Tag Archives: steak

Where your taste buds are at

Lunch today is two “korokke,” which I suppose you could use English by way of stolen French to call “croquettes” even though they’re kinda different. What they are is pretty much mashed potatoes and some microscopic chopped meat bits and some corn or something and then they roll it in flour and bread crumbs and deep fry it. I, being firmly of the mind that deep-fried anything is good enough, have no problems with either the methodology or composition of korokke. So I’ll hog ’em down and a rice ball too for good measure, a culinary polyglot.

The cheap (60 yen) morsels do quite handily clash with my extravagant dining sessions of the last couple days, however. Now that Jessy’s once again away, this time in America for her mother’s wedding, I have found myself (figuratively) all dolled up with (literally) no place to go. I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity not only by nomming shit that she would never touch (homemade sloppy joe sauce mixed with boxed macaroni and cheese, pork and beef curry over linguini noodles, salted grilled chicken dipped in nacho cheese), but also an assortment of fancy meals. On Monday I got me hence to the slightly-more-upscale of the few sushi-go-round restaurants that I know of and stuffed myself on tuna, shrimp, crab, and salmon, washing it down with an icy cold draft Sapporo. And just last night it was cook-at-home evening, for which I planned to make a nice steak and some fries but was torn between this idea and sushi again. I met myself halfway and just cooked a steak and and bought some pre-made sushi, an unconventional yet comforting surf-and-turf. As I chomped into the raw fish and savored the raw center of the steak it occured to me I was enjoying the benefits of the uncooked deaths of several distinct creatures, all of which shoulda known how tasty they were and that they had it coming.

hgnghsnarrrf

I stopped by the local Uniqlo store the other day to pick up some more HEATTECH shirts, which are made of a delightfully smooth and stretchy material and purportedly insulate your body for maximum warmth in the winter time, because the Japanese have not yet engineered the technology enabling the house to be heated and so it is important to conserve every little bit of body heat. I also took the brash step of acquiring a couple wool button-up sweaters, and I am prepared to call them cardigans. I got a grey one and one that is sort of brown that when I look at it I think “burnt umber” but it’s probably lighter than burnt umber, maybe lighter even than umber but not quite beige, and there must be a color in there but I don’t know what it is. One of my students the other day said that I looked nice while wearing this undefinably-colored sweater, and I remember her because she looks exactly like this popular AKB48 girl who is all over the television and posters, and I remember her because in my mind, somewhere next to where I have stored “burnt umber,” I remember her name, which is Duckface.

quack

In much the same way that Jack Nicholson’s Joker was completely unable to stop smiling, I also believe that Duckface (actual name Tomomi Itano) is incapable of making any sort of facial expression that is not the duck face. In conclusion I love Uniqlo, their clothes are always cheap and when I go there and I buy a medium-sized article it is actually sized for medium-sized people so it fits me instead of hanging off of me like a tarp.

The time I’ve spent not purchasing clothes and food this week has been mostly devoted to occupying myself with one type of game or another, be it of the card, board, or video persuasion. I finished a game called “The Ballad of Gay Tony” in which I at one point threw a man out of a helicopter and then skydived to catch him and then parachuted and missed where I was supposed to land and drowned us both to death. That was pretty neat! Also I have continued to practice my guitar playing every day with the assistance of that piece of software called Rocksmith, which gives me a little guidance and a game-type structure for practicing my techniques.

I’ve been sleeping in the spare room with the comforter over me. Each morning when I wake up it feels like I’m somewhere new.

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Butterburgers, gas station burritos, and 33 pounds of dog food

The most peculiar thing is that I now feel like an outsider who is inside, or perhaps someone who was always here but isn’t any longer. In Japan I am acutely foreign, both invisible (like Internet advertisements to a seasoned browser) and visible (bright, flashing Internet advertisements), depending on the interpreter. This duality has become part of my consciousness in Japan, making me always aware that to everyone I am at least someone or no one. In America it is different, because I am neither someone nor no one but Everyone. There is no duality that comes from being different, to be ignored or stared at but at least one or the other–there is just existence, part of All People.

Yet, still in command of the I’m In Japan mentality, I find myself mostly oblivious to their presence around me, conditioned as I am to mainly ignore what I recognize as the same (most people). The problem is that I am also conditioned to recognize what is different, which for the last year and a half has been “foreign people,” and by foreign of course I ironically mean “not Japanese.” To suddenly become aware of all the conversations those around me are having is like someone flipped on the switch that opens Pandora’s Box, forcefed me the apple of the tree of sin’s origins: can these people really be comfortable with knowing that everyone around them is hearing what they’re saying to each other? Then, two realizations: 1. I just asked that out loud to my sister, completely forgetting that suddenly everyone around me can understand me too, and 2. to someone for whom the regularity of constant bombardment of exterior conversation is not remarkable, it is unlikely to be even slightly of note that someone around them is speaking to someone else.

I’m lonely but not alone, I’m everyone and nobody: nothing on my face says I’ve been an outsider for this long, or that I’m still just temporary. I get a thrill out of speaking in a cool, casual way to gas station attendants and the guy who gets the game out of the rack at Target, catch myself speaking way more politely to anyone than I ever would have thought to before, and find myself for what is likely the first time in my life genuinely unconcerned about what anyone thinks about the things I say, do, or how I look. Peculiarly enough it’s only since I have lived in a place where I am forced to acknowledge that I am the Other that I am capable of believing I’m nothing. Is the suppression of self-consciousness what self-confidence really is?

In other news: huge burritos, frozen pizza, steak, cottage cheese, Thai Kitchen, Jimmy John’s, American football, and other such delights, hung from low branches like ornaments, and I am the cat.

I woke up at 2:30 this morning.

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If I don’t fight, I’ll eat this planet

Go back to 1978 and clone Wal-Mart somewhat unsuccessfully with a drop of Japanese sweat thrown into the tubes and you’d end up with Kohnan (unrelated to Barbarian, Detective, and red-haired talk-show host), a self-proclaimed Home Center that sells everything from drinks to power tools, office supplies, and home decorations. Also they have forty gashapon machines. I went there with Jessy last night under the pretext of securing some supplies for our future-cat Kiki, who is now beginning to enter Earth’s atmosphere and will meteorically impact our apartment some time this weekend.

In the back of Kohnan there is a place called “Pet Land,” which sells all kinds of animals for totally exorbitant prices. The cats they have start at around 300 dollars, topping off at over a few thousand. For a mere $8,900 you could take home a genuine Harry Potter owl and watch him brutally murder your other pets to shreds then leave a rock hard excreted pellet of fur and bones on your sofa as he swivels his neck 270 degrees to watch you shit your pants.

Me, I enjoyed the fact that to purchase a prairie dog you’d literally have to shell out $3,800, and had past- and future-pity on any parents or outliers who were convinced by little Toshi that they really needed to welcome a prairie dog to the family. Is this the kind of shit that housewives spend their husbands’ money on, and is that why the suicide rate is so high in this country?

In my mind I played out a very real series of events beginning with a bunch of Midwestern folk loading their rifles, and ending with dozens of liquefied, mutilated prairie dog corpses littering the aisles while sobbing salarymen try to resuscitate them and protect their investments. Instead of gunshots ringing out there are only the clangs of cash registers, and at the end the Folk have subtracted a billion yen from the economy of Japan. While they listen to “More Than a Feeling,” the hunters construct World Champion Belts out of exhausted six-pack plastic rings then drape them around themselves like Persian silk before shouting “ya-heeeew” in unison and ejaculating wildly all over each other.

Though I steadfastly resisted the prospect of ever buying any sort of clothing items for my cat, one horrible decision was made in the form of a ten-dollar plush hat that velcroes to an animal’s head and makes them look like they are actually some kind of citrus fruit. I was powerless to resist Jessy’s tossing it in the basket, because I imagined my cat as a citrus fruit and it melted my decision-making center. I have spent more money on things in the past that brought results far less satisfying than photographs of my pet with a plush citrus fruit hat on his head will be, and that is a fact, as my limited edition Lotteria Evangelion hamburger calendar can attest to.

We also bought the cat lots of food that looks mostly like canned tuna, but it is in little pouches, and we bought the cat some meaty smoked snack sticks, which also look like canned tuna. I am not going to lie, I am wondering how long it will be until I taste the cat food.

Because buying bunches of shit for a cat I don’t have yet soured me, I needed to buy something for myself which had strong and immediate ramifications: a small metal grill with fold out legs and an adjustable grill rack, along with two kilograms of “coconut charcoal,” charcoal shaped like little donuts which smells kinda like coconut. This is my first grill in Japan, and it only cost ten bucks, which is a marked value when you consider other stupid purchases I have made in the past, like a plush citrus fruit hat for my cat to wear on his head. I plan on buying some meat, heating the charcoals, frying some rice on the stove with garlic butter, MSG, a dash of soy sauce, and some peas, and then cooking the meat and enjoying it all with a nice frosty Coke. I say Coke now not wanting to think about beer, because in the spirit of the heat I drank four cold beers not long before bed last night, and now it is two in the afternoon, and I am at work, and I have the most shameful mini-hangover in history. I’m such a weak shithead that I barely have the motivation to insult myself, and doing that is a pretty core element of my basic mental functions.

Jessy, if you’re reading this as I write it, which is impossible because I won’t be able to put it online until I get home, I am sorry that our apartment looks like you snuck in while you were gone and destroyed everything and used up a hundred dishes and didn’t pick anything up. In the future I will try to leave the house looking more like you’re used to seeing it after I’ve been home for a while, and less like I’m used to seeing it after you’ve been home for a while. P.S. you left your iPhone in the closet, P.P.S. I love you

THIS WEEK’S NOTABLE THINGS NOTABLE FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN BEING NOTABLE
– Today is the first day of September, and although that signals the beginning of fall in my mind, it has no bearing on the actual climate or weather or temperature, which is still as hot or hotter than it was yesterday and has been for the last three months and which makes me hate everything
– Corn on the cob, which you can so rarely find in Japan, and which I bought at the grocery store this week for $1.25 an ear, and which I felt all nostalgic shucking, and which was so, so goddamned delicious
– The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, a book by Bill Simmons (a.k.a. The Sports Guy), which is 734 pages long and which I just finished today after a week of reading, despite having no concrete interest in either modern or historical basketball, and which is fantastic, and which at one point concerns itself with a multi-hundred page list of the 96 players Bill Simmons considers to be the best ever, and which contains hundreds of footnotes that I read, and which I really do not know why I kept reading but I read six times more of it than I have ever read into The Lord of the Rings
– My shoes, which are falling apart, and which bear now-flaking black paint, ensuring that nobody can possibly believe these are leather anymore
– Simple pleasures like crunchy plums, juicy grapes, Chili Tomato Cup Noodle, corn on the cob, and Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages, made all the more special by the fact that like many other things in Japan, their appearances are rare and fleeting, their prices high, and their tastes exceptional
PERHAPS THAT IS ENOUGH

Classes start up again at my main school in a couple of days, which means that after two months of twiddling my thumbs I’ll be back in front of the kids, being sized up by every pair of eyes, evaluated, silently judged. I have already blown several of my good games and activities on them throughout the first term so I think I’ll start off strong with a tell-me-about-your-summer-not-vacation-cause-you-were-at-club-activities-every-day lesson, then follow it up with Jeopardy trivia the following week to re-endear them to me. After that I can probably have them work on filling in speech bubbles for comic strips for a couple weeks, which will result in dozens of “I am gay I love you” jokes for me to read, and that brings us into October! Look, I just did four weeks of work in one minute.

In an effort to change our lives, my younger co-teacher (the one who is prone to inserting superfluous fucking curse words) has suggested that we go into business together. The kind of business will be “burger,” he says. We will have one item on the menu, the burger, and it will be the only thing that people will be allowed to buy. I suggested that we sell some fried potatoes (the term they use for French fries here), but no, just the burger. When the people come to order, we will ask “how about a burger,” and the customer will say “ok,” and if he says no, that is too bad because do not have anything that is not the burger. The name of the store will be “Burgers of Tom,” which he claims will be a good name for a burger shop because it is like the phrase Peeping Tom, even though the only two people that work there will be he and I, and there will be no Tom. Burgers of Tom, meet world.

So averse to the idea of beginning to teach classes again after our two months off, he mentioned to me that tomorrow he will surely see “some scenes of hell.” Most people have a concept of heaven and hell, he tells me, but most of the time he only experiences hell. The one way to ease the suffering of teachers returning to work, preparing to meet with scenes of hell?

Surely a delicious burger from Burgers of Tom.

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A day which will live on in green tea

The bachelor life means steak for supper, a big one with corn on one night and literally two steaks the next night with soumen, and as I enter hour four of my non-stop marathon of the descriptively named “WWII in HD” TV series with my steak and my beer and my full plump Japanese grapes I realize I have become an old man and it is fucking sweet.

Brenden is back to Canada and Jessy’s still in America which means that as the Master of My Domain I am free to do as I damned well please when I damned well please how I damned well please, a revelation both invigorating and selfish, only occasionally tinged with loneliness. For the most part I enjoy the fact that I can have a glass of tea, leave my glass on the table, go to work the next day and come home to my same glass in the same place, rinse it out, and pour another glass of tea. I am living the same awesome day over and over in perpetuity, which is the glory and curse of solitary singledom.

The other night I briefly consider totally eschewing perpetual domination by that woman in favor of lighting a cigar inside the house as I sit on the couch, but then I wonder well will the smoke alarm go off, and so I go and deactivate it and I think I have it deactivated and I sit back down on the couch and I swear to god as I am about to strike the match she appears on the TV screen in the creases of MacArthur’s pressed pants and she says “Brandon of our apartment you fuck, I have returned, and I have total control over your daily life” and I put the cigar back down on the table gently like it’s a mine and eat another grape and examine the pattern on the wall.

At night school on Wednesday I didn’t write a damned thing on account of I bought this book called Live from New York, which is basically an oral recount of the history of Saturday Night Live, and it in its printed form is about 680 pages, which meant in its eBook form I was capable of reading it for seven straight hours and not finishing it. I alarmed myself with my dedication so concretely that I went ahead and finished it the next day and bought Chris Farley’s biography too, to totally tap out this rich vein of potentially interesting subject matter and to ensure I will never find it compelling again.

In the interest of getting this over with this time I will merely state that last week in a couple of day span I managed to play foosball, Street Fighter IV, and darts against a variety of human opponents and I never lost. It felt right.

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I speak two languages, Body and English

Today, to verify my virility, my ability to voraciously vilify those foes who would unwoeful wax skeptic of my Vitruvian nature, I was informed of the nomenclature I’d need to be loosely guided like radar in the direction of battery: most righteously, the nurses said, remove thine shirt, English boy, that we might X-ray up in that shit, cause are you dying or not?

In these trying times, not but the most heady rapscallions be immune to the ‘berculosis. In the Hospital Wagon Party Van, a massive RV filled with gear like I imagine They use to cause the mysterious disappearances of political ne’er-do-wells, I am inspected.

In the mother tongue of this island nation, I believe I tell them this: “Until now, I have never come to this place. It’s my first time, so please endure it.” It is a signal, a grave beacon of false pretenses. Those resonate something like this: “I understand the terminology you are using, and command the facilities to respond to it verbally, as prompted.” Such unspoken grandeur, so pompous!, shortly before I find myself–under a moment of sweaty-foreheaded duress–unable to figure out what the Japanese word sha-tsu means (PROTIP: it means shirt).

The fancy trick of this operation, prior to my inspection, was preparing a sample of my liquid waste. So that the Docs might aquire my sample, they issued me prior to my exam, by three days, a plastic envelope containing: a fold-open waxed-paper envelope, a smaller envelope with my name on it, and a little 10mL plastic bottle the kind you use to squirt barbecue sauce or mayo onto your bento, with the plastic squish resistance of Arthritis Barbie’s specially-designed turkey baster. In the States they never quite come out and say “please enter the bathroom with this Lion King Dixie cup and pee all inside it until it’s as full as a glass of Sunday-school Kool-Aid, and Japan, especially through the veil of language, did me no favors in the explanation of these three new apparati.

To personally acquire this sample, I deduce from the various diagrams, I am supposed to first open up the waxed paper envelope, then pee into it, then suck the pee out of it by squishing the bottle, putting the opening into the pee, and sucking it out like with an eye-dropper. Eye-dropper it ain’t, and I dare not underfill for fear of being required to re-fill, lord in heaven. Eventually I get it. Then I put the little bottle into the envelope with my name on it and stick it in my pocket like a pack of baseball cards, carrying it around for forty-five minutes until it’s my turn to give it to the lady, who proceeds to screw off the little lid, squirt it out into a cup right there in front of me, stick a piece of special testing strip in, and compare a variety of colors with those on a laminated chart on the table. I do not see what happens to the cup when she is done, and I make no effort to look back.

After I finish a height and weight check, an eye check, and a heartbeat examination, they take my paper from me and tell me nice work. Then I leave. I figure I’m okay, if only because they made no attempt to tell me I’m not. Not that I’d would be sure if they did.

JAPAN JAPAN BO BAPAN BANANA FANA FO FAPAN MEE MAI MO MAPAN, JAPAN
– The stupid weather, which is humid, and makes me feel like I am sleeping on blankets inside a recently drained totally enclosed dormitory swimming pool
– Yesterday’s package of bread, which I purchased as a substitute for absent hamburger buns, containing four massive slices, each heavier and thicker than Texas toast
– Creamy milk cocoa in a paper box for a hundred yen from a vending machine icy cold frosty fresh
– Apparently the 1961 downtempo Americana cornerstone song “Stand By Me” is the “image theme” for the large chain of Japanese nutteries, Mister Donut
– The Sukiya the other day was all out of the spicy sauce for their gyudon, which is just a huge load of bullshit
OKAY ENOUGH

Last Friday, well before my health examination, I find myself, shirted and tied, inexplicably in attendence with Jessy as one of the two youngest guests at an upper-class benefit slash buffet-style dinner for Afghani children. We are the guests of a somewhat eccentric but well-regarded and extremely well-spoken Japanese man who releases better-considered English than I do. We met him as a business acquaintence through Jessy’s father–apparently they have been working together in some capacity for a while. He is like a mad scientist with an MBA. He details the varieties of what he admits are bizarre schemes that he is currently digging his nails into. One of them has to do with extracting oils from plants? I imagine him as the landlord of a 30-floor think-tank in urban Tokyo, ushering creative minds in to freewheelin’ly sip joe and put together their dreams with raw materials.

All of this is irrelevant tonight, because the first part of the show involves a man who plays classical piano with only his left hand. The whole piano with just the one hand! He isn’t tucking his right hand behind his back as he plays, or holding it up in the air all “la-dee-dah check it out ladies” or anything so at first I am not sure that is what he is doing. But then I listen carefully and catch a glance and yep sure is only just using that left hand.

I see him deftly grip a microphone in his right hand between songs anyway, which makes me for a moment entertain an exciting fantasy: that this man has full use of his right hand too and is just playing left-handed secretly to show off, be a real smug fuck all cocksure and clandestine. But it turns out he just has his nerves all bunged up in there and can’t use it for piano, so it becomes impressive and inspiring instead of just a dick move on his part. Maybe.

I ignore all of that shit later as I stuff my face with plates full of sliced prime rare beef and lamb, tempura green beans, chunks of crab and lobster meat the size of string cheese, hayashi beef stew with rice, and glasses of champagne, wine, and beer. Later, it is dessert time, and the cherries, oh god the cherries. I consider for a moment the peeing that I will be doing later on in the week, certain that I am laying the foundation for a most enviable specimen.

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