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New quick way to find music – google [whatever you’re looking for]. Someone might have put it on YouSendIt or something for their friends list recently, and it’s faster than fighting with iTunes/Yahoo/Zune/Amazon.

Though maybe this only works if you’re looking for nerd music. So far I’ve only tried it with video game remixes and… uhhh… maybe something from the Due South soundtrack shut up sibling.

I wonder why I consider searching people’s LiveJournals for video game soundtrack remixes to be completely normal.

Ninja no seikatsu wa taihen desu ne.

Ninja no seikatsu wa taihen desu ne. published on

Today, Kurogane-sensei came in, produced a ninja costume from the 100-yen-store, and ordered Great-Artist-san to put it on. After he had obeyed, and she observed approvingly, that he “looked just like a real ninja,” she put on a movie called Nin x Nin: Ninja Hattori-Kun. This movie appears to be about a simple country ninja who goes to the big city to fight crime, moving into the bedroom of a deeply unimpressed little boy because he doesn’t understand about rent. He also talks to a ninja poodle that can walk on its hind legs.

Kurogane-sensei proceeded to make extremely earnest commentary about what the movie was teaching us about the life of the ninja, occasionally asking questions:

Ninja Hattori-kun is hanging from the ceiling above the little boy’s bed while his oblivious mother scolds him for sleeping late.

“Ninja can climb walls. This is because they train very hard. Have you done that sort of training, Z-san?”

“Yes. It was hard!”

“Oh, of course. Ninja training has to be hard.”

Ninja Hattori-kun is fighting a guy in a mask in the forest while making doofy faces.

“The life of a ninja is a hard one. The ninja are constantly doing battle. This ninja is fighting a tengu. You will notice that he can run much faster than a normal person.”

Ninja Hattori-kun climbs a phone pole to avoid a presumably-malevolent delivery man, and for some reason comes back down without his clothes.

“Ninja are very good at hiding – they’re spies, so they have to be. What else are ninja good at? Do we know?”

“…They can jump really high.”

“Yes, they practice jumping a lot.”

She was completely deadpan through this whole thing. I kind of wonder if some of the teachers here get enough sleep.

Get it together, America.

Get it together, America. published on

Because I am lazy, tonight’s dinner included two convenience store items – fried meat on a stick (one stick of chicken, one of pork, one of some kind of white fish), and a cream pastry thing. The meat was about $3, and the pastry $1.

You know that whole thing about how Americans eat so much junk convenience food because it’s cheaper than healthy stuff? The other tragedy there is that all that junk convenience food we’re eating is so substandard. That pastry was the kind you’d pay $5.95 for at a Starbucks, and the meat, while not great (I’m not sure which was the pork and which was the chicken), was at least a couple levels better than the sort of fried chicken you get at convenience stores in the US.

Don’t even get me started on the pudding cups. Japan pushes the limits on pudding cup technology. There’s little tiramisus. Some of the mousses have sprigs of mint.


Phenomena published on

Getting through half a textbook in a-month-and-a-half makes me feel all productive. (even though I already technically already studied most of the stuff in that book…) I am slightly grumpy about the fact that this means I just spent another $50 on textbooks. Though that is two whole books, which is pretty good compared to American textbooks.

Apparently Sanrio’s licensing fees are generally too high to allow for the Daiso to sell Hello Kitty merchandise. NOT THAT I’M BUYING ANY OF elongated_tito‘s PRESENTS AT THE 100-YEN STORE OR ANYTHING.

Yesterday, when I walked out of Zigzag (school-owned restaurant/bar/thing where I buy lunch when I’m too lazy to pack something) with the fried-chicken-and-soy-sauce-and-rice-thing they had that day, a bunch of grade-school kids in their little yellow crossing-the-street-safely helmets were marching through the parking lot. A little boy saw that I was holding a plate, ran over to look, and, said, “Wow!” Then, to make sure that everyone in the vicinity understood his feelings on the subject, he said it again, louder: “Wow!

He was completely correct. Those people are very good at frying meat.

I wonder if maybe that small Japanese children feel less reticent about observing me and making commentary than they do about the larger, more intimidating-looking-type foreigners. A couple weeks ago in the grocery store, I heard a girl pointing out to her mother that I was “just looking at the tofu.” She was also completely correct – I was, in fact, just looking at the tofu. Possibly for upwards of a minute. I was a little tired.

Today Z-san (Swedish) got very excited about American Christianity: “They have these, these really big churches, that are like stadiums, and there’s a big movie screen in the back, and the preacher gets up in front of the movie screen and is projected so he’s huge, and he says, “…sigh. Oh, Jesus.””

He then put his hand over his heart and swooned. He was also very pleased by the existence of faith healing.

Remember, Dad – no matter how weird you think Japan is, the rest of the world thinks the US is even weirder.

(Great-Artist-san, who thought I was Catholic because I knew when All Saint’s Day was, got very nervous about this turn of conversation because he thought I would get offended and probably shoot someone with my concealed American Gun. I assured him that I, too, thought American Christians were kind of weird. He also got annoyed with Kuma-san (Swedish) for saying bad stuff about Satanists, and patiently explained the precepts of Satanism to him. For once in my life, I was not the only person in the room defending the Satanists.)

The Japanese say “in the black” (kuroji) and “in the red” (akaji), which mean basically the same things they do in English. However, apparently, in French a person-or-group who is “in the black” is cheating on their income taxes. This caused Heteronormativity-san (Belgian) a good deal of cultural shock when we did an exercise in which a “typical” girl told her “typical” mother that she didn’t care if her husband was poor if he had a sense of humor, and her mother counseled her to marry a man who was kuroji. I imagine that, until I re-explained it to him, Heteronormativity-san for a few moments reconsidered his deeply subtle assault on Japan’s female population.

I am going to Ise on Sunday. I will try not to, you know, pollute it. If I can even pollute Ise. If it’s Japan’s holiest site, do I even really have the necessary power to pollute it? I’m not a very high-level American, I don’t even have a van. Well, I’ll wash my hair Saturday night anyway, just to be careful.

The Calling, by Okano Reiko

The Calling, by Okano Reiko published on 3 Comments on The Calling, by Okano Reiko

Aka, the manga version of Patricia McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, the first volume of which I NOW OWN.

And it is awesome. Seriously.

Okano Reiko’s art is insanely pretty. Her linework is all kind of crooked and uneven and organic. At the beginning, she draws Sybel and the crystal dome with one style of shading, and everyone/everywhere else with another, so that when Tam comes into the dome he doesn’t look like he’s part of the same picture, and doesn’t seem to be touching her even when he technically is. And the beasts (particularly Gules and Cyrin) look like they came off some medieval coat of arms containing woodwoses and suchlike, but they’re not flat-looking, just awesome – and it’s great.

I need to find a scanner for this thing immediately so I can show the entire internet how amazing it is. This is seriously an optimal book-to-comic translation.

The book’s production values are really good, too – there are some really nice color pages, and lots of those little frippy decorative manga things, like both the slipcover and the inner cover being slightly pearlescent (not actually obnoxious in this case!), and one of those deals with a translucent sheet of patterned paper over a really dark picture, which I do not know the technical term for.

I’ve been very slowly reading it (and wishing I’d brought the actual book with me) for the past couple hours. In the first seventeen pages, Sybel calls for the Liralen, loses her concentration when Coren starts yelling at the gate, and gives Ter Falcon some extremely specific instructions regarding what should be done to Coren. Ter, having apparently been put in charge of exposition, explains to her, with many honorifics, why killing everyone who annoys her is a bad idea, while she glowers at him with great poise. Coren also uses honorifics, even when he’s yelling. I think that Sybel has thus far managed one sentence with a polite-style verb in it. Yes! This is correct!

There is also some very McKillip-y wordplay in there, of which I completely approve – the dialog for the first few pages consists of Sybel, written in English with katakana transliteration, “Liralen… Come on… Liralen… Come on… Come on…” Then Coren breaks in: “Kaimon!” “Open the gate!” See, “Kaimon!” sounds like “Come on!” Coren broke into her Call!

(Okay, so maybe it’s a little off to have Sybel saying “Come on” to the Liralen. But it’s not like it’s going to throw the average Japanese reader out of the story, and that’s the important thing here.)

None of the bookstores nearby had this, so I ended up having to go on I’m now going to have to do this again for the next two volumes. I didn’t go ahead and order them before because, for some reason, I didn’t actually expect it to be completely great – but it is.


Phenomena published on

1) There is a Rue-san in my class. She even looks like Rue. I keep having to exert myself not to call her “Rue-chan.” She is six or seven years older than I am, so it would possibly not be appropriate.

2) Sometimes grouchy, disdainful cats wander around in public places in Japan. People crowd around them to pet them and take pictures, ignoring the huge flock of crows sitting on Nagoya castle in the background, or the Daiso employees trying to get across the aisle with a cartful of ceramic bowls. The cats merely walk on, slowly, tolerantly, reminding themselves that these creatures, too, have their place in the world.

(Today it rained again.)

(Today it rained again.) published on

Sensei: What will the weather be like tomorrow?

1: – “what was the weather yesterday?”

Sensei: No, tomorrow.

1: Uhhh… no.

Sensei: “No”?! That’s not the answer!

2: There will be no weather tomorrow. Today, the earth will die.

Sensei: Really? Why?!

2: *shrug*

Today we also did the thing where we passed around pieces of paper and each wrote one line of a story. Except the pieces of paper were for the timelines of our teachers’ future lives, which I think all will agree was a dangerous idea.

The stories were all unusually cohesive for this sort of exercise, and also all extremely grim.

Continue reading (Today it rained again.)