Thursday, July 27, 2006

I've got the Coprolalia Blues..........

Two things............

First off, this morning while I was enjoying some RAH on the train, I was jerked back into this where and when by someone shrieking obscenities at the top of their lungs.

"SCORE!", thought I. "Tourette syndrome is my most favorite mental disorder!!!"

I even know about this site!

So I wiki'd it this morning to make sure I had the spelling and nomenclature correct, and I discovered that this man may actually just have something called Coprolalia. This seemed like a weird word, because "coprophagia" refers to consuming feces. I couldn't help but thinking, "What's going on with the copro?", but as doctors are prone to do, they simply took a simple concept and put it into Latin to make it sound smart and incomprehensible to Joes like me. Coprolalia literally means "shit talking". Maybe they should have made it Latin for "shit screaming," because this guy was off the chain. The fact that he was [obviously] shouting obscenities in Japanese on a dead-quiet train made it all the more humorous to me, and like any mature adult in the same situation I got a case of uncontrollable giggles.

What an amazingly debilitating disorder to have, especially in Japan, where serenity, harmony, and smooth social interactions are paramount. Especially the Tourette-Coprolalia combo, which is as follows (per wiki):

In Tourette syndrome, compulsive swearing can be uncontrollable and undesired by the person uttering the phrases. Involuntary outbursts, such as racial or ethnic slurs in the company of those most offended by such remarks, can be particularly embarrassing. The phrases uttered by a person with coprolalia do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of the person.

Being a big fan of Tourette's work, I knew this, so I tried to come into the man's line of vision to see if I would receive a verbal salvo of ethnic and/or racial epithets, but my efforts were in vain. I've seen the guy on the train before (I just thought he was insane), and he always stands right next to the door and stares at the ground. I'm sure he's aware of the effect is has on other people, so he tries to remain as low key as possible.. I mean, as low key as one can remain while shrieking obscenities in public.

Secondly and more importantly, I was promoted to blue-belt last night. I hadn't felt a sense of accomplishment like that in a long time, and it really reminded me of how I felt when I picked up Corporal in the USMC. Do I deserve it? Am I ready? Will I be a disappointment? I echoed my concerns to my friend, a purple belt, and he kind've brushed it off. The owner/head instructor is a Rickson blackbelt, and he's the one who gave it to me. I figure he knows if I'm ready or not. This school is pretty well known for holding on to belts for a long time, so the standards are pretty high anyway, which gives me an even bigger sense of accomplishment. If I train 3 or 4 times a week for the next 3 or 4 years, hopefully I'll be ready for purple. Another similarity it had with being promoted in the Marines is that I endured some hazing. Everyone got a whack at me with their belts. I was actually quite moved and humbled by this display of wanton torture, because he doesn't do it for everyone. It's a good feeling to know that I give off that, "it's OK to brutalize me in the in the name of tradition and manliness" vibe. I experienced this same thing when a bunch of my friends kicked the crap out of me when I picked up Corporal, when I was thrown in the ocean after promotion to Sergeant, and when people were hitting me in the chest all day after I got my gold wings.

In any case, I guess I can't fuck around anymore and play the "beginner" role at the academy...

I'm excited though, and I'm looking forward to continue training. Hopefully my fear of failure and looking stupid will continue to drive me to improve myself and be better at what I do, even if I get bruised up a little along the way.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Yo-ho-ho and a Bottle of Olive Oil


What's up?


Ok. What do you want?

I have a question.


What happens to milk when it expires?

I dunno, why?

Well, I have another question.

Fine, get on with it already. I'm tired of your stupid games.

Where do Japanese women go when they, eeeeeh, how you say, pass their "sell by date"?

I dunno, where?

They come here. To my building. All of them. And work. And wear crazy shit.

That's right everyone, my building is full of older Japanese women who ought not be dressing like they do for a number of reasons, chiefly because they're not 23 years old.

You see, it's a matter of positive reinforcement. I'm not psychology major, but I certainly know what negative reinforcement is. Here's an example:

"Hey Yuriko. If you wear that ridiculous outfit one more time, make sure to bring a flame suit 'cuz you're gonna get launched."


"Hey Miki, when you wear those clothes, you look like a whore. An ugly one. An old, ugly whore. Icks-nay on the ore-hay ear-gay. Ok?"

That would never happen though. Never ever. You can't just run around telling people you're going to launch them or that they look like whores. The world doesn't work like that, and I understand that. However, the opposite is what is occurring. Guys who are older than they are, married, and probably haven't spoken with their wives for some years, treat these women like they're princesses. Like they're hot shit. The result is that we have these older women dressing inappropriately and acting snooty. That's all I'm trying to say. I walk round my building sometimes, mouth agape, and not in a good way. I say things to my co-workers like, "Wow, if I were their supervisor, I'd put my foot in their ass," but they look at me with an over-exaggerated look of patience and understanding and say, "Oh, but it doesn't work like that. They'll simply pull out the regulations and do some word-smithing."

God bless unions. An organization that is held captive by its employees has a bright future. Just ask the [former] workers of the steel belt, I guess.

OK, that aside, I want everyone to know that I did some cultured shit this weekend. Yeah, this knuckle dragger went to the Louvre exhibit in Ueno.

I can't even spell "exhibit". I spelled it "exihbit" before I spell checked it, that's how much of an Australopithecus I am. I didn't know what to expect, maybe some homo-eroticism, which is exactly what I got, but in a good way. How is that you ask? Well, it was a Greek statue exhibit!! I actually felt a little bit smart, being able to provide some background on a lot of the statues. While I'm not exactly a Greek historian, I know enough to sound mildly informed to those less informed than myself, which is really the limit of any and all ambition that I possess anyway. Everyone's a winner! Unfortunately, there were no descriptions written in English, just French and Japanese. Since I couldn't be bothered / lack the ability to read either of them, instead I silently (or maybe I was doing it aloud?) cursed the French for being such jerks. I also cursed them for hoarding so many Greek artifacts. Who do they think they are, hoarding artifacts and not writing descriptions in English? The nerve. I also cursed the Japanese people at the exhibit for behaving as if they were at a zoo. Listening to people yammer and children scream kind've takes away from some of the amazing shit they had there, like this:

It's Soh-crates!!!!!!!

Play-doh was there too!

And don't forget about this crazy son of a bitch:

Looks nothing like Colin Farrel.

Just as gay though.

As if my weekend weren't badass enough, I saw the Pirates of the Carribean movie yesterday, and let me tell you, I was thoroughly entertained. If Maximus had been there in the theatre shouting, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!" I would have shouted back with a resounding, "I HEREBY RESPOND WITH AN UNEQUIVOCAL 'YES!!!' I AM, INDEED, ENTERTAINED!" Even the Japanese people in the movie theatre were reacting. That was amazing. Usually I'm the only one hootin' and hollerin' like a jackass in the theatre. Like in Kill Bill, every time someone got beheaded or after that fight scene in the restaurant when everyone was staggering around moaning, I was the only one cackling in the whole theatre. In any case, I think a long lost genre of movie has been resurrected here, and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm not sure what the critics are saying about it, but they can blow it out their asses, because I finally felt I got my yenny's worth.

That's all I got here. For those of you wondering what old whores, Greeks, and piracy have in common, well, if you don't understand it, there's no use in 'splainin' it to yah.

Exchange of the Week:
Coworker: I can't stand her. She slept her way to the top.

Me: That's kind've fucked up. Doesn't she seem a little old?

Coworker: No, I mean she took frequent naps in the office and got promoted.

Me: Wow...


No whoreish Japanese 40-somethings were harmed in the making of this blog. Any similarity in name or discription is strictly coincidental. Furthermore, 90% of what is written above is complete bullshit and nonsense. so don't get all froggy on me, w3rd?

Friday, July 07, 2006

...In the nick of time...

Mr Brando was curious about my take on the whole North Korea thing, and the launching of the Taepodong-2 missiles, aka the Badonkadonk-2 missiles, per Mr Travis.

I used to always say that I was safe from being recalled into the Marines so long as Uncle Kim didn't do anything froggy. I think it's kinda cool that he decided to get froggy the month after I was released from my 8 year obligation to the Marines. I thank you for your restraint, Comrade Kim.

So what the hell do I know about North Korea?

Gather around, little ones, and I'll tell you a little story. This is a little long, so grab a drink and stay a while.

When I was in the Marines, I went over to North Korea on a remains recovery mission. There's an organization in Hawaii called CILHI (Central Investigative Labs, Hawaii) that goes all over the world digging up the bones of American servicemembers and repatriating them. It's considered a humanitarian mission, and when I was in Hawaii I heard they were doing interviews in Korean so I jumped up in there and got selected. I went to a Korean refresher course in Honolulu for a month, and I was on my way for the month of August, 2001.

Here's a shot of the airport I snapped off when we landed.

We kind've had to be shadey about taking photographs. We'd always ask, "Can we take a picture?" and more often then not they'd say "no" which I took to mean as "This is probably a good picture to take" and I'd snap one off. I brought disposable cameras 'cuz I wasn't quite into the digital age by then, but that was a good thing because they'd often grab people's digital cameras and delete everything off of them. People used to freak out all the time.

Anyway, my job up there was an interpretter, which was really hard and somewhat unreasonable because I hadn't really spent any time in South Korea where I could be emmersed in the language. I tried my best, though, but this is what would typically happen:

This picture was taken at the Kim Il Song Friendship Museum. Basically, they took all the gifts bestowed upon The Great Leader and put them in a museum. Most of them were from African nations and crazy Arab states. The two gifts from the USA were from Ted Turner and Reverend Fallwell. Ted Turner gave him a CNN Ashtray, which was prominently displayed. All the other shit was gaudy stuff that would be found in Saddam's palace. Anyway, in the picture above, the dude next to me (a Lt Col) was telling me about how one could live up there in the mountains forever, enjoying the clean air. It took me a few times to figure out what the fuck he was saying, because he was really gruff. He was everything one would expect from a North Korean career soldier. Small, wirey, and mean. One other interesting thing is that most of the military guys had jailhouse-like tats on their forearms and on the webbing of their hands. This should make them easily identifyable when the regime collapses. The first conversation I had with this guy was in the car from the airport. I was assigned to be an interpretter for one of the Anthropologists, who coincidentally went to the same university as I did. I asked the North Korean dude if he'd ever been to China, and his response was simple:

"I love North Korea. Why would I ever go to China? I'll never leave my country."

OK. A simple yes or no would suffice. I didn't say that though.

So, back to what we were doing there. In theory, I was to talk to local farmers who supposedly found bones, they'd be dug up by the mortuary affairs guys who made up most of our party, and we'd repatriate them. All in all, we brought back 9 bodies, which isn't a bad score. The thing is, the Anthropologists knew that the bones had most likely been planted. Why? Because the North Koreans got a HUGE amount of money from the US government to allow us to go there. In either case, we were there during the rainy season, and we couldn't go to the base camp to look for remains until the end of the month. We spent 18 days in a hotel in Chongchon, which is like 100 miles north of Pyongyang. When we were in the hotel, we we're permitted to leave and they played stupid little games with us. For instance, they agreed to do our laundry, but refused to wash our underwear. Also, they accused us of purposefully putting out a large amount of clothing to overwhelm the staff, so they decided that they would only do laundry every other day. Each day, our officers and their officers would have a meeting (which I dubbed the "Summit Talks") where the North Koreans would voice their grievances and demand money and Coca-Cola. (I'm not joking.)

So, what was there to do in a hotel where we couldn't leave and it was hot as hell and would have torrential downpours every other day? Here's what my routine was:

  • Wake up at 7
  • Go eat breakfast
  • Play volleyball until 10:30 or so if it wasn't raining
  • Eat lunch at noon
  • Sleep until 4:30
  • Eat dinner
  • Play spades and get roaring drunk at one of the two dry bars in the hotel and interpret as our CO hit on the girls that worked there. The bargirls used to try and interrogate me while I was drunk. They'd ask me what my job was and when I became an officer, and I'd say, "Im an admin guy. And I'm just a private, so stop asking." They couldn't believe that enlisted and officers would hang out and drink. I had to be careful because we were under strict orders not to talk about politics, freedom, etc, but most of the Army guys didn't really seem to give a shit about that. A lot of times I'd sit there and make shit up on both sides of the conversation because I didn't feel like getting kicked out of the country or imprisoned.

    Either way, they decided that we were purposefully staying up late to tire out the bar girls, so they closed the bars at midnight.

    Finally the rains subsided, and we got to go to the base camp. It was a lot more relaxed there, as the had generators and a TV so we could watch all the movies we bought in China before we went up North. They had roving armed guards there "for our protection" and they had a special system for security:

    First whistle blast = warning
    Second whistle blast = super warning
    Third whistle blast = you're gonna take a 7.62 in the gizzard

    Their secondary system of security were strings connected to coke cans lining our camp, so if we hit the string the coke cans would make noise. Again, I'm not joking.

    I liked going out to the dig sites. The air was crystal clear, and I got to see first hand what agriculture was like at the turn of the century. We're talking ox-drawn ploughs. Here's a picture of the land, which they said I wasn't allowed to take a picture of for some reason:

    One time I was pulled aside, and the North Koreans we were with were acting really weird. They kept saying, "Ok, we need you to be really respectful, OK? Like bow and stuff. Be polite." I didn't know what the hell they were talking about. They just kept saying that. Finally, they bring this super old lady over. They all stood there staring at the ground and wringing their hands, and told her to start talking.

    The old lady began talking about how one day she was plowing her fields and she came upon some bones. At first, she thought they were some pig bones, but then, by George, she realized they were humans. Then she started freaking out. THEY'RE AMERICAN BONES! AMERICAN BASTARDS! FILTHY AMERICAN BASTARD BONES! AMERICANS KILLED MY HUSBAND AND BEAT ME UP! AMERICAN SONS OF BITCHES!

    Then they'd lead her around a little hill, calm her down, and bring her back. This happened about 4 times.

    The KPA (Korean People's Army) folks were embarrassed and apparently this happened a lot. The civilians were mad at them for bringing us there. How could they actually allow murderous Americans on North Korean soil?

    Here's the thing about North Korea that became abundantly clear at that moment and throughout the trip. They all wear little "party pins". If you see them on TV, they all have a little pin on the left side of their chest with either Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Song, or both on them. It's exactly as the media portrays -- it's more like a cult than a government. They don't have access to the outside world at all. Briefing them on world events would probably be like telling a group of Americans, "Hey, you guys know that George Washington wasn't the first President, right? And the Civil War was a fabrication." It's inconceivable to them.

    I used to get irritated when people would say, "If we're going into Iraq, what about North Korea?!?!" Invading North Korea would be a bloodbath the likes of which haven't been seen since Americans arrived in Okinawa in WWII when the Imperial Japanese told Okinawans that they'd better fight or commit suicide, cuz the Americans would rape them, torture them, eat them, etc..

    At the end of the trip, we were in Pyongyang for three days and a lot of the guys in our party had had enough of North Koreans being pains in the ass, so they started making fun of them a little bit. Asking them questions the same way an atheist might ask a Christian questions about falacies in the bible. This didn't sit well with me, and I'd ask them to stop. After all, we were guests in their country, and I thought it was a little bit rude. Obviously I didn't agree with North Korean propaganda, but come on. This is deep stuff here, and the North Koreans have, in the past, shown a willingness to do some crazy shit, just ask Captain Boniface, an American soldier who was killed with an axe (along with a Lieutenant) in the mid-70s over some overgrown trees on the DMZ, or the crew of the USS Pueblo. We drove by the USS Pueblo, and I took a picture of it. It's that little boat moored there past the bridge. The building in the background in the distance was our hotel, which I'll get to later.

    Some of our guys insisted on calling it a "fishing boat," which enraged the KPA guys. To them, it was a high-tech US spy boat that they captured through superior military prowess.

    Anyway, in Pyongyang we stayed at a Chinese hotel called the Yang-gak-do. There was a basement with Chinese restaurants and a nightclub, where I met the Consul to Libya named Mohammed. He proclaimed grandly, "BEFORE, WE ARE ENEMIES, BUT TONIGHT, WE ARE FRIENDS!" and began dancing around on the dancefloor like a complete fucking moron. I can do a pretty good impression of it. I told our 18 Delta who was with us, "Hey man, that's the Lybian consul," to which he replied, "Yeah, he smells like a horse." I got a big kick out of that.

    Here's the view from my window.

    That pyramid thing in the background is supposed to be a great big hotel, but as you can see it's unfinished. They kinda ran out of money in the middle of it's construction.

    During our stay in Pyongyang, we got to see some of the tourist sites. Here's the famous Juche Tower:

    The flame is lit up at night, but they turn it off around 10pm because they don't have any electricity.

    Here I am in the busy streets of downtown Pyongyang, in front of the Triumph Arch:

    When we got there, they had just unveiled another enormous monument called the Reunification Tower:

    I'm proud to say that I'm the first white guy to touch it. A couple of us sprinted towards it so we could make the claim, which of course completely freaked out the KPA guys. There was a guest book. If you go there, turn to the front, and you'll see names like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Tracey Lourdes signed it. We had some funny guys with us.

    I hope that the above story sheds some light on how ridiculous it is up there. When people ask what North Koreans are like, I usually just give them the short answer:

    "They're a bunch of assholes."

    When people ask me to describe the country, the best thing I can come up with is this:

    "It's like a really bad 70s movie about a communist country."

    Right now, North Korea is for some reason launching missiles into the Sea of Japan. From what I know about the country and based upon my stay there, it's hard to take it seriously. The towns we drove through were in shambles. People aren't doing anything, and there isn't anything to eat. Kim Jong Il is the single biggest consumer of Hennessey in the world. He buys lavish cars and has a harem of Russian women. His son was intercepted in Japan using a Dominican Republic Passport a few years back. When asked why he was trying to get into the country, he responded, "I want to go to Disney Land."

    I wish they wouldn't give the North Koreans so much press. While there is a threat, it's hard for me to think that a country with a malnourished, undertained, ill equipped military with absolutely no experience would pose a huge threat to our now seasoned military. It seems to me that what they want is attention. I guess it's OK to give them a little attention, placate them with some food so Kim Jong Il and his obese son can stuff their faces and keep their harem happy. I don't know enough about the situation to really know what's going to happen or to make a prediction on the future, but I hope that if the regime does collapse, there is a plan in place to keep the North Korean populace from getting the dogshit exploited out of them and allow them at least a semi-smooth transition into 2006.

    That's my story from August 2001. I hope you enjoyed it!
  • Monday, July 03, 2006

    ...And when I get that feelin'...

    I got...Technico-philia... Technico..pheeelia baaaby..

    Mmmmmhmmmm, you guessed right. I got a new frackin' phone.

    I like saying "frackin'", cuz that's what they say on Battlestar Galactica. I don't say it in real life though, cuz that'd be dumb.

    I bet they have some pretty badass frackin' cellies aboard the Galactica too.

    Anyway, the reason I got a new phone was 'cuz I didn't get good enough signal where I live. I got tired of having to stand by the window to talk and to hold the phone up above my head to send a bloody email message. You see, in Japan, the cellphone is a social lifeline. More so than in the USA, I think, though I haven't been "social" in the USA for a long time so I could be off. In either case, when I was a student here in 96/97, beepers were the big thing (texting from payphones to beepers), and when I got to Okinawa I was introduced to the wonderful world of cell texting. It's much faster than in the USA, and the phones are super smart -- smarter than is possible with English because of the way the languages are (in my opinion) so you can send shit out really fast. When I was bored in Okinawa during the work day (which as pretty much all the time) I would send out 4 or 5 emails at the same time, and have a bunch of conversations at the same time to keep myself occupied.


    I didn't switch my service off when I went back to Hawaii (cuz I knew I was coming back to Japan) so I kept my AU (that's a company name) phone, then the fuckers turned it off without telling me because they kept getting my bill returned (because it was being sent to Okinawa, where I wasn't.) So that was the end of my AU stint.

    I got here and signed up with Vodafone because they were the ones that could hook me up the fastest. I wasn't really into the idea because so few people use it, but whatever, I needed my social lifeline back. Here's the phone I got:

    Read a little about it here.

    I didn't really like the way it looked, i,e. like a freaking iPod, and everyone knows I refuse to buy an iPod.


    Because someone has mean......

    Anyway, I'll admit she served me well for quite a while, until I saw someone with this one, and I decided I had to have it:

    I mean, for chrissakes, just look at it! It looks like some kinda spaceship! It's water proof and a might robust, just in case I'm caught up in a tsunami and find myself atop a mighty palm tree. It has a 2.1 megapixel camera so I can take pictures of the aforementioned mighty palm tree for proof when all my friends tell me I'm full of shit. After I de-tree, it has a built-in compass so I can find my way back!! You can read more about it here.

    It's a little bit bigger than my other phone, but fuck vodafone. Not many people have vodafone, so you can't send the little cartoons and shit in the mail to each other, which makes the whole mailing experience that much more delightful when you're on a crowded train taking pictures up womens' skirts. Or if you're just standing there. Whichever. If you're into that kinda stuff I mean.

    That's about it really. That's all I have to write about. Or at least all I care to share with you at the moment. I have a pretty good quote from this weekend, after I almost crash landed all over a McDonalds foyer:

    Unko shisugi.

    That means, "You crap too much."

    Guilty as charged, my dear, guilty as charged.

    ...and here's a clip for y'all bitch ass ninjas.