I woke up in a strange place is the work of M. Heiden, 25 years old, from the city of Chicago.
Now he lives in Kyoto, Japan. What is he doing there? Many Japanese people ask the same question.
This is the home of serious fucking journalism.
030916 I am back with another update, because one of my students said that I should renew my webpage more often. (She also said that, having read it, it's too hard for her to think of me as a teacher. Well, it was a good run.) Life is relaxed again. Autumn has definitely come, the Hanshin Tigers have clinched the Central League pennant (a feat equivalent to the Red Sox or Cubs doing the same in America) and nervously await the Pacific League champion in the Japan Series, and I am once again equipped with a camera for more of my freestyle documentation. A few weeks ago, I bravely broke the code of silence here by exposing the sordid underground of panda porn. Now, I bring you shocking photographic evidence that these pandas are being drugged before they are forced to participate in these pornographic activities.
This panda - whom we will call "Bao Ling", to protect his identity - is clearly in the throes of a drug-induced psychosis as he poses on the side of this truck. It would appear from his expression that he has been fed some manner of methamphetamine cocktail. Compare his quiet derangement to the coke-fueled rampage of "Xiao Ping" below:
I feel confident that the majority of my readers are good and decent people who are as full of outrage over this as I am. Should it be my mission, while I am in Asia, to smash these panda-porn rings? Perhaps we can have a vote on it.
On a completely unrelated note, did you know that there are 2.3 jingles for every man, woman and child in Japan? I am making that up, but I'm not lying to you.
IN MEMORY OF JOHN RITTER, WRONG DOORS TO RECEIVE WARNING LABELS
(AP) With the nation still in mourning over the sudden death of sitcom actor and everyman hero John Ritter, Congress is considering legislation that would require wrong doors, the great bane of Ritter's life, to be clearly labeled as such. House Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the sponsor of the bill, grew visibly emotional as he spoke on the House floor. "Every year, thousands of innocent, well-intentioned Americans walk in the wrong door and all hell breaks loose. For too long, we have blamed the misunderstandings that result, and spent too much of our energy attempting to correct those misunderstandings, frequently making them worse in the process. We must look elsewhere, to the real problem: the wrong doors themselves." Complicating the initiative, however, is what Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Min) has referred to as the "shifty" nature of the wrong door. "Often, the wrong door is separated from being the right door by time, not space. Right doors become wrong doors in a matter of seconds, simply due to the arrival of an unexpected neighbor, girlfriend or landlord." Although Coleman had prepared a report on what he referred to as "the quantum implications of this spatial transferrence", his explanation was interrupted by the arrival of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wi), wearing a padded bra designed to look like twin watermelons. Feingold, startled by the presence of reporters, insisted that the situation was not, in fact, what it appeared to be.
People have been asking how I'm doing with the language. The answer is that I'm doing quite poorly. You'd think that, living in Japan, I'd have some cause to learn some Japanese, but the fact is that it just doesn't come up very often. I'm paid to make Japanese people stop speaking Japanese, and outside of work, I just use the same ten words over and over again, mostly thanking store clerks and telling drunks I can't understand them and to quit talking to me. It would be nice to be able to say more, but my motivation is lacking. It's a problem I've discussed with students (hello, Asuka): the huge gap between being able to say anything and being able to say anything worth saying. The language CDs are all about asking for directions, commenting on the weather and ordering drinks. I'm not interested in any of that. I need to be able to say things like:
1. Before you decide to charge me for that milkshake, perhaps you should consider my status as an international connoisseur of milkshakes, and while your initial assumption may be that I will not accept bribes in exchange for favorable reviews, I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you give it a try;
By the time I learn how to say any of that, it'll be time to leave. It's tough being divided by from your neighbors by languages. The rabbi and I used to argue about the Tower of Babel. He'd send me an email responding to something I said with a proverb in Hebrew, knowing full well I couldn't understand it, so I'd make up words and send them back to him, and he'd call me into his office and we'd yell at each other. He took the position that Tower of Babel was a good thing, because language comes before thought, and artistry of language supercedes artistry of ideas. I took the position that his position was really stupid. If Chomsky heard the rabbi, he'd just freak out and start randomly clawing at things. (I don't know why I always let myself get drawn into those arguments. You're not going to get anywhere arguing over the virtue of something you believe to be a metaphor with someone who believes it to be the literal truth, anyway.)
On a completely unrelated note, I have this to ask of fans of the NFL:
Are you ready for some football?!?!
The list of respects in which Hank Williams, Jr. has outlived his usefulness is long and well-documented, but the clear superiority of this little guy is yet another reason why our team can afford to trade Hank Williams, Jr. to another planet for draft picks. Rebuilding on the fly is the way to go, folks.
There is no more below; however, there is far more for you to read in the archives.
On behalf of the band and myself, thank you and good night. (b-side wins again 2004 - 1997.)