Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Life is good...



I don't have a lot to write about. Not because I don't have a lot to say or some really funny stories from the weekend, but mainly because some of my readership have an image of me being something other than a complete shithead. For details, get with me offline. Life is good though.

I'd like to keep my reputation as pristine as possible.

Moving along.

Item #1:
This is my favorite sign in Japan.

I have some questions:
What is the helicopter doing there?

Is this sign a warning or a command?

Why is there a 4ft tall ciggie between the kid and the dude?

Aren't midgets people too?

Item #2:
The Producers was the worst movie ever.

My boss said it was a hysterical movie and that Will Ferrel was in it, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. During the opening scene of the movie I realized that I had made a horrible, horrible mistake. Sure, there were part of the movie that made me laugh, but Will Ferrel is always funny, and so are homosexual caricatures. Those are easy laughs. Otherwise, don't even get the DVD unless you like Mel Brooks, showtunes, and throwing up in your mouth. Just don't see it. I beg of you.

Item #3:
I lost a .gif animation war. Bigtime.

I got pwnd big and bad on this one. That'll learn me to mind my ps and qs, as it were.

Item #4
I really like the show Battlestar Gallactica.

I can't get enough of it. There's just something about it that I really like. Is it pretty popular back in the states?

And on a much more serious note...

Item #5:
I'm happy to be alive.

The AN32 that I used to fly around in in Afghanistan crashed. Here's what it looks like now.

I spent a LOT of time in that airplane and flew a lot of places. The plane crashed because the pilots swerved to miss a truck that had driven onto the runway as they were landing. Both of the pilots were killed. I really only had a "hey what's up" relationship with them (they were Ukrainian and spoke little English) but I talked to them a little bit and they were very professional and highly skilled at what they did. I used to fly with them a lot and put my life in their hands in a place where trucks swerve onto runways for no reason...maybe I took their skill and professionalism for granted -- they always got me home safe. None of the other 14 passengers were killed.

Osaka trip this weekend. Should be a hoot. Will keep y'all punkass byotches updated.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The "What the Fuck" Factor

Sometimes imported cultural ideas take on a form of the telephone game. By the time they make their way to a new country, they only resemble what they originally were. A simple example would be Taco Bell, and an extreme case might be spaghetti, which is not only completely different than Chinese noodles, but is claimed as an "ethnic good" of Italy.

Japan is no different. Like any other culture, they've borrowed food and put their own spin on it, while still calling it "Italian food" or whatever. One result would be pizza with mayonnaise and corn on it, which, while odd to Americans, is actually really good.

Last night I went to an Italian restaurant near my house with a friend of mine. My friend suggested the restaurant, which I had never been to, but I had heard it was really good. As we were walking up, we noticed that a band was playing. Live bands tend to kill the whole "conversation" thing, but we figured we'd check it out.

I'm not sure what kind of band ought to be playing at an Italian'd up restaurant, but I'm pretty sure ragtime isn't really on the menu. That's right, a no-shit ragtime band was going to town when we came in, complete with banjo, clarinet, trumpet, and bass, going at it like something out of a Tom and Jerry Cartoon. The Dixie Knights.

I can't really thing of two things that go together less -- Ragtime and Italian cuisine?

Maybe a Mariachi band at a Chinese restaurant?

That wasn't the worst part though. During the second part, a Japanese guy with shoe polish on his face came trotting out in front of the band and started doing a little dance. I couldn't fucking believe it.

Actually, that didn't really happen, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it had.

Take a look at this advertisement from a Japanese company.

Here's a Chinese product:

Alas, progress has taken place:

Can you imagine something like this in the USA? In this day and age, it's almost inconceivable. A few people shat their pants here too, but for the most part the outrage came only from foreigners.

I'm not sure what my point is, but this sort of thing is what makes living abroad fun.

Racist! Making fun of other races is not fun!!

Well, that's not what I mean, assface. What I mean is that living abroad, you get curveballs thrown at you. That's was one of the reasons I enjoyed studying here so much -- at first, every day was a curveball. Every day on the street, something would happen that would make you say, "What the fuck?! Did that just happen!? Am I on Planet Earf?"

In Asia, the curveballs often come in the form of racial misunderstandings. Why? Because everyone here is "Asian." Particularly in Japan, there really isn't a lot of racial diversity, and what racial diversity happens to exist is generally not discussed (ethnic Koreans, etc). This is manifested in innocent comments and assumptions about the mental/physical capacities of, in particular, "black" people (I say "black" because it's not restricted to "African Americans") that would surprise even the more not-so-sensitive people in the states. Just having someone tell you, without the slightest bit of malice or judgement in their voice, that black people are mentally inferior, is something that most Americans don't really get to experience. It gives a person a thick skin -- a tolerance for innocent ignorance -- and a new perspective. It's tough sometimes, because after attempts to "clear things up" about human mental capacities, the common response is usually something along the lines of, "Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one." It's not worth getting worked up over. (Maybe I'm better suited to deal with it because I worked with white South Africans for 7 months. Yikes.)

The "what the fuck" factor is what has kept me coming back here and eventually decide to live here for a bit. Last night as I sat there eating a delicious dish of Spaghetti Bolognese watching a group of old Japanese guys play ragtime, I had yet another experience to add to my "what the fuck" repertoire, and I wasn't even drunk. The possibility of future additions to my "what the fuck" experiences makes me look forward to the next time I get to leave my room, head to the station, and hop on a one-way express into the heart of Adventurepan.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Who's a Special Guy?

I don't know if I'm a special guy, but I'm important.

I have proof.

It says so right here.

Toldja so.

That's my girlfriend in the background. She's hot.

Yeah, because I know when I look in the mirror and see something as stupid as that, I regard it as a sincere, personal message just to me.

I am special after all! I'm an Important Customer!!

In other news, Tom Cruise is completely nuts.

I wonder when enough is enough? Sometimes I think it's all just an act with these folks. That's what they do for a living, after all. They sit around smokin' weed and say to each other, "Hey guys, let's see what we can get away with." The reporters are in on it too. I think that short of dropping N bombs, these cretins can pretty much get away with anything. And even if they piss one group off, there's going to be another group there to embrace them. Why? Uuh, because they did a helluva job in Last Samurai or Braveheart or Pulp Fiction or whatever, I dunno. The Last Samurai sucked, by the way. You guys know that already though.

I highly recommend that you watch this animated classic. It inspired the following photoshoppery.

Silly Hats Only.

It'll make sense if you see it.

And I love photoshopping hats onto people. The original is here.

I sincerely apologize for not having anything more inspiring to write.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mind your Ps and Qs

As with some of my other posts, this will be two-fold.

The first reason I request that you mind your Ps and Qs, is because RUSSIANS DON'T FUCK AROUND.

They're not burdened by silly things like "human rights" and whatnot. Whenever there's a hostage situation in Russia, I think to myself, "This isn't going to turn out well." It doesn't matter if it involves children or concert goers or whatever, we all know that there's gonna be some serious carnage.

The reason I bring this up is because of a photograph I stumbled upon in a book. The book was written in Chinese, which I can't read, so what the text surrounding the photograph was talking about was left completely up to my imagination. I took a picture of the photograph with my cell phone camera, and now I will share it with you.

This picture is absolutely amazing to me. Let's notice some obvious things about it.

  • He's airborne

    The man is being kicked in the side so hard, that he is actually off of his feet. He's in the air. Whoever took this picture must have been a helluva photographer, because they got it at the instant of impact. The kickee hasn't even had a chance to double over in pain. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say the dude got a running start for the kick.

  • He's blindfolded

    Maybe as part of Russian hand-to-hand combat training, you have to put on a blindfold and let some guy run up to you and kick you.

  • The two guys kneeling

    There are two guys on either side who appear to be "taking a knee". I'll assume they're taking a knee because some guy just ran up to them and side-kicked them in the ribs.

    Maybe this was some sort of demonstration, because there's a crowd hanging out in the background.

    "And now, for our next feat of mindless cruelty, Dmitri is going to knock a blindfolded Chechen off of his feet."

    So back to minding your Ps and Qs.. That's a saying that I'm very fond of. Mind your pints and quarts. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, etc..

    Anyway, we all know what it's like to wish we had said something after the fact. "Wow, I wish I could have come up with that back then!"

    So last night, Drewski and I were watching one of our friends talk to easily the hottest Jamaican woman that I've ever seen. Drew was making some inappropriate comment and I was giggling, and she totally busted us out. She walked over with our friend and demanded to know what we were talking about. We played dumb, but she refused to leave. Finally, Drewski had enough and said, "You've been a real pain in the ass tonight," because she's a bit of a princess. And rude. She shot back with some blahblahblah comment and looked at me to see what I had to say, to which I responded in a very pleasant manner:

    You oughtta mind your Ps and Qs, because you won't be able to pull this shit off in 10 years.

    To my surprise, she laughed. It would have easily gone the other way, resulting in me getting smacked. I think it's really important to say stuff like that to uppity gorgeous women. Some people might say, "It's no wonder you don't score any hot chicks" or "That's not a good way to win hot chicks over" or whatever.

    Let's be honest. There's a reason I don't have models all up on my shit. Hot chicks like that don't dig on guys like me. They dig on guys like my friend, who is rich. I can't give them expensive bags and stuff, I can only give them rude comments, filthy language, and questionable behavior. That's what I have to offer. I know for a fact that there are hot chicks out there who find rude comments, filthy language, and questionable behavior charming and entertaining, so I'll stick to them.

    In the mean time, let's all mind our Ps and Qs, and do our part in taking some uppity bitches down a notch or two.
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Here's to them...

    Sir, we're supposedly the senior battalion in the Marine Corps. When are we going to get our chance?

    I smiled when I heard that question. I was inside the hangar bay of the USS Essex in Sasebo Japan, circa April 2003, and we had been standing there for about 2 hours. The "15 minutes prior" rule applied -- each level up the chain of command told us to be in the hangar bay 15 minutes earlier than when they had been told, and since the Commandant of the Marine Corps was aboard, we'd been waiting for a while.

    That question was asked by a Sergeant from 2/4. They were extended for another cycle on the 31st MEU, and had been away from home for almost a year. While we sat around and did nothing on ship and on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, our friends were storming through Iraq.

    As Iraq was -a- brewin', we were told that there was a "90% chance" that we would be going to the Philippines to take care of the problems that were going on in the southern islands. Abu Sayyef was causing problems, and it was time for the 1st of the 1st down at Tori and the 31st MEU to do their part in the GWOT. I remember my mom sending me a newspaper article stating that the 31st MEU was already underway, heading down to the PI to "get some," which I read sitting in our bay. The CO of 3rd Recon Battalion had orchestrated this whole thing where the USS Essex was to be a floating reconnaissance platform, and had four reconnaissance platoons aboard, which is insane. In his graduation speech during R&S, he told us in his psychotic manner, "If you guys head to the Philippines tomorrow, you'll be ready. I know you will. Why? Because you have no choice."

    The Brass was rotting in Okinawa while their colleagues were seeing combat in Iraq, and they wanted to play too.

    ...Long story short, Arroyo read about an ARG steaming towards her island, reminded the US Government that it was counter to their Constitution, and the whole jamboree got canc'd. The 31st MEU would get their chance (and then some) to play in Iraq, but that was after 2/4 was long gone. 2/4's story picked up about a year later, in a town called Fallujah.

    I've been reading a book called No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah. Reading it gives me butterflies. The author was able to capture how Marines act and the type of things that they will do and say in stressful situations. It puts a human face on the American kids in Iraq and what they have to deal with on a day to day basis, and how they react to situations that seem at times like a tragic, dark, and ghastly comedy. It shows the disparity between the thinking of the "intellectuals" who are armchair-quarterbacking the war from the states, and the people who are actually in the line of fire.

    I should mention that I didn't really do anything "for real" in the military. I went to probably three years worth of schools hosted by all four branches and did my share of training. The most interesting thing I did during the five years I was in was go on a trip to North Korea for a month on a remains recovery mission, which mainly consisted of being held prisoner in a hotel for 18 straight days during the rainy season, plagued by asshole North Korean military folks and unbearable propaganda music..

    Tongil Manse to you too, fuckers.

    This may be part of the reason that I find myself being affected by this book. Sure, I did a lot of preparing, but I never made the sacrifices those guys made and continue to make over there in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.. (I don't count my own time in Afghanistan as any sort of "sacrifice", because that was for the money.) Anyway, most of us know folks who never made it back from that part of the world. Time has passed and my memories of them have faded, but this book has made me think more and more of them. I never want to forget their names and faces, or what they gave up and left behind.

    My life (and this blog) is chock full of absurdity and grab-ass, but every so often I like to take a few moments and reflect upon what's important. Hours of reading this book and a heavy dose of Okinawan moonshine brought me back down to earth this weekend and made me appreciate how fortunate I am to have what I have, know the people I know, and be where I am.

    I think about what that Sergeant asked in the hangar bay that day, and I wonder if he realized what he was asking and what implications it carried. I wonder if he had any idea that he was foreshadowing a grim chapter that would open in their lives one year later, and how for many, it would be their last.

    Here's to their sacrifices -- individuals greater than myself.

    Thanks for reading.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    ...Do you smell something burning?


    I dunno man.. I think you might need a fire extinguisher.

    Why would I need that?


    That's right folks. I encountered another compulsive liar! That's liar liar #3 since I got here last year, and liar liar #2 that I encountered in the gym.

    As many of you know, I work on an Army base, so I go to the Army gym because it's really nice and really free. Anyway, while I was there today some kid next to me says, "Nice tattoo." He was wearing the Army PT uniform, and was giving me the "secret membership" look. Like, "mmmhmmm, yeah, I'm down, Oohrah..."

    "OK," I thought. I'll play. Here's how the conversation went. I will make brief pauses to explain why I immediately knew this guy was full of shit:

    Him: You were in the corps?
    Me: Yeah.
    Him: What was your MOS?
    Me: XXXX <- 4 digit number

    Him: Oh, OK.

    OK, asking someone's MOS (mission occupational specialty) is totally reasonable, and typically the first question one marine asks another. The fact that he didn't ask what my MOS meant or make a followup comment indicating that he knew what it was was bullshit-sign #1. No one ever knows what my MOS # means. It's not common, and if he knew what it was, he would have had the experience of working with like MOS'd folks, and would have said something. Continuing.

    Me: What was yours?
    Him: 0311. (Infantry)
    Me: (Smiling) Oh yeah? Cool. Where at?
    Him: With the 35th M.E.U. (he said it like "Em-Ee-You") at Camp Pendleton.

    This is the coup de grace. This is when I'm so surprised that I don't really know what to say because I'm so flabbergasted by this kid's audacity. First of all, Marines never say M E U, they say "myew", like it's a word. Second of all, there's no such thing as the 35th MEU, and even if it existed, it would be in Okinawa, not Pendleton. I MEF is in Pendleton, and all the MEUs start with 1 and end in an odd number. There's only one MEU that starts with 3, at III MEF, which is the 31st MEU in Okinawa, which I was a attached to for a year. Moving on, audacity turned into downright ....I dunno what. Maybe he suspected that I knew he was full of shit, because he almost started a pre-emptive counter-attack, which is something that only pathological liars can pull off.

    Him: How long were you in for?
    Me: 5 years, you?
    Him: (under his breath) 3 years. So why'd you get out? (Suspicious look)
    Me: It was time to do something else.
    Him: (Kinda cocky) Why didn't you try to get into recon?
    Me: I was.
    Him: (Continued suspicious look) Well why didn't you go for the SEALs?
    Me: (As I was walking away, cuz I was tired of this clownmaster) Hey man, just cuz someone's shit smells better don't mean it ain't shit.

    I know what you're thinking.

    You didn't say that!!

    "........just cuz someone's shit blahblahbla"

    Yeah. Yeah I did. I'm such a fag, I know, but I've always liked that saying, and why not say it to some douchebag who is a LIAR? Here's how he looked at me after I said it:

    Like I'd said something profound.

    What bothered me about his last statement is that he looked at me like I was some kind've quitter for getting out. Are you shitting me? Someone who is 100% lying to me is being condescending. Telling me that he was with the "35th M E U" is like telling someone who spent a couple years in the 101st that they were in the "17th Airborne down in Benning." It's absurd. I know why he brought up "recon," too. He was going for the "recon setup". That's where he tells me how he was "in recon," because compulsive liar wannabe-Marines are always either snipers or in recon. ALWAYS. Kind've like how Ft Benning cabbies are always former Rangers or SF.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Slade Smiley has nothing on these people. What did I do to deserve this shit? People coming up to me and telling me lies for no fucking reason? I don't know them. I've never seen them before. I don't work with them. I have no influence on their lives. Yet they come up to me while I'm minding my own business at the gym or waiting for a train and tell me lies.

    So I've made a decision.

    I'm gonna start calling motherfuckers out.

    I know you're probably wondering why I haven't been. Why I didn't say "hey faggot, there's no such officer program like that in the USMC, and I know you weren't in a STA platoon" or "Newsflash jackweed, the 35th MEU, not M.E.U., doesn't exist. You might wanna inform your roommate, the toothfairy."

    The reason is simple: I've been too surprised to say anything, and/or I don't really give a shit about what they're saying. They seem so excited about pretending to have been in the Marines and meeting up with a pseudo-fellow Teufelhunden, and I don't have the heart to snap them back to reality. I mean, we all know that Marine Corps Basic Training consists of scaling cliffs, navigating deadly obstacle courses with spinning blades, and slaying Lava Beasts.....and no one can top USMC uniforms for lookin' sharp.. But still... I'm through with these folks.

    So my message to these active duty military compulsive liars will be the following:

    Dude, you're in the Army. Be proud of what you're doing. I know you're not doing anything "Hooah" out here in Japan right now, but as long as you take pride in your work and do it to the best of your abilities, no one will ever fault you. Again, you have a lot to be proud of.

    ...but the bottom line is, your fucking pants are on fire. Don't ever talk to me again or I'll tell your 1st Sgt what you're doing.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Vatos Locos For....hiiire?

    Being an expat (pseudo-expat), I feel sensitive to immigration issues. While I do have a little bit of a "special" status here in Japan (as far as immigration goes), I have been Joe Blow the Gaijin Man out on the local economy and have had to play the immigration game on more occasions than I wanted to.

    ......but the point is, I did. If you live in any country for a while, you're going to be able to find the tricks, loopholes, and shortcuts in the immigration system, but if you are serious about staying in a country, is it really worth it? If I had violated any immigration laws and gotten nailed for it, I wouldn't have the job that I have now, or any job in Japan for that matter. When I enter the country I accept those rules, whatever they are, and also accept responsibility for what may happen to me if I violate them.

    So I've kinda been following the whole immigration thing back in the US of A, and I've been impressed at what an emotional issue it's become. I've also gotten a huge kick out of some of the slogans and "statistics" (TUOQ!!) being thrown around. Like the following:

  • No person is illegal!!

    No one is arguing that a "person" is illegal. Their status here may be illegal, making them an "illegal immigrant," or their actions may be illegal. People being here legally would obviate such silly displays of semantic goofiness.

  • Immigrants are responsible for people of lower incomes, particularly high school dropouts, having an 8% lower salary

    I heard this on the news this morning and I felt like someone slapped me in the face. Hold the phones. Back up. That's like saying, "lack of laundry facilities resulted in people stinking more, particularly those who habitually shit their pants." I think that's all I need to say on that.

  • Building a wall on the border is somehow like the Berlin Wall

    Ugh, I despise cheap rhetoric. Why stop there? "Building a wall is like turning Mexico into a nazi death camp!" People like throwing nazi stuff around so much, so I thought I'd help them out. "A wall on the border makes us feel like we're in Auchwitz!" How can you protest a wall? If you're here legally, why do you care? Here's a scenario: Your next door neighbors insist on coming over and hanging out on your lawn even though you tell them not to. You put up a fence. They complain about the fence. What would you say to them? Probably something along the lines of "go fuck yourself."

    Like most issues (particularly emotional ones), I'm trying to keep an open mind on this one. I think immigrant workers are incredibly important and let us buy stuff on the cheap, but at the same time, human exploitation, however willing the exploitees may be, is a horrible thing. There are a lot of jobs that Americans feel they are, for some reason, above doing, and would rather be on welfare. If that's the case, fuck 'em. You don't wanna work? Fuck you. Someone else will. And if that's the case, I'll pay a couple dollars more for household items and food if it means raising the wages and/or providing health insurance for immigrant workers.

    I also think the guest worker deal is an awesome idea, assuming it's not tailored for just Mexicans. If they did it right, and made it kind've like the holiday working visa, it could potentially open up opportuniteis for Americans to work abroad as well. The international community has a lot to say about Americans not being very well internationally traveled, but they can kiss my ass for a couple reasons:

    1) America is REALLY big
    My country is as big as your continent, and the state I grew up in (Colorado) is bigger than your country. So I don't wanna hear it. Just because you're Spanish or whatever and have been to Germany, France, and Portugal, don't sit there and shit on Americans because they "don't even have a passport."

    2) The USA doesn't offer holiday working visas
    Most Americans don't know what a holiday working visa is because the option isn't available to them like it is in Canada, Australia, the UK, and New Zealand (and like every other European country). Basically, if you are under the age of 30 and have some money in the bank, you can get this special visa, travel abroad, and work legally. A lot of people get them in their early 20s, fuck around in Japan teaching English or working in bars, then go home. Or they change it to a regular working visa (if they're sponsored by a company, which is easy) and stay. In any case, since the USA doesn't allow anyone else to do it, we can't do it anywhere else due to reciprocal immigration laws. We can typically only travel on a tourist visa, which is usually 3-6 months, during which time you're not allowed to work. (I believe the penalty for working illegally in Japan on a tourist visa is getting kicked out and not being able to come back for 5 years.)

    If the USA allowed "guest workers" and treated it like a holiday working visa, maybe younger Americans would have more opportunities to travel abroad via reciprocal immigration laws, and experience all there is to experience working and living abroad. While I'm not particularly concerned with foreign opinion on the travel habits of Americans, anything to get pompous assholes to shut their yaps works for me. Another cool thing that would happen is that it would give Americans who hate America the opportunity to go elsewhere and work. They could go to a 3rd world nation, live on the local economy, and return to the USA with a better formed opinion of the world and a greater appreciation of what they have. If they still hate the USA so badly, they could stay abroad and open up a space for someone a little more appreciative. If the USA is such an oppressive regime, people could go work in Mexico or Cambodia to get a new view on things.

    More importantly, if it were easier for other 3rd worlders to get in, I think it'd be funny to see a bunch of Mexicans sitting around complaining about Burmese immigrants or whoever stealing their jobs.

    So that's the size of it, I guess. I'm curious to see if certain Corys have a different spin on this. Either way, I think that opening more opportunities for immigrants to come to the states legally and protecting them from exploitation is great, but it's only reasonable to expect them to behave according to the laws of the land. There are plenty of people who have contributed to society and made the country a better place, but they too are not above to law. If they break the rules, they pay. Expecting a mulligan from immigration is absurd -- I wouldn't expect one here, and I wouldn't expect the USA to give one to someone who illegally entered the country either. Futhermore, it's a slap in the face to people who have taken the necessary steps to do it the right way. If I've been totally unreasonable in anything I've said, please tell me because I want to hear good arguments.
  • Sunday, April 02, 2006


    Well, I think we've all learned some very important lessons.

    I guess I'll echo what Jinxy said....

    Sorry about all the mean things I said to you, and uuuuuh if it's true I take it all back.

    ...But mind your ps and qs!!! [waving finger] We'll be watching!!! People have short memories, so we'll see how this one goes.

    This whole ordeal kind've makes me wonder if any government contractors are offering SERE training, and if they are, if media companies / NGOs would even bother using their services. A week of SERE training is worth its weight in gold, and it would be a small price to pay either way.

    Here's my favorite quote though:
    In the statement, Carroll also disavowed an interview she gave to the party shortly after her release. She said the party had promised her the interview would not be aired "and broke their word."

    Wow, haven't learned much about the people over there have you?