Tag Archives: koshien

All patterns alter

TITLE CARD

These gloomy days really take it out of me mentally, especially when I’m waking up
habitually at 6:30, Jessy’s sympathetic riser, nothing to do but exist until it’s time
to leave for work just before noon. These are my single mornings, spent responsibly
pre-work unoccupied on the couch with my animal, bowl of curry rice, and some video
game or another where I generally shoot robots with pulse weapons. It’s a warm day
today, which is done a disservice by all the clouds and the bit of rain, so I’ve tried
to energize myself with that “caffeine” stuff that all the people swear by. I have a
couple cans of coffee during my commute, one of which is called “GOOD START BLEND,”
ostensibly due to its extra amount of energy juice. It is failing to work its magic,
which can mean only one thing: should have secured some extra-rare Mountain Dew
instead.

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL, GAME

Last Friday, a day not much unlike this one, I found myself beered and slightly damp
on a bleacher seat in Koshien Stadium for my second Hanshin Tigers baseball game. The
real value here came from our tickets, which were enticingly called “KFC PACK”
tickets, and KFC means the same thing in Japan as it does in the states. For roughly
the same price as a normal bleacher ticket each of us was given a draft beer, a few
chicken nuggets, and some spicy little drummies, which were delicious enough to prompt
me to order another beer from the cute lady who wanders around with a keg strapped to
her back. And that one was good enough for another, and another after that. By the
time we won the game I had not even realized it was over, which I suppose meshes well
with Brandon’s Spectator Theory of Baseball: when attending a baseball game, there are
often more important things than baseball. I personally like to think of the teams as
my indentured court jesters, performing for my pleasure regardless of whether I am
watching them or not. They will say “looky, looky,” but I will not look. Looking is
the thing I won’t do.

Also a man behind us relentlessly taunted the Enemy American player in left field.
His name was Sledge, which in Japanese sounds like “Suredji,” and we could not help
but join in, defectors, defying our upbringing. Yes, Suredji, yes. Embrace this.
Become a stronger man, as I slander your name and imply that grave events have indeed
occurred between myself and those who gave birth to you.

POPULAR QUESTIONS ASKED ABOUT ME DURING MY INTRODUCTORY LESSONS WITH THE NEW FIRST YEAR STUDENTS

Why are you so cool? How are you? Are you handsome? Do you have girlfriend? Do you
have children? Do you like color? Do you like girls? How many girls have you ever
loved? What is your height? Why are your legs so long?

HOLIDAY DISPATCH

The upcoming week is called “Golden Week” here in Japan, named thusly because of its
high concentration of nearly consecutive holidays. At present our plan is to go to
Tokyo, for no specific reason other than it’s somewhere big to go that won’t be
totally impossible since every other person in Japan will be flooding the popular
areas. I plan on going to Akihabara where I hope to obtain 4,000 StreetPass tags for
my 3DS like a total geek.

FINALLY, CURIOUS JAPANESE STUFF LATELY

– A door-to-door type salesman guy came to our apartment the other day to leave this
huge plastic crate of medicine with us. He explained that we could use it if we
wanted, and then he’d check back later and we could just pay him for whichever boxes
of stuff we opened or used. The prices being quite below what one pays at a store we
said sure whatever. Apparently it’s kind of a popular thing for some people here to
do. I looked up what this is called, and in Japanese it’s “haichiyaku.” The literal
translation of this word, according to the dictionary, is the elegant “medicine left
by a salesman and paid for when used”
– The games section of the newly remodeled electronics store downtown has been moved
from the second to the highest (sixth) floor of the building, perhaps signaling that
they figure Japan’s enormously popular gaming craze is going to subside and they’re
relegating the otaku back to the wings
– McDonald’s new sandwich here is called the Mega Teriyaki, and it looks like a Big
Mac with both burger patties smothered in teriyaki sauce. I want to eat it, but
haven’t yet
– Saw a sign inside one of the makeup stores I walk past on my way home the other day.
It had a pretty girl on it, with some cursive English lettering below it that said
simply “I’m virgin”
– We’re going to see this American action movie on Friday, which is called Sucker
Punch in the states. Its Japanese title is ANGEL WARS, which instantly elevates the
movie to a higher level

ENOUGH

I have Internet here at night school now on my little Eee PC, twenty months after
starting work. All it took was my new co-teacher to actually tell the people in
charge that I needed it, an action that by Being An Action was something my previous
teachers never had the ambition to take care of. He has gained three “that’s
refreshing” points, which he can redeem at the end of the year to officially cement
his status in my mind as not a total bitch.

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Focus on this play, this moment!

I am in the front row of a section of seats in Koshien Stadium, it is hotter than it has been in days, and a drunk man of this country has decided he will carry on a conversation with me while baseball occurs out in the field. I, in an effort to represent the entirety of the group I accompany (60+ natives of other countries), abandoned in favor of the pursuit of fried chicken by my Japanese-speaking other half, decide to tackle this issue head on.

“America and Canada and Japan.” My answer to what I believe is a question asking where we, or some amount of us, are from

“I think our power is really big!” My response to some comment issued while he was gesturing at the scoreboard (we are, at the time, losing 8-1)

“Curry rice, delicious, isn’t it?” My question, offered in response to a question that may have nothing to do with the food I was holding

“The, I, this, uhh…” My answers to nearly everything else said, interspersed with smiles, looks of terror, and nodding

Eventually his wife comes along and drags him away as he resists. It is fortunate, because we have arrived at a point where I am sure he is demanding some sort of answer that likely centers on information and examples, and I sense the game is up. My friends, sitting next to me, ask if I could understand what he was saying. I tell them “a little,” which must be about 23% true.

To my horror, he later returns, eager on continuing to tap at the rich vein of cultural exchange we began with earlier. He is immediately interrupted by our team’s first sign of life in this game, a Grand Slam Home Run, the onset of which brings deafening cheers of glory and sends the man and all around him into a frenzy. As though shaking out a dirty rug he grabs me by the hands and yanks me up from my seat, jangling me like a marionette who must dance for quarters. I am far too tall for his efforts at jerking me around, size comparisons considered, and soon he’s just holding me by the wrists, the elbows, begging for mercy, oh please god, oh please, oh. He switches to High Fives, pleading for them, fives for the poor, fives to feed the children, and begins to five everyone in sight.

The stylish young woman with the beer keg mounted on her back taps one for somebody (only 600 yen) as she is left just another Cheerio in the bowl, all knocked around with each other. It is about this time that our pal Dan comes back from his own chicken run, and is promptly devoured by the five-lust of the local drunk, fived to fucking death, meat. I avert my eyes, unable to witness the grave anathemas of this thing they call “baseball.”

In the seventh inning, everyone in the stadium inflates balloons that look like giant tiger-striped phalli, then, courtesy of plastic propulsion inserts, release them skyward with great shouts. Before they can hit the ground like dead rubbery sky jellyfish the cleaning crew is waiting in the outfield to scoop them up.

After three more innings of being goddamned useless, Hard-luck Hanshin loses 8-5. I am relieved, but only because I cannot predict what may have happened to me had we won.

Having guests is much like visiting someone else yourself–the dynamic of your dwelling twists, the played-out, boring schedule changes, the activities are altered through the eyes of a fresh situation. On Friday we eat tomato ramen and gyoza from one of our favorite places in north Sannomiya, then drink alcohol at a bar for foreigners, where some English teacher’s coworker is forced to do the Moonwalk.

On Saturday, with our visiting couple from Canada firmly entrenched, we invite another couple from just across the way in the other building over for some Mario on Wii. It is a wonder that “parties” even existed before this game.

As we carry out our calculated video crimes against humanity to each other (crushed by huge drill, thrown into fireball, forcibly advanced off edge of screen), we do our part to upset the neighbors with the vulgar shouts of Engrish phrases so heinous that even they might recognize them. Front-runner, and so good I can’t believe it actually exists, is printed on Dan’s new shirt: DON’T WANNA DO A SUCK. We begin to refer to Mario merely as “red Toad,” which is so inexplicably funny to me that I start replacing Mario’s name in game titles mentally (Super Red Toad Brothers 3, Super Red Toad World, Red Toad Power Tennis). Jessy, frequently murdered and relegated back to “floating around the level in a bubble” status, begins to chant “BURST ME, BURST ME, BURST ME,” while flailing the remote wildly, and from there it is all over, the rollercoaster clacking its last clack before screaming down the hill. We eat Miracle Fruit Tablets off eBay, which make lemons taste sweet. There is a bag of candy-coated french fries-like potato snacks on the floor, and chocolates, and gummies, and spicy dried squid, which I am instructed to “never open in the house again,” presumably because it smells like spicy dried squid. On the other side of Kobe, the man from the baseball game applies lipstick and smokes a cigarette.

NOTABLE MINOR HAPS SINCE THE PRIOR NOM
– During a self-introduction class for one of my new sections of first years in high school, being asked “do you like boys or girls,” answering “I like everyone, how about you,” and then watching a fifteen-year-old troublemaker turn red
– In the same, bizarre class, being asked by one of the girls “why are your legs so long,” a question I could barely answer
– New “Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker” promotional Mountain Dew soda, which, while tasting the same as any other Mountain Dew in this country, is adorned with artwork of characters from the namesake video game, lending the soda a clout which represents the presentation of one of the first opportunities I have actually had to buy Mountain Dew in a convenience store here, instead of the one vending machine in Kobe that I know to sell it
– Today’s bento, clocking in at an admiral 906 kcals, which contains a layer of rice and is topped with sweet barbecue beef, a breaded and fried fish fillet with a glob of tartar sauce, one massive chicken nugget, and some shredded lotus root and cabbage (tiny building-block shaped grilled egg sits in a compartment on the side), and which is totally goddamned perfect
– New “Qun” gummies, sweet and chewy, with sour sauce inside, decorated with a picture of a sun making approximately this face, presumably due to the incredible pain the sour has caused him: >_<
– The onset of fiber-optic Internet in our apartment, which, while not ascending to the touted and lofty "HYAKUMEGA" speeds we were drugged with during the sales pitch, certainly hit a download/upload speed of 34Mbit/15Mbit up here on the seventh floor last night, or roughly fast enough to download a 6MB MP3 file in two seconds
THOSE WERE SOME HAPS

We leave this weekend for Hakone during the string of holidays called Golden Week. Hakone is a town most notable for being near Mt. Fuji and providing some supposedly good views of said mountain, and notable to me for being the city where the fictional Evangelion anime series was “set.” This week they even decorated a Lawson convenience store that has a bunch of special Evangelion items in it, and I am afraid I am going to have to track it down and fill my bags with dumb crap I totally don’t need. We are taking the bullet train, which will mean my second chance to ride it, and I am excited. While I am gone, the new Super Street Fighter IV video game will arrive at my apartment. It is a fighting game which features an oil wrestler who grabs enemies and squirts them out of his rippling muscles to inflict damage.

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