Thursday, February 28, 2008

great movies recently

サマー・タイムマシン・ブルース (Summer Time Machine Blues)
As ridiculous as it sounds, but fantastic and silly and supa-rad.

しゃべれども、しゃべれども (Talk, Talk, Talk)
A disciple of rakugo (Japanese traditional stand-up comedy) takes on a motley crew of students. (Please credit me when stealing that gem for the blurb on the back of the English version.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

tokyo int'l art center

There's a newish museum in Roppongi, called the National Art Center of Tokyo
(国立新美術館). It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa. We went to see an exhibit of Taikan Yokoyama paintings, but it was so chock-a-block with pushy senior citizens that we defected to the University exhibitions.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


by Julieta Venegas

Another song from her album Sí

Si quieres un poco de mí,
me deberías esperar. 

Y caminar a paso lento,
muy lento
Y poco a poco olvidar,
el tiempo y su velocidad
frenar el ritmo, ir muy lento, más lento.

If you want a little bit of me,
You should wait on me.
And walk at a slow pace
Very slow
And little by little forget
The time and your hurry
Brake the rhythm, be slow, real slow.

Ser delicado y esperar,
dame tiempo para darte
todo lo que tengo

Be delicate and wait
Give me time to give you
All that I have

Si quieres un poco de mi­,
dame paciencia y verás
será mejor que andar corriendo,
levantar vuelo
y poco a poco olvidar,
el tiempo why su velocidad
frenar el ritmo, ir muy lento,
cada vez más lento.

If you want a bit of me,
Give me patience and you'll see
It'll be better than running
taking off
and little by little forget
the time and your hurry
brake the rhythm, and go very slow
each time more slow.


Si me hablas de amor
si suavizas mi vida
no estaré mas tiempo
sin saber que siento

If you speak to me of love
If you soften my life
There won't be any more time
Without knowing how you feel


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


How insensitive do you have to be to flippantly use the slang "the bomb" in casual Japanese company and then, when confronted by befuddled stares, offhandedly explain how it means "the best"?

Monday, February 18, 2008

J-DMV part yay

Several weeks ago, I finally submitted all my paperwork and passed the written (computer touch-screen) test for my driver's license, and made an appointment for the practical exam.

Having been to the test center twice before and walked there successfully, I decided to again go early and walk to bump up my step count. I got to Oimachi station and started walking in the direction of the center.

And got turned around. Inevitably.

I flagged down a cab and asked him to take me there. I had about fifteen minutes before my appointment, and they state very clearly that if you miss your appointment, you cannot take the test. Except the driver had no idea where it was; he was about 100 years old and was looking through a book of maps at green lights while the people behind us honked and glared.

Finally we pulled up at 12:59. I RAN inside and got into the room just as they were calling my name; I was immediately shuffled into a holding pen with three other girls. Upon further inspection, it turned out that I had been put into a group of people who were all in a similar situation as me: transferring an overseas license to a J-license. Two girls were from China; the other girl was Japanese but had a U.S. driver's license.

I was to test second, and ride in the first car. They test you in pairs, so there are three people in the car: the tester in the passenger seat, the testee (teste seems like it should be the singular of testes, but it's testis) at the helm, and a rider (yours truly) in the backseat. This was lucky for me, because I got to check out the course before testing and think about tricky spots.

Unfortunately, the girl I was riding with blew it. Part of the course is a narrow road with lots of turns and some yellow-and-black hanging doodads (think beaded hippie curtain, DMV-style), and she hit some of the strands, sending the caution curtain swinging. She panicked, asking if she could back up, but proceeded to do so without checking her rearview. The tester let her have it! "Dame!" he barked. "You have to look behind you!" Nervously, she nodded and finished the course. As we pulled up, he began to tell her about her mistake. "You can't drive like that in China, can you? Well, you can't in Japan either. Today, I'm afraid, it's impossible for you to pass the test."

She disappeared.

It was my turn. I moved up to the driver's seat, strapped in, and adjusted the mirrors. At the tester's cue, I pulled onto the course. I drove smoothly and slowly, exaggeratedly checking my mirrors and blind spots frequently, as I had been instructed by mom, sister, and various forums.

Basically, it was a breeze.

There's no traffic on the course, and though some spots are certainly tight, you can go as slowly and carefully as you like, taking time to plan out your moves and navigate accordingly. I made one small mistake, overshooting the line of a stop sign just a tad. I thought I saw my checker making a little check mark on his check sheet, but when we arrived back at the holding shack, he didn't say anything.

The other girls took their turns and then we were ushered inside to await the results.

After a few minutes of waiting, another bureaucrat called our names and congratulated us. I had passed!

After about another hour of paperwork and waiting, I had my shiny new Japan Driver's License in hand. I'm so proud. Now I can terrorize the roads legally! Look out Tokyo!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gonna be a big man someday - Glitter Graphics

Mina, the previously mentioned little girl, dresses always in prissy pink, with princess pencil cases and glitter kitty tote bag. She's five years old and sweet and precocious and is always somehow bedecked and beribboned.

In class on Friday during lesson, she started humming and then suddenly belted....

Thursday, February 07, 2008

snow fest yes

We went to Sapporo again this year, to the Yukimatsuri. Cold glittery bits galore.

And checked out the neato Moerenuma Koen, Isamu Noguchi's sculpture park. Huge, rambling, snow-covered, sinuous.

Discovered Aoi Sora, a beautiful organic vegan restaurant.

Sapporo: so cold, so lovely, an enchanted Northern outpost town.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

body moving

Riding the Yokohama Municipal Subway today, I sat across from about eight strapping young boys, approximate age 13-14, sitting on the end seats and fiddling with their contraptions - mobile phones, mp3 players, pocket video games. The train was not crowded, but there were no empty seats. At the next stop, some decidedly elderly people got on and I quickly got up from my seat and went to stand. An old man took my place. At the next stop, when another ancient guy got on, I noticed that none of the boys had gotten up from the priority seats, even though they were now surrounded by old folks. Another stop, and someone (not one of the boys) got up to leave. An old lady started for the seat, but another young man quickly grabbed it, and she looked defeated. I wanted to shout at them: get up, you little maggots! Mind your elders! If someone clearly five times your age gets on the train, give up your damn seat. Especially if you're sitting in the priority section.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sounds dirty, is dirty.


Sounds dirty, but used in music reviews a lot. Hey, whaddya know?

Means pertaining to semen, and also

innovative and influencing the development of future events.