Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Borat eats kimchee?

I finally saw my first movie in months: Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan. Here's a scene from the first four minutes of Borat. I felt such a guilty pleasure. On the one hand, I could see Kazaks cringing in shame at their portrayal of their country, much like the scene in Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story. You know, the scene when a young Bruce Lee felt shame while the audience was roaring with laughter at Mickey Rooney's portrayal of an Asian in Breakfast at Tiffany's. On the other hand, I also laughed so hard that I felt like, to paraphrase Borat, stomach was going to drop out of anus. Sasha Baron Cohen, who plays Borat is either offensive, a genius, or an offensive genius.

But I did come in touch with Kazaks during my trip to China when I ate Kazak food in a yurt in Xinjiang province, and especially noticed the sheep head prepared for the guest of honor. So I felt it somewhat a responsibility to find more positive images of the Kazak people.

Did you know that Kazakstan also has Superstar KZ, its version of American Idol (which in turn is a version of Britain's Pop Idol)? Indeed, in this video, the Kazak singing sensation, Contestant NO.320106 Алтынай Сапарғалиева (Altynay Sapargalieva), belts out a Kazakstan rendition of Christina Aguilera's _The Voice Within_. She is also "21st century leader" (A Kazak version of Jeopardy) contestant, and 9th grader.

And when I browsed Wikipedia about Superstar KZ, I noticed that the second place winner was a chap by the name of Роман Ким (Roman Kim). Yes, this is a reminder that there are 100,000 Koreans living in Kazakstan (which has a population of 15,300,000). The existence of these Koryo Saram (Корё сарам - Koreans in the former USSR) is a reminder of a sad chapter in history. While much attention has been made of the internment of Japanese in America, the Koreans in Russia also had it bad. During the late 19th century, the Tsars encouraged Koreans to settle in Siberia to help solve a labor shortage, and a few even ended up in Kazakhstan. But in 1937, Stalin, being a paranoid ruler (what's up with these paranoid Communist rulers such as Mao, Stalin, or Pol Pot?) distrusted the Koreans in the Soviet Union and thought they were Japanese spies. Never mind that the Japanese had forcibly colonized the Koreans and that many Koreans had fled to Manchuria to wage up a guerilla war. But since Stalin distrusted them, all Koreans in Russia were sent to Kazakhstan (a fate suffered by other minorities such as Poles, Chechens, and Jews). But many of these Koreans managed to overcome the hardships of forced relocation, and have now carved out a presence in Kazakhstan.

The thing that struck me was how Asian the people of Kazakhstan looked, as in this video by the Allstars titled, "Qazaqstanym". But no duh..like, isn't Kazakhstan in central Asia?

So I have a strange feeling that Borat may be more familiar with Korean food that we might think. On this note, I'll leave you with a "Suiyu degen osy ma," a R&B/Hip-Hop music video by Bangor, a now-defunct Kazak group.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What is a kiss? Kissing pranks on TV.

I thought the Japanese were the world's most sadistic pranksters...well, this video proves me wrong... I would be truly disturbed if I were the women in the video...

And now, back to Japan...

Now for a Japanese version, look at the following clip, where a chimpanzee kisses Koike Eiko (swimsuit model, and former announcer for Pride Fighting Championship). For those in the know, the chimpanzee throws in a good imitation of Hard Gay at the end of the video.

Count your blessings you are NOT a Japanese comedian

But the women have it easy. At least they don't have to kiss smelly butts like in this video. This is part of a sadistic TV game show (done by paid professional comedians, don't try this at home) where every time the comedian gives a wrong answer, a human butt comes just a bit closer to his face.

Last, if you just want to see a plain, unadulterated video of a Japanese KISS, well look at this video of a Japanese commercial. Yeah, "I was made for lovin' you baby, you were made for lovin me!"

Saturday, October 21, 2006

MC Hotdog: "I love Taiwan chicks"

Taiwan's MC Hotdog has stumbled upon a surefire method of meeting sexy Asian women: make a catchy song praising the beauty of local women. In this case, with Zhang Zhen Yue singing the main tune, he praises Taiwanese women in "Wo Ai Tai Mei" (我愛台妹), translated as "I love Taiwanese chicks." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that national identity is sexy and sells, especially in a catchy song sprinkled with Taiwanese dialect. (Click on the picture above or click here to go to a clip of the song put up by Malubud)

From what I've learned on the Internet, according to Mei Huang's article "The Ubiquity of Tai ke," in Taiwan, "Tai ke" is the equvalent of the U.S. redneck, something like a deragotory term now used as a marker of local Taiwanese pride. The "Tai ke" is supposed to dress all gaudy and loud (gee, fits in with rap style!) and the "Tai mei" is the female equivalent. So MC Hotdog is rapping an ode to the "Tai mei" in this video. And just for your info, MC Hotdog has the character for "dog" 犬 on his jersey.

Now the People's Republic of China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, and has made national reunification a top priority. But this policy clashes with the emergence of a distinct Taiwanese identity. The Japanese took over Taiwan in 1895 and ruled it for half a century, first using brute force to put down any resistance, then developing the infrastructure and creating a policy of assimilating the Taiwanese. In fact, Japanese became the common language of the schools in the colonial period and so many very elderly Taiwanese can speak fluent Japanese. By the time the Japanese were kicked off the island in 1945, Taiwan was the most developed province in China.

Many Taiwanese (descendants of people in Taiwan before the end of Japanese rule), although they suffered discrimination from the Japanese, suffered even more discrimination at the hands of mainlander Chinese who took over the island in 1945. In 1947 Taiwanese rose up in an uprising known as the February 28 incident in which thousands died in the resulting government crackdown. And in 1949, millions of mainlanders fled to the Taiwan following the Communist takeover of China, beginning a process of mainlander domination of Taiwan politics which really only ended with the rise to power in 1988 of President Lee Teng-hui, a native Taiwanese.

Given this history, today many Taiwanese speak their native dialect with pride. Take a rap (which seems to be based on the Spinner's "I'll be around" posted by shockg) , sprinkle it with Taiwanese dialect, and combine it with the fact that Chinese women overshadow Taiwanese women in the worldwide Chinese media. Now you understand why MC Hotdog is so popular among Taiwanese women, as seen in this video of a live club performance (click on the picture below or here to see the video posted by bj23tube). As you can see, all these Taiwanese women are hugging him and energetically singing along with his song!

So my friend, want to meet Asian women? Become a rapper and throw in a healthy dose of nationalism and identity politics and this is what you get! Now you know why he sings, "Wo ai tai mei! Tai mei ai wo!" (I love Taiwan chicks! Taiwan chicks love me!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Journey to the West

Journey to the West must be one of the most famous novels that we don't know about. It's an epic Chinese novel (written in the 1590s) well known in East Asia, and I've seen pictures of the main character the Monkey King in both China and Japan.

Little known to most Americans is that they know of the main character. The Monkey King's name is "Sun Wukong" and the Japanese pronunciation is "Son Goku". Yes, you anime otaku, the character from Dragon Ball! In fact, Dragon Ball is loosely based on Journey to the West.

Click here for a Chinese remake of Journey to the West posted by chunwui5021. Those of you who read the book can figure out this is from the beginning, when the powerful Monkey King takes on Buddha himself. The bet is whether Sun Wukong can jump out of the palm of Buddha's hand.

Here's the karaoke clip of the theme song posted by kd6cute3.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sadistic Japanese TV toilet humor

Ah, how I long for the good old days of Japanese TV when producers did not give a whit about torturing their victims...I mean contestants. Now Japanese TV is mostly about in-jokes about local celebrities or game shows with celebrities. Here's a scene from a Japanese TV show - literally toilet humor. Please note how what passes for mainstream TV in Japan gets flagged as adults only in America!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Konishiki and Layzie Bone - "Livin like Kings"

For the uninitiated, Konishiki, formerly Saleva'a Atisano'e, is a Hawaii-born Samoan sumo wrestler, who became the first foreigner to reach the rank of Ozeki, or champion, the second highest rank in sumo. Surprisingly quick and powerful for his nearly 600 lb body, he could, during his prime, easily force out almost any Japanese sumo wrestler from the ring. As the years passed by, injuries took its toll, and Konishiki had to retire from the world of Sumo. So what's an ex-sumo wrestler to do?

Click on the picture of Layzie Bone above, or the picture of Konishiki's album to see a video of Konishiki, the 500+ lb Sumo wrestler-turned-rapper (posted by MusicVideos808). Layzie Bone of the rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony makes a special guest appearance. I love this video - Konishiki must be literally the biggest rapper on this planet, and the song does grow on you after awhile.

This song, "Livin' like Kings" from the album Konishiki, KMS was released in the year 2000, after his retirement from sumo wrestling, but I don't recall it doing very well in the U.S. As of now, Konishiki now goes about Japan singing Hawaiian songs and making good money through his television appearances. Here's a link to a clip of his song Sumo Gangsta, in which he raps in Japanese!

How did the critics receive this album? Jon Azpiri of the All Music Guide sums it up:

Konishiki, KMS is definitely what you would call niche marketing. The album is targeted at those underrepresented fans of both sumo wrestling and hip-hop. Not exactly a growing demographic, but nobody's going to stop Konishiki from trying. When you're a 6'3", 600-pound champion sumo wrestler, odds are you can make rap albums or do anything else you want to and no one will stop you. No doubt Konishiki's considerable girth, not to mention his fame, earned him a record deal. What's scary is that this relative novice provides some passable West Coast hip-hop....Konishiki really shouldn't be making albums. Of course, nobody wants to be the one to tell him.

Regardless of what the critics say, you gotta love this guy as he is still active after retirement from sumo and now promotes Hawaii - Japan ties. He plows much of his money into helping disadvantaged children in Hawaii go to Japan, through his Konishiki Kids foundation. And he even did the second ending theme for the animation Kirby (based on the video game). Check out this video posted by IvynaJS!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Japanese potty training anime

"If you can use the toilet, you've become a 'pantsman'!"

The above quote starts off this Japanese potty training video posted by Deebingo. It teaches kids that when they can use a toilet, they can become a "pantsman." Think of it as the equivalent of getting your blue belt in karate class. And I just love the smiling turds near the end of the video!

Here's the first dialogue:
Kid tiger:"My stomach's going muzu muzu (feels itchy)."
Tiger Mom: "And when your stomach goes muzu muzu, what does it mean?"
Kid tiger: "I gotta pee pee! Toilet!"

"When you shi shi, it goes "shi pa pa"

Second dialogue:
Kid tiger" "My butt's going muzu muzu"
Tiger Dad: "And when it goes muzu muzu, what does it mean?"
Kid tiger: "Doo doo! I gotta toilet!"

Talking toilet: "Okay, let's try making doo doo"

"When you unchi (Japanese for "doo doo"), it goes "un pa pa""

Tiger dad: "Wipe your butt"
(smiling turds go down toilet)
Kid Tiger: "Bye bye doo doo!"

Kid Tiger: Daddy, I did a doo doo.
Tiger Dad: You did a good job. So from today, you can wear underwear! (Instead of diapers).

Enjoy the live action afterwards!

Monday, September 04, 2006

More Korea --> Japan meme rap!

DJ Ozma is at it again. Scene from "Junjou," his cover of Koyote's "Sunjon"

I am still dreading the prospect of choosing from the 1,000 pictures or so I took in China (the other thousand were destroyed by a botched CD transfer in China). I spent the past few hours going over the final proofs of my book - it's way past the deadline, and already been advertised online. Right now, I don`t know how to start working on my China blog.

Shin Ji from the Korean group Koyote

So to procrastinate, I`d like to introduce you to a super-catchy song that has wormed its way into my brain this summer. DJ Ozma was at it again, once again doing a cover of a Korean pop song. This time, it`s from the hip-hop and dance group Koyote.

1) Koyote version
First take a look at the original song, "Sunjong" (written as 純情 in Chinese characters, 순정 in the Korean Hangul writing system) which came out in 1998. I was dancing on a tabletop in a restaurant to this song in Beijing of all places! (amazing what Chinese whisky and a little coaxing from sexy belly dancers will do to you):

Click here or on the picture above to see and hear Koyote.

2) DJ Ozma version
Now look at DJ Ozma`s cover of this song, which they use the Japanse reading of "Junjou" (純情 in Chinese characters, スンジョンin Japanese katakana writing). Same Chinese characters as in Korean, but different pronunciation . Note how he plays the disco kistchy aspect in his video. I love how he reinforced the "It`s disco time baby!" by appearing in disco clothing.

Click here or on the picture of DJ Ozma above to see and hear the video..

Now that`s what I consider pan-Asian music. Korean beats with a little bit of Japanese tongue in cheek humor added on.

3) Spread of the meme

Crowd at a baseball stadium chanting the tune from Junjou/Sunjong

And like a virus, the chant "wo-oh-oh...wo-oh-oh" started spreading throughout Japan! For example, check out this clip from a baseball game between the Yomiuri Giants (the Yankees of Japan) and the Chiba Lotte Marines (last year's Japan Series champion). Listen to the crowd chant in the back, and then notice how they start waving their white towels like in the DJ Ozma video. Click here or on the picture of the baseball stadium above to see this video. Of course, all this makes sense since the Lotte company is a Korean-Japanese conglomerate founded by Shin Kyuk-Ho a.k.a. Shigemitsu Takeo, a South Korean national who also lives in Japan half the year.

4) Need your help
What song is Sunjong originally based on? The background sounds quite familiar. Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" perhaps? Arpeggio's 1976 hit, "Love and Desire"? Any ideas?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bitter Asian men?

Picture from the Bitter Asian Men website

Well, I stumbled across this website and felt very sorry for the authors, especially when I saw that crying panda in a pool of blood.

Yes, I too, decades ago, when I moved from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, experienced the shock that comes with becoming an Asian man. First, I was put into a nebulous, catch-all category of "Asian," meaning that I now had something in common with Pakistanis, Indonesians, Uighurs, Iranians, and Arudou Debito. (Believe it or not, people of all backgrounds commonly use the word "Oriental" over here in Hawaii).

Next, I realized that I had become a member of a minority group doomed to media stereotyping as the eternal geek. Now I did my fair share of BBS posting on the topic of Asian men and dating, but now that I'm older and married, and back in Hawaii, I have moved onto other concerns. (Yes, Hawaii readers, interracial dating is a controversial topic on the U.S. mainland!)

Still, seeing this site did bring back some memories. So, I'd like to contribue a few words of wisdom to my fellow Asian brothers on the mainland who are experiencing dating difficulties:

1)Move to Hawaii. You can't use the "nobody wants to date Asian guys" excuse anymore, not when the majority of the men on the island look like you. Of course, you'll pay more for everything and have a lower salary than on the mainland, but hey, you can't have it all...

2)Move to Asia. If you still can't meet women, then something else truly must be the problem.

3)For those of you who cannot or refuse to move, in the spirit of my post on anal constriction, I offer you this book, ranked #279,058 at amazon.com:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Zuiikin English : "Take what you want!"

Sorry for not posting - I have a huge backlog of work that greeted me upon my return home.

Anyway, here's a strange video I found on the Internet, originally posted by Skillful Abbot (it's a shame how other people took credit for his posting of the video). Zuiikin English was broadcast in the 1990s, and was a way to "teach your muscles English". It's being rebroadcast right now. Japanese study English for a minimum of six years (since middle school), and yet many cannot even mutter simple English phrases. Thus zuiikin English is a way to chant English to a beat using your muscles.

This video is a segment for useful English if you are in America. Makes you wonder what image they have of Americans. You're going to have one of two reactions: either going to laugh your belly out, or stare in utter confusion. I laughed so hard that I couldn't sleep, but for some people, this video may hit too close to home.

Here's what the woman is saying in the first few seconds:
"Oh no, it looks like I'm lost!"
"I've come to a place with no people" (I'm not sure if I'm translating this part right)

Anyway, here are more links if you find this interesting:

How to argue with your foreign spouse in English

Zuikin Japanese for foreigners


Friday, August 04, 2006

Hello from Hiroshima

I am now writing from an internet cafe in Hiroshima, Japan. For those of you who expected updates on my trip to China, a huge apology. I felt like a lifetime of experiences were crammed into an incredible three weeks in China. It was hard to get internet access, or even the free time to check my email. I took over 2,000 pictures of China, and so there are so many stories I want to share with you. It`s just that it is very time consuming to upload the photos. Anyway, I made all sorts of new friends, and now look at China in a totally different light. Here are a few observations:

1) Japan no longer seems exotic after visiting China. Last year, when I arrived in Osaka, everything in Japan, from the food down to meeting the people seemed so fresh and new that I went crazy taking pictures of anything. Don`t get me wrong, I still enjoy being in Japan. But after three weeks in China, I felt like I was "back home" when I arrived in Hiroshima. I guess I could not understand what the Chinese were saying to me, and so my brain has relaxed a little now that I understand 80% of what others tell me. I`m not experiencing the same level of culture shock in Japan that I experienced in Hiroshima.

2) China was far more developed than I thought. And the Chinese I met had a hunger to move up in life that I find lacking in many American students. We`re going to have to get our young generation hungry to excel in academics and their careers, or else we Americans are in for a rude awakening in a decade or so when we see China develop into an economic giant. China`s strength comes not from its size but rather its people: they are willing to work damn hard to make their country prosperous. Young people I met told me of their future dreams, and they are very goal oriented, such as study abroad for a year to learn English and then open their own trading business company. Now contrast that with the "I dunno...whatever" mentality that I see in some (but definitely NOT all) Hawaii students. Remind me to tell you about the sparking new educational facilities I saw under construction over there. Puts the University of Hawaii to shame.

3) Yes, I did visit a maid cafe while I was in Akihabara. In fact, I visited four of them and dragged my wife along as well. I`ll try to post more pics later, and perhaps even write a short travel article. Just for now, I debated with a maid the merits of maid costumes versus Hooters. She wanted to visit Hooters in America, and I told her that the maid cafe seemed more classy.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

More Japanese rap: Twigy's "Righ now"

I feel quite depressed when I use this blog to teach my college students the power of pop culture because it makes me feel so old!

For example, take this video Righ' Now by TWIGY ft. Miliyah Kato & YOU THE ROCK. This is a Japanese rap video, which although not a big hit in Japan, is, in my opinion, one of the catchiest songs to come out of that country in a while. (Click here for the video)

Notice how the Japanese versioni visually pays homage to Beyonce's "Check on it". (Click here for music video)

I think it's cute how they spelled the seventeen-year-old Miriya's (she's the female vocalist in this video and a rising singer in Japan) name in the African-American style of "Miliyah" (just like "Aaliyah"). Rap music has spread Black standards of beauty to Japan. Now you have young men and young women going to tanning salons and trying to look like Snoop Dog or Beyonce'.

And note how they took the beat from an American song. I think the songwriter grew up listening to a lot of American music. But what song was it from? None of the students in class could identify the original song except a returning student about my age. Can you few lurkers out there (at least according to my sitemeter stats) figure out the song it was from?

So, Vanity Six's Nasty Girl (click here for music video) is now music for middle aged people? Never thought that day would come.

My hats are off to those of you in your sixties and seventies. Now I know how you feel when people tell you that the Beatles or Rolling Stones are "old people's music."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Pop music meme through DJ Doc and DJ Ozma

I love youtube! It's a great way for me to stay current on the music scene, and I can easily access music videos and compare them side by side. In fact, it's a great tool to keep up with popular culture in Japan.

American and European pop culture has become a sort of worldwide common culture among the young urban educated people in places like South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Young adults in these places listen to Eurobeat or hip-hop music, dress like gangstas, watch American movies, and learn years of English in middle and high school.

You can easily see how a meme (cultural idea transmitted from one mind to another) transforms, as a song is covered by people from different countries.

Check out Boney M's video here
For example, start with Daddy Cool by the Europop group Boney M. This group featured West Indian singers and although relatively unknown in the U.S. (except among disco intelligentsia), I read that this group was quite big in Asia. Here's a video of them singing this 1976 classic and try to remember the strumming bass that runs through the song: "dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah."

Watch DJ Doc's video here.
Now fast forward to the year 2000, to South Korea. The hip-hop group DJ DOC released a very catchy song titled, "Run to You". Look at this video and see how they took Boney M's song and made it into a rap.
(Note: there are Internet claims that DJ DOC released an anti-Japanese single called F_CK ZAPAN. I checked DJ DOC's Japanese website, and they emphatically deny that they were the group responsible for this single. Rather, it's by an unknown indies band called "Paekche" ("Kudara" when read in Japanese). There seeems to be an Internet rumor going on.

Watch Alex To's video here.
Now jump to the year 2004 to Taiwan. Singer Alex To made it more Nelly-like (just like "Hot in Herre") by adding an element of taking off one's clothes in his version of the song, "Take Off" and a bit more English, which is the lingua franca of East Asia. Note the evolution of this meme as seen in dance steps or people stripping their clothes.

Watch DJ Ozma's video here.
And in 2006, the Japanese group DJ OZMA (really a side project of the group Kishidan) released their version, titled, Age Age Every Night. (pronounced "ah-geh"). It's known in Japan that DJ Ozma is doing a cover of DJ Doc's song. He kept Alex To's visual message to take off one's clothes, and added a bit of 1970s disco in a seeming act of homage to the roots of Boney M! You can see their tongue planted firmly in their cheek with their homage to MC Hammer's style of dancing and DJ Ozma's crazy afro. Note how the dancing has changed, especially how people hold their hands out and go from side to side while chanting, "na na na na na." (compare to dance steps in the Korean original by DJ Doc.) And yes, those scantily clad girls and topless men are tame by American music video standards, but are pushing the envelope by Japanese ones. I guess it might have the tacit approval of the Japanese government: after all, something has to be done about the falling birthrates!

It's good to know that despite all the tensions between governments in East Asia, pop music and hip-hop has the potential to unite us all. After all, young people don't have to speak the same language to appreciate a nice beat, fancy dancing, and lots of sweaty bodies.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

First William Hung, and now we present...

I"m going to China this summer to learn about that great nation and get in touch with my Chinese roots, and so I thought it would be good to blog about something Chinese.

Anyway, I stumbled across a clip of a Chinese singing contest. Oh my goodness, someone please tell me that this is a skit from a Chinese comedy show, and that she's supposed to be bad... Or does this reflect the state of Chinese R&B music? I wonder if this is from a show similar to Mengniu Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest, the Chinese equivalent of American Idol (or Pop Idol, as the show originally was called in the U.K)! Who is this woman, and what in the world is she catwailing? She makes William Hung seem like a musical genius! And why are the people applauding for her? Are they humoring her, or do they seriously think she is good?

By the way, the Chinese must be laughing at how bad American singers are when they try to sing traditional Chinese music.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hard Gay

You got to see these videos to believe this. This person is Razor Ramon Hard Gay, or "Hard Gay" for short. Think of a Japanese version of the leather guy in the Village People, and his job is to help the average person on the street, such as helping old ladies cross the street, protecting young ladies from pick-up artists, or teaching kids to eat their vegetables. And his secret weapon is his crotch shake. Can you believe the stuff that goes on in Japanese prime time? Hard Gay is the alter ego of the comedian Sumitani Masaki and has become quite popular in Japan.

Here's some clips of him. In this one, he helps a struggling ramen shop by trying to attract customers. Here, he helps people in the streets. In another one, he accuses Yahoo Japan of taking his trademark cry, "whooo!!!"

And you can see him in his music video doing what else...a Japanese cover of "YMCA"! (actually his cover of Young Man, a 1970s Japanese cover of YMCA)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dealing with network racism?

First of all, the book is finished! YEAAAHHHHH!!!!! Now I"ll probably sell only 500 copies at the most, but hey, it's done!

Next a quick note about the World Baseball Classic. A few days ago, my wife and I were watching a broadcast of the Japan versus China game happening at the Tokyo Dome and we noticed the word "JAP" staring at us from the screen. Yes, in a brilliant move of cultural sensitivity, ESPN2 used JAP as shorthand for "Japan" on the scoreboard. My wife was so steamed that she kept screaming at the TV set whileI wondered if ESPN would ever dare to abbreviate a Nigerian team the same way. I understand that so many Internet users commonly and insensitively use the word "Jap" (which is a disgusting trend but not the subject of this post) but ESPN?

So she twisted my arm and made me send an email to ESPN.com complaining about the insensitive designation. Of course, I received the following form letter, which I have edited for you:

Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2006 15:15:46 -0800
Subject: Thank You
From: "Ask ESPN TV"


Thank you for your e-mail. It has been successfully routed to a customer
service representative.

Due to the large volume of e-mail we receive, we are unable to respond
to general comments, but they will be passed on to the appropriate
network executives.
P.S. Would you like to continue to express your opinions about ESPN and
play a part in the programming decisions that get made? Come join the
ESPN Viewer Panel where you can take surveys and earn prizes. Please go
to http://www.espnviewerzone.com to sign up. You must complete the
registration process to qualify.


So this is what you get when you complain, a form letter. Frankly, I was too busy catching up with pile of work I had neglected while writing my manuscript so I put aside for the moment visions of an internet letter writing campaign.

And then tonight, I caught the ending of the Japan versus Mexico game and saw the words JPN staring at me. Maybe it was my email, or more likely, the hundreds of emails sent to them, but yes, they had changed the word in question. My wife was happy (and even happier that Japan won the game). I wrote a letter of thank you to ESPN. (Curiously, Sports Illustrated has the game listed as JAP vs CHN. Hmmm...)

But then, maybe the JAP designation was made by someone in Japan. After all, there's a line of clothing store in Kobe, Japan called "Club Japs".

And the largest underground shopping mall in Japan is a place called "Whity Umeda". Can you imagine telling the kids, "Hey, let's shop at Whity!" Ah, ignorance cuts both ways.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Japanese Secret: Better living through anal constriction

Here I am driving myself crazy editing my book manuscript and staring at the computer screen. So, during one of my breaks, I did some google searching on Japanese Engrish and lo and behold, came up with this unbelievable book:

How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way? by Hiroyuki Nishigaki.

Yes, this is a real book. Sold on Amazon.com.
"I think constricting anus 100 times and denting navel 100 times in succession everyday is effective to good-bye depression and take back youth. You can do so at a boring meeting or in a subway. I have known 70-year-old man who has practiced it for 20 years. As a result, he has good complexion and has grown 20 years younger. His eyes sparkle. He is full of vigor, happiness and joy. He has neither complained nor born a grudge under any circumstance. Furthermore, he can make love three times in succession without drawing out.

In addition, he also can have burned a strong beautiful fire within his abdomen. It can burn out the dirty stickiness of his body, release his immaterial fiber or third attention which has been confined to his stickiness. Then, he can shoot out his immaterial fiber or third attention to an object, concentrate on it and attain happy lucky feeling through the success of concentration.

If you don't know concentration which gives you peculiar pleasure, your life looks like a hell.

Besides shooting out a big blank from your buttock, you can feel as if your root chakra leaked sweet hot mucus."
Now, I've checked Nishigaki's homepage, and here's what he has to say on a FAQ about his method:
(1)how long do you squeeze each time?

3-5 minutes. 100 times in total a day is OK if you are busy.
3-5 minutes. 100 times in total a day is OK if you are busy.
The purpose is to temper the muscle of anus and of abdomen, so no stool discharge is OK, only half an inch is OK, only 5 minutes is OK. In my case, I release fecal matter 2-4 times a day.
within a few seconds.

(2)how soon will we start seeing results?

In a few months. We will begin to have good complexion. Irony, nervousness, irritation, thick-wit, dreariness of our eyes will begin to decrease. As a result, we will begin to be often asked by other people "You have changed for better. Have something good happened to you recently?"in a few months. Woman will become more charming even without make-up.
He's appeared on over 70 American radio talk shows to promote his method of well-being.

Scary thing is, I think this author is dead serious.

Even scarier, this book was #300,735 on Amazon.com, beating out books like:
  • Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger.
  • Border Patrol Exam (Complete Preparation Guide)
  • Calvin Coolidge: A Biography
  • Mathematics : A Discrete Introduction
  • Selected Myths (Oxford World's Classics) by Plato, Catalin Partenie
  • The Power Of A Positive Teen, by Karol Ladd
What a bummer it is to be an academic writer. Do all that research on our great president Calvin Coolidge and be outsold by an author who claims that anus-clenching can banish depression. And scary to think that we have more people practicing anal constriction than studying for the Border patrol exam.

Here's a link to a video by Rob Pongi, crazy gaijjin who lives in Tokyo. He puts Nishigaki's theories to the test.

But be careful: Nishigaki's method to banish depression may be too powerful for casual use. Here's what one reviewer has to say:
I cant stop shooting buckets of old black excrement! Help!, September 18, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from lakewood, CO United States

I followed the directions, did the recommended 3 weeks fast, and cant stop shooting buckets of old black excrement! The sweet mucus wont stop either! I constricted anus everyday, followed by denting navel 100 times after constricting anus 100 time in the style of the longed lived british, and the flow of sweet hot mucus from my third attention wont stop! I do feel less depressed however, so the book gets 5 stars.
Now go out there and give me 100 constrictions! And that's an order!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Here in Hawaii and Dogs in Japan

Picture taken Sept 21, 2005 at Haleiwa Beach Park

Here's another retroactive blog (confused by all the switching of dates?). If you are confused, well so am I. Sometimes, I think Hawaii must be the most Japanese place outside of Japan. Look at the picture above, which I took a few months ago. My wife and I were enjoying Haleiwa Beach park, one of Oahu's more underrated beaches. Here we were, in a rural town, when I see Japanese tourists even at this semi-remote outpost on the island! I wonder how they feel: flying to Hawaii to get away from it all and then they bump into their fellow Japanese screaming to each other in Osaka dialect.

On the one hand, they must not like it, this does destroy the atmosphere of being in a foreign country. On the other hand, it is truly scary being in a foreign country, and so it must feel reassuring to see other Japanese. Kinda like Americans overseas - can talk about wanting to be among the locals, but panic sets in when far away from other Americans and the nearest McDonald's.....

Back to my Japan vacation...Here's the entry that should've have read August 09, 2006.

Here's a pic of Choco, my Japanese cousin's dog. She was abandoned in the mountains, and became part of the family through a Japanese rescue group. Doesn't she remind you of a dog-deer? Naturally, she is a bit scared of people, and only today has she finally warmed up to me and came to me while I was watching TV with my aunt in her room. Strange dog - when we take her for a walk, she gets all stressed out by the city and tries to run back indoors. She also shows interest in me, then when I try to touch her, she runs away. But I know she's not dumb - she probably knows more Japanese than most Americans. How many of you readers know the Japanese for "sit" or "wait" or "come"?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Still too busy to post!

This is my daily winter distraction ...

Can you believe that I still haven't posted the pics from my final days of my Japan trip? I"m currently working on a book on Japanese TV, and after begging the editor, got one final deadline extension of a few weeks. And, like any budding writer, I squander my newfound time to become perfectionist, and constantly revise...

Almost all of my free time has been spent typing on the computer , while I look out the window and see perfect beach weather just beckoning me to come outside. That is the torture of living in Hawaii: it is so hard to do work when you know that a tropical beach is just a 20 minute drive away! Like setting a buffet table right in front of a starving man chained to the wall...

Luckily, Dana from Dana's Tea House is slogging through my 500+ page mess of a manuscript and editing what she can. Poor woman, nothing worse than to read the babblings of an academic who can barely write. Anyway, I plan to upload more pics from Japan and bring a sense of closure to my Japan blog. In the meantime, check out the posts I have put up retroactively, and some of the links I put on my post about my trip to the Battleship Yamato Museum in Kure, Japan. I even found some Starblazers songs to link up with!

Beach in Kahala, taken Sept 2005
Should I start a new blog, one that reflects my new life in Hawaii as a "returned local" and start showing you how a "kakure mainlander" views Hawaii with changed eyes?