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Thursday, August 30, 2012

On A T-Shirt

• World's Heavyweight Fighter
• Love tights
• #3: Never Trust Nobody
• People 68 hundred million
• Bitter adventure life
• embarrassed
• Peace love heart
• It's harder in Detroit
• Surf before I go to town
• shutter choice [with a picture of a camera]
• believe possibility have hope
• sun lucky
• Just like [Mtv Logo]
• No goodness talk of anything
• you have eyes to find out
• assimilate knowledge
• My sneaker mo' flyer than yous
• Decisive actions most excite

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Circus Room: Sneak Preview

While I'm procrastinating taping a video blog entry, here is a still of one view of my room. It is one half of a converted shipping container and I love it!

It is still a work in progress, but it is progressing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Music to Befuddle By

The interesting Japan thing that I experienced the other day was not the Japanese guy whose hair looked very similar to the flight control chief from the Curiosity mission. Oh no. It was music.

There has seemed to me to be this thing that Japanese stores have for their version of Muzak to consist a lot of American standards. These standards are usually interpreted in a lighter way, sometimes bordering on jazz, at other times firmly planted in adult contemporary. Still other times, it is just completely weird.

While grocery shopping, with a package of the day's fresh salmon and my favorite two-liter carton of plum wine in my hand basket, I recognized the tune playing. I was simultaneously horribly confused and rabidly curious. Surely this could not be the tune I thought it was. My feet slowed down as my ears and brain scrambled over each other, vying to be the first to name that tune.

It was "Take On Me" by A-Ha, performed by a Japanese ensemble that sounded like a group that kind of wanted to be like The Bird and The Bee or First Aid Kit and couldn't decide. But that didn't stop them from recording that song – no sir!

I can't say that my life is any richer or worse for having heard it. It definitely is a little weirder.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On A T-Shirt

• The story of my life: no music, no challenge
• When I die, I'm going to heaven because I've served my time on the road.
• A bargain is a bargain
• belief earnest heart
• What should I pray for?
• The keeper of the lighthouse
• big smile for everyone
• glitter lover tender heart

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Personal Japan

I've been back in Japan almost two months now and there have been two things that have stood out to me that are rather personal people-watching experiences: doppelgangers and foreigners.

1) Doppelgangers

The last time I was in Japan I saw a Japanese double of a former girlfriend of mine. A week ago I saw the Japanese double of a former tour mate. The strangest one is my mother. I have noticed that there is no shortage of short, moonfaced old ladies in glasses who in more than a few ways visually remind me of my mother. I'm not certain if I only notice it more since she died or if that was always the case. Whatever it is, I notice that a lot now. It's interesting and even heartwarming more than it is disturbing or depressing.

2) Foreigners

Encountering foreigners on the streets has been an interesting study. Most of the time, I've noticed that foreign residents tend to A) act like you're not there, or B) have a subtle air of dismissive territoriality. No hint of acknowledgement, no smile, no reaction at all. You would think there'd be some bit of recognition for another obvious outsider or some brief, friendly human interactive flash, but no. The only exception was a chipper guy in the immigration office and black people.

Black people in predominately non-black foreign countries seem to tend to acknowledge each other. We're happy to see each other, maybe to encourage each other in this current phase of yet again being The Only One and S/He Who Cannot Blend In. Our eyes glimmer, our heads nod, and sometimes there's even a broad smile and brief conversation that would be mere disposable small talk in any other arena. It is a communion, a Celebration of Otherness, a five-second Juneteenth celebration on alien soil. Otherwise with other foreigners, it's usually a pageant of smug, a monologue of indifference – cold faces and dead eyes.

I don't consider myself a people-watcher in the way that some people consider themselves to be one, but this life/work situation affords me a great opportunity to practice looking outside of myself as well as inside.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

On A T-Shirt

I've been quite remiss in posting since I returned to Japan to work. As usual, I take notes on English that I see on t-shirts and then share them. Enjoy the fruits of my labor!

• Iowa City Spirits Freedom
• Brighten the Light Sunbeam
• never stop drinking
• noon daylight railway
• Cheyenne, Wyoming: the equality state
• cymbal monkey
• get the champ
• pleasure: the important is feeling no complaints
• too much too soon
• highly salted [this was a shirt about surfing]
• the sweet party tonight
• Do you read me?
• cuteness beyond cuteness
• Chicago Beefs "One for da money!" [Chicago Bulls logo with dollar signs for eyes]
• Boss the kid, Franky Bad Boy
• Gorgeous in happiness
• The taste that has him enraptured [picture of a cow showing the various cuts of meat]
• hindsight is better than foresight
• raise one's face
• the brave forward traveling
• King of Heraldry: mankind live up you free again
• I like you for a long time very much
• Never give up creation U C [crossed out] me
• Three Deee
• Important Ideal Kiss Treasure
• notable jabberwocky
• HERE!
• NO WAR . . . but
• Vice Fairy
• Let's look at the sky
• Go on swimmingly
• Jazz is the soul of language