Sunday, April 30, 2006


More blessed to give than receive

So, on the day of my 28th birthday, I made my return to the glorious football arena of Ibaraki- my first game since Michel upended me in early March and at least a few weeks earlier than my Doctor would be happy to see me playing.

Shortly in, I let a shot go from a way out, caught the keeper by surprise and hit him flush on the thumb, leaving said digit at an odd angle and with blood all over the show.

He left shortly afterwards in an ambulance.

If my hangover had left me with any capacity for neural activity I'd leave some pithy moral at the end of this post.

Yeah: if.


This is how it feels

Woke up, head hurt, hand hurt, little or no recollection of previous day; slightly unfamiliar with current surroundings.

28. The only way is forward.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Occupational hazards of education

Two female middle school students in Nasukarasuyama, Tochigi Prefecture, allegedly put an anti-depressant drug into a school lunch served for their homeroom teacher, making the teacher feel ill and be absent from work for two days last week, according to sources.

The sources, including officials of the prefectural government's board of education, said Tuesday that the third-grade students, both 14, at a middle school run by the municipal government, allegedly purchased five Tryptanol tablets from a classmate for 25 yen. The classmate is believed to have obtained the drug through the Internet using a cell phone.

The two girls ground three of the five tablets and put them into soup served for the teacher, about whom they had grievances.

The prefectural police intend to investigate how the drug was put into the soup and how the classmate obtained the drug, sources said.

The drug causes dizziness and other side effects.

2 middle school students allegedly drug teacher's lunch
The Yomiuri Shimbun Apr. 26, 2006


Intend to investigate: yes, that would be nice, officer- you know, if you're not too busy or anything...

I like this: it's something else I can bring up when my students trot out the received wisdom that Japan is safe country (sic.)

Comparatively speaking, it is a fairly safe country of course. That's no reason for me to go agreeing with my students, though.

Dan's list that comes out every time a student says Japan is safe:

- Earthquakes

- Typhoons

- Aum Shinrikyo

- Yakuza

- Ninja

- Fugu

- Godzilla

- North Koreans in submarines

- Atheists on bicycles

- Great White Sharks (one was discovered dead in a canal in Kawasaki last year)

- Your suggestion here!



Formal versus objective reality, as expounded by Wes he says there could only be one perfect God and I get an idea so I put my hand up and he's like: YES, at the back? and I say: Dr ---, did you ever watch the TV show VOLTRON? and everyone in the room's like laughing and I'm like no, seriously, it was like these five lions and they could join together to form one super lion.

Did you ever think that maybe God's like that?


He grinned widely; "The best thing is, I reckon he knew I was baked."

He also agreed with my hypothesis: the reason neither of us had many clear recollections about the philosophical concepts we were taught in University is that we spent 80% of the lecture time thinking about sex.

Somehow, when you're in a room full of girls, a 55-year-old man with a dusty comb-over is going to struggle to attract your attention.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Do or die (do or do not; there is no try...)

This is the news: I was lying in bed, tired but unable to sleep. Staring at the ceiling, I realised I'd been staring at the same ceiling for the last two and a half years and I'd started to get a bit tired of it.

So I went out last week and put in my application for a small room in Andrew's building in do-or-die Shinsai (props to the VMM.)

So, all being well, I should be able to move in at the end of this week. I'll be trading the Apollo I and the Osaka Dome for Cafe Vulva and Shot Bar Pimp. I'll also be trading all-you-can-eat yakiniku for cup noodles for the next few months, but what the hey.

I'll be living a life of solitary splendour, I'll be the noisy neighbour upstairs; I'll be stonier than a Biblical execution but I think this is going to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Unmei to shukumei no deai

About twice my weight, a few inches shorter, an underbite you could toss life jackets into and speech flowing at the same speed as pig shit-flavoured oatmeal (plus, being of about equivalent material value.)

He puts a companionable arm around my shoulder and beams inanely.

"I've only met you a few times, Dan," he drawls (drools?) "but I like you: you're very similar to me."

I stiffen in horror; then, compiling a quick list of his cardinal character defects (say: the first 50 or so) and checking which ones I can put a tick against, I become more relaxed.

Had I walked the other way home, I wouldn't have had to endure this. Evidently not a good karma day.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


The managerial career of Daniel McKeown

In my wisdom, I agreed to take over management of my football team. Today was to have been my first tournament in charge.

And in my wisdom, I decided to hold the victory party last night: a strategic masterstroke which caused some controversy.

Woke up today about an hour after I was due in Kobe with 14 (fourteen) missed calls on my phone and three messages.

Message #1: "What's going on? I just woke up. There is someone in my bed."

I will not divulge the identity of the author. Messages #2 and #3, however, are from erstwhile manager and nightclub gooseberry, Tricky.

Message #2: "Are u coming? Or are you fucked in bed?"

Message #3 I will not repeat, this being a family-oriented web page. As the reader may imagine, however, it did not offer a very savoury opinion of me.

I wrote back with a cheery: "Sorry! Good effort on making it, btw."

Once you're this guilty there really is no turning back. I'm just glad today wasn't a work day.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Study materials

Andrew's got a pimp new electronic dictionary. It can do English, Japanese and Chinese and its got one of those dinky little wands so you can look up unfamiliar characters by writing them on the screen.

His other study aid is the copy of The fox's supermarket (a Japanese kid's story.) I was privileged to see him attempting to study this with the aid of the wordtank when we met up for coffee this morning.

The supermarket of the fox was proving pretty tricky linguistic territory for Andrew, unaccustomed as he is to some of the finer points of wordtank usage. Just about every line met with a scowl of perplexity, prolonged dictionary investigation and some unexpected results.

He reached a part which said people were queueing up for the cash register, stuck this in his dictionary and got back "the gas main exploded."

We laughed a lot; this pretty much tied it up for the supermarket and we weren't even past the second page.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Attempt at mirth

Today's cultural lesson: on occasion, if you can't get into a restaurant or bar because there's no space, the staff will offer to take your phone number and give you a bell when seats become available.

And here's how not to dish out your digits in Japanese:

ME: Jiro kyuu jiro...

SHE: ...jiro kyuu jiro, hai...

ME: ...san kyuu...

SHE: ...san kyuu...

ME: You're welcome!

She looks utterly mystified. We end up going to a different bar.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006



When a Japanese returns from somewhere, their set phrase is tadaima.

So, after 40 minutes of terrorising a high-level student with my brainsick lunatic ravings, I booted open the door to the teacher's room and strutted in with my own subtle variation of tadaima:

"Check it out, tossers: Dan's back!"

This doesn't generally get a round of applause, but today the atmosphere was even more muted than usual. I understood why when I saw that my Area Manager was standing in the corner.

Could be time to dust off the CV.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Pot, kettle, no blacks or naturalised Greek-Armenians please- we're British

The British National party was riven last night over its decision to select (Sharif Gawad) the grandson of an asylum seeker to fight a seat in next month's local elections...

Yesterday the BNP admitted it had received a number of calls from angry members and that a hardcore had refused to accept Mr Gawad's candidacy on race grounds "even when it was explained that he was not a Pakistani Muslim".

BNP in turmoil as members row about 'ethnic' candidate
The Guardian, Saturday April 8, 2006

I have nothing to say on this matter, other than: goodness me.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006


"Mattore yo... mou sukoshi yakara..."

I went down to the hospital on Monday morning; the nurse cut my cast off, I had another x-ray and the doctor, after glancing at the photos, told me "mou sukoshi," which means: "tough luck, son, come back on the 14th."

The nurse strapped the lower half of my cast back onto my hand with an elasticated bandage and I was promptly denuded of another 3,000 yen.

The good news is I can take the new cast off, so here's a photo of sleeping beauty (not much mobility yet, I'm afraid):

The hand of glory

And I can finally get to work on the necrotic-smelling layer of dead skin which has formed on my hand over the last month.


The tale of Hiromi and the o-hanami

An unemployed man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of receiving money in return for holding a place for cherry blossom viewers in Ueno Park, Tokyo, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Saturday.

The Metropolitan Police Department said they arrested Hiromi Fukuda, 55, of no fixed address, on suspicion of violating a Tokyo ordinance against disturbing the peace. It is rare for people to be arrested for holding a blossom-viewing spot, the MPD said.

The MPD said Fukuda and some homeless friends were drinking in a 13-square-meter area of Ueno Park on Wednesday morning. When Fukuda spotted someone looking for a place to view the cherry blossoms, he reportedly sold the spot for 1,000 yen. But Fukuda told the MPD he had been asked to hold the spot.

Tokyo's finest nab man for 'selling' hanami spot
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Apr. 2, 2006

God damn- the yadonashi just can't catch a break these days.

Cultural notes:

1. It is currently the o-hanami season. Across Japan, the cherry trees are blossoming and a lot of people go to have picnics in blossom-rich areas. The sight of hundreds of Japanese (often still in their work clothes) getting drunk under the trees, somehow adds to the beauty of the spectacle.

2. 1000 yen is absolutely dirt cheap for a good blossom-viewing spot. Even if it does smell like homeless people.

3. Hiromi is a girl's name.



I be the Judas goat

I have recently become alarmed by the tendency of folk to mimic the actions of those around them without really thinking about it. I'm inclined to blame the tendency of the Japanese to walk around with their noses in their phones without paying attention to such mundane inconveniences as, oh, say: traffic.

I have but to stick a foot into the busy junction and some adjacent pedestrian will register my movement and decide it's safe to start crossing the road without taking their eyes off the e-mail they're typing, red man or no.

I'm going to end up getting someone other than myself killed. Darwinism in practice, I guess.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Learn to prioritise or learn to live without each other

The two lovers are locked in argument: she accusing, he protesting. They've been at it for well over twenty minutes already, words flying back and forth as they sit on the bench. Dan intervenes:

Oi, would you pair can it for a minute? There are more important things at stake than your relationship. Here's the situation: I'm on 116, Mike's on 106. He just sent his first ball down the gutter. Unless he knocks down all ten pins on this, his final ball, I will be the champion.

OK, as you were Mike. No pressure.

Mike gives the ball a good heave, but it's off centre and only a select few pins go down. Dan is champion. Within two minutes the lovers are at each other's throats again.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Goodbye the Yoshida building

E-mail to Mike's phone: dude- I just went out to get milk and when I came back the building was on fire! looks pretty bad..

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