Slender Reed's comment on my last post reminded me of another YouTube video....
Slender Reed's comment on my last post reminded me of another YouTube video....
You might recall last summer I wrote about how the Acolyte is addicted to a Japanese kid's show called Inai Inai Baa! Well, he still is, and these days he's copying a lot more of the dances. We record it every morning and watch it in the evening as part of our standard post-dinner, pre-bath ritual.
The thing is, the show starts at 10:15 in the morning, and because of the screwy way a lot of the TV Japan shows are listed in the directory, we're forced to set the recording timer at 10:00. At first I thought it was a pain having to fast-forward through 15 minutes worth of Non-Inai Inai Baa! programming to get to the show. But a few weeks back I realized that the show just before Inai Inai is actually pretty entertaining.
It's called Pythagoras Switch and it targets slightly older kids. One of my favorite sequences in the show is called the Algorithm March. I was thrilled yesterday when I discovered that it had been posted on YouTube. Trust me, you'll want to check this out:
The march has many different versions, it's not ninjas all the time. It's been shot with a crew of firemen, a soccer team and all sorts of other characters.
It appears I'm not the only one who appreciates the march either....
I know it's long overdue, but I promised to tell folks how last month's trip to Antiques Roadshow went down. Our tickets were for 4:00 o'clock and we arrived about ten minutes early. The ticket said not to arrive more than 30 minutes early anyway. We passed through security who wanted to ensure we weren't bringing in great-grandpa's favorite box o' dynamite, then entered the line. About two hours later we reached the front of the line where we met with the "General Appraiser." She looked over our stuff to determine which of 20 categories they belonged to. She gave us four "Asian Art" tickets and told us to go stand in the Asian Art line. It was the shortest secondary line there, only one person ahead of me. Some of the Americana lines stretched for miles, and after waiting two hours I was glad I didn't have to wait longer. The first three items were the tanuki, kappa and daruma we got in Japan last November. The appraiser took a look at the daruma and said it was 1960s kitsch that might fetch a few dollars at auction, same for the tanuki. Fair enough, that's what I thought. But then came the kappa... "Yeah, this looks like something you could find in any regional antique store..." Mrs. T just about punched him. She is under the impression that the kappa (which we paid much more for) is Meiji era. She says it was made long before Japanese started pumping out crap novelties to sell to American servicemen in country for the Reconstruction or the Korean War... that's the stuff you see in American antique stores. Mrs. T lost all respect for the appraiser at that point. Then came our big one. Mrs. T's grandmother gave her an old book that appeared to have many hand-drawn illustrations in it. Mrs. T told me when we got it that it was Edo period. Mrs. T's grandmother had a friend whose mother lived in the old jōkamachi of Gifu. The book came from this woman's mother who'd gotten it in the long, long ago. Mrs. T and I assumed we were sitting on gold. Just before we left for Antiques Roadshow, Mrs. T gave the book a more careful look and discovered that it was manufactured in the Meiji Period and not the Edo. She was crushed, but I still held out hope because of all it's hand-drawn illustrations.
So, I pull out the book in front of the appraiser and he unfolds the centerfold and says, "Ooo, what do we have here?" This attracted the attention of the second appraiser sitting next to him and she took it for a more careful look... "It's a history magazine..." We knew that. "It was published in 1892...." We knew that too. "Now these illustrations aren't hand-drawn, as they might appear, but they were printed by hand on wood blocks." I looked at Mrs. T and said, "I thought you said these were hand-done?" She says, "Duh, they're wood-block can't you tell. I told you they were made by hand meaning that they were hand-made by wood block." My dreams of early retirement evaporated at that point. "This is really nice, you'd probably get $100-$150 for this at auction, have a nice day." Auughh! We gathered our stuff and shuffled solemnly back to the car. No words were spoken.
I showed up at work Monday and one of my associates had gone too. He had an antique German stein appraised at $900. Jerk.
This has been a wild week online. I joined Facebook and have reconnected with a number of old high school friends that I haven't heard from in 15 years. Just as I was in the thick of reconnecting with folks, I got an email today from completely out of the blue... not through Facebook, but through Classmates.com. It was my 8th grade French teacher! She was one of my all-time favorites and I always hung around after class to talk with her. So I get this email today, "Rowdy!! One of my very first students! What have you been up to?" This is so cool, I'm so used to being the one looking. It's nice to be found for a change.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I got a book for my birthday. It was I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon. Just finished it... so here's my review:
Excellent. In the three years following Zevon's death, his ex-wife (and life-long friend) conducted nearly 90 interviews with folks important in his life. She then organized the anecdotes in chronological order inter-splicing them with her own narrative and entries from Warren's journal. Extremely well done, with pictures throughout, corresponding to the time being discussed. (I hate when biographies stick a zillion plates in the middle of the book.) It was Warren's wish that she write his story. She did one hell of a job.
Like a lot of folks my age, my introduction to Warren's music was in Junior High when Werewolves of London appeared in The Color of Money. I went out and got his album Sentimental Hygiene and really dug it. He'd always been on my short list of acts I'd love to see in concert, but it never happened. A fact that I'm constantly reminded of by my Evil Little Brother who saw him sit in with Paul Schaffer's band at a Letterman taping.
Speaking of my ELB. He was here this week and took me out to pick out a birthday present, so I grabbed two more CDs:
ELB also got me a couple of books... which I'll review as I finish them.
It was the Acolyte's first theatrical experience and he had a blast. He sat focussed through the whole thing-- to my great shock and delight. For being so good, he walked away with his first concert T-shirt.
The Acolyte is absolutely addicted to Guru Guru Dokkaan! He dances to it daily.... I think he has a crush on Koto-chan (the girl in red.) He'll start running and screaming toward the TV from across the house when he hears her voice. Guru Guru is a regular sequence on the baby TV show Inai Inai Baa! (Peek-a-Boo!)
The Slender Reed recently wrote an enlightening post on Axe Body spray's "Bom Chicka Wah Wah?!?!" campaign. In it, he derides the marketers on their choice of spelling, then hypothesizes that they may have intentionally misspelled it in order to copyright it. I thought it plausible.
Shortly thereafter, I ran across a new J-Pop band whose name lends more credence to Slender Reed's theory:
Okay... finally found a few minutes to share the rest of my vacation photos:
These are ayu (sweet fish) that Nekio's fiance (now husband) brought over to the house shortly before the wedding. The hometown is famous for ayu not only for their tastiness, but the ancient method in which they're caught, called ukai.
Rin at the temple
After the visit to the temple, Nekio and I headed to Malera, the LARGEST MALL IN JAPAN. Here are just a couple of shops that haven't made their way to Texas yet....
I went for the Indian nan and a brew.
Down the street from T's parents home was a vending machine with fellow San Antonioan Tommy Lee Jones' mug advertising canned coffee. Check out one of his TV commercials here.
we made it to Grate-your-own-Wasabi night at a local soba restaurant.
Prior to leaving Japan last week, we had a bedroom full of stuff we wanted to take back and only four suitcases to do it with. I had doubts about volume, weight and fragility. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. But due to
my expert packing skills an enormous stroke of luck, everything arrived stateside in perfect condition.
The three bottles of liquor from my previous post weren't the only delicate items in the luggage. I also had ceramics:
Extremely Fragile Thing #1:
A kappa fishing on the back of a catfish
This is Mrs. T's favorite of the lot. Not only does she think it's cute, it's also very old. The trickiest part here was getting his fishing pole back without snapping.
Extremely Fragile Thing #2
I love this guy, but Mrs. T finds him creepy. Nonetheless, she was kind enough to let me bring him into our home.
Extremely Fragile Thing #3
a very drunk tanuki
This is the piece I worried about most. The ceramic hat sits on his ceramic head and is connected by old twine tied around his neck. The problem is, the twine is so old, if you try to untie the knot, the twine would untwine. So I couldn't remove the hat and pack it sepereratly. But as you can see, he made it home safely.
Speaking of tanukis, this is probably the best time for me to share the Tanuki song my elementary school students taught me back in the day:
Tan-tan-tanuki no kintama wa
kaze mo nai no ni
Rac-Rac-Racoon Dog's testicles,
even with no wind,
For those of you who missed it, Johnny the Horse posted this tanuki video on his site last year... just click on the picture.
By now you've probably figured out what tanukis are known for. If you haven't noticed yet on my statue, everything between his two little feet is all "him."
This is Alco, one of my most favorite places in the world. It's just a three minute bike ride from my wife's parents' house. Alco is a giant liquor store with prices that beat anything I've found so far in San Antonio. Therefore, I did a wee bit of souvenir shopping before heading home:
Can't leave Japan without a bottle of Yamazaki. Check out a commercial for it here.
I like my Scotch smoky and peaty and no region delivers finer than the Isle of Islay. This here hooch is Sherry casked which only stands to enhance its earthiness. I could drink it with a fork. At any rate, what I really need to do is hop on a plane to Switzerland and buddy up with the guy that shot this hot Islay footage.
This one requires a bit of background. You see, I already had this bottle...
of Habuzake stocked in my bar here in Texas. The problem was that I couldn't open it because I had no Awamori to refill it with. You see, Habuzake is the Everlasting Gobstopper of reptilian-based alcoholic beverages. However much you drink, refill the bottle with Awamori and let it steep a while, you'll never run out! So, my third purchase, naturally...
a 1.8 liter tanker of Awamori! Let the Habuzake flow!
We're back in Texas after a quick 10-day family trip to Japan. The Acolyte didn't fuss much on the plane home which was nice. Now that we're back we're trying to catch up on work and overcome the jet lag. Pictures from the trip are developed, but they'll have to wait till later to share. For the time being, here's a shot of the Acolyte and me sharing some sake...