Friday, December 31, 2004


First impressions

I have been in Canada for just over a day and would like to make the following observations:

More to follow...

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Journey back in time

Well, I'm at Kansai international airport, awaiting my plane to Canda which will arrive at 10.40 am local time, around 8 hours before it sets off. Figure that out.

Anyway, I'm hoping that today in Vancouver gets off to a better start than today in Osaka did- I had all sorts of fun trying to track down my plane ticket today. Plus, the complete MOO at check in made a proper fuss about how old and battered my passport is. Quashing the urge to drop-kick her in THE SPINE, I pointed out, with a little less courtesy than I might perhaps have exercised, that the reason for it looking old was that it had been all over the world in my pocket. I then proceeded to start showing her the stamps in my passport, lingering on the more interesting ones and giving her a few anecdotes, and she suddenly couldn't get rid of me fast enough. Strange lady.

Happy New Year folks!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Things that go bump in the night

My current random subconscious fear is evidently police brutality, according to last night's dream.

In my dream I was at the bottom end of Westwood Rd, walking with my friend Andrew. As Andrew is a barman in Shinsaibashi who originally comes from America, I guess he was a wee bit out of context, but I was prepared to accept it at the time.

Anyway, there were a lot of homeless people sitting around who were amusing themselves by reading pool table catalogues (I suspect this is what I'd do all day if I were homeless.) This pleasant diversion was brought to an untimely halt by two aggressive-looking policemen who came up and started snatching the homeless guys' precious catalogues from them.

When I started protesting against their treatment of these unfortunates, the policemen got even more belligerent and, when Andrew joined in, one of them started zapping him with a tazer. I tried to intercede and was promptly beaten unconscious with a brace of righteously-wielded police batons.

I awoke this morning with a sore head but no visible bruises; those guys were obviously professionals.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Well I never

And now it's time for my Buddhist proverb of the day, kindly supplied by Lafcadio Hearn:

kuchi wa wazawai no kado
"The mouth is misfortune's front gate"

With my well-founded reputation for crass remarks, I find this remarkably apt, although misfortune has been known to come gushing out of other parts of me as well.

Wazawai, incidentally, is another pronunciation of this year's Kanji of the year (see below, December 21st.)

After multiple earthquakes and typhoons in this region, I'm just hoping to make it through to 2005, although my hopes weren't boosted by rumours that Osaka is now a target for terrorists:

Yomiuri Shimbun

OSAKA--The Osaka prefectural police have called for calm over a rumor circulating Internet bulletin boards, among other media, that says Osaka will be targeted by terrorists over the year-end and New Year's holidays.

Well that's just freaking great. As if I weren't already in enough danger from blowfish, cyclists and itinerant ninjas, I now have to watch out for religious fanatics as well. "Safety country," my Aunt Fanny...

Friday, December 24, 2004


Christmas story

This is a story about Christmas. Not the commercialised orgy of rampant consumerism that rips up your December pay cheque before you've even got it out of the envelope, nor even some pretentious new age B.S. about a pre-Christian midwinter festival, but the TRUE SPIRIT of Christmas.

That is not to say that these events necessarily took place during the Christmas period; as far as I can recall it might just as well have been February. What I do remember is that it was cold, wet and miserable, and there was an awful lot of traffic coming off the ring road and out of Central Six, so maybe it was Christmas, maybe they were doing their Christmas shopping. Who knows?

Anyway, after another day of counting sheep at my job I was coming up the steps from the station and on my way home. The scene that confronted me as I emerged onto Warwick Row was that of a clapped-out old Rover (possibly), stationary in the midst of the rush hour traffic. Its driver, a woman in (perhaps) her late forties, was standing forlornly beside it in the pouring rain, watching in mute appeal as the interminable column of traffic callously went past her, bound for home, some oven pizza and an episode of The Simpsons (definitely).

That's rather unlucky, I thought as I walked past.

It is a testament to the dehumanising effect that office work has on people that, on this occasion, I was able to walk fully 50 yards before my guilt overwhelmed me. I think the pedestrians coming toward me in the opposite direction must have been somewhat taken aback by the fact that I suddenly swore violently, then spun round and ran back the way I'd come.

In the TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, I waded out into the slowly moving traffic and, with the grateful would-be motorist steering, pushed her P.O.S. car through two lanes of traffic and into the bus stop, probably not winning any medals from the driver of the number 12 in the process.

The moral of this story is that if you sent any Christmas cards to me this year, then you did the right thing, because I'm a nice guy. If you didn't, don't lose any sleep over it, because I didn't send you one. Nice guy I may be, but blessed with organisational skills I am most surely not.

Merry Christmas folks!

Thursday, December 23, 2004


The man without fear. Or talent.

To my stark horror, I saw an advert in a magazine this evening for "Daredevil: the director's cut." I say "stark horror" because the theatrical release of Daredevil sucked so badly that, when I put it in the DVD player and pressed "play", everything in the room was noisily vacuumed into the machines disc slot and I had to wait in there for three hours before Mike got back from work and prised me out with a screwdriver.

Daredevil was absolute toilet: a seemingly interminable montage of Nickelback and Evanescence songs over some extremely poor acting, in no way substantiated by anything approaching a storyline.

As far as making a director's cut goes, I recommend the following course of action:
Whilst I'm on this subject, I think it's worth mentioning the one movie that was even worse than Daredevil.

I refer of course to Underworld.

Now, how a movie whose central premise is urban warfare between vampires and werewolves could be anything other than brilliant is beyond me, but somehow the creators of Underworld managed to ensure that this was the case.

Like the bit where a vampire caps one of the werewolves with the new secret weapon (a gun that fires bullets filled with silver nitrate), then comes out with the amazingly pithy line: "Silver nitrate- I'll bet you weren't expecting that."

I mean seriously, come on.

I hereby apologise unreservedly to Mr Alastair Evans for my suggestion that we should go to the cinema to see that one. Next time, you choose.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


As endorsed by the JKATF....

Ladies and gentlemen, the official kanji (Chinese character) of the year!

"Sai," the kanji meaning "disaster," was voted as the character that best symbolized the year 2004, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation announced last week.
from the Yomiuri Shimbun

Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation?! Crikey, the Japanese think of everything, don't they? People voted for this kanji because Japan was beset by earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions this year. That is to say, more than is usually the case.

Not to mention NOVA renewing my contract.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


Resoundingly dumb behaviour

Things you can do for three-and-a-half hours:

Guess which of the above I did last night?

I'll give you a hint: it didn't involve trick shots or Hobbits.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Coming soon, to a landfill near you...

The government has decided to bury Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Swiss and Swedish nuclear waste in Britain as a money-making venture to help pay for the UK's own unresolved nuclear waste problems.
UK to keep foreign nuclear waste
taken from The Guardian 15th December 2004


Just a suggestion: couldn't we offer money to somewhere like Iran or North Korea to bury the wretched stuff? After that, we claim they're making weapons out of it and we have to get it off them, charge in and overthrow the government before we have to pay them for taking it in the first place, then announce that we can't find it anywhere and leave it where it is. Simple.

Come on- it's already worked once...

Alternative method of nuclear waste disposal: Coca-Cola brand corn soup, chock-full of atomic goodness and clinically proven to be the most catastrophically addictive brand of corn soup on the market. Now available in all quality vending machines.

I saw this for the first time today, and I'm horrified and impressed in equal measure.


Monday, December 13, 2004


Well, it made me laugh

And I quote:

goddamn hippy who cant stop blaming the
rest of the world for his problems

He never has any money Every Story he tells is about how he got high with the band backstage or else the story is about how he found so much drugs he could roll cigars out of it

a few days ago he asked for a discount on his gram of weed because it did not last as long as his pathetic ass had hoped it would have lasted

Disclaimer: This article was written by a third party. Trashed elbow does not endorse weed or hippies.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


The finer points of eikaiwa, part 1

The question that plagues the Engilsh teacher- does this student have excellent listening comprehension, or are they just some second-guessing punk, taking advantage of the extremely tame structures you've practiced in the textbook and coasting through the roleplays without really paying attention?

Well, here's the acid test...

DAN: Good morning, may I see your passport, please?

MS?: Here you are.

DAN: Thank you. Is this your first visit to Canada?

MS?: No, third time.

DAN: What's the capital of India?

MS?: I'm on vacation.

DAN: I see... where are you intending to stay?

MS?: I'm staying at the Marada Inn.

DAN: How long is a piece of string?

MS?: About two weeks.

DAN: Thank you. Enjoy your stay.

This worked really well- after two or three rehearsals I had her asking for clarification when I busted out with stuff like "What's the comparative density of jelly?"

This lady will go a long way.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


A momentous discovery

I did the Christmas shopping for my family today, which left me absolutely broke for the next week. Not that the presents I got them were so fantastically expensive, because they weren't; I'm just up against it at the moment.

Anyway, it being my day off, without any money with which to purchase fun stuff and having watched all the Futurama I could usefully watch for one day, I resolved to tidy my bedroom.

In the tidying of said bedroom, I ripped a year's worth of junk out of my bedroom cupboard, folded half-clean clothes in such ingenious ways that they took up less than no space and found 20,000 yen that I never knew I had in my sock drawer.

The moral of this story is that I'm going to get absolutely leathered tonight.

Next week: Dan discovers the elixir of life while washing the dishes.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Nihongo exam whaling on my brain

Damn, that Japanese exam was HARD. Harder than trying to kill an elephant with a drinking straw.

Maybe I should have studied more; maybe I shouldn't have stayed up the night before the exam, watching the last six episodes of 24, season three. I'll know when I get the marks, I guess.

The whole ordeal wasn't without its comic moments, though. Getting ten minutes' shut-eye in the last part of the exam (reading and grammar) then going back through the paper and changing half of my answers was a good one.

My favourite part though was the first paper of the day: writing and vocabulary. Before they handed out the test papers, the proctors were good enough to give us the full list of yellow and red card offences, which lead to exam disqualification.

"You are not allowed to (-te form of verb, plus wa ikemasen) speak. You are not allowed to leave the room. You are not allowed to open the question sheet before the start of the test..."

Then they handed out the question sheets, ALL of the Chinese students opened theirs straight away and two of them were yellow-carded within 15 seconds.

The Japanese Language Board were evidently well prepared for the communist threat this year.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Deeper understanding

As the people here grow colder
I turn to my computer
and spend my evenings with it like a friend.
I was loading a new program
I had ordered from a magazine:

"Are you lonely, are you lost?
This voice console is a must."
(I press execute)

Hello! I know that you've been feeling tired;
I bring you love and deeper understanding.
Hello! I know that you're unhappy;
I bring you love and deeper understanding.

I had never felt such pleasure,
nothing else seemed to matter
I neglected my bodily needs.
I did not eat, I did not sleep,
the intensity increasing,
until my family found me and intervened.

But I was lonely, I was lost
without my little black box.
(I pick up the phone and go execute)

Hello! I know that you've been feeling tired;
I bring you love and deeper understanding.
Hello! I know that you're unhappy;
I bring you love and deeper understanding.

These lyrics are taken from the first album I ever got (The Sensual World by Kate Bush.) The reason I chose to post these is that, recently, my life has been a lot like this, and that worries me.

Maybe I should be more worried about the Japanese test I have in, oh, SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS, five of which I am now going to fill with sleep.

Goodnight everyone.

Friday, December 03, 2004


The eternal dilemma

It's a bad habit of Mike's: whenever he goes out, he leaves the instant messenger program running on his computer. And it's a bad habit of mine that I will quite happily sit and answer all the IMs on his account while I'm watching cartoons on his machine, or whatever.

And, whilst gaily chatting away to people that you don't know so well, the chances of putting one's foot in it are somewhat enhanced. For example, take the following chat I had with one of Mike's old college friends (I'm LeiWuGoetz, by the way- that's Mike's screenname):

(you'll just have to imagine the brilliant conversation we were having up to this point...)
dj juxian (12:58:35): well we all must make hard choices in life
LeiWuGoetz (12:59:13): why yes, just this morning I had to choose between making coffee and getting another 10 minutes in bed
LeiWuGoetz (12:59:41): I of course chose both and was consequently 10 minutes late to my next appointment

After this fine observation on my part, all textual intercourse ceased. It wasn't until Mike got home and established contact with the young lady in question that we discovered that she had broken things off with her fiancee the previous day. I'm not so sure that my bon mot on "hard choices" was appreciated.

On the plus side, I managed to get a free Japanese lesson from Mike's girlfriend, Rie, without smashing up their relationship.

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