Monthly Archives: December 2011

I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah

I ask my father, as I am about to leave the research outpost, which we have rigged to explode because we accidentally built it on a live Sloar colony that not only contains Sloars but is itself a giant Sloar–if he could write some sort of final note to me on this piece of paper that I have been carrying around for the last couple of hours. He scribbles something down that I can’t see while cracking some sort of joke about Eddie Murphy’s stupid t-shirts, what the hell is Eddie Murphy doing wearing these stupid t-shirts lately, and with a Predator-esque Dylan You Son Of A Bitch man-shake we laugh maniacally as I escape in the Pod, a single tear rolling down my cheek. I glance down at the paper. There is no note but a crude pencil drawing of the research lab we were just in, it looks like a toddler made it. “Thanks Dad.” The thrusters blast off and I see the entire Sloar explode and the credits roll. This is the construct of my remake of a six minute amateur film originally shot by James Cameron, his first film, the re-imagining of which I have been tasked to complete as a master auteur on the fiftieth anniversary of its release. My finished short will be used as a promotional vehicle for the release of Mr. Cameron’s newest cinematic masterpiece. For my trouble I am to receive a special vending machine that can open plastic drink bottles automatically and dispense the contents into a separate cup, this is some kind of revelation to me, I cannot live without one.

I had this dream last night after eating dozens of nigirizushi at our local-ish sushi-go-round, Kura, the one where almost every plate brings you two pieces of sushi for a hundred yen and you can order specific pieces off an electronic touch screen and then enjoy them after they are automatically carried to your booth by a little train with slots for your food. I got home barely able to speak, so crammed full with fish and rice that I lied down on the bed at about 6:30 and didn’t wake up until about twelve hours later. Actually I briefly stirred at around eleven in the evening and asked Jessy what time it was, she told me it was eleven and I was like “psh whatever it has to be at least four in the morning” but it was indeed eleven. Then the cat went to sleep on my head and I didn’t fight it.

The holiday season is HERE, with the brunt of my break approaching more quickly than I had previously imagined it would. Beginning Friday I’ve got fully twelve days of vacation from work, during which I plan on digging into a huge box of media that I have ordered from Amazon to be shipped to my parents in the States, in the hopes that they will kindly pack it all up and ship it to me in one enormous box of joy. Since Jessy will be in America with her family for the season and I’ll be here in Japan owing to the massive cost of my student loan payments and the equally massive cost of flying to America, in addition to the media I will likely enjoy a holiday season in Japan as the Japanese do: by eating lots of food, going to a shrine with thousands of people on New Year’s eve, and perhaps drinking myself silly in the company of others. What I probably won’t do is find a nice lady to get in the sack on Christmas Eve, which is primarily the goal of Christmas in Japan–think of it as a sort of New Year’s Eve and Christmas role-reversal from America.

The most popular songs you hear around this time in Japan are of course Christmas songs, but, due to this obsession with couple-try, every Christmas song you are subject to as they are endlessly piped through the myriad sound systems draping the country has to do with LOVE! Last Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You, SIM-PLY HA-VIN A WON-DERFULCHRISTMASTIME–these are the mainstays. If I ever become a recording artist I am going to release an album entirely full of Christmas songs that only have to do with filthy filthy screwing and get a good Japanese record deal that will pay me royalties in perpetuity. I will fill it with such holiday classics as:

– Please Tell Me We’re Boyfriend and Girlfriend First
– All I Want For Christmas Is You (And Some KFC)
– Allow Me To Show You the True Meaning of Christmas
– I Like You
– Let’s Make This Quick, I’m Going In To Work After
– Let’s Go Back to Your (Parents’) House
– I’m Gonna Bang You (I’ll Apologize Before)
– I Learned a New Trick at Cram School
– Is It Alright If I Take Off Your Most Esteemed Blouse, Well Here I Go
– Let’s Shame the Names of Our Families Tonight

The titles probably sound better in Japanese.

I took it upon myself to home-make some Egged Nog on Sunday night, because the pre-made stuff is unavailable in grocery stores around here. I whipped up eight raw eggs, added about a half a cup of sugar, and mixed in nutmeg, vanilla, milk, cream, and a healthy amount of rum. It’s easy to remember when it was just raw eggs swirling around, which seems a little offputting at first, but then you drink it and it tastes just like it had ought to. I’ve taken to putting a little egg nog in my morning iced coffee instead of cream and sugar. I suggest it!

The other day the guy who is always singing Jesus songs in front of Kosoku Nagata station handed me “MANGA MISSION,” which is a Japanese comic-style interpretation of various Bible stories, from the dawn of human life to the death of Jesus. The best part is the ridiculous kid-friendly drawings, depicting Satan as a massive evolved semi-robot angel that looks like he’s something out of Evangelion, and Gabriel as a smooth-lookin’ ladies’ man that happens to slip all swank into Mary’s room and be like “yo, you’re havin’ Jesus.”

It would be no small wonder, I think, if a young kid read this and was like “hey Christianity is pretty bad-ass!” I know I would be converted. Even now it is a pretty interesting story! Also there’s some partial nudity in the Adam and Eve section, which is aces for everyone.

CURIOUS JAPANESERY OF THE LATELY
– The beer companies are releasing their “special winter edition” macrobrews lately, which taste virtually identical to all of their other beers, and, for that matter, all canned beers in Japan
– The pre-orders for Christmas Kentucky Fried Chicken and cakes are closed, yes, there is a pre-order reservation system for KFC, it closed three weeks ago
– Had an “American-size” hamburger at a Hawaiian restaurant last weekend, but it was still just a Japanese hamburgu on a bun, a sort of burger/meatloaf patty mixed with egg and bread crumbs and definitely not American-size but I still ate it and was impressed that it came with ketchup
– Enjoyed going to see the new Mission Impossible movie on Sunday and, while laughing at Simon Pegg’s sarcastic humor, read the Japanese subtitles and realized nobody else was laughing because the subtitles played everything he said completely straight
THAT’LL do

I had my Bonenkai a couple weeks ago, a year-end event which always involves crowding into a sort of sectioned-off ballroom with all of my co-workers and getting unabashedly shitface plastered on Chinese wine and Asahi Super Dry while my cup is constantly refilled by anyone who notices any empty space in it. This year it was again a Chinese course set packed with delicious morsels. We played a bingo game, as is tradition, and though I got first place last year, this year I came in about thirtieth. Last year’s first place prize? A hand-machined decorative desk pen machined with aircraft-grade metal by Seiko, approximate retail value about $120. My prize this year? A multi-input power strip with independent on/off switches. Guess which one I use more? If you guessed the pen you are wrong.

One year ago today I was in America for Christmas, gorging myself on gas station burritos, getting drunk and killing everyone at beer pong in some kid’s college dorm with Catlin, smoking illegally smuggled-in Cuban cigars in the front seat of my step-brother’s car, watching Tron: Legacy in 3D, drowning myself in some television show called Pawn Stars, and enjoying the devastating cold weather. Today I’m sitting at my desk at school wondering if I should eat the anemic ham and lettuce sandwich I got from the convenience store now or in a half-hour or so, which is almost certainly an inferior arrangement, albeit one that I have fewer chances to experience as time passes. For now I will try to remember the odd smell of the gas heater in the opposite row, the feeling of understanding about 8% of the words people around me are saying, and being able to just barely see the tops of everyone’s heads over the massive stacks of files and papers built up like tiny forts on every desk while I crunch away at this keyboard as though I could possibly have any actual work to do before mid-January.

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Real plums

I did a Thanksgiving, my first one, by ordering seven pounds of frozen bird over the Internet and then hacking it apart from bird form to part form in my kitchen without using any guides or advice or instructions. In retrospect perhaps I should have, because Jessy asked me at one point where the wishbone was, and all I could say was that it was probably attached to the other bones, you know, the ones that I bent until they snapped wet like fresh branches, buried in the carrot peels likely, over in that tied up bag, if you wanna dig for it. She did not. I managed to save The Backbone, after busting it in half and cramming it into a Ziploc. When I open my freezer I see it and wonder what a compulsive person-killer must think as he slides open his freezer and sees a hand or something. “Yes, backbone, I cut the parts from you and later I’ll make soup.” But for now it’s just chillin’, hee hee.

Jessy lugged back two boxes of Stove Top instant bread-stuffing from the America, and I cooked them, remembering fondly my poverty-stricken Pittsburgh days. I once purchased a box of it ($1.39!!), and then later in a bout of rip-roaring self-abuse just ate the entire box of Stove Top for dinner. It was excellent and I will do it again, I will do it. My Japanese Thanksgiving meal was rounded to a close by a batch of old-style noodles which I enjoy calling Peasant Noodles because it makes me sound like a peasant, and also I braised the turkey on a bed of vegetables that I later mushed up to make some manner of gravy. Did I mention the Oreo-crust cherry cheesecake. I seriously cooked some food, it is undeniable. No pictures exist of this feat, despite me at one point thinking “hey, maybe we should take some pictures of our first self-cooked homestyle Thanksgiving.” Instead we did not. In the last three days I have been e-mailed two different pictures of me asleep with the cat also sleeping on some part of me. Jessy took them, and they are pictures I now have. We also ate cranberry sauce.

I had a conversation with someone while we were playing board games as a group last weekend, more of a communal conversation really, about tapping the top of your beverage can when you open it, presumably to “dispel the impending explosion.” At that exact moment I realized that such a thing was impossible, that I had been wasting my fingertap effort for years. I mean since my late teens anyway it was really just a formality, I wasn’t even tapping it with the force necessary to do a damned bit of good. And in the process, I tried to ask you know, at what point can our finger-tap force really counteract whatever shaking has occurred? What is a normal amount of shake, I ask, by tilting my new, unopened beer slowly to one side and then the other. What is the amount of real-world shake that a can undergoes in the time from procurement to refreshment? Then this guy, who I think I have met but I don’t know really and I just kind of am going with mentally “I think I met you but we didn’t meet enough to have met really,” he takes my beer and shakes it pretty violently maybe three times, and says that is a real world shake. Why would you do that, beer-shake guy whose name I forgot maybe it is like Shawn? Cause I was going to drink the beer. Maybe where you come from it is a real dog-eat-dog world up in that bitch, and you need to get your shots in early, like making sure nobody gives you a wedgie, or you gotta ink some swear words onto the chemistry test of the kid next to you, and you are just conditioned to be the Alpha drink shaker so nobody calls you gay while you are waiting in line at the Powerade machine. Later in the game I had the chance to deny him one thousand dollars, and I did so to penalize him for his errant fuckery. Then I opened the twist-off lid of the water bottle I had used to pre-mix rum and cola at home, and it sprayed on my hands. I won the game. I won all the games.

My friends bought me a gigantic sheet cake for my birthday from Costco. The logistics of purchasing it and bringing it back to my apartment are staggering to think about. They mentioned that they gave it to me because it needed to be refrigerated, though they had the social graces to at least sing Happy Birthday to me first. After it was given to me it became “my problem,” fortunately for them. It said “Princess” on it. It was a princess cake for me, and I ate some of it. Then, it barely fit in my refrigerator so I had to move all the milk to somewhere else. Every time I opened my refrigerator it was all like “Princess.” The cake was bigger than any reasonable measure of cakes. No human could possibly have eaten the entire cake. I threw some of it away, at last, carrying it to the garbage area of my apartment in a coup de grâce, which is French for coup of grâce, tossed into a garbage bag by itself. There was an old man digging through the discarded items, kind of like how I found my most recent television set. I sort of wanted to say, here dude, here’s a fucking bag of cake, it’s all cake in there, straight up. It was, I wouldn’t have been lying or anything. Just a bag of cake, not like I put anything else in there. It was probably still good but let’s be honest, I wasn’t gonna eat any more of it. I like to imagine that after I left, he checked out the bag to see what the foreigner was throwing away. And maybe he tied it onto his wooden dowel and carried it over his shoulder back to the apartment, and told his woman look at his fresh kill, a wild bag of cake, and he stripped it and cleaned it like a squirrel, and all he could decipher were the letters ncess. “This cake once belonged to a person of real esteem, this cake can teach us about how They live.”

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