Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So THAT's Why Everyone in Seattle Exercises

Coffee can lessen the pain of exercise
(via msnbc.com):
"That cup of coffee that many gym rats, bikers and runners swill before a workout does more than energize them. It kills some of the pain of athletic exertion, a new study suggests. And it works regardless of whether a person already had a coffee habit or not."
Sweet caffeine dulls the pain...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kutiman's ThruYou Mashup Turns YouTube Into Funk Machine

Not sure if you all noticed my Tweet the other week when I first stumbled upon the genius of Kutiman remixing YouTube videos (thanks to Merlin Mann over at 43Folders) but I just found a cool article about it...

Kutiman's ThruYou Mashup Turns YouTube Into Funk Machine
(via The Underwire from Wired.com):
"'I downloaded a clip from a drummer, who I now realize is Bernard Purdie, who's sessioned on all kinds of records,' Kutiman said. 'All it needed was some bass and guitar; I loved the idea that I was playing along with him and he didn't even know it. But once I decided to download another clip and play over it, I thought, 'Why not get another video to play over it?' Since then, I haven't really slept or eaten. I lost track of night and day. I'd just pass out and wake up on the computer. I was fascinated by the idea. It was so magical.'"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Colonel Sanders... SAVED!

Japanese Colonial Sanders

Colonel Sanders rescued from river after 24 years:
"He was covered in mud when pulled from the river, and had lost both legs and hands, not to mention his glasses. But Colonel Sanders still had his trademark smile, 24 years later.

A statue of the KFC mascot has been found in a river in Osaka, a city official said Wednesday, nearly a quarter century after being tossed in by crazed baseball fans who felt the image of restaurant founder Harland Sanders resembled a key team member."
Never understood how anyone could survive a swim in that river (much less 24 years in it) but I'm guessing it had something to do with those 11 herbs and spices.

Keith Olbermann even talked about it (and Orlando, no less) on last night's Oddball:

Heh heh... "blowhole".

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Judd Apatow Movie!

Also known as "The 30-Year-Old Virgin".

Big hat-tip to Flex MacGuffin for taking the idea and running with it and to Judd Apatow for throwing a few Doc Brown impressions in "Knocked Up":

Oh, and quick tip to any sexy ladies out there who may find themselves on a date with me in the near future: if you don't know who Doc Brown is and you'd still like a ride home, dear god, don't tell me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Letter To The Editor of Kansai Time Out

During a recent trip to Uwajimaya (the Japanese grocery store here in Seatte), I picked up a copy of the February issue of Kansai Time Out, a magazine I'd read frequently while I was living in Osaka.

Now, I am usually not the type of person to ever write to an editor but after reading a letter they'd published called "Easy Does It" written by a KT Williams in Kobe, I couldn't help myself. I wrote the entire response before I went to bed and emailed it the next morning.

Since I probably sent it too late to make the March issue and because it might not be timely enough to make the April issue, I am including what I wrote below.

Here's the original letter:
Easy does it

My pet peeve is people who whine about "globalization." I remember reading something in your magazine last year about Buy Nothing Day and it really upset me. Therefore, I feel that I must educate some of your younger readers about what Japan was like BEFORE Costco, Starbucks, Amazon, etc., arrived and made our lives here so much easier.

I remember walking into a supermarket for the very first time shortly after we moved to Japan. Shopping for basic groceries was a nightmare! I couldn't read anything on the labels. I bought ajar of spaghetti sauce and it tasted terrible. They didn't even have diet soda. I drink Diet Pepsi but I would have settled for Diet Coke or even Tab if they had it.

A friend of mine tried to cheer me up by suggesting that I try some of the local food. I told her I didn't come to Japan to eat Japanese food. I want to eat what I ate back home (I'm sorry if this sounds selfish, but I am very picky about what I eat.) I couldn't even find Doritos for my kids. I asked my parents to send a
couple of bags, but sending chips in the mail was not the smartest idea. Needless to say they arrived smashed to bits. I almost tore my hair out in frustration!

Full disclosure: I I-o-v-e coffee.(Do not even try to talk to me in the morning until I've had at least three cups.) I remember going to a coffee shop near our house. The owner was a very nice lady and we had a pleasant chat, but I
wasn't very happy when I saw the bill: A thousand yen ($10) for coffee and toast! My friends back home stared in disbelief when I told them this story.

I'm sure your readers can figure out where this is going. Yes, I do all my shopping at Costco (I haven't been inside a Japanese supermarket for over seven years). I drink my coffee at Starbucks three or four times a week. I buy all of my books and DVDs from Amazon, I'm sorry if that doesn't sound "politically correct," but I'm not going to change my lifestyle to please others. Besides, there are PLENTY of people
who feel the same way (having pizza and hot dogs at Costco has become a Sunday tradition for plenty of foreign AND Japanese families in Kansai).

It's time for everyone to face the fact that the world is getting smaller and that shopping is a good thing that brings many people happiness. Buy Nothing Day is a waste of time that will accomplish absolutely "nothing" (pun intended). Instead of complaining, we should be writing "thank-you" letters to these wonderful corporations
for enriching our lives. Every voice counts. lf we"think locally" and "act globally" (to borrow a phrase), we can improve our lives in Japan AND stimulate the economy at the same time.

Here's my response:
To the author of "Easy Does It" (February Issue),

Thank you, Sensei, for taking the time to "educate" us younger readers. ("Sensei" being the Japanese word for "teacher". "Japanese" being that non-English sound you hear around you on your walks to "hot dog night" at Costco.) I was surprised to hear how much the "Japan before Costco, Starbucks and Amazon" you described sounded a lot like… oh, what's the word? That's right… JAPAN.

What were you expecting? The entire premise of your letter is "I moved to another country and (scream!) everything was DIFFERENT!!" What a depressing way to experience life.
I remember walking into my first Japanese supermarket and being delighted that I couldn't read anything. Grocery shopping was an adventure! Sure there were some missteps along the way (I had a friend who itched for days before realizing her "bubble bath" was tub cleaner) but, had I never ventured from my safety zone, I would have missed out on so many wonderful new tastes and experiences. And what a sense of accomplishment to discover products I liked and to reach a point where I could shop with confidence and without a dictionary. I'm sorry to hear that you seem so unwilling to enjoy this process.

And, while there's nothing wrong with having access to comfort foods while overseas, your "my way or the highway" attitude is laughably inappropriate and your little diatribe makes you sound like a crotchety old man screaming "get off my lawn" to a group of kids playing in their own yard.
You are the guest in Japan, not the other way around.

This is not about being "politically correct", either (as you so condescendingly put it). It's about respect; being open-minded enough to embrace the culture of your adopted country, even it means eating the occasional bad spaghetti sauce or paying 10 bucks for breakfast. (By the way, in kissatens, you're not just paying for the coffee and the toast but, thanks to high rent and land prices, you're also paying for the space. But, I suppose it's understandable you don't know this. You've only been in Japan for 7 years.)

And please don't belittle the efforts of a handful of people who want to take ONE DAY a year to remind people that there's more to life than Big Macs, especially when your biggest contribution to society seems to be little more than cranking out thank-you notes to CEOs from your IKEA GUNGHULT chair as you rejoice in the systematic homogenization of the world because it means you no longer have to take the train to Osaka for a Grande Frappuccino. (I'll bet you even order it in English.)

You talk about how these "wonderful corporations" can "improve our lives" but, here's the thing: Some lives don't need improving. Japan has a rich and long history and, believe it or not, some of us actually like that. We're the type of people who, instead of saving some cash by having a coffee we can now buy damn-near anywhere on the planet, would rather spend a few hundred yen extra for the experience of a proper Japanese coffee, all the while supporting smaller, local businesses (and yes, even stimulating the economy). We like the differences. We embrace the challenges. We love Japan for being Japan. And WE sure as hell don't want it to change to please YOU.

May I make a suggestion? If you truly are more enriched by massive global corporations than by local culture and if you honestly find more happiness in consumerism than in connecting with the residents of this fascinating country, do us all a favor: go home.

We'll have a bag of Doritos waiting for you.


Friday, March 6, 2009

This Is Where You Are, This Is Where You're Going, This Is Your Alarm

Like most of people in Japan, I wasn't going to buy an iPhone.

Until now...

"This application emulates the Time Circuit Panel, similar to the one installed into the DeLorean Time Machine, an invention of Doc Brown, the key character of one of the best movies of 80s (you know which one - 'Back To The Future')."

Hopeless Back to the Future geek?

Yeah, there's an app for that.

Swiss Watch Found in 400-Year Old Chinese Tomb

Oops. I really need to be more careful.

(via Weird Asia News):
"How did it get there? This is the question haunting the archaeologists who discovered the Swiss watch in an ancient tomb in Shangsi, southern China, they believed had not been opened since its occupant’s funeral, which occurred during the Ming Dynasty (15-16th centuries).

The miniature watch, which is in the shape of a ring, is thought to be barely a century old. The mysterious timepiece was encrusted in mud and rock and had stopped at 10:06 am. On the back of the watch, the word, ‘Swiss’ is engraved.

Its presence raises more questions than answers… like: Where did the watch come from? Could the watch/ring have been planted at the tomb, but if so, why and by whom?"

Yes We Can (Do Magic)

From the "too well-intentioned to be racist" category, here's some more Japanese black-faced Obama goodness (with one mannish-looking Michelle):

And you thought the U.S. was nutty for change.

By the way, you know the part where Magic Japanese Obama turns a lemon into a tangerine? In Japanese, the word for tangerine is "mikan".

That's right, that whole trick was a setup for the pun "Yes, mi kan".

God, I miss Japanese TV.

(Oh, and if anyone out there can help me find an accurate way to describe the sound that the Japanese audience makes at 2:56, 3:18 and 3:33, it would greatly help with several parts of my book.)

Related Posts:
Japan's Obama Mania
Meet the Japanese Obama

Some Cute For Your Friday Morning

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No Line On The Horizon

That new U2 album I wrote about is out today.

Anyone check it out yet? What do you think?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Octane Talks About The DeLorean

The February issue of octane does a story on the history of the DeLorean (with some great pictures):
"Nightmares are not that uncommon in automotive history. One only has to look at the Boulevard of Broken Dreams that is the British car industry to see where we’re coming from. Few are as infamous as the DeLorean DMC-12 – because if we’re talking about cars that embody the hopes and ambitions of their creator, but which fail spectactularly, then few come close to comparing with his gullwing-doored, stainless steel-panelled sports car."
Related Posts:
Women + DeLorean = Hot
Chuck Versus The DeLorean
Roads? Where We're Going... We Won't Need Roads