Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
DEFINITELY Zen archer, not
It was interesting and challenging... and I'm glad it's over. I felt like a bull in a china shop the entire time I was in class. I felt like I was all knees and elbows and big ass thumbs. Perhaps, in actuality, I wasn't the worst in class, but I certainly felt that way. In addition to understanding maybe only 10% of the spoken instructions, I also didn't grow up learning how to slide over tatami matt floors. So everytime I tried to emulate the sliding, gliding movements I just looked like I was doing the "spastic robot".
But Miyuki kicked ass. I'm hoping she takes it up again after the baby is born.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
The first is for a spicy instan ramen called tongarashimen and it features 2 dancing hot peppers. Be patient, as it takes a bit to load, but it's waaaay worth it.
The second is for Kewpie brand mentaiko sauce, which is a pasta sauce made from spicy cod roe... I know what your thinking but it's actually quite yummy. And the commercial is borderline psychotic (ie: very enjoyable), avaiable in both Quicktime and WMV flavors.
Yes, commercials in Japan are better.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
...click to see more.
Botero vs. Abu Ghraib
Are you familiar with the work of the Latin American artist Botero? I've always thought him as an affable sensualist with a taste for fleshy dames. Well, fleshy folk in general rendered in good natured, but slightly grotesque depictions of a comfortable, bourgeois existence.
So when I found this link on Metafilter, I was a bit shocked. Be warned, it's pretty graphic stuff. And does, in fact, provoke an appropriate level of moral revulsion. Why aren't more, or in fact any(?), American artists addressing this issue?
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Linimo no no
Ok, so I've posted before about trying to use credit cards in Japan and how confounding it can be. This perfectly illustrates my point.... What you see above are the ticket windows for the new Linimo train. The thing is straight up Buck Rogers; floating on a magnetic cushion above flat rails and accelerated by linear magnetic coils. The (possibly, green) future of public transportation, in other words. And the future is being brought to you by VISA, along with the Aichi Expo. I'm sure VISA paid good yen to be at the starting gate to the Expo, and by association a bright, shiny future.
So you can imagine both my shock and amusement upon seeing the sign above taped next to the ticket window.
Seems my credit is not only of dubious value in present day Japan, but the future's not looking to bright either. Guess I won't be needing to buy those shades after all.
Monday, June 20, 2005
We got back a few days ago from a short trip to Nagoya, a city about a 2 1/2 hour drive away from Takayama. We were there for the Aichi Expo, or World Expo, which is being held in Japan this year. We went there so I could do some research/reporting for a story I'll be doing for Popular Science about some of the new robots on display at the Expo. I'll be writing and illustrating the thing and I'm psyched for the opportunity. Also, it was suh-weet having a press pass... being able to cut lines, snag fat press packs and generally lord it over the common folk.
Plus, there were some REALLY cool robots....
...and some silly ones...
...and some downright bizarre ones. In fact, to watch the fembot engage me in some rather SEXUALLY suggestive banter, click here.
But I'm not going to write now about the robots too much, you'll just have to wait until my article comes out (in the October issue) to learn more. Nagoya itself is a fine city, although it's a bit like Buffalo, NY... it gets no respect. The people there talk funny (even I, with my limited Japanese could hear it; kind of sounds like nyah, nyah, like cats mewling) and a very well defined local cuisine. In fact, tebasaki, or Japanese buffalo wings were invented in Nagoya.
But it's also notable for having some of the damn finest tonkatsu I've ever laid lips on. For those who don't know, tonkatsu is like a pork veiner schnitzel, but oh so much better.
And this is the place to get it, Yabaton. Or as I refer to it, 6 floors of pig heaven.
So the robots were great and Nagoya was interesting with lots of good places to eat, but the Expo itself.... meh. I mean really, what's the point. International travel is fairly inexpensive these days and the internet is also a good source for finding information about places you might be interested in seeing. Hell, we both found the Epcot center at Walt Disney World to be more engaging than this equally artificial showcase of nations.
There are ways for a World Expo to be interesting though, great architecture and good food... both of which are experiences that, while they can't hope to fully convey the flavor of something as complicated as a nation, can at least create a lasting impression. If you're going to serve outrageously overpriced food, at least strive for either quality or authenticity. I mean, really... in the Africa pavilion they were serving Egyptian curry. I repeat, Egyptian. curry.
And architecture is were an Expo can really distinguish itself. A few examples:
London 1851, the Crystal Palace
Paris 1889, the Eiffel tower
Seattle 1962, the Space Needle
Aichi 2005, the Yemen pavilion...
To be fair there more attractive buildings at the Expo than this one, but damn that's some shabby bizness.
They could have at least sprung for a spellchecker.
Oh well, at least the robots were cool.
Just a quick update... Tecerojo, the folks producing the Miyuki t-shirt have updated their site. Looks snazzy, but the flash interface take a while to load (be patient). Cute model.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Monday, June 13, 2005
Sunday, June 12, 2005
A few months ago I posted about how a small fashion label in Argentina, Tercerojo, (disable your pop-up blocker to see the wares) was interested in using my "Miyuki Masters" illo on their t-shirts. We bartered t-shirts for usage. Well, we'd already recieved a fair share of the other designs the company offers, but just recently the new Miyuki Masters tee's came in the mail(!!!).
They look great. So does the model.
So go check Tercerojo out. Tell 'em I sent ya. Then go bowling.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Zen archer, not.
Last week Miyuki and me started taking kyudo lessons, a form of Japanese archery. It's offered twice a week, through the month of June at the local keikakan (sports hall/gymnasium) with each class being 2 hours in length, for the astoundingly cheap price of 1000 yen (which is basically 10 dollars, US). We don't need to bring any special gear, everything is provided. We're taking the afternoon class (evening classes are also offered) and the class size is small. It's just me, Miyuki and 4 other ladies; plus the sensei and his 2 assistants.
We've taken 3 classes already and so far I've been loving it. It's an elegant and contemplative sport, with proper form being of paramount importance. Normally I tend to be a bit impatient with ritualized behavior (not a good temperament for life in Japan, I know... but, hey, I'm trying here), but in the case of kyudo, so far it's all been comprehensible. I mean, I can understand why things are done the way they are.
Of course, my completely rudimentary grasp of Japanese parallels the English ability of our sensei; which has led to a fair amount of confusion on my part, followed by allot of patient explaining from Miyuki. Although during our first lesson, sensei, in trying to explain proper stance, had me grip his butt and then his inner thigh. Apparently,to achieve the proper kyudo stance, not only must your feet be kept at 60 degrees to each other, you must also lean slightly forward while clenching your ass cheeks and turning your inner thighs out slightly. Seeing as how I have no idea how to say "clench your ass cheeks together like your trying to crack a walnut" in Japanese, an object lesson was in order.
So far, everyone in class has been very nice and supportive and I feel like I've been doing pretty well. Until today. Today we had to actually shoot arrows... and all my carefully studied forms just fell apart. I wasn't so terrible. At least not much worse than anyone else. Still it was kinda disheartening.
One thing though... at least I didn't have to grip sensei's ass.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Who knew? ...or touched a nerve
28 comments and counting... Now I know in the blogosphere tha' t'ain't hardly nuthin'. But for my lil' old site it's a personal best.
I'm talking about my Mahikari posts. Now, I truly claim to not know much about them, but they do creep me out. Apparently they tweak a few other folk as well, judging by this comment from a few days ago:
"take it from an ex-kumite who knows...this is a very mind numbing group practicing dangerous stuff. they hid the real origins of okada's teachings, and from experience i can tell you, if you have intelligent questions they will not answer. frankly, the hierarchy doesn't care if you have a problem with it, because like all other gutter religion, they are wimming in millions and millions of dollars, yen, and world currencies. and miracles?..ask my father who had alzheimers how the light worked...
great site man..."
So, to the person who left the above comment, sorry for your troubles.