Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grocery Picks

Amazing coat.

The Ugg of fruits.

Amazing name and mascot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grape inauguration

During the inauguration, I noticed Malia Obama taking pictures with a point-and-shoot digital camera. I'm glad it was of the "grape" variety, but disappointed it was a Kodak. I suppose a child doesn't need to be carrying a Canon G10, but this is front row seats to her father's presidential inauguration! Regardless of standards for normalcy, you won't see any of my future children wandering with lower-than-Canon/Nikon-tier point-and-shoot digital cameras. Shoo.

In other news, I joined Twitter. I don't really understand its purpose, but there it is on the right. My intent is to prepare myself for the purchase of an iPhone in the near future, which I anticipate will allow me to twit away, check Facebook incessantly, stay on top of my Gmail, and Google everything ever. I will propel myself into the future, even if years late.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009



The last time I played Animal Crossing a couple of weeks ago, I got my hair did at Shampoodle. In the Wii version, if you don't play for a long time, apparently they take that 'do away from you and you're stuck with an "I just got out of bed" look.

This bedhead is an accurate depiction of how I feel sometimes when words do not suffice.

Like when your batteries in your Wiimote dies RIGHT AFTER you get the first coin from the magic rock that will give you lots more, money you can't get at the moment because Nook isn't open past 10PM.

Or when your fishing skills are so rusty you pull the line back too early not once, but TWICE, on rather large-looking fish silhouettes.

But then, something wonderful happens:


Aurora borelais in Animal Crossing!!! I've never seen one before. It just crept up on me at the edge of the TV screen. I love how Animal Crossing life is both frustrating and beautiful.

Later on, I realized that I had some new clothes from the last time I played. I changed into that, in honor of my bedhead and winter conditions.


Then I ran into Blanca or whatever this cat's name is, and gave her a new "grumpy" face, at her request.


One must continue to truck on:


It ended up being a red snapper. Not bad!

We will get through this winter!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The 90's, part 2

Photobucket Photobucket

Or "Borrowing Things, part 2." My dad gave Mordecai this sweater for Christmas, which I appropriated today to channel Kurt Cobain. For some reason, when I see long-sleeved stripes, I think of him. I was never into Nirvana or alternative music in the 90's, but Rock Band and a general interest in reviving the 90's is changing that, bit by bit. Unfortunately, I found Gus Van Sant's "Last Days" disappointing, but my respect for Kurt Cobain increased. I did like that one scene where the dude sings a song and goes nuts on the drums.

So here I am in another reenactment, with Mordecai's (heavy metal) guitar (while actually listening to Biggie's "Big Poppa"). Initial attempts to appear mopey resulted in laughter (above left), but after being instructed to think about dead kittens, I could at least try (above right). Damn, I need a haircut.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The 90's

Photobucket Photobucket

For Christmas, Mordecai gave me "My So-Called Life" on DVD. I watched all 19 episodes in about a week before school started. Plaid was so serious back then--Angela's closet overflows with oversized plaid shirts. Doc Martens were also prominently on display, and I saw Rayanne rock some cut-off jeans. Of course, not everything from the 90's and MSCL were fashionably glorious: the Chases' floral print wallpaper was...geriatric; Sharon's Cherski's hair and clothes were embarrassing; and Brian Krakow's grandfather cardigans were no good, no matter how you thought about it.

Today for some reason I was listening to 90's Amuro Namie--"Chase the Chance," "Don't Wanna Cry," "You're My Sunshine"--when genius-but-now-incarcerated Komuro Tetsuya was behind her music. I got all dance-y and channeled both Angela and Rayanne with Mordecai's Sears flannel shirt, my fake beaver vest, cut-offs from last summer, Hunter boots + red inserts, and my semi-destroyed Uniqlo "Warm-Up" tights. One must maintain warmth and optimism in the dark and cold winter somehow.

Lately in J-Pop

Some recent noteworthy things in my J-pop radar:

  • Crystal Kay posted about a recent shopping excursion with her mother at the Landmark Tower. I'm sure she still lives in Yokohama...I think I'd die if I saw her there (again--I think I saw her walk off the same train I was on at the Yokohama station in the summer of 2002). Anyway, I love her blog, low quality pictures and all.
  • Utada Hikaru posted about another English-language album from Island Def Jam on her blog, which led me to her MySpace. My initial reaction was, "MySpace?!" I suppose there's some marketing value to this. Anyway, she has a single up, "Come Back to Me," which I think sounds much more radio- and American mass-friendly than any of her electronic, ecclectic, pop-experimental stuff on her first major English-language album, "Exodus." It seems like the thing that was missing from "Exodus" was that drum machine snare fill that appears in every recent R&B/pop ballad. I'm curious to see who, if anyone, helped out with this song, and I still wonder about the strength of her voice.
  • BoA is I guess trying to cross over to the States as well. Joe messaged me the other day about a song of hers out in America, and I remembered that I had seen a BoA video on this blog I frequent, Lulu's, who for a period of time was obsessed with the drop-crotch pant. BoA is wearing some mild drop-crotches in this video. The song, "Eat You Up," is entirely in English, and it's kind of smart in that it forces BoA to enunciate every word she says in the verses so that you understand her (she still has what sounds to me like a strong accent in some interview videos, not that you can't understand what she's saying). So this sounds possibly promising as well.
All of this leads me back to Crystal Kay. Why isn't she attempting to cross over? Maybe she and her team are watching her contemporaries test the waters first, especially after seeing Amerie appear on the R&B scene only to pretty much disappear. I suppose this is the low risk path...or maybe it's just the stay-in-Yokohama path. Hmm. 045 is the best area code to have, and "Yokohama" is the best regional license plate registration. Can't criticize that route.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


  • It's cold here in Chicago. There is no real eye socket or eyeball protection available for subzero temperatures; someone needs to get on that market. Here is Oji on Thursday afternoon when it felt like -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C). Can you imagine if the Hudson River crash occurred in the Chicago River on the same day?
  • Food for winter--I made 'takikomi' rice last week. Kikkoman describes it as a 'rice medley.' I was supposed to make it from scratch, but succumbed to The Box. It has everything you need--you just add and mix it in with your rice and water.
  • Food for winter--I made (milk) chocolate chip cookies tonight. My paradigm for cookies is former-best-boss Emily's cookies. It is not possible for my cookies to attain Emily's-cookie-hood, but it's good to have goals.
  • It turns out I make a lot of weird comments while baking. Mordecai suggested I get a cooking show with special guests, like my mom ("Why do you put ginger and soy sauce in your gravy for turkey?" "I think turkey smells bad so I put ginger in as an odor-reliever"), and Nik and his father for Dutch donut-making, and so on. Maybe one day I will bust out the camcorder and upload a video of how pathetic my arm muscles are, which explains why it takes me an abnormally long time to prepare cookie dough. I could bake this crazy Skittles Barf Cake, as Nik called it, and record the rainbow process!
  • I've been meaning to have a new header. I've collected all the photos that I want in it; it's just a matter of making it look right. Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2008 Reflections

I don't normally reflect and resolve at the start of a new year, but I liked Richard's posts, "Some of My Favorites From the Past Year," Parts I and II. He tagged his Blog Roll to do something similar, so here are my sets of reflections.

Things Done For the First Time (Or First Time in a Long Time), 2008

-Broke a bone, which is better than collapsing a lung

-Karaoked in Japan (I believe I am singing "Friends" by Rebecca here)

-Enjoyed sashimi at the Yokohama Intercontinental Hotel, which I will probably never experience again in life (thank you John & Joan!)

-Dressed up for Halloween for the first time since 1996 (here as Grape Crush, with Nik as Holy Shit, expressing what he would be like emerging from a butthole)

With Mai @ Niketown getting matching sweatshirts (I basically live in mine)

With Mitsutaka, hanging out with and inspired by Obama
-Hung out with Mai and Mitsutaka for the first time since 1995!

TV Series Watched in 2008

-Twin Peaks
-Beverly Hills, 90210
-Arrested Development
-My So-Called Life

Best & Most Influential Reads
-James Tully, "Political Philosophy as a Critical Activity"
-Stanley Cavell, bits of Conditons Handsome and Unhandsome that I could understand
-Neal Grossman, various essays on academia and philosophy
-Nabokov, Lolita
-Various fashion blogs, which have changed my internet surfing ways

I'm not big on resolutions--I don't think I've ever really made one and if I have, it was either a stupid one or I'll bet I didn't keep it. But I've thought about what kind of resolutions I'd make, and here's how my thought process went. I'd be tempted to make changes in my life: to be a better student, to be more organized and less messy, to cook and bake more and eat out less, to be more frugal, to stop cleverly and arrogantly justifying my flaws, and so on. But I don't think that I would be able to change in these ways this year just by, however adamantly, making a resolution in January. Like mochi, I will forget about resolutions by March. I actually thought about something related in November, when I wrote a note to myself to stop thinking so much about what I need to do tomorrow, later this week, next week, and so on. Everything that happens in the future is up to what I do now, so it's the present that's more important in terms of what I need to do or should be doing. In a way, this can be interpreted as a resolution, but for me it's a way of looking at what I need and want to do in a more realistic way, something I've been working on over time.

In the Year 2009...
(Photo by Mitsutaka)
I'll be getting married! Adulthood 1, Youthhood 0, in a way, but win-win for MordeKei.

Thanks for the tag, Richard! Here's to a productive 2009.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New York, continued

I forgot to finish posting about New York. I had another moment of success at Zara, this time in SoHo. At Old Orchard's Zara here a couple of months ago, I tried on this gray dress but they didn't have it in my size. It's kind of blobby, or maybe "bohemian" is the more flattering term. Though a bit battered from sale frenzies, it was in my size and marked down, so it is now in my possession. I don't really have anywhere to go with such a dress, but at least I have something on standby.

We met up with Nate and Corinne and went to Han Bat, a Korean restaurant. This is probably like the fifth time I've been there. As usual, I got the bibimba in the hot stone bowl (dol sot bibimba/ishiyaki bibimba/石焼ビビンバ).

I let the rice char a little too much before mixing it all up.

We went to the Natural History Museum afterwards, which is sort of like Chicago's Field Museum. As a child, I have to say that the Field Museum was one of my least favorite places to go to in Chicago "for fun." Thankfully, the Natural History Museum has more space and stuff. There is a strong element of creepiness to the museum and its collection (I'm convinced it's haunted), but if it's better than the Field Museum? Can't camplain (sic).

Clockwise from top: Capybara (Lucy!), big blue whale, baby dinosaurs, the elusive coelacanth (at least in Animal Crossing)

Near the museum on the Upper Something Side, I scoped out some real estate; an apartment in this building below will do for an extra home. Surely I have enough saved up for this wanty item.


Before heading back to New Jersey and Long Island, we stopped for three-star coffee.


This place had character. There was a French academic next to us flipping through some paper with lots of footnotes, talking in a heavy accent with a student or colleague. Our waiter looked eternally angry, but I'm sure that's just how his face is. They also slice muffins in half and toast them! When we left, I was taking pictures of the interior and caught the attention of a customer who asked us if we were students and were looking for a tutor.

The "tutor" and Nate's toasted blueberry muffin

The waiter warrants a closeup; this is why I persisted in taking photos inside, unaware of crazy customer potential.

Sadly this time around in NYC, there were no run-ins with nitrolicious, the Sartorialist, happy blog (!!!), Phoebe, or Jenni. Maybe next time! There is never enough time to play in the city.

New Year's

My mom made osechi for New Year's.

Setup; the inari (fried, sweetened tofu?) on the left were from my cousins, so my mom added that to the bunch. Notice the curly tail at the top right corner of this picture.

Zouni: clear chicken broth soup thingie with mochi

From top, clockwise: Inari sushi, tamago (sweet & somewhat fishy egg), kamaboko (fish paste), kuromame (black beans), konnyaku (apparently it's some sort of plant, but it smells fishy), satoimo (starchy, kind of slimy potato), kinpira gobou (burdock root), and sweet chestnut in the middle.


Based on the description of what's on my plate, none of this sounds all that appetizing. But aside from humans, Japan's only real natural resource is seafood, so what can one expect? Anyway, it all tastes good, or it's good to have once a year. The mochi though, I will eat every day from now until about March, and then completely forget about its existence until next January.

Happy New Year!



Sam brought his cat on his way back to Indiana. Her coat is growing in well; it's a nice mix of black, white and gray. I love her "independent woman" attitude towards everything.


We watched the countdown in Gumisour, my Animal Crossing town. I hung out with the mayor, Tortimer, and my neighbor Gaston. The Wii clock was a minute or two ahead of the TV network clocks, so we watched this first and switched back to the drunk news anchors reporting from the Trump Hotel and Tower.