or "Engrish"] being, for those of you who don't know, just the weird convoluted manglings of English that you see on billboards, clothing and everything else here in Japan. Resulting, usually, from the uber-literal translation of whatever they're trying to say.

I'll never forget the pre-teen I saw last time I was here wearing the tennis shoes that said "Bitch" in big bold letters...

And I don't intend to make "Wow, look at those wacky Japanese mess up English!" posts, cause that's just ignorant.

Besides which, the sheer number of goofball westerners with Kanji on their body that they think means "Brave Samurai" when it actually says something like "Gecko Restaurant" is more than enough to prevent a superior attitude.

[Check out for the briefest sampling of screwed up tatts.]

But this, this is poetry.

"Zero Halliburton"


Pic from Tokyo

I only snapped a couple pics actually in Tokyo... this one from my hotel room.

Master photographer that I am, I couldn't manage to take this without reflecting back in the window.

Jimmy Olsen has nothing to worry about...

In country...

So I've been in Japan 3 weeks today. And in Fukutsu for about 2 1/2 weeks. It's one of things where it feels both as if I've been here forever and just got here at the same time...

So I guess I'll start at the beginning... Tokyo... most everybody knows we got hung up in St Paul with a mechanical problem with the plane... and so got to Japan about a day after the rest of the JET's. It was funny, in one respect, that I had the benefit of the foreknowledge - from both Sandy and others who had been on the program - that the most worthwhile part of orientation in Tokyo was going out at night after everything was done for the day. And the rest, well... not so much really.

So it was easy to not really worry about it - despite the annoyance of the incovenience - contrasted with the folks I'd overheard saying "But we've missed a day of orientation! We're not going to know what's going on!"

Hm. Hate to be the bearer of negative tidings, but none of us are really gonna know what's going on, with our jobs, our apts, our lives, until we actually get where we're assigned.

After Tokyo.

But hey, pointing that out to people wouldn't do anything to alleviate their concerns. Plus, having lived in Japan before, with Sandy on JET, I had a bit more perspective than most folks there. And, you know, a little older than the majority there. [Meeting the girl who graduated from the same high school, albeit 11 years later, was one of those things that can't help but remind you of the march of time.] And occasionally with age comes a little more maturity and perspective when things aren't working out exactly as planned.

I guess I could have tried to alleviate some folks worries, but damned if I was gonna be one of those people.

"Those people"
being the handful of people on the program that had lived and/or visited Japan before and made every effort to preach from on high as to how Japan "really" was... The sheer visceral response I had to these blowhards made me want to not even try to reference my previous time in Japan.

Another kinda strange thing was the number of people after 2-3 days, at the end of orientation, I heard saying "Oh, we have to stay in touch. We should all stay close and do things together." It reminded me of the end of High School, when the person who hardly knew you talked about what a big part of their life you were. These were folks who only knew each other a couple days. Maybe they all did bond, but it just seemed strange. I knew the only folks I might have a semi-regular interaction with are those folks going to Kyushu and Fukuoka Prefecture.

[Speaking of, it was kinda cool to see the Hawaii JETs come down to Fukuoka... Fukuoka being Honolulu's "sister city" most are in the area... But the ukulele's, pidgin and Hawaiian shirts were good to see. Just to think, 6 years ago that was Sandy...]

But I knew the only people I'd probably really interact with would be the other JETs in Fukutsu.

And that's where I wanted to get to.

So, apparently I'm a Blogger now...

Well, here I am, dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

I put off this whole blogging thing for awhile, despite having set it up before I left the states - and even though all the cool kids were doing it - because too much of it seemed to smack of needy [Look at meeeeee! Somebody pleeeeeeaase look at meeeeee!] navel-gazing and pontificating...

I dismissed it as generational for a bit... a sure sign I'm aging before my time. Seems like folks only 5 or 6 years younger than have no problem with having a web presence... everybody seems to have a blog or a livejournal or something... which segued into me ruminating about generational differences and how my nieces and nephew, in that they've never really had a world without the 'net and cellphones, living in the age of TiVo... I came of age with VCR's and Atari for god's sake. But I digress. But when you look around lots of folks, old as me and even older have jumped feet first into the whole blog thing... so that excuse there was thin.

And then I had to overcome that heavily imprinted psychology from plebe year at the Naval Academy which said in no unequivocal terms Do Not Attract Attention and For the Love of God Keep Your Head Down. That combined with my natural "grab a book and sit in a corner" nature were a bit of stumbling block. So even though posting a blog is a bit of solitary endeavor, it's still a bit extroverted... putting your words and ideas and little bits of your life out there for public consumption [Ha! Like there's even anybody reading this...] is actually a bit outgoing. Kinda. Fraught with chances for people to mock and/or disapprove of you at least.

Then the question became, what the hell do I write on a blog? What do I have to say that's particularly different or interesting compared to the millions of others doing it?

Well, to begin with, from a purely utilitarian perspective, this is probably the easiest way to let everybody back in the US know what's going in my life and see where and how I'm living in Japan. So there's that.

But after that week or week and a half of posting, then what?

Well, as a select group of folks I know will attest, I regularly send out voluminous #'s of emails with various interesting articles [okay, I find them interesting - quiet down you rabble] I've cut and pasted off the 'net. Alternative history, metaphysics, conspiracy theory, politics, MMA [Mixed Martial Arts, for the uninitiated], comics and what-have-you.

I've got this weird impulse that as soon as I read something I think "Must. Share. This. With. Many. People."

Maybe I was a town crier in a past life. Or at least the village idiot.

So I figured archiving them on a blog would be better than the unsorted mess of 1600 notes I've got jammed into my Yahoo Notepad.

Yes, I said 1600.

I may be a touch obsessive compulsive.

[Recently a buddy of mine asked me if I had been highlighting a book I passed on to him. "Umm, yeah." Purely recreational reading too. "Weird and fascinating ideas are everywhere" I told him. He wanted to know when my manifesto would be done and when the bombings would begin...]

And archiving them here would keep me from glutting up everybody's email account. Those of you who returned from the weekend to find the 30 or so emails I sent out today will attest to the slight annoyance that might cause.

[But in my defense, it was raining today so I didn't go into the city like I planned. Okay, that kinda sucks as a defense.]

So see, now your long national nightmare is over. If you want to find out what insane things I've been thinking or pondering or reading, just swing by here. As soon as I figure out how to do links and basic html and such.

So, stuff going on in Japan, archive of weird stuff... what else? Online diary? Political rants? Commentary on the lives of people more interesting than me?

I don't know. Maybe. Not entirely sure what direction it'll evolve into.

Actually commenting on my life or the lives of people I know is full of peril. I've already lost one old friend due to the inability of the internet to transmit nuance, humor and sarcasm... [but godspeed Chuck Mckinney, wherever you are... you humorless bastard you...] so actually writing about real stuff, given my natural tendency to be a smart ass - well, that might end badly.

[Note to self: Avoid blogposts with topics like "Wow, Cindi vastly overcomplicates her life", "Boy is Gayle's religion silly" and "Has JM become a fascist since he became a cop?" See, already you can tell this will end badly. I just can't stop myself. It's a sickness.]

But maybe it'll be a good place to let my brain ramble on and cleanse it of things I've been thinking about or pondering... Ever since college and the all the papers written therein, I tend to think more clearly, more focused anyway, sitting in front of a keyboard. At least in the logical/rational/orderly sense... So maybe that'll be a good thing.

So... onwards.