Monday, March 28, 2005

Spring Water

Looking at the perfectly mauve sky
Through the wine red leaves
Of the Mutsumon plum trees
The post-heat prickles your skin
Or is it the rain faintly falling?

The clock above the steam pool
Reminds you of your school
If you close your ears
Cover your eyes
You hear the voices on the rolling steam

Yours isn't the first head to perfectly fit
The rocky snag, the trickle stones
But tonight the waterfall is yours.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fermented soybeans and the art of conversation...

Incredibly, I now like eating natto, the foul tasting, stringy goo-beans that are the natural enemy of gaijin... last night, whilst enjoying beer and skewered chicken with some new colleagues, I challenged them to try natto. They did, and to my surprise, one of them loved it. Pressed for more information, he told me that it's not much different to eating a raw potato, and that the earthy taste is actually the best thing about it, as it is natural and not saturated with preservatives and fat, like most fast food.

We ate our natto, and came to the conclusion that food preference is as much in the mind as the taste buds, which seemed like a very profound idea at 1.30am in the heart of Sasebo. Toasting our reasoning with another beer, we didn't notice at first that our other colleague had scrambled to the bathroom to send his fermented goo-beans back to the earth whence they came...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


10.53am, Sunday 20th March, 2005...

I was sitting in a small glass cubicle, exchanging opening pleasantries with a high level English student, when all of a sudden the lights went out, the ground shook, the table shuddered, the glass partitions rattled... chairs fell over, foundations creaked, two enormous filing cabinets toppled over, sending files and realia everywhere...

Pretty strange stuff for Kyushu, the place where earthquakes seldom strike... equally strange was the stuff that preceded and proceded it... to wit:

- the night before was a party of immense proportions, and most of us have dim recollections of beer, food and very late karaoke... during the latter, no attempts on our behalf could make "Matsuken Samba" appear on the screens...

- I woke up at 8.30am and found a scrawled note pinned to my ceiling, proclaiming "I promise not to drink, dance and sing with female colleagues ever again"... also, beside my bed were 4 genki drinks, lined up like little soldiers... I really can't remember how either got there...

- In the immediate aftermath of the quake, no one batted an eyelid in the pachinko parlour opposite our branch, and continued to play their machines... a colleague's quip that they felt like a pig had shat in their head became the soundbyte of the day...

- At the same time our branch manager was seen completing a sales to someone in the darkness...

- Some very random stuff appeared in the teacher's room after the clean up, such as brand new packets of much sought after stickers and manilla files, a little card with cartoon guns on, a lesson plan from a departed colleague...

- Feeling very rough from last night, myself and a colleague went to Coco ichiban, with the idea that hot curry would chase away a hangover... what followed was the hottest curry in our short lives, complete with dayglo orange spice-oil that was separating from the meat sauce before our very eyes... needless to say, we felt infinitely worse than we did before, and we still had half a day to go...

- An hour or so later, a bizarre costumed procession took place outside the branch... men in costumes, girls in green jackets with balloon animals, lots of drums and whooping... after this, there was an equally strange procession, when scores of little girls in elaborate kimonos were carried along the street in regal pallanquins by men with mannequin masks on the top of their heads...

- Immediately heading from work to Yamaguchi prefecture, my girlfriend and I stopped to take some pictures of the incredible skies. The clouds were at once wispy and full, ball-like and stretched...

- My day was capped by a heavenly onsen at 1am, in which I thought I might die of pleasure... however, on a whim I decided to sit in one of the bubble pools, and felt a sudden, sickening twinge in my lower back... the whole left side of my body spasmed and the more I moved, the number and more painful everything became... I seriously thought that I had slipped multiple disks or had a stroke, such was the pain... only then did my girlfriend's brother inform me that I had in fact sat in the "electricity pool", and was virtually sitting on the current...

Perhaps it was my punishment for such self indulgence. After all, I must admit that once I knew that my girlfriend was safe, I was excited to have experienced an earthquake, and on the 4 hour drive north all I could think of was the waiting onsen. I didn't think once about those that might not have been so lucky, and I really should have...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mysterious happenings

Ok, so here's what has just happened...

I was at the steps of my apartment building, and suddenly I heard what sounded like a cat crying (it sounded like "no" but with an m)... after about half a dozen cries, it started to sound more like "hello" and then "help"... it got louder, and then just stopped.

I don't believe in ghosts, per se. I think that there is a lot that we can't explain with science. I also think that the mind is powerful and mysterious enough to create waking images and sounds.
The sounds I heard were more than likely a cat, or even a small child making mischief...

Nonetheless, I will NOT watch Ju-on or Ringu tonight...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Having just watched Ghostbusters...

... I now lament the obscurity slide of Dan Aykroyd.

... I am thankful that fate conspired to put Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis and the guy who would be Warden of Oswald Penetentiary in the same movie.

... I now realise just how damn beautiful Sigourney Weaver was.

... I miss the 80s convention of movies having ballady-style incidental music.

... I am curious as to whether Staypuft is a real brand of marshmallow.

Possible nominees for best movie of the 1980s

  • The Goonies
  • Die Hard
  • Ghostbusters
  • Back to the Future
  • Predator
  • Robocop
  • Rocky III

Thursday, March 10, 2005


If a male identical twin met a female identical twin and they got married and had identical twins, what would be the odds of that happening?...

Monday, March 07, 2005

What did I do today?

- Woke up feeling warm for the first time this year.
- Found my bike key.
- Had a rudimentary conversation in Japanese with my landlady.
- Saw a man with a golf ball sized growth on the middle joint of one of his fingers.
- Bought some tools and a box to put them in.
- Wrote a song.
- Bowled 20 games of bowling, and played badly.
- Had a curry, but was given the mildest version as opposed to my usual hottest.
- Paid a friend the money I owed him.
- Went grocery shopping at 10pm.
- Had a piping hot bath.
- Browsed a property brochure.
- Watched Blackadder.
- Tried to solve my rubik's triangle ("pyraminx").

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Things that I like...

- The opening credits of Blackadder II when the gloved man reprimands the adder.

- The way that Japanese women on tv adverts always point and grin.

- A perfectly executed strike (ten pin bowling).

- Writing a word such as "spies" and completing the dot of the "i" at the end of the motion of writing the "s".

- The way that The Empress in He-Man says "Skellitor" as opposed to "Skeletor".

- Jaunty angles.

- Eating an apple and finding that it tastes completely different from how you expect.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Watakushi no shumi wa...

I have resolved to become an onion pickler and a plum wine distiller... come the summer these pursuits will occupy some of my free hours.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stream of consciousness effort composed whilst waiting for a bath to run...

Somewhere in the dark recesses of the earth, there is a heated discussion going on. On one side of the fire sits the funk of 50,000 years and on the other the 6th son of a 7th son.

"I can't believe how unlucky I am," moaned the funk of 50,000 years, "that non-entity, the funk of 40,000 years is celebrated whereever any of us go, just because he was mentioned in that song by the dancing guy. I've got 10,000 years on him, yet whereever I go, I don't get so much as a nod or a tip of a hat."

"My friend," began the 6th son of a 7th son, "I empathise completely, as I am the 6th son of a 7th son, and have thus been denied any form of prestige or position of note in this world. Worse than that, not many others know that I am in fact the 6th son of a 7th son of a 7th son of a 7th son of a 7th son, and so on, going back to the early days of man. My countless ancestors were important, successful people in their own right, yet it is deemed that only one is remembered every generation."

The funk of 50,000 years considered this for a time, and then spoke, choosing his words carefully.

"My friend," he began, "your situation is unfortunate and it is unfair that you and your ancestors have not had the recognition that you may deserve. My situation is even more poignant by the fact that some 10,000 years ago, I was the funk of 40,000 years, but unfortunately there was no song, no dancing man, no wolf-metamorphosis. My situation was decided by the whim of a popular music singer. Had he chosen the bolder sounding 50,000 years, my life would have been changed beyond measure."

The 6th son of a 7th son leaned forwards and peered through the fires.

"Forgive me, friend, but surely, due to the fact that the song in question was written in 1979, the funk of 40,000 years is now the funk of 40,026 years, and no longer the celebrity in question? You yourself are now, surely, the funk of 50,026 years, are you not?"

"I applaud you on your reasonings, my friend, however it is a peculiar quirk of this earth that its funks only come into being once every ten thousand years. Thus, in the earth year of 11979, a new funk will come to be. The funk of 40,000 years will then assume my role, but by that time, all remembrance of his fame will have long since dissipated. I will become the funk of 60,000 years and unless a reference to me is made in some form of popular medium, I shall be doomed to my anonymity for all time. You are fortunate in that your life ends quickly."

The 6th son of a 7th son thought about this for a long time.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Page Turner

Some very interesting questions are running through my head, including:

- Did the Knights Templar invent modern banking?

- Is the holy grail buried beneath the Louvre?

- Is John the Baptist in The Last Supper actually Mary Magdalene?

- Were Da Vinci, Newton and DeBussy really Grand Masters of the Priory of Scion?

- Is 1.618 really the magic number?

Chrysalis days

For the first time in my life, the impact and realisation that I am now an adult and no longer a child has hit me. I have to consider the bigger questions in life, and think of tomorrow in order to be able to enjoy today...

The decade is half over.

The decade is half over?!

The decade is half over.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


My hair hurts... I taste of beer.... old beer....