Congratulations, G!

August 28, 2008

G finished all his balloon launches! Everything went smoothly and without incident. He’s looking forward to analyzing the data more carefully. And I’m looking forward to having days off with him again. Good job G!


Bon Odori

August 19, 2008

Sunday night, after a perfect balloon launch, G and I stopped by Odori Park on the way home. We picked up a snack of grilled corn and boiled potatoes, quickly recorded a spur-of-the-moment promo shot for the upcoming Sapporo Film Fest, then headed over to the Nishi 2-chome block of the park to watch the festivities. 

From last Wednesday through this Wednesday, there is Bon O-dori dancing nightly. I participated in a Bon O-dori at the Buddhist Temple in Seattle several years ago. The dancers were separate from the spectators, and we practiced a program of a dozen or so dances beforehand. The Odori-koen O-Bon dances are a bit different. There were identically dressed ladies who clearly knew what they were doing and mingled among the crowd to lead, and the rest were parents with children, mostly, who were picking up the steps to the dance as it went. This wasn’t hard to do, since in the 45 minutes that we were there, only one song was played and one dance performed.  We think maybe it’s one dance and one ladies dance troupe assigned per night; that way, everyone can join in. The dance moved slowly counter-clockwise around a central tower housing taiko drummers.  It was kind of a mob; with spectators, dancers, and people entering and leaving the dance in one confusing clump. 

Still, the Bon Odori is one of my favorite things. Lanterns glowing, vintage songs, community dancing together on a summer evening. I couldn’t stop smiling. G and I also cannot stop humming the song that was played, over and over again. I’ve got a video (with the song) and some other pictures on Flickr.

I Struck Gold!

August 16, 2008

I was delighted to find cooking gold for sale in the grocery store. Now I can cook like Nobu. I recall a conversation with friends in Tokyo about how gauche Nobu is for using sprinkling gold on his sushi, etc. But now I find it in my local supermarket? I wonder what sort of person goes to the Seiyu Mart to buy gold to cook with? I wonder what sort of person buys cooking gold to give as omiyage to all her friends back home? 

Wow! 10%!

August 15, 2008

Excavate the linen closet, Mom and Dad. Even at 10% off, this McDonald’s sheet was $40. My favorite part about this sign is how the dynamic, warp-speed 10% off script is undermined by the utterly unattractive phrase “used sheet.”

I thought at first that this shop was for retro-loving 20-somethings, but it turned out to be a store for actual children.


August 13, 2008

G had to work Sunday, but he had a great launch and was in a celebratory mood (see above). Lucky for me, he wanted to go to the German beer garden; I had just been thinking how tired I am of the cheap stuff we’ve been drinking. (Especially when I think back on late spring in Houston, when my fridge was full of Duvel, La Fin du Monde, Delirium Nocturnums, etc.) And, G’s had been going on and on about how he wanted a “bretzel.”

The German section of the garden is sparsely populated, probably because a pint of Spaten costs $12. (The brats and kraut were a deal at $6, however.)

G was so happy to be there; when I was walking back to the table with our sausages he was bobbing up and down in his seat enjoying the accordion player on stage. It’s nice to be married to such a happy person. Later he really wanted to polka, but I had to shut that one down.

In between the accordion sets, they had chug contests with small prizes sponsored by Lufthansa.  If you didn’t win, the consolation prize was getting to finish your beer in your seat. The men got to chug Spaten Optimator. (Mottenai! It’s way too nice to chug!) The women got something light-looking in a green bottle.

G really, really wanted me to do it, so when the Japanese women were reluctant, I waved my arms energetically and got picked. I got smoked. A second before we started to chug, the Lady MC chirped, “This beverage only has 2.5% alcohol, so it should be easy to drink!”

Turns out, it wasn’t light beer, like I thought, but a sickly-sweet, lemon-grapefruit, Zima-esque monstrosity. I was so shocked– yes that’s it– that I finished dead last. (The Lady MC pointed out to everyone how much I had left.) I took the beverage back to my seat, but only in order to torture G with it. The upside is, the next time a German hassles me about America’s inferior beverages, I can bring up the abomination that is V+

Midday Slump

August 12, 2008

Courtroom scene. A Geisha is testifying in a trial against a businessman. He leaps up and shouts, “Don’t believe this lying woman! She’s just a geisha.”

She replies, “I may be a geisha, but I am also — dramatic flourish to reveal a Japanese Bar Association pin on her kimono collar— a geisha lawyer!!”

The judge nods approvingly and smiles, the businessman drops to his knees, defeated. 

And…. scene. 

Geisha lawyer! That would probably be a good bet in that google game where you enter in two words into google and try and get exactly one hit. I don’t think I’ve ever conceived of such a thing. But, if there is one thing harder than becoming a lawyer in Japan, it’s probably becoming a geisha. (There are only 20,000 lawyers in Japan, and the bar exam has a pass rate of under 2.5%, and there are, what, less than 1000 geisha in Japan?)

Both professions require immense effort and dedication, but in completely different ways. One is cerebral and asexual, the other artistic and utterly feminine. A woman who could be both would be the most formidable creature imaginable (which I’m sure is what the writers were going for).

Apparently, Zacarias Moussaoui didn’t realize this, because the only Google reference to “geisha lawyer” is from his trial in 2006, when he used it as a slur for his Japanese-American counsel. Huh.