Friday, December 31, 2010

Towards 2011 - the Glorious year of the Rabbit

Now, 2010, the glorious year of the Tiger is coming to an end, to be replaced by the glorious year of the Rabbit (if nothing else, it ensures a quite considerable increase in cuteness in the upcoming traditional New Year's postcards) and is the yearly custom here in the blog, I thought I should go back and review some of the highlights of the year.

Biggest Event of 2010 was without doubt the dramatic (this is the topic of another post when I get around to it) entrance of little Baby Sunshine, who despite her meager size and young age has managed to turn our lives completely upside down, in a good way.

Biggest Purchase of 2010 was probably the hordes of baby toys, baby carriers, baby carts, baby clothes, baby books, baby music etc. I think you get the general idea. At some point I will have to make sure that she pays us back for all our expenses since we consider her a significant investment.

Music That Made Me Feel Like It's 1993 again in 2010 was the Swedish EBM group Autodafeh with their album "Identity Unknown" (listen to a track here) which gave me severe flashbacks of the still excellent "Tyranny for You" album by Front 242 and smoky EBM clubs in Stockholm that I really was too young to go to. Ok, it's a complete rip-off of the Front 242 sound by three overweight Swedes, but it's executed so damn good that it's impossible to not like it.

Music That Stuck in My Head and Refused to Leave in 2010 was the huge hit here in Japan by K-pop group Girl's Generation/少女時代 "Genie" (listen here), my attempts of doing the dance they do in the video never fail to amuse both Baby Sunshine and Mrs. Sunshine, but I nurture a futile hope that they're laughing with me and not at me.

Biggest Food Related Discovery in 2010 was without doubt the Chili Garlic Oil mix (see here), technically I got on it late 2009, but since it became the hit product of 2010 (also named so by several tv shows I've happened to see) it was hard to come by it until the supply chain started working in 2010, now there's millions of different brands out there, most of which are crap though.

Best Post of 2010, to take things a bit closer to home so to speak, my personal favorite post on this blog of 2010 probably was "The Stump", if you, dear Reader, has any other post of mine from 2010 you personally liked, please feel free to say something in the comments section, always appreciated

Best Title of Post in 2010 must be "Captain Awkward have difficulties peeing" (ok, I realize that it should be "has" and not "have", but whatever, that's blogging for you).

So, let me wish you all a fantastic Year of the Rabbit in 2011 and hope to see you around here then as well!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

...oh, so you just came here?

Ok, to my surprise and slight embarrasment, I got a message that I was selected one of the top 10 blogs of Tokyo by CNNgo.com (see here) and find myself in good company with Green Eyed-Geisha and other much wittier and more sophisticated blogs than mine (although I do think that Corinne's blog should have been in there though, certainly worth it).

However, I also find myself a bit surprised and unprepared when I noticed the surge in visitors that came from this. A bit like hosting a party and noticing that all the guests were coming while I'm still in the shower... Particularly since I feel that my recent posts might not be that appeaking to a casual visitor dropping in for the first time.

So, if you're a first time visitor and inclined to give the blog a few seconds of your time, I would probably recommend you to manouver through the labels below the "The Old Stuff" to find the stuff that might interest you. If you just have a general interest in Japan and the stuff that's going on here, then you probably should check out "Japanese Oddities", if you're interested in business and want to know what's what in Japan you probably find more interesting stuff in the "Work related Stuff". "General Stuff" is probably something to dive into in case you for some reason find my writing amusing/interesting but might not be best to start with. The other labels deal with smaller more focused topics and might be worth a click if you find any of the topics interesting.

Anyway, hope you find something you like here and feel free to browse around and drop a comment if the mood strikes you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Baby Sunshine and the video games

During the Christmas party earlier (see the previous post), my Brother in-Law played a little "Wii Party" with his 8 year old daughter to keep her entertained and pacified. The games in question were some cooperative mini-games where they worked together to clear the stage. Something which made the Mother in Law say "Salaryman, I bet you will play games with Baby Sunshine as well when she's 6 years old or so, won't you?". Due to some of the Christmas beer, my mask of sanity temporarily slipped and I quickly replied "No way, I aim to start her on it as early as possible, from two years old is the target age!".

A little off balance, MIL quickly recovered with "So you will play these kind of cooperative games with her, how nice", to which I again snapped back "No, I will only play competitive games with her and the moment she beats me at one game I will switch to another game that I know I'll beat her in and if it comes to that point, I will cheat to make sure she loses. I just, you know, wanna make sure she gets that feeling of just never being good enough compared to her old man".

The silence was a bit awkward for a few seconds until Baby Sunshine giggled out loud and diverted everyone's attention to her. Saved by the baby indeed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas at Salaryman's


As I was somewhat desperate to try and get a little Christmas atmosphere going, we invited over the in-laws and assorted related family over to the Salaryman household for a little Christmas party and some traditional Swedish Christmas food. I must admit that I'm a little proud of myself for the result and the time I put in the kitchen.

The Mother-In-Law proposed, through Mrs. Sunshine, to bring Sushi to the Christmas party to which I responded "No, I won't have my great Swedish table raped by invading Sushi, if she wants to bring something it has to match with the other stuff", expertly, this message was again filtered through the lovely Mrs. Sunshine and instead she brough a salmon salad which matched quite well with the other stuff.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

...with the theme set in the last two posts, I thought I might as well carry on and wish you all a very Merry Christmas with this old classic Swedish Christmas advertisement by insurance company "Locum".

They very cleverly replaced the "o" with a heart and wrote the "L" in small letters to make it more stylish and ran it in all the major newspapers to everyone's amusement!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Easy Touch Fitta 4-way" (another one for the Swedes)

Ok, again, this post will probably only makes sense to the minority of Swedish readers I have and those who have thouroughly read up on the country through the Rock Manlyfist comic presented in the earlier post.

In any case, since I assume that most of my readers are now focusing on getting into the appropriate holiday spirit (I convinced Mrs. Sunshine that we should watch Gremlins tomorrow to get in the spirit) and have better things to do than to check out this blog, I thought I could get away with it.

Earlier in the day, we were checking out "baby backpacks" as Baby Sunshine is soon clocking in on a good ten kilos and putting quite a strain on most parts of her body and the one we bought since earlier isn't really doing the job. That's when I found this great product (in the picture); the "Easy Touch Fitta 4-way", which made me break out into a giggle and reach for my mobile phone to snap this picture as Mrs. Sunshine was seriously considering the product, and asked me what was so funny about it. After my answer she did the frown and said "well, in that case, I'm not gonna buy that one" and moved on to other brands, despite me insisting that "c'mon, it would be fun to own an Easy Touch Fitta".

I think most of you have figured out that the word "fitta" has an interesting meaning in Swedish and you would be correct. It would be fair to say that it's on par with the word "manko" in Japanese...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Salaryman Recommends - Rock Manlyfist, Master of Space Karate

Now the end of the year is drawing close and as you may have noticed in the frequency of posting, both the adorable Baby Sunshine and the final stretch before the New Year's vacation here in Japan is draining most of my energy.

Instead, this time I thought I should push a great web-comic by cartoon genius Johan Wanloo - Rock Manlyfist not only is it a nailbiting thriller, but also a deep and sophisticated analysis and comment on Sweden as a society, far more accurate than the paradise picture that NHK seems to paint on a weekly basis here on Japanese tv with all the happy old people, free schools and all that stuff that pales in significance. New exciting episodes every Monday.
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This is the only web-comic you'll ever need and it's infotaining as well, what more can you ask for?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hello Kitty with a mouth

Ok, I think I'll let this picture speak for itself. A TV show now just earlier today did a feature on Hello Kitty and had in the show, the current chief designer (apparently since the early 80's) for Hello Kitty in the studio and they did a number on the only time that Hello Kitty had been drawn with an actual mouth. Obviously I couldn't resist snapping a picture of it for your viewing pleasure.


And yeah, don't know what's up with the goats, they're not of the Christmas version at least, but looks like they tried to do some Kitty version of that popular Heidi thing in a cartoon show...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"No Hope"

As the end of the year is now drawing to a close, one of the things that need to get taken care of is the sending of the traditional New Year's greeting cards. This year they're particularly cute since 2011 will be the year of the rabbit.

So in conjunction with this, I go through my quite significant collection of business cards collected over the years to select those worthy of a greeting from me. As I was flipping through my collection I noticed in particular my oldest cards, collected during my first years of work. In order to help me remember who's who, I had written some quite good comments on the to help me remember the person. These comments were sometimes quite interesting and I had written in Swedish to make sure that no one would understand in case they would get their hands on them.

One card from a doctor had the comment; "looks like a homeless guy", another card had written on it "this guy's office looked like a garbage dump" and in one more exotic card I had actually written in English in large letters "NO HOPE", I can't for the life of me remember what I meant by it now almost ten years later, but decided against sending a card, not much point really according to my earlier comment...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In the grim world of Warhammer, there are only babies sleeping

The always adorable Baby Sunshine has problems with relaxation and sleeping when she is meant to. We've tried all the tips and tricks that we have been able to find including excessive boob, rocking and just letting her cry it out (yes, the conclusion is that she doesn't seem to have an end to it).

However, I have now come up with an almost foolproof way of getting her to sleep! I take her with me to the computer room and play the strategical fantasy wargame "Warhammer - Mark of Chaos" with Baby Sunshine in the lap, the game has the benefit of being playable primarily with the mouse, leaving my left hand available to have a firm grip on the baby, but has the drawback of being a quite dull and boring game. She starts out watching the game intently as my ratmen army scurry across the screen to slaughter the enemy, then after a few minutes, she loses interest and start trying to reach the scissors, needles and other stuff I have lying on the computer table just in case I need them for anything, and then, giving up and falling peacefully asleep with her drool running down my forearm holding her up.

So far this method has turned out to be the most effecient and least exhausting way to get her to sleep. But I'm getting seriously tired of that game, I tried surfing the Internet but id didn't really work since the changes on the screen keep her interest up in what's going on... I guess you just play the cards you have been dealt!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sometimes it's the little things - The Elevator

We have four elevators in our building that goes up to the floor that we have our office in, and if you avoid the morning and lunch rush it's usually no problem to rather quickly push the down button, wait for a little while and the elevator comes. No problem, sometimes it takes a little longer which is no problem either, that's just the way elevators work.

One of the elevators is prioritized for handicaped people and have a separate handicap button (but if no one on some other floor has pushed it, it respons with the same speed as the other elevators so there's no need to push the handicap elevator call button). But something that really annoys me is, when I've pushed the elevator button, one of the elevators down lights has gone on and I know that it's inbound relatively soon. Then all of a sudden comes one of the older creepy looking guys from the office next door; he looks over the elevator section, sees that the button has been pressed and that one elevator is inbound but still he presses the handicap elevator call button in the hopes that it will save him 10-20 seconds by coming quicker. First of all, it never does and secondly, if someone with a real handicap actually needs to use that elevator, that old geezer will force that person to have to wait a bit longer since it will stop at our floor even though he's very much likely to go into the elevator that I called in the first place and comes faster.

It's times at these that I really really want to fart in the elevator when we're going down together... Sometimes it's just the little things...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

....enjoying the commute...?

Recently something very strange has happened, I am now actually looking forward to the commute and have found myself arriving much sooner at my destination than I would have liked and feel annoyed that I need to get off the train.

After I finished up watching all seasons of "The Wire" on the train, I had a bit of difficulties adjusting since I could not really find anything adequate to fill the void and ease the boredom of the crowded and long commute. I tried some other tv series, but nothing really worked that well and could keep my attention on the packed and sweaty trains.

But recently, a friend showed me a "tower defense" game on his iPhone (you know those games where hordes of monsters/enemies come at you and you have to build weapons along the path to make sure that they don't reach the base) that he used to kill the time. Intrigued, I researched a bit and found the game Pixeljunk Monsters that seemed to have great reviews, so I bought it and downloaded it to my PSP... I make a point of only playing it during the commute, but I am getting OCD over getting the "rainbow" (that means clearing each stage perfectly without any monster getting through) on all the levels and have frequently cursed over finding myself at my destination just when I in the middle of a certain hectic wave which I wanted to finish (I can put the game on hold, but those of you who've played it or something similar probably understand my feelings).

So, for the last week, this little game have revolutionized my commuting time, we'll see how long it lasts...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ebizo Ichikawa Press Conference - Live here at Salaryman's!

Ok, for the first time in my blogging history, I will do a live report on the upcoming press conference with Ebizo Ichikawa to hear all the sordid detailed regarding the ashtrays with tequilas, the bikers, the half-breeds and the brutal beeting! Not to mention how curious we all are to see whether he has maintained his good looks or look like Frankenstein!

Not that it'll really be live since this is a blog and not twitter, but humour me here and you can pretend that it's ongoing while you read it.

19:52 - Press conference has yet to begun, Baby Sunshine is sucking on her drool bib and Mrs. Sunshine has apparently prepared a pumpkin salad and gyoza for dinner, I feel excited about this!
19:55 - I had my first gyoza, it taste great, but I got a small frown due to the amount of chili oil mix I poured on the stuff
19:57 - I tasted some of the pumpkin salad and can't say that I'm that excited about it, but apparently it's made by the mother in law so I "should be grateful"
20:00 - Press conference is starting, but I feel more interested in the food (not the pumpkin salad), maybe I should get some more rice?
20:01 - Ebizo comes out shows his face, bows and look pretty normal, I was expecting a freakish face, dissapointing
20:02 - Baby Sunshine gets the boobie beside me, she seems content, some agency dude are talking and I can't really be bothered to listen to him
20:05 - Now Ebizo is gonna talk, I'm so hyped, he talks some boring empty phrases about how much trouble he has caused for all related people, blah blah blah
20:07 - He talks about how he wanted to do this press conference to apologies to everyone, but I wanted to hear about ashtrays and tequila?! I think I need more rice, but he's got a pretty big apology thing going, now he's doing a 30 seconds bow! Oh, one 30 second one wasn't enough, he did another one!
20:10 - Now he sits down after some excessive bowing, the floor is open for questions!
20:11 - I'm getting more rice, maybe a gyoza or two as well
20:14 - They're asking him if he was completely wasted out of his mind or not, he says he wasn't
20:16 - I did pour soy sauce on the rice and eating with knife and fork, please don't tell anyone
20:18 - Now they're asking if he knew the biker thugs that he ended up boozing with, seems like he didn't
20:19 - The question came how long he got beaten up, he says it felt like a long time (wow!)
20:21 - A great question "I think that you maybe thought that you would die at some point, when did you fear for your life?", equally great answer "when I was beaten up"
20:25 - "How many people beat you up?" Came a question, "more than one I think", it's a little entertaining that the person asking the question sounded a bit pissed off and aggressive
20:26 - Whew, I'm getting full, pretty good stuff today, maybe I'll have a cookie afterwards
20:27 - I wonder if it's custom to eat a gyoza in one bite or whether it's acceptable to cut it in half?
20:28 - Apparently Ebizo had quit drinking at some point and now they asked when he got on the wagon again, about a year ago and for the night in question he says that he had three cocktails, one bottle of champagne and some nice hard liqour too including tequila (well done Ebizo!)
20:31 - That was a nice dinner, can't find place for another gyoza, Mrs. Sunshine seems mildly annoyed that I didn't have much of the pumpkin salad
20:32 - "How do you feel about drinking now after this?" came a question "well, I don't think I'll feel like drinking in a long time" (no shit!)
20:34 - It really is a good thing that Ikea sells those tasty "Ballerina" cookies, I prefer the chocolate ones before the jam version
20:37 - Most of the questions are kinda dull, wonder how long this will go on? They should close this soon, I'm getting bored with this, he can't answer any of the interesting questions because "the police investigation is ongoing so I can't talk about this"
20:40 - Wow, most dull questions so far "what did you talk about with your wife in the hospital?"
20:42 - Screw this, this is way too dull, I'm gonna go play with the baby instead!

The Walmartization of Seiyu

The department store chain "Seiyu" is one of the larger ones, at least in the greater Kanto area of Japan. The stores are usually quite cheap and often in conjunction with train stations and feature a regular supermarket and a decent selection of other stuff of stuff ranging from decent to questionable. It's a quite typical small Japanese department store and can be useful if you live close to one, but nothing spectacular that makes it worth going out of one's way to find one.

Since quite a few years back, I knew that American chain Walmart had aqcuired a majority ownership stake in Seiyu and by now, I think it's a fully owned subsidiary of Walmart. The Walmart ownership hardly was noticeable the last time I found myself in a Seiyu department store (a few months back) but as I happened to find myself in one this weekend I was surprised by the total walmartization that the store had gone through.

The selection of goods in the supermarket section was basically identical to that of any other larger supermarket and nothing "Walmarty" or American about it, but this time all of the signs had been replaced by new signs in the blue color of Walmart and looked distinctively "non-Japanese". To my big dissapointment though, the customers looked like normal Japanese people and nothing like those in people of Walmart in the US. Maybe this will have changed by the next time I find myself in one?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ok, thanks for the warning, now what?

The other day last week, as I was getting ready for work and watched the morning news and the weather from the safety of the Salaryman cave with the rain pouring down outside, the news issued a warning for the Chiba prefecture where I currently reside. The warning was to "be careful of tornadoes" during the day.

The warning was fair and straighforward enough, but it failed to answer the main question that I had; so, if I happen to run into a tornado, what do I do then? Should I play dead, build a shelter or just try to run away? I might need to start building a tornadoe shelter in the near future...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A War of Cultures - Decorating for Christmas

One of the recent discussions in the Salaryman-Sunshine household has been about the correct timing of start for Christmas decorations. From late November we have watched as the houses around us has gradually started to roll-out the Christmas pimping, starting with lights in the trees of varying degrees of sophistication (some of them seem to put quite the effort and electricity bill into this...), closely followed by the hanging of Christmas wreaths on the doors.

Come late November, we were virtually the only house in the area without one, and despite my firm stance to at least wait until the beginning of December with the Christmas decorations, Mrs. Sunshine felt a strong peer pressure and I finally relented and the wreath got hung on the front door.

The next debate came onto the subject of dressing the (small plastic) Christmas tree. Initially I favored a slightly later timing for this while Mrs. Sunshine preferred to have it out come start of December. When I told her that "You know in Sweden, people don't dress the Christmas tree until the 23rd of December, just the day before" I was met with a "Why? We're in Japan now and besides, I think it would be nice to have it out soon". Again, I failed to come up with any good (or bad) arguments for why we should wait, and since a few days ago, the Christmas tree got busted out and dressed up.

Above, you can see the actual glory of the Salaryman Christmas tree, please note Baby Sunshine and the Christmas Goat in there for you to get the scale!
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(a few seconds later Baby Sunshine pulled down the whole tree with a lot of crying and whining as a result)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tell it like it is Noripi!

Loyal and diligent readers of my blog probably remember all the stuff about Noriko "Noripi" Sakai that I gave you my take on in the wake of the whole meth use ordeal. Those of you with weak memories or newcomers can check it out here.

Ever since the whole exciting revelation of a former teen idol gone "Mama-idol" doing meth, got focused on in the media, I told Mrs. Sunshine that "She'll keep her head down for a year or two, then she'll write a book telling "her story" on how she got caught up in this horrible addiction and probably blame most of it on her self-titled pro-surfer husband, then she'll do some of the milder talkshows for a bit and a little bit later she'll be back full time in the variety tv shows here in Japan and maybe even some parts in primetime tv dramas".

After the whole deal, her sentencing and following press conference after her very quick release, she dressed very conservatively, cried some tears and stated that she now would like to dedicate her life to her son and nursing of disabled people.

Sure enough, a few months later some tv footage showed her attending a school event of her son and her visiting a nursing home (supposedly she went to nursing school, but I think she just "went there physically" and didn't really study anything). Then it has been silent with no public appearances until today.

The news reported yesterday that she will release a book telling "her story" (see here in Japanese). I'm not surprised and Mrs. Sunshine even gave me one of those rare "Wow, it went just like you said it would" without any frown. Well, at least the Japanese entertainment world is getting entertaining again and I thought it was plenty with Kabuki actors getting beaten down to a pulp by half-Japanese bikers!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Well, all things considered...

Since some time back, our head office has been engaged in a bit of a struggle with a distributor in some regions. The distributors wants to keep selling our products according to the somewhat overly beneficial conditions in terms of transfer prices and term of agreement, that was granted them by a previous Vice President who since has made to leave the company, due to, among other things, deals such as this.

The new team took over with vigor and engaged the dealer in what they hoped to be constructive discussions but quickly found themselves in a confrontational situation with very little progress followed by a complete refusal to meet with the new team and the guy who was put in charge to sort things out with no conclusion anywhere in sight.

A senior management member of the company, ultimately in charge of this situation decided to jump in and go hands-on with the situation since he deemed that "personal chemistry" was a big problem between the distributor guys and the internal manager who had been in charge of negotiations with them. So he set up a new meeting with a new team from our company to try and sort things out.

After the meeting he sent out an e-mail reporting to the management team on how things had gone (which I eventually got forwarded) proudly exclaiming that "it was the best that we could have hoped for" (sounds promising, huh?), followed by "the listened politely to us and said that they would get back to us eventually".

As this partly affects our business, I had to fight the urge to not reply back in capital letters "NO THIS IS NOT THE BEST WE COULD HAVE HOPED FOR! THIS IS NO CHANGE TO THE PREVIOUS SITUATION, THE BEST WE COULD HAVE HOPED FOR WOULD HAVE BEEN A CANCELLATION OF THE OLD CONTRACT AND A NEW MORE REASONABLE AGREEMENT! YOU NEED TO TAKE A LONG HARD LOOK AT HOW YOU PLACE YOUR EXPECTATIONS!", but calm and reasonable as I am, I just kept my head down. A few weeks later I asked if there had been any progress but was told "No, I'm still waiting for them to get back to us".

If the best we could have hoped for was nothing, I'm curious how a bad scenario looks like in this guy's eyes...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Did I say too much?

Ok, I know that this comes a bit late since the always adorable little Baby Sunshine is not always allowing me to keep up a timely blogging schedule, so those of you following Japanese news have likely seen this elsewhere, but I felt that I should also comment on the amusing story of the (now resigned/fired) Minister of Justice in Japan; Minoru Yanagida (Mr.).

During an event in Hiroshima, in front of a mostly friendly audience, but also some TV cameras, Minoru jovially shared some interesting things on the take on his job as he had never ever touched on the subject of Justice in his political career up to his appointment, but that he received some great advice when he shared his reluctance on his competency on the job: "That's ok with no experience, you just have to remember two phrases, "I cannot comment on individual cases" and "We are proceeding according to the law and the evidence available to us", if you don't know what to say, just use one of those two and you'll be fine" (a video report on the whole deal you can see here in Japanese).

However, I strongly suspect that his subsequent firing was due to international pressure from the Illuminate of Ministers of Justice across the world as he had publicly revealed their secret in public and broken their wov of secrecy... Since this is very likely how most Ministers of Justice operate across the world... The conspiracy deepens...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Honor the company!

Recently I met up with an old Japanese friend to catch up on stuff, share some drinks and stories, I was particularly interested since my friend had recently changed company due to an acquisition of the Japanese subsidiary of the foreign company he was working in, by a quite old traditional Japanese company.

Although my friend is completely Japanese, he has so far spent his career working for foreign companies and received something of a culture shock when he started his "new/old" job in the company he had ended up in as the foreign operation was quickly completely integrated into the Japanese company. In particular, there were three things that he found most difficult to adjust to:

1. Work not starting from 09:00AM but from 08:50AM (my friend was a bit unsure as of the reasons for this, just that it seemed to be the standard in some old fashioned companies; perhaps any of my readers would know why?)

2. Required morning greeting where all in the department huddle around, say "good morning" in a loud voice together before going back to doing nothing

3. The company anthem and the way that it's sung when opening bigger meetings with everyone singing it with passion and knowing it by heart (my friend so far just pretends and seem to be getting away with it)

All in all, I think that my decision to stay in foreign capital companies seem to be a wise one, a company anthem I would have quite big difficulties adjusting to...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ebizo Ichikawa, bikers, half-Japanese and broken teeth

The recent news in Japan that I find quite entertaining to follow is that of the famous Kabuki actor "Ebizo Ichikawa" (seems like he's the 11th in line of his generation taking the same stage name, see his profile at the theaters homepage here) and the brutal beating that he received a few days ago putting him in the hospital with quite severe facial injuries and probable plastic surgery coming up to recover his most valuable asset up to the previous glory. As usual here in Japan, when the news broke, most people seemed to be shocked by this brutal assault on their favorite innocent actor...

In the beginning, details were quite scarce, but now more and more interesting tidbits seem to be turning up little by little. It probably also should be added that Ebizo has an image of something of a playboy who likes the booze and the girls, but earlier in the year, he snagged up the cute little Tv announcer Mao-chan and got married and people seemed to think that he would settle down and cut down on the nightlife. However, this does not seem to be the case...

It seems like Ebizo went out drinking with his Kabuki buddies late on the 25th and after a few hours, Ebizo broke off from the group and somehow ended up drinking with a bunch of Japanese "Bosouzoku" biker gang members (it should be noted though that Japanese bikers are pretty far removed from the western 1% biker lifestyle; Japanese bousouzoku bikers are more about wearing stupid looking overalls, puny bikes and bad hairstyles). Around early morning, he ended up getting beaten to a pulp by one (or several) of the members of this group, at least one of them "foreign looking", got home to his cute little Mao-chan, who called the ambulance and from there the media frenzy began.

Now in last days, some more details have started to emerge that seem to put a bit of a blemish on the whole story. Now some more additions to the story that Ebizo gave has started to leak out and it seems like he;

A) Bragged about how rich and successful he was and they weren't

B) Repeatedly pulled the hair of the gang leader

C) Poured a drink in the face of the same leader

D) Tried to make some of the group to drink tequila out of an ashtray (this is my personal favorite and I have made a mental note to try this at some company event)

Although these Japanese biker gangs usually are not hulking mountains of men like their Western biker counterparts, it's usually not advisable to pick a fight with them and particularly not if they outnumber you vastly. It would not be fair to say that Ebizo had it coming to him since the beating was quite brutal and the injuries to his face might impact his Kabuki career (which seem to be quite extraordinary if you're into that sorta thing), but it seems like he had a stroke of drunken "good ideas" during that night, the first mistake and biggest was probably to go drink with that gang, especially alone...

Now the police has issued an arrest warrant for the one who affected the beating and... ... ... it seems like the person in question is a "halfu" (a half-Japanese), with an African-American father and a Japanese mother. Perhaps I should fear for the safety of myself and my family in case a "halfu" witch hunt breaks out, or perhaps I could get better at intimidating people to do my bidding? It must all be in the genes after all?

Monday, November 29, 2010

...and now for something completely different...

Today on the top news on one of the major Japanese network news shows;

1. The murder of a 6 year old girl in Hiroshima

2. An accident in a highway tunnel in Mie prefecture leaves three dead

3. A temp staff worker at the amusement park around the Tokyo Dome are was trying to do some small repair on the "freefall" attraction but got her hands stuck in the machinery and broke a finger!!! (no one is to blame though it seems)

4. The South Korean Prime Minister holds a press conference on the recent conflict with North Korea

About the same amount of time was spent on each of the topics... Lots of stuff going on here in Japan now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Deluxe Version!

Ok, the humour of this post might not be that obvious to those who are not following Japanese pop culture and the latest fads and celebrities. One of the latest "hot" new celebrities is the obese transvestite drag queen "Matsuko Deluxe" (for those of you with a soft spot for John Waters, (s)he does bring up some distant memories of Divine). Matsuko Deluxe is now starring in quite a number of TV commercials (everything from the horse races to hair treatment products) and seem to be quite the rage in the TV variety show circuit. Personally I find Matsuko Deluxe mildly entertaining, but harbor no strong feelings either way and most likely won't feel sad when (s)he disintegrates into media oblivion in a few months time.

In any case, this is just to give you a little background to the entertaining story that I recently heard from one of my colleagues I'm quite friendly with. My friend participated in the funeral of the father of another colleague (i.e. my colleague as well) and during the festivities they ran into another former lady colleague, Sachiko, who had left the company since quite a few years back and stayed off the radar since then. This image of Sachiko when she was in the company was that of a quite good looking slim lady in the late 30's, but to the shock of my colleague she had apparently filled out quite a lot in the few years that she's not been seen or heard of from the company people... As my colleague ran into her at the funeral, Sachiko beamed off a huge smile, made a twirl and a bow and said "Hi! What do you think of Sachiko-DELUXE?!". My colleague, lost for words, stuttered something about how nice it was to see her again and how well the newly found weight suited her and then ran off to more fun conversation at the funeral...

I'm not sure if I managed to capture any of the surreal amusement of this little encounter as I experienced it when it was told to me, but in conclusion, anything is better in DELUXE!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's a chore tricked out as a game, don't fall for it!

I own a Wii, but it's mostly collecting dust unless I have some friends over since it can serve as a decent party diversion to bust out some Wii Sports Resort or so, but compared to the Playstation offering the single player games for the Wii just generally suck.

Recently having the brother-in-law over with his family and two Wii loving kids, the kids were let loose on the Wii while the adults enjoyed dinner, drinks and conversation. With some intervals I went over to participate in some of the games and assert myself as the dominant male and kick some ass in some of the more enjoyable mini-games (which are not that many).

After a period of being left unattended I checked in on the kids as they were playing a bicycle mini-game together and seemingly enjoying it immensely. The aim of the game is to cycle through a course and come in first place, simple enough, but what you do to control the game is to repeatedly shake the controllers up and down in some form of rythm for the duration of the course, which can easily go over 5 minutes... Not the most exciting way to control the game and quite exhausting as well, I'm very impressed with Nintendo for making up a pointless chore and dressing it up as a game and having the kids enjoy it.

Now, if only Nindendo could work on this and figure out how to make the kids do actually productive chores like doing the dishes, moving the lawn etc. disguised as games, we could really be onto something big here!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Joy of Japanese Guests

I'm not sure if it's my genes or a personal trait, but I generally like having guests over at the Sunshine-Salaryman base of operations. Something which sometimes clashes a bit with Mrs. Sunshine since the required cleanliness standards that we have in our heads for having guests over is quite different. While I basically don't care that much if there's baby Sunshine vomit and poo in the corners of the rooms, Mrs. Sunshine wants a bare minimum of dust rats smaller than 3x3cms in diameter.

However, I have noticed that when having Japanese guests over, the place is usually left in an even better state than it was in when the party began. It is usually neigh impossible to stop any of the guests from starting to wash things up, scrub the floor and put all the remaining food in suitable containters. This in comparison to having a bunch of foreign friends over, after which it usually looks like a battle zone and a good part of the following day is spent cleaning up.

I have now seriously started to consider maximize the amount of dishes and dirt in the corners until I invite some Japanese friends over to get the cleaning done and also maybe a bit of socializing, I just need to run this by Mrs. Sunshine to see if she'll approve...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A War of Cultures - Big Balls Beaver vs. the Gnome

One thing that is very striking when comparing European (or at least the more northern part of Europe) and Japanese culture is the difference in garden decorations.

One of my favorite items in the European garden is the Garden Gnome statue in all it's bountiful forms, sometimes jolly, sometimes a bit more mischievous and sometimes even a little naughty. When passing by a garden with a Garden Gnome decorating it, I often make a stop to fully enjoy it.

However, here in Japan the Garden Gnome is basically unheard of, on rare occassions it can be seen in a garden of some Japanese person who is trying to get a little European atmosphere going (but it is often mixed-up with Santa Claus anyway). Instead, the Japanese garden has opted to go for statues of the Tanuki; the Japanese beaver racoon dog thingy animal. It has in common with the Garden Gnome that it is often dressed up in various forms and often is carrying a bottle of liquor (for the sake of being correct, I probably should add that the Tanuki statue is often a regular feature not only in gardens, but also outside restaurants and some more traditional shops selling handicrafts etc).

One characteristic of the "Tanuki" animal is that is has unproportionally large testicles compared to most well known mammals, and this is of course taken into account when making the Tanuki Garden statues (see the pictures, yes, those are the testicles).

Since the Salaryman household is a cross-cultural family, I have been considering how to manage our garden in terms of the Gnome vs. the Tanuki, whether I should make sure to have an equal number of each to not create any disharmony.
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After much consideration though, I think that I have come to the ideal solution, instead of having a "balance", a blend would be much more interesting and creative; the ideal thing to have in the garden would be a Garden Gnome with huge bared testicles to celebrate both cultures! I have done some preliminary scouting, but I have yet to find such a blend...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Country life

As readers of my blog probably are well aware, since about a year earlier the Salaryman family relocated from central Tokyo to the suburbian outskirts of the city. The area is still just ~30min away from central Tokyo with the train, but sometimes I feel like we ended up in the real countryside.

Last year, on my way to and from the station, I usually passed by a number of pretty run-down homeless people, a large number of "Izakaya" style bars/restaurants, one or several low level Yakuza looking "Chinpira" ("small prawn" - small time gangsters) hanging around their turf and quite a few more or less seedy looking girl bars.

In the new Salaryman Family area we recently passed by the local elementary school who had drawn quite a crowd with today's event of "sweet potatoe picking contest" and a small restaurant located in what looked like a residential home called "Loghouse Country Diner".

Well, at least the Chinpira guys are just 30 minutes away if we take the train!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day of the Living Dead Non-Profit Organizations...

A new interesting word has emerged here in Japan, a word that is unlikely to become an established "False Friend" (as my big bro taught us earlier). The word is "Zombie Organization" (ゾンビ事業).

When the DPJ ousted the LDP out of power in Japan, they started a public hearing of government sponsored NPO's (Non-Profit Organization) to sort out the inefficient and unnecessary organizations and "put and end to the wasteless and irresponsible spending of tax payer's money of the LDP". But also, making the hearings public and televising them made quite a spectacle of it and brought the chairwoman Rehno to further public fame. The hearings likely was mostly boring and dull, but some amusing bits were shown repeatedly on tv where bitchiness reigned supreme, both from the committee and and NPO's getting the sharp end of the stick.

In theory, I guess the principle was good since it seems like there's a lot of NPO's there whose prime objective seem to secure government money and comfy jobs with no real demand for any output or results and the change in government probably severed a lot of networks from any " 'ol boys club" where mutual back-scratching was rampant.

But, like most of the DPJ's initiatives, it seems like it was well meant but just horribly poorly implemented. What has happened now is that many of the NPO's that got their grants cut in the first round have changed their names and resurrected themselves as a completely new organization and again managed to get the government money crane flowing. These old-new NPO's have gotten the name Zombie Organizations now in the media as they come back to life after being killed once (see an article in Japanese here).

I think it's common knowledge that for the modern zombies, the only way to really kill them is to shoot them in the head and destroy their brains (filling the mouth with salt and sewing it shut is old school), but how do you kill a zombified organization? I will eagerly follow the news here to see if they come up with an answer!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The sleep of the just

Baby Sunshine is, as the name indicante, a quite small baby. And although it's not the easiest thing to get her to wind down enough to relax and get the naps that she needs, she does sleep quite deeply when she gets down to business, sometimes doing those adorable baby snores as well.

Most of the time, WWIII erupting in her room, loud music, bears scavenging for food, shouting, Chinese boats slamming into her side could not bother her less, she'll just sleep through it. However, one thing that I have noticed is how extremely delicate her ears seem to be to any sounds related to the nose. Sniveling a little or blowing one's nose will immediately result in one cranky little baby girl, even if it's done very softly and not in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping baby...

With an onset of allergy that hits the mucus production, I now usually try to put at least two closed doors between me and the sleeping baby to keep things peaceful. Why didn't any of those baby books mention this?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Japanese English...

Ok, this post is actually not about misuse of English here in Japan (a post on that subject you can find here), but on the invention of new words in English in Japan that end up only existing here in Japan.

When Mrs. Sunshine was brought back to the old country and a question came up from some of my Swedish relatives whether she was planning to buy something in particular at one tourist destination we were planning to go to. In her regular basically flawless English she answered "Well, I don't want to buy anything big, but maybe an "eco-bag" or something small like that". This was met with considerable confusion until I realized that "eco-bag" is not a generally accepted word in the English vocabulary and could explain that she meant reusable shopping bags.

The term "eco-bag" is (as far as I know) invented in Japan and means a reusable bag used for grocery shopping and the "ecology" part comes from that no disposable plastic bags is needed and thus is more environmentally friendly. From an English language perspective, I think the word is perfectly reasonable, but deceptive... I'm sure there are plenty of more examples out there, but none come to mind at the moment.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Buying a house in Japan Part 9 - Finding the lawyer

(Again, check out here to catch up on the ongoings so far)

As we now found ourselves with the issue of finishing up and submitting a "permanent residence" visa application to the immigration office within just a few days in order to secure the loan that we had filed for, things were a bit tense in the Salaryman household. Since neither of use had any experience in putting together such an application and the amount of documents are quite significant, it seemed like an almost impossible proposition for us to manage within just a few days, and to add to that, working days for me where I would had to spend most of the time toiling away in the office.

While my outlook was basically that of quite defeatism, Mrs. Sunshine had a burst of energy and located a lawyer working with things like this, relatively close to our previous apartment in Ikebukuro and as I came home after an exhausting day in the office, basically resigned to the fact that we would never get the application done and submitted and that we would have to give up the dream house we had seen the previous day, she had located a small one man law office.

(The conversation we had when I came home could've been taken from the movie Aliens, where I would play the part of Hudson and Sunshine that of Ripley:
Hudson: "That's it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?"
Ripley: "You better just start dealing with it, Hudson! Listen to me! Hudson, just deal with it, because we need you and I'm sick of your bullshit.")

So, as the phonecall was placed around 9PM and we explained the situation, to our surprise the lawyer said "Sure, we can do this, can you come over now immediately so I can start working, I'll be here all night?". As we headed out into the night with our documents towards the middle of the most sleazy area in Ikebukuro to have this midnight meeting with this lawyer, the real excitement started, but that's for the next post.

(Educational Piece: I think that most people put together their own applications for the "permanent residence" visa based on the instructions from the immigration office instead of paying an external person to handle this and assuming that time is available this is probably the best way to go. If you google around a bit I'm sure that you can find several homepages that give advice and instructions on how to do this)

Monday, November 1, 2010

I had a dream...

Last night I had an interesting dream...

I dreamt that I had ended up at a concert with the Japanese boy-band Arashi (see the picture) and was walking around in the audience. I had no idea what I was doing there since I'm hardly a fan of their music, but I was walking around, mingling with the audience and enjoying myself before the show had started...

...somehow my wandering took me backstage and I opened a door and found myself face to face with the whole group as I accidentally had walked into their dressing room. To my surprise all of them were in the nude as they were about to change into their (fancy) scene costumes and to my great surprise none of them had any genitalia, instead of genitalia they just had a small hole to pee from. They seemed happy to see me and we did some cold talk about the weather and other things until I breached the question and asked why they were lacking their genitalia. The dressing room erupted in disgusted "ewww! It's so disgusting", "oh, I hated those filthy things" and they explained to me that they had their organs it surgically removed because it was so disgusting and how much more comfortable they were with the small pee-holes that they had replaced it with. After that I waved goodbye and wandered out on my merry way, thinking "they seemed like nice guys, a bit odd with the genitalia but not surprising really".

...then I woke up and had to go pee and felt quite thankful that I still had it all where it was supposed to be. I guess this is what happens when you have tacos just before going to bed?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Everyday is Halloween"

Finally, soon now the Halloween season will be over and all the stuff that comes with it will be gone. Celebrating Halloween is of course an imported event here in Japan and it's grown more and more popular over the latest years. If I think back, just ten years ago when I arrived fresh of the banana boat, it was not really a big deal at all but has really caught on in recent years.

In particular, I find the passive aggressiveness of all the pumpkins quite annoying with all the "pumpkin ice cream", "pumpkin gratin" and anything else that people seem to think it's a good idea to pumpkin up now with the Halloween season. As pumpkin in general does not really rank very high among my favorite foods, I mostly avoid it, but avoiding exposure completely is next to impossible. I assume that it's powerful pumpkin lobby groups who have pushed for this.

I also have the song "Everyday is Halloween" by Ministry constantly playing in my head these days, but hopefully it should soon be over and be replaced by Fried Chicken, cakes and all the other traditional Japanese Christmas stuff.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sexual Harassment Dice?

Recently, Japan has been a bit silent on the odd news section and the media has been dominated by politics, bear invasions and Chinese Japan bashing, but now some quite entertaining news have emerged.

Apparently an elementary school teacher in Saitama went creative when it came to keeping control of the kids in his class and put to use a device smartly called "The Sexual Harassment Dice" which came into use when kids were misbehaving. (see here in Japanese). To be completely fair, the whole deal seems quite harmless as the actions written on the sides of the dice hardly by any definition could be considered sexual (among the "worst" was "hug" and "kiss on the cheek"). But the media has picked up on this and one news show showed a giant sized replicate of the dice used to illustrate more in detail. The purpose seemed to be to, in a good nature, discourage misbehavior by having it thrown when someone had done something to disrupt the lessons and have minor innocent, but embarrasing for kids, actions on it.

What I find most entertaining/puzzling though is how any teacher of young children can think it's a good idea to call this little device "The Sexual Harassment Dice", if it had been called, say "Misbehavior Dice" or something like that, my guess is that no one would be picking up on it and he could have happily used it to the days of retirement...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One of these...

One of these babies (out of which one is the always adorable/cranky Baby Sunshine), one is more likely to end up as a mid-level management corporate drone in one of the less significant subsidiaries of one of the huge Japanese "Zaibatsu" conglomerates, keep working late nights, marrying, having children but being a constantly absent parent until at the age of 55 he/she will be fired during a reorganization when the company decides that new blood will be needed and with the experience limited to one company he/she fill find her-/himself unable to land a decent job. Eventually he/she will land a low-level sales job spending the nights away from home in ~5,000 yen ($50) cheap ass business hotels in the outskirts of the Kanto area with the spouse at home since long engaged in numerous extra martial affairs and not even bothering to hide it anymore. A not unlikely end is suicide by hanging in the closet of a particularly crappy business hotel after a critical deal got messed up and the shame of reporting this to the abusive supervisor proved too much.

One of these babies will likely find her-/himself getting mostly along on her/his looks as aptitude for studies is lacking and a particularly cranky behaviour makes it difficult to get along with the people around him/her. Eventually he/she might land a job in the "water business" in a cabaret/host club, earning plenty of money but wasting it all away on brand goods and drugs to try and fill the void inside due to the meaninglessness of it all. As he/she is approaching the 30's and the market value is dropping, things will be harder to sustain and a large number of short term loans will make it harder and harder to maintain the lifestyle. A not unlikely end is ending up dead by an overdose of MDMA provided by a handsome (but sociopathic) actor that pretended to be able to help provide a better brighter life but in reality just using him/her as a diversion from the overbearing family life at home.

Our children are the future!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sausage on a bone stick

Sometimes it's just the little things that annoy me, as long time readers of this blog might be well. This particular time, my annoyment got turned on something I'm unsure of whether it's a Japanese thing or present in other countries as well (never heard of it in the old world).

What I find extremely annoying is "sausages with bone", which basically is a sausage on a stick for more convenient eating, but instead of using a regular stick, animal bone is used. I'm unsure, but I think the purpose is to give it the same feel as that of a chicken leg or other meat dish where the bone is part of the overall "package". Considering that a sausage is minced meat with all kinds of different animal parts (ok, fully depends on the sausage brand and quality of the product) thrown into the mix, the bone just doesn't make sense. It's not like there's animals walking around out there with already minced meat attached to their bones.

When I come into power, I promise you that I will do my utmost to put and end to this abuse of bone/sausage combinations and heavily regulate the market. Thank you for your support.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No! Stop the groping!

As I have previously discussed a little, groping is a problem with the crowded Japanese trains (as discussed here). I guess it would be wrong to label it a problem of mine as I neither grope or get groped, at least deliberately.

In order to stop this rampant groping, the different subway and train lines launch some advertisement campaigns with regular intervals and I found this new little sign quite interesting (see the picture). It says in big letters "Groping is a crime!" and features a quite happy looking female with a big envelope (I wonder what's inside?) and the outline of a man in a train with his hands in his pockets and a big "NO!" written all over him.
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I have difficulties in finding out what I'm supposed to do after seeing this ad... Should I avoid standing by the doors with my hands in my pockets or should I limit my groping to women with envelopes? This requires some further contemplation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Where do you keep the FILMJÖLK around here?"

Having the Japanese mother, having lived in exile in Sweden now for almost 40 years (considerably longer than she has lived in Japan) can lead to some quite amusing and sometimes mildly embarrasing incidents.

Everytime she calls one of her Japanese friends, she starts the conversation with a loud "Hallå?" (the Swedish word for "Hello"/もしもし) before she starts talking in a language the person on the other end of the line actually can understand. Also, the other day, instead of saying "Camera" (カメラ) she said "photographic device" (写真器) in Japanese. But I guess I might be heading for the same fate the longer I stay here.

Also, the other day we went to the supermarket to do some shopping and during an unsupervised moment, she had approached one of the attendants to ask if they had anything like "Kefir", or if that was lacking, any other type of "Filmjölk" (basically a Swedish variant of yogurt) causing the attendant considerable confusion and distress until I could come in and disarm the situation, reminding mom that people outside Sweden doesn't have a clue what it is (no, mom is not demented or confused, but it seems like it has yet dawned on her that the products available here in Japan are a bit different from what she might be used to in Sweden).

As I was guiding her around the neighborhod of the Salaryman-Sunshine Fortress of Solitude, she was quite impressed with the area, how nice, clean and green it was. Then she also added with a frown "there are not many immigrants here either, are there?" to which I quickly replied "no thank God, there's not many people like me at all here, then it would turn into a ghetto real quick". I find the good 'ol fashioned racism of old people quite refreshing, particularly from someone who has spent so many years in Sweden as an immigrant.

...but I do miss the Filmjölk from home, no denying that... Being an immigrant is a hard life...

Friday, October 15, 2010

You are hereby honorably discharged from your duties as a Japanese citizen

Talking about the "most famous" Japanese person outside Japan turns into a generation issue I would think, but I don't think that it would too far off to say that the wife of the late John Lennon of the Beatles, Yoko Ono probably is at least one of the most well known Japanese people world-wide.

However, something I find quite amusing is the ambivalence towards Yoko Ono that the Japanese media shows to her here in Japan. It is true that Yoko Ono has spent most of her adult life outside Japan (I'm not sure if she's now a naturalized US citizen or not, but I would guess that it's not unlikely). Her Japanese is of course completely fluent during the rare occasions that she does an appearance in the Japanese media (to my surprise I once saw her in one of those stupid variety shows with comedian duo 99) but her mannerism gives her away as a long time expatriate.

The thing that I find most amusing though, is that when her name is written in Japanese, they almost always chose to write it in the Katakana alphabet and not through the Chinese Kanji Characters (the Katakana alphabet is primarily used for foreign words/names). So in the media, it's written as "オノ ヨーコ" instead of "小野 洋子". Since the katakana alphabet is primarily used to write foreign names it gives quite an odd impression, particularly since she was born in Japan and thus have formal Chinese characters.

I'm not sure whether it's her idea to have her name written in katakana or whether it's the media that for some reason has chosen to write it like that; but it does give an impression of "non-Japaneseness". Considering that she otherwise is usually treated with some amount of respect here in Japan (although most Japanese people probably doesn't care that much unless they're Beatles fans), but it gives an impression of her having been honorably discharged from her duties as a Japanese person. Remember, don't ask, don't tell!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to emphasize a breakthrough (or not)

Sometimes I focus too much on the insanity going on in my current company and forget that it's almost as insane, or even worse, in most other companies around.
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Recently I talked to a friend of mine working in pharmaceutical company here in Japan and he told me, with a very tired expression, on how a product marketing team in his company, about to launch a new drug had decided to talk about how it will "create a breakthrough in treatment of disease X, just like the movie Avatar revolutionized 3D cinema!".
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After coming over the first shock of the ridiculousness of comparing new treatments for serious diseases to movies in the entertainment business, I started to see the opportunities that this could create in case it became industry standard to compare medical treatments to movies.
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For one of our dying older products from the 80's that has seen it's brightest days, I'm thinking of creating a campaign comparing it to either Roadhouse, Next of Kin or Red Dawn. Something like "This product did for the treatment regime of disease X just the same way as Roadhouse added to the throw away 80's violent action movies; a small diversion and something for the fans but not much else" or maybe compare one of our urology catheters to "revolutionized urologic catheters in the same way as the Crying Game revolutionized penis exposure in major films".

The opportunities are endless!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let's Domestic Abuse!

I think it's well known that Japan is the land of sometimes downright odd English, something that is catalogued pretty well over at the site Engrish.com and over at neighbor blogger Penguin. After almost ten years in Japan, most of it just slip by as background noise as you get used to it, but there has been a few things that caught my attention previously (thinking of "the toy" pants, "Minority" t-shirt and "I'm your C***" t-shirt back in ancient history).

But sometimes, odd English is not the issue as much as the downright disturbing messages that you can find on t-shirt. This t-shirt in the picture, I found in a local "anything goes" store and if you have difficulties seeing it properly in the picture it says "That's twice! Even my dad never hit me!".

I like the combination of making a t-shirt on the theme of domestic abuse and the added implications that a father usually would hit his children. Unfortunately they didn't have it in baby size, otherwise I would be a sure buy for Baby Sunshine!

Friday, October 8, 2010

No, it doesn't get better, it just gets worse and worse

With Mother Salaryman haunting the household, and adding work and baby Sunshine to that, things are quite busy as you can imagine. But with a three day weekend coming up now (yep, Monday is one of those great made-up holidays, "Sports day" this time), there will be some breathing room at least.

Last time I met up with dear old mother, she told me that she had joined a bridge club in the hometown in Sweden, for retirees. She was quite excited as she told me of this new found hobby and how many new people she met through the events. However, after a few minutes of excitement, she got a bit sadder and added; "no one wants to partner up and play with me though, they say I'm too bad at it...".

With Mother Salaryman back here in Japan, I felt a certain need to inquire as to whether this bullying had continued or whether she had started to get some enjoyment out of the Bridge club now after a year. Again, Mother quite excitedly launched into an explanation on how things had started to brighten up and how she had found her Bridge partner; it seems like the fellow that she got teamed up with had suffered some form of stroke and brain damage, leaving him quite prone to forget things and in addition, a previous accident had left him with only one finger left on one of his hands, making it difficult for him to properly manage to hold his hand on his own... But apparently she found this rising star to latch on to in the local Bridge tournaments...

In the end, Mother proudly announced that she's no longer always the person at the end of the ranking, sometimes her partner falls behind her... Well, I think the lesson learnt here is that for most of us regular guys, it just doesn't get better, it just gets worse, but you can always cover up with someone that's doing worse than you....
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