Friday, January 28, 2011


Somehow I got randomly selected to be a panelist for the Bloggies. I've been following, loosely, these blob awards for a few years, because I usually find a few that I like in the mix. And this year I got to help select the finalists! So here are a few that stood out that I liked from the semi-finalists.

From the Best LGBT category:
Effing Dykes
This girl is hella funny, but also smart. And also lately I'm in the habit of shortening my curses, not sure why. I've been saying "Em Effer!" I think this started when I was too much of a prude to talk about the act some people like to do in bed so I said "Tee Effing". Gross.

I don't remember which category, maybe Best Topical?
Urban Homestead
This site has lots of tips and advice to do more with less. Kind of like a more practical, less hipster Readymade mag.

Um, Lifetime Achievement category maybe?
The Bloggess
I haven't read this one a bunch, but the thing she did with organizing people who were too broke to celebrate Xmas to help each other was wicked cool. Oh, I first read about that on Pacing the Panic Room which I thought I'd shout out to because Ryan plays cool music and last night I dreamed Cole cut my hair. Also, The Bloggess has a terrible potty mouth and I fucking love a potty mouth.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

La Longevite

A few months ago I received this book as a gift:
toykovege.jpg Tokyo Vegetarian Restaurant Guide And a few nights ago I went to a new place, for me, called La Longevite.
We sat here, and got the macrobiotic course menu.

The restaurant is French-ish, though I'd call it French fusion. The chef was lovely, the service great, and the decor was cozy and fulfilled my boudoir quota for the month. 

It's not an entirely vegetarian place, but they do focus on healthy food and organics and have a good selection of veggie food. One of my dishes is pictured on the cover of the book - "vegetable mosaic".

Located in Shirokanedai, it's best to call ahead to be sure they're open. There were only two staffpeople the night we went - the chef and a server. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention the steady stream of '80s and '90s hits the chef was playing! Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, and other roller-rink favorites. 

Tel: 03-3449-3231
3-3-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

bats in my belfry

Does anyone remember the Dick Tracy soundtrack, which was all sung by Madonna? I had it when I was a kid and there's a song called "Going Bananas" where she's singing in an accented Carmen Miranda-type accent.
I was just at the supermarket and the guy bagging his groceries next to me had this HUGE bunch of bananas. There must have been about twenty bananas in that bunch. I was super SUPER tempted to ask him if he was a monkey, or had a monkey at home. It was on the tip of my tongue, I was looking at him and smiling, but he was this really wan timid tired looking early-thirties salarymandude and he probably would have had me arrested.
I also have some bananas to use up and I made these really kick ass banana flapjacks yesterday. So easy, so delicious. The recipe is from Vegan Vittles.

3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup mashed banana (about one small)
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry, then mix wet, then combine. Fry in a non-stick or lightly oiled pan on medium high until golden on both sides. The batter's thicker than traditional pancake batter, but they turned out great. The recipe says it makes 2-4 servings, but I think it's closer to two. I made about three six inch pancakes, could have made four slightly smaller ones.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Well that makes me mad.

You're tempted, right? I know I am. All these fancy phones that do everything except make you breakfast. Oh wait, you already have one? Yeah, ok. I'm not so quick about buying new gadgets. Half the time I see people around me buying them, getting sick of them, and moving on before they've even gotten their money's worth out of the often quite dear doodads.

(pancakes and photo by my friend Angela)

Anyhoo, I've been eyeing the 'droids because my phone is about six years old and holds a battery charge like poo. (I inquired about getting a new battery from the provider - they give them to you free if the battery goes in the first year or two. It was already too long.) And also because my phone is so relatively ancient that it's going to be phased out in a year and the company is offering me some kind of discount-because-you-don't-have-a-choice on a new model (sound familiar?).

I'm certainly long winded! Getting to the point already... my brother got a 'droid and switched to docomo, because his phone bills were astronomical and they had better all-you-can-use deals along with a new member signup discount. I went with him to cancel his au phone, because it was on my family plan and under my name umbrella. He's had the phone for two years eight months... well long enough to have fulfilled the two year contract commitment. Or so I thought.

Nope, it turns out that they automatically sign you up for a new contract every two years. So every two years, you have one month to cancel your contract. If you don't cancel it within that month (difficult to find in my phone bill, squished in the fine print and only discernible after some light math), it's renewed... and you have to pay a ¥9975 cancellation fee.

That seems pretty rude to me! I don't understand how they get away with this stuff. The culture of "you pay me to renew your contract so that you can continue to give me money" that we have here in Japan seems usurious, to put it gently.

We've recently had some legislation in the States to keep companies like the credit card giants from doing just this kind of thing. We're still far from keeping companies from exploiting people who don't pay laser-eyed attention to every line item on their bills. Can anyone tell me about consumer advocacy movements in Japan? The mobile phone companies, real estate agencies, key-money-grubbing landlords, and clubs with astronomical entrance fees that give you little in return could sure use a spanking.

What I mean to say, in the most roundabout way possible, is watch your renewal times on your phone bill if you're thinking of switching companies. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

jiichan baachan

I've been doing a lot of bitching lately about nosey aunties and uncles, so let me mention some of the non-aggravating encounters I've had lately.

It makes me unreasonably happy when people (usually oldsters) ask me directions. I feel so NORMAL. An old guy with a hearing aid today stopped me in the street and asked me where a certain dentist was, and I was able to help him find it. Yes, I do live in this neighborhood! Yes, I do know where things are!

Yesterday at the supermarket, an old lady (Let me clarify old: they have wrinkles, and sweater vests, and are probably 70 at least. What Gaijinwife would call vestlings.) in front of me in line let me, nay, insisted that I get in front of her in line, since I was buying only one thing and she had a cartful. I declined but she wouldn't hear of it and practically pushed me to go first, the old sweetie, smiling at me the whole time.

And one more this week, a takkyubin guy (not the same one as previously mentioned) came to the door to bring me an Amazon delivery (thanks mom! I won't open it 'til my birthday), and spent the entire time in conversation with my cat. Just chatting with and doting on Timothy. It was super adorable. He spent more time talking to the cat than me.  

Oh, hello, sir! How are you? You want to go outside? Well, maybe you shouldn't, because it's so cold, you know? What's that? You'll just stay here? You're a handsome one. {To me: Please stamp here. I say, Timothy! Come in now!} Oh, wow! He's so distinguished! (How do you translate えらいえらい when an old man is talking to a cat?) What a good boy.
This was so cute, and reminded me of my grandpa, who couldn't walk anywhere without grinning and nodding at people's dogs, stray cats, and small children.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Battle of Takkyubin

Brrrr! It's cold up in this piece! Blast these barely-insulated un-centrally-heated Japanese houses. I'm having trouble getting out of bed.

Speaking of which, the takkyubin man came to the door this morning. I suppose I didn't hear his first few knocks, being burrowed deep into the covers, because suddenly someone's in the genkan and SHOUTING, "GOOD MORNING! DELIVERY! WATERFALLRIVER-SAN, DELIVERY!" 

Well! He had woken me up, and it wasn't a scheduled delivery, and I was in my underwear. I wasn't about to go scrambling around, bleary eyed, to try to get down there and face an INTRUDER in my house.

It may be the neighborhood, but a lot of these people DON'T KNOCK. They just barge right in. This has happened on several occasions. Maybe I'm not home, maybe I'm in the shower or some other compromising position, maybe I JUST DON'T FEEL LIKE ANSWERING THE DOOR.

Oops. This post is getting a bit shouty. Sorry about that.

Anyway, he left with a great deal of muttering and cursing. Right back atcha, dude.

If I am home and available, I will answer the door, even though it's frequently someone trying to sell me a newspaper that I don't want to (and can barely) read, or the milkman trying to get me to sign up for a weekly delivery (this still exists?!?)(he also repeatedly asked me if my parents were home, fuck off), or some Jehovah's witnesses who exclaim about my gaijin-ness before going into their sales pitch. And if I have scheduled a delivery, I will certainly answer the door. Other that than, bugger off!

Monday, January 03, 2011

if I won the lottery

I've been driving a lot in the last few days, as you do when you try to fit Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver into a single weekend. In the late night/early morning darkness the powerball sign blinking at me sent me into the kind of reverie that you can afford when there's a long stretch of highway in front of you and not much good on the radio.

If I won the lottery (the powerball was advertising $35 million), I'd hire an accountant. Nothing fancy, just someone who could tell me the rules about taxes and stuff. For instance, they say stuff in movies about the ability to make a one-time tax free gift of up to XX amount to someone. Is that true? Etc.

I'd pay off all my debt: student loans, back taxes, unpaid parking tickets. I'd figure out the best way to pay off my family's debt, whether just by paying it all or through the aforementioned (utterly made up?) tax free gift thing.

There's a thing when you win the lottery about either getting a lump sum at once, but accepting a reduced amount, or getting a certain amount per month or year for a number of years. I'd take the long road.

I'd take my whole family on a vacation. Either to Ireland, because my grandpa did a lot of genealogy research and I'd like to follow up on it and think my dad would too. And we've talked about going. Or to Argentina and Dominican Republic, because my mom partially grew up there and I want her to show me her childhood spots.

I'd donate a lot of money to causes that I care about, especially ones that I've been involved with in some way. I'd have the accountant help me give it in a way that would put me in a lower tax bracket too.

There's not very much I'd like to buy. Maybe upgrade this computer since it randomly blacks out a lot. Or just get it fixed.

For work, I think I'd probably do mostly what I'm doing now. Maybe I'd reduce my hours a bit so I could volunteer at doing some of the stuff I enjoy more. And I think I would study for a degree if I didn't have to worry about making an income.

Of course, in order to win the lottery, you have to play the lottery. I buy a ticket every year or two at most. Maybe I should buy one... does anyone play Takarakuji?

What would you do if you won?