Friday, February 25, 2005

1st Frame...

The feel of the ball, hammer-weight, satisfying. The snugness of fingerholes. The precious release. The thrumming roll, the post-oil bite, the crashing of pins, one left to spin on it's back. The fuming face of Linh Dang.

Bowling! Bowling!! Bowling!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

On Monday, I went to Tenjin on the train, via Mr Donut and the station chairs... I was positively gangster tripping on jet lag, sleep deprivation and sugary-custard, and found myself with a heightened sense of awareness and contemplation. What follows is the rambling poemail i sent to my good friend Diamond from my trusty mobile phone...

bread-thick jetlag.. sensory perception
through the stratosphere.. emotional awareness
bubbling like jimmysoup.. microscopic snow
falling, so small it hangs like innocent dust..
office ladies with ten-thousand-colour hair
and archdeacon shoes.. the swirling fantasy
of cream as it meets coffee.. the fat girl's silent
death as the fashion magazine schoolgirls select
the most colourful donuts.. the salaryman, unaware
that his tie hangs in his closet.. in this light
(wall-reflected grapefruit squash)
my cords are a ghastly shepherd's pie, the last
hurrah of a wasting nan, her hands the first to go..
on a train as the snow swirls, becoming rain and then
snow again.. girls with too-soon grey hairs beside
wrong-decade wares, between lowrollers and
imitatiistas, before paper-safers and the
bandana-skirt-boots.. this strange little scene
being played out as if i had written it myself.


The sound of the water
says what I think.

- Chuang Tzu

This is perhaps the most profound thing I have ever read, and sums up how I think perfectly.

With time on my hands, some words of wisdom...

For a man who works at 8am, it is better to wake up at 7.55am than 7.45am. With the former, he knows that he is late and there is a sense of certainty and acceptance. With the latter, he will always have the nagging doubt that he will make it on time, and thus he finds himself in a hinterland of frustrating uncertainty.

It is best to know something about everything, a little about most things, a lot about some things, and everything about one thing.

Before entertaining guests at your home, or before going to meet someone at their home, have a shower, a shave and clean your teeth.

If someone is speaking to you, really listen to what they are saying. Too often we spend this time planning what we will say next. Making someone feel that they are the only person in the room that matters is a worthy quality to have.

For a few minutes each day, look around you at the things you normally take for granted - books on shelves, the rain on the window pane, how your partner walks. Apply this when you find yourself needing to kill time, or when waiting in a queue, and you will never succumb to boredom.

When looking after a loved one during illness, remember that anyone can opt for the easy option of a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates, a bought card. Making sure that they have fresh, ironed clothes at the hospital, and that the house is being well looked after will show that you really care.

Always carry mints in your pocket.

When a man falls in love with a woman, he should make every effort to look after her, listen to her, and make her feel like she is the centre of his universe.

When a woman is telling you about the terrible day she has had, or that she has a thousand things on her mind, never offer solutions, only listen attentively, and make her feel good about herself.

When in a bathroom, for whatever reason, wash your hands. It is a good habit to get into.

Do not be tempted to fill silence with idle talk. If you have something to say, say it, but if not, bask in the tranquillity of quietness.

Upon waking, stretch luxuriously, yawn luxuriously, and think of nothing else for a full minute.

When parking the car, pull into the space front ways, and leave the steering wheel as it is. Then, when you come to leave, you can simply reverse, and the steering wheel’s position will guide you out perfectly.

Always have two or three ready excuses to hand, just in case you are stuck at a boring party, or receive an unexpected phone call from someone wanting something.

When watering a garden in the summer, it is best to do so at dusk. Not only is it more tranquil, watering plants in the heat of the sun can be fatal for them, as the sun’s rays are magnified through the water droplets.

The kind of coffee you receive in city coffee houses is easily reproduced. Simply put milk, sugar and a spoon of instant coffee into your cup, then whisk vigorously until frothy, adding hot water immediately.

A knowledgeable man has knowledge. An intelligent man uses that knowledge.

Other people’s sandwiches always taste nicer than your own. Do not despair, for yours will have the same effect on them.

If learning how to use chopsticks, use them for every meal, oriental food or not.

Chess is a game to be savoured. Play with intelligence and thought, but never at the cost of enjoyment. After a game, much gratification can be had in discussing strategy.

First thing in the morning and last thing at night are often the times that we are at our most creative.

It is an advantage in life to have some knowledge of body language.

As a general rule, sandals are almost never to be worn, except in certain casual situations, or when at the beach. It goes without saying that socks should never be seen anywhere near sandals.

Driving at 5am is one of life’s true pleasures. So to is walking familiar streets at the dead of night.

It is worth noting that when we look upon a coal fire, we are actually witnessing the lost rays of trapped prehistoric sunlight.

Preparation is the key to success in life.

Honesty and tact are forever intertwined, yet seldom balanced.

The Japanese adage that there is sadness in all things is very true. A yellow flower is yellow, only because it absorbs every ray of the colour spectrum except yellow, which it reflects. Thus, it is what it isn’t, and that is fundamentally sad…

Often, our only way of seeing ourselves is in the mirror. However, this is not truly us, as it is an opposite reflection. Thus, someone who looks great in the mirror might be less so in reality, and vice versa.

Unless the service is terrible, treat all those in customer service impeccably, and always with fairness.

When faced with an embarrassing or frustrating situation, remember that it is probably trivial in the context of your life as a whole.

The most attractive people in life are those who have minor cosmetic flaws. These are what make them truly beautiful.

The fact that we humans are top of the earth’s food chain is often dismissed as a given thing. Were we to be superseded by another species, we would soon succumb, due to our reliance on technology.

Do something selfless everyday, big or small.

To be respected by those around you, simply be moral, mannered and honest, especially to yourself. Respect is only given when it is earned.

We will probably never know the depth and extent of our dreams, as the very process of waking and trying to remember a dream clouds its clarity and infects its purity.

If you do not feel comfortable in the presence of certain friends, perhaps your friendship is more tenuous than you realise. Surround yourself with those you feel akin to.

Everything that you do has a consequence, every action a reaction.

The two sides of living where I do...

Convenience and price - these are the two best things about my apartment. I am less than 5 minutes walk from the train station, my workplace, the barbers, the convenience store, a cashpoint, a fruit shop, a dry cleaners, a restaurant. My apartment is superb value, considering its location, and bills are low. However, it is TINY.


One room. Two small cupboards near the ceiling. That's all the storage space I get, spare the shoe rack, a small cupboard above the shoe rack and the closet where the breakers are. I love my little apartment dearly, but at times I feel like I am sleeping in someone's kitchen, the fridge purring behind my head.

It is at the stage now where I have to move things in order to do things. I have resolved to move to a bigger apartment in the not too distant future. One with a tatami room, another room or two, a large bathroom, those sliding wall cupboards, somewhere to put a bookshelf.

There was a young man that lived in a shoebox... he had so much stuff that he didn't know what to do...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Attention please...

Having returned from England last week, I really must express greetings and thanks to my good friends there, notably:

Diamond - fiendishly creative, lives in a tea house of sorts and has spent many a night with me in coffee-tangents.

Hanks - superhumanly good at virtually all video games, and a damn fine host to boot. Is in stern competition with Diamond in order to determine who makes the best coffee.

and last but not least

Johnny Alpha - impetuous at times, also makes great coffee and is a great guy. As I write, he is enroute to Iraq - take the best care out there Mr A.

You know life is pretty good when...

... the only worries you have are whether Japanese old women or Japanese schoolgirls are the most dangerous on bicycles, and whether you should have curry or sushi for dinner.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Off the top of my head...

There is a certain strain of English girl -beautiful, lithe and terribly untidy.

If you ever find yourself stroking the hair of a beautiful girl as she sleeps in your lap, remember it for when you are an old man.

It's inadvisable to play 3 way table tennis whilst wearing thermal underwear in wintery Japan.

Don't think, feel.

Never pick a fight with a moustachioued Chinese man in pyjamas who laughs at inopportune moments.

Never play Anime at tetris.

Cycling through a Japanese city at 5am whilst listening to motown is something to try.

If you need to find something, don't look in the first two places you think of.

A five minute nap can easily become 5 hours.

Coffee and speaking in tangents go so well together.

For a Japanese girl on her first trip to England, fish and chips can be acceptable Valentine's dinner fare.

Never travel on the London Underground with luggage.

Drinking your complimentary drink without the armrest table in position is unacceptable to Japanese air hostesses.

Beware pretty girls who always look like they have lost an apple.

Musings from a jet lagged soul...

Having just returned from a two week holiday in England, I find myself waking at 3am every morning and unable to go back to sleep... jet lag is pulling me hither, thither and everywhither, and the cream as it enters my coffee is utterly fascinating...

At least some good is coming of this sleep shifting - firstly, I have seen 5am in a fully coherent state for possibly the first time ever. The quiet, the shrinking shadows, the shimmering faintness... strange somehow, as if we're not supposed to see it. Secondly, my thought processes seem to be sharper and less fettered. I awoke this morning and let my mind trace the gentle splays of moonlight on my walls, and I realised with the clarity and of a hammer stroke that one day, everyone who walks the earth will be dead. All the philosophical posturings, the debates, the arguments and chase will amount to nothing. Suddenly commercialism and consumerism started to make a kind of sense - we innately fear mortality, and we buy baubles and decor to attempt to give our lives purpose. Whereas last year I would have bristled when an old lady pushed infront of me in Mr Donut, I am resolved to welcome such a thing now. We learn from what we experience, so naturally we should experience what we learn.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Peculiarities in the provinces...

I have noticed that a smattering of Japanese ladies in Kyushu have very stubby thumbs, with thumbnails no longer than half a centimeter. Is this a Kyushu thing, or is this common elsewhere?


Ok, so this isn't the first time this has happened to me, so I'm supposing this has happened to some of you too... having strayed very slightly out of my usual prefecture, I enquired of a shopping mall information clerk whether or not I could use my atm card in the machines nearby. "No, you can't!" she gasped, crossing her hands in an x shape in front of me. Well, I could, and did, and the only difficulty I faced was paying an additional 100yen (a regular thing in the UK). Why didn't the information clerk simply tell me that I COULD use the machine, but I would have to pay for the priviledge?

Dis-information of the highest order!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New technology

I would like to invent a pair of contact lenses that have an inbuilt, atom-thin digital camera for realistic photo opportunities...


Has anyone ever read a book literally in terms of time (that is, if it says "after a few days", the reader waits a few days, or "the following year" waits a year before continuing to read)?


Imagine that learning English is like catching butterflies with a net. At the start, your net has many holes, and although there are thousands of butterflies in the field, you don't really know how to wield your net, and only catch one or two each time. After time, you get to know the habits of the butterflies and you begin repairing your net and becoming more comfortable using it. You start catching more and more butterflies and begin noticing their subtle differences and relevance to eachother. Soon there are but a few butterflies left in the field, but your desire to possess has turned into a desire to experience. You are now content to contemplate your butterflies and watch the beauty of the landscape...

Ok, time to sleep...

Smokey and the snow

Having spent the evening drinking beer and watching Bruce Lee films with like minded friends, the 2.30am cycle ride home through lightly snowing streets was particularly pleasant. Smokey Robinson was in my ears, the snow-melt in my hair, deserted streets before me... I stopped to look at the flurry of powder fall in the lamp light of Joint Supermarket and was reminded of a high school winter. Hot bath, hot drink, the sound of cars on the wind.... to the victor the spoils.

Comment on Japan

Japanese people work LONGER, not HARDER...