I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.


I love basketball: playing it, watching it, talking about it. Mayumi is a student who used to come to my school regularly, and if there were no other students in the class, I would toss the book lesson and just teach her basketball terminology. She played basketball when she was in high school, and she was tall for her age, so her coach started her at power forward. Because this was before the current generation of 7-foot European finesse players who play in the low post and are equally capable of shooting from the perimeter, the coach yelled at her whenever she shot three-pointers, which is what she really wanted to do. And so, a promising basketball career was stifled; Dirk Nowitzki came too late for this poor woman.

Now Mayumi is too busy with work and her family to come to class, so we correspond by email every once in a while about the NBA playoffs. Being a devotee of Mike Bibby and the Sacramento Kings, she was heartbroken to see her team fall just short once again. We agreed that we were hoping for an Indiana vs Minnesota match-up in the Finals, which did not come about either. But we're both solidly behind the Detroit Pistons and their heroic efforts in the struggle against the creeping miasma of the Los Angeles Lakers. Because I thought it was excellent writing and because I wanted to know if readers could see my influence as a teacher in the writing of my students, here is Mayumi's recap of Game Three:

I watched Game 3 of the Finals yesterday. I was so excited about the Pistons. Pistons was back to defense that is quick, and their rebounds were stronger than Lakers. Shaq and Kobe couldn't get points as usual. I think Defense is the best Offense. And if it gets many rebounds it will be able to control of the game! Beet L.A. !! I'm sorry I'm difficult to explain...

I think that is damn fine analysis.

June 12, 2004 Oh, early summer crazy, I am your victim again. How many summers must I feel your wrath? This is the fourth since I have been out of college. Let me be free of you! Let me become accustomed to working full-time during the season of warm weather! I make such poor, irrational decisions when you are coursing through my veins. 'Trouble' ceases to be my middle name and becomes my first. I had to spend most of last summer in a temple to ensure I didn't do anything I would regret. I have spoken to the Buddhist masters about the early summer crazy, and they have assured me that I am just going to have to deal with it. Fuck those guys! I wish to be free! On the plus side, apparently I became invulnerable to the weapons of mortal men midway through last month. It's possible that the Buddhist masters were just telling me that to get me out of their office. I'm not sure. Well, either way, it was nice of them to say.

Oh, that's enough. I'm all right. I had about the best week ever, so I have no reason to complain. The only serious problem I have right now, other than patience, is finding a place to shoot a summer monkey photo series, which will complete the year. The best unexplored frontier is way down south, in the mystical forests of Yakushima, but I don't think I'll have the resources to make it down there. I remember mention of monkeys over-running a city called Totsukawa that's not too far away, but I haven't been able to turn up any more information on that story. Awajishima is a possibility - it's an island not far from Kobe, and there is apparently a monkey park there. But I kind of prefer the 'monkeys in mystical forests' and 'monkeys over-running a city' angles. Don't worry, I won't let you down. I am very serious about these things.

Here is sadness, though: Lost In Translation has finally received limited release in Japan, but it is only playing in Tokyo and Kanagawa right now, with no assurances that it will ever come to Kyoto or Osaka. Obviously some powerful observations could be made whilst watching it with a Japanese audience. I have some notion that I ought to take up a collection to pay for the bullet train ticket up there with the pledge that I'll write up the results into the kind of serious fucking journalism for which I am known, but those bullet train tickets are really rather expensive. I've seen it, anyway, thanks to Mr. Internet. (People think he is only good at porn and weblogs, but he is also good at movies, bless him.) A few people emailed last fall to ask what I thought about the movie, being in Japan and all. "It is as it was," I reply. So there's that.

There is a new version of Coke in the vending machines here. It's called 'Coca-Cola C2'. Supposedly, they are test-marketing it in Japan before it is released in the United States. Of course, the packaging is of little help when attempting to discern the intent or angle behind this formula. It tastes like regular Coke with something-or-other missing. It might be the no-carb soda that idiots across America have been demanding, or perhaps it's sodium-free, or perhaps it's aimed at religious separatists who believe that things that have taste are temptations of the devil. Either way, it is not very good, and I suspect that somebody in the head office is going to be doing 'the honorable thing' because of this by the time the summer's over.

I made some falafel for dinner and it turned out reasonably well, so much so that I would like to eat it again. This box of falafel mix was a gift. I have some notion that more can be purchased at the international food store somewhere downtown, but I think it would be much more fun if boxes of falafel were simply mailed to me by people who read this webpage. If I know you as well as I think I know you, you will enjoy sauntering into the post office and, when asked what it is that you are mailing, declaring that you are mailing some falafel to Japan. Let me also include the caveat that the new Japanese girl in our house had never eaten falafel before, so I gave her a piece along with some of the cucumber dip that goes along with it, and she apparently enjoyed it so much that she did the dishes while I was upstairs eating. (She was downstairs watching "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!") I have some concern that this may mean we're married now, but I'm going to assume the best. So, please send the falafel to the following address:

217 Iwataki-cho
Sanomiya-cho Dori
Kyoto-shi 600-8115

Please mark the box 'FALAFEL'. Thank you. Once you have done so, please turn off the lights in your room and stare at the following image for seventy-five consecutive minutes:

Shortly thereafter, you should become separated from your body and begin to visualize yourself as a sort of Sanrio Santa Claus, tumbling through the pink aether with Col. Sanders and the Kitty:

At that point you will be given the choice of learning the secret of your birth or the secret of your death. It may not be clear which character holds which secret. Choose well.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


January 2012, December 2011, January 2011, September 2010, August 2010, June 2010, March 2010, October 2009, February 2009, January 2009, September 2008, August 2008, March 2008, February 2008, October 2007, July 2007, June 2007, January 2007, September 2006, July 2006, June 2006, January 2006, December 2005, September 2005, August 2005, July 2005, June 2005, May 2005, March 2005, February 2005, January 2005, December 2004, October 2004, July 2004, June 2004, May 2004, April 2004, February 2004, January 2004, December 2003, November 2003, October 2003, September 2003, August 2003, July 2003, June 2003, May 2003, April 2003, March 2003, February 2003, January 2003, December 2002, November 2002, October 2002, September 2002, August 2002, July 2002, June 2002, May 2002, April 2002, March 2002, February 2002, January 2002, December 2001, November 2001, October 2001, September 2001, August 2001, July 2001, December 1999, November 1999, October 1999, May 1999, February 1999, January 1999, December 1998, November 1998, October 1998, June 1998, May 1998, April 1998, March 1998, February 1998, December 1997, November 1997, October 1997, September 1997, and the uncategorised wilderness of the Beelzetron era: 010622 - 010619, 010615 - 010611, 010608 - 010604, 010601 - 010529, 010525 - 010521, 010518 - 010514, 010511 - 010507, 010504 - 010430, 010427 - 010423, 010420 - 010416, 010413 - 010409, 010406 - 010402, 010330 - 010326, 010323 - 010319, 010316 - 010312, 010309 - 010307, 019223 - 010219, 010216 - 010212, 010209 - 010205, 010202 - 010109, 010126 - 010122, 010119 - 010115, 010112 - 010108, 010105 - 010102, 001229 - 001224, 001222 - 001218, 001215 - 001211, 001208 - 001204, 001201 - 001124, 001124 - 001120, 001117 - 001113, 001110 - 001106, 001103 - 001030, 001027 - 001023, 001020 - 001016, 001013 - 001010, 001006 - 000927.

Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.