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Farewell Smash

June 4, 2010 3 comments

So, this is the end of Gaijin Smash.

But wait, hold your horses!  I’m not retiring…yet.  I do feel older.  I see the kids with their Facebook and their Lady Gaga and iPhones, and I think back on the good ‘ol days when, if we wanted to talk to people, we actually went to their house.  We listened to good music like Boyz II Men, and Steve Jobs wasn’t preparing to become our new evil overlord (quite the opposite, actually…).

But for reasons, many of which are beyond my control, I have to change the name of this site.

But wait… many of you are undoubtedly saying…you’re still alive?

First off, obviously yes I am still alive.  Last update in…December?  Wow, that’s half a year ago!  Doesn’t even feel like it.

So lots of things have gone down between December and now that have kept me busy.  I went back to America for Christmas (1st time in 6 years), I dove even further into the Japanese salaryman world, then I changed jobs/careers.  I’ve been sick, injured, and a wonderful combination of both.

On the technological forefront, as most of you know the Rudius Media network went down in a fiery ball of flames.  I planned to move Gaijin Smash back to my Outpost Nine site/server.  But then my server went through an update, and in the process there are now monthly bandwidth limits.  Outpost Nine tended to hit that limit around the mid-way part of the month.  So for half the time I couldn’t even access my own site.

Then the gaijinsmash.net domain actually expired.  I had been trying to gain possession of it, but its still under the control of RM and there isn’t anything I can do about it without their help.  I have been contacting people on their end but they haven’t been getting back to me.  And now it looks like a German blogger has gained control of the gaijinsmash.net domain.  This is a good opportunity for me to just change the name of the site and get my own domain for it.  I actually never was a huge fan of “Gaijin Smash”.  A lot of people misinterpreted it as me, and many other foreigners, just bulldozing our way through Japanese culture.  And while that does happen, I personally feel like I’ve come way past that stage.  Don’t get me wrong, being a large black man still has a huge impact on Japanese people, but I don’t really feel like I’m smashing anything these days.

Plus, I feel that the focus of this blog (yes, I will actually call it a blog now) is going to change.  When I started it, it was a nice outlet for me to air my grevances and surprises about how different and quirky Japanese culture can be at times.  I just can’t do that anymore.  I’ve been here for almost 7 years now, and very few things surprise me anymore.  Now I’m just a guy who happens to live here.  Granted, some things that happened in the past are still fairly jaw-dropping, but those incidents are now few and far between, and I don’t feel like making a big deal out of the few that do happen anymore.

So it feels like a good time to refocus things a bit.  Stop trying to be fish-out-of-water Gaijin and just write about the stuff I want to, even if its not off the wall or eyebrow bending.  That, and I can’t make blog posts in German.  I could try, but I’d probably end up offending at least 32 UN countries.  I’d like to keep my “Countries I’ve Offended” list in the single digits if possible.  Makes obtaining visas a bit more easier.

Of course, I Am a Japanese School Teacher/Gaijin Smash will live on in the archive.  That off-the-wall nonsense will never stop being crazy.  Although I kinda understand now all the critics I had back then.  I read through the old posts and I think “Wow, there’s no way this nonsense actually happened!” despite me being the guy it actually happened to.  Truth really is stranger than fiction.

So, thanks to all who enjoyed the stories.  I had fun writing them, and it helped me keep my sanity even when everything else seemed completely insane.  I think one of the greatest compliments a writer can get is to just have people want to read what you write.  I had a lot of readers, and that meant a lot to me.

…But enough of that sentimental crap.  Farewell, Gaijin Smash.

Hope to see you over at the new site, Gaijin Chronicles!

Categories: Gaijin Smash

Of Fame and Umeboshi

November 2, 2009 1 comment

If you can’t beat em…join em?

By now my seething hatred of Japanese television should be fairly well known. If Hollywood has taught us anything about life, its that when one person hates something so passionately, so derisively, that there are only two possible conclusions – an all-out fight to the death, or for the hate to turn into romance of some sort. While my plan to rain down unparalleled destruction on Japanese TV networks is still in the planning phases (do you have any idea how hard it is to gather Satan’s minions…?), I may have to put it on hold for a while, as…well…now I’m actually appearing on TV.

Calm down, I haven’t become the next Bob Sapp or Bobby Ologun *shudder*. So far its only been a few random appearances on one TV show. …So, how does that happen anyway?

Last year with my wedding ceremony coming up I was crunched for cash. I was also working the Job From Hell (see the Sour Apples entries), so I was regularly checking job postings – something part-time I could do in addition to my job to help with the wedding costs, or a full-time job to replace the nightmare I was working at then. I came across an ad for a talent agency for foreigners. The office wasn’t located too far from my workplace, so I figured why not – I contacted them one day and went for an interview/screening during lunch break.

They explained that they are an agency that provides foreigners for various roles in the Japanese entertainment business. TV spots, movie extras, commercials, etc. I gave them my information and took some profile pictures. They said they would give me a call if any good projects came up that would be suited for me.

I did get calls from them for time to time. Usually something that called for a large black man. For the most part, filming took place during a weekday, and as I had regular work then I declined a lot. I did get one offer where the filming was scheduled for a weekend. Part of some random variety show involving language differences. A Japanese guy in China goes into an English school expecting to find a beautiful woman teacher, but is instead greeted by me. …Yeah, I would have been disappointed too. There’s a Japanese/Chinese language joke in there, but I am far too lazy to explain it, so those who do know can enjoy their nice private chuckle.

A few months ago, I got a call for a TV show, and the shooting was to take place on Sunday. The script called for a big black guy who could speak Japanese, and I had nothing better to do on Sunday, so it was a match. The TV show this time is a show on the MBS network called “Samurai Chuto” – starring the comedy duo of Tutorial (in Japanese, tutorial becomes “chuutoriaru” – thus, Samurai “Chuto”). It also features a female comedy duo called Harisenbon. Tutorial is very famous, among the A-list of Japanese TV personalities. Harisenbon are also fairly popular, I doubt there are many people in Japan who are unfamiliar with them. The show also features regular guest-stars who are also part of the Japanese TV A-list club.

…I guess that’s a big thing? I kinda sorta didn’t care. My wife, however, shit bricks.

Her: OMGOMGOMG! You’re gonna be on TV! With Tutorial!

Me: Yeah, I guess.

Her: This is HUGE!

Me: …Really?

Her: YES! Wow, I never imagined I would get married to a TV celebrity…

Me. …Whoa now, hold the phone. I’m doing a random dumb foreigner bit in a TV show. That hardly makes me a celebrity.

Her: You never know. This could be your big break! You could be like that Soft Bank guy!

Me: And become the second-fiddle to a cute white dog? I’ll pass on that, thanks…

I forget the name of the skit, but it took place in a school for helping Gaijin become famous in Japan. The “teacher”, Tutorial’s Tokui, points out that since Bobby, there haven’t been any foreigners who’ve had a big break in Japan; therefore, this is a good chance for someone to step up and succeed. The “Gaijin” included Yama-chan of Nankai Candies as a Brazilian, Tutorial’s Fukuda as…an African? (we’ll ignore the black-face makeup…because that makes life easier), Haruka of Harisenbon as a Chinese girl, and Haruna of Harisenbon as…well…Marilyn Monroe. I’m not making this up.

After Tokui gives a short lesson about famous Gaijin talent and their shtick, he tests their reactions by giving them an umeboshi – its a pickled plum-like fruit…thingy. Forgive my overly scientific explanation there. As Gaijin, its their first time to eat an umeboshi, so they should have an appropriate reaction to it. After the 4 Gaijin fail in coming up with an appropriate response, I come in, late. Tokui gives me an umeboshi, to which my reaction is considered to be the correct one and the other students are instructed to take notes.

My lines here weren’t actually scripted. Upon arriving at the very first rehearsal, I was told to just come up with something on the fly. Somewhat ironically, I had just eaten umeboshi for the first time about two weeks prior. …Yes, I have lived in this country for almost 6 years, and? I’ve never really thought “Man, I’m craving some umeboshi right about now!”, and the few times its come included with a bento or something I usually just skipped over it. Forgive me if I’m not inclined to eat something that looks like a turd from a California Raisin.

So, a few weeks prior to even getting the phone call about the show, I was eating an bento with an umeboshi, and for whatever reason (divine intervention?), I decided to eat it for the first time. Thinking it was just another variety of picked vegetable, I was moderately surprised to find it had a hard core. At the time, I thought nothing of it.

So, showtime. In front of some of Japan’s most famous comedians, I’m handed an umeboshi and told to improv a reaction to it. I remember back to my initial surprise of the core a few weeks ago. I bite down into it and with my teeth loudly clashing with the core, I grab my jaw in pain and say “Um, there’s something kinda hard in here…”

Apparently, this was really the correct response. The talent, the crew, anyone who happened to be randomly watching burst into laughter; Tokui even dropped to the ground (The Sanma Epic Maneuver?). Yama-chan points out “He really did bite into it, I heard the crunch!” Afterwards, the actors and crew told me to stick with that line, as it was a winner.

After one or two more rehearsals we moved to the actual set, and after just one more rehearsal we filmed the actual skit. I repeated my action of genuinely biting into the umeboshi – I have to completely immerse myself into my characters y’know. After taking my seat and having the students repeat my reaction, Tokui asked me some random questions. Again, these were unscripted; I hadn’t prepared for them, and didn’t even really know what he was going to ask me.

He asked who my favorite Japanese actress was. My mind raced – I don’t really have one. Or at least, one that doesn’t do porn. I thought about giving as one of my answers one of the Japanese female comedians – usually, female comedians are known for being not cute/ugly, so me saying she was a favorite actress would have been the “dumb” response. I couldn’t think of one in particular though, and the cameras were actually rolling. So my body did what it does in all emergency situations – give all the decision making powers to Penis.

Tokui: So, who is your favorite Japanese actress?

Anxiety: C’mon we gotta answer! Brain! What are you doing up there?!

Brain: Who do I say? Sayaka Aoki? No, too obvious. Morisanchu? What if they take me seriously on that one? Miyuki Torii? Way too insane. Haruna Kondo? Goddamnit, she’s sitting right next to you!

Anxiety: Brain! We don’t got no time here!

Brain: Aaah…I can’t do this! Penis! You take the blood, and do something!

Penis: Leave this shit to me. Eyes!

Eyes: Yes sir!

Penis: Gimme a visual on a chick we saw on the magazine ad on the train.

Eyes: Right away! View screen recall, time 1437 hours.

Penis: That’s her!

Anxiety: Well, she’s cute, but why her?

Penis: You dumbass, stop looking at her face and look a little lower…

Anxiety: …Wow. Those are some nice tits.

Penis: I know, right? And on a Japanese broad! Okay, now Brain! Access the memory logs, give me a name…

Brain: Okay, gimme a sec, coming up now…

Az: That would be Ayase Haruka.

Apparently, this answer was also funny in how “normal” it was. Like, they were expecting me to say something off-the-wall, and because I didn’t that was funny. …Okay?

(Later, at a different shoot, some random guy introduced himself to me and said he works for the same company that employs Ms. Ayase. He half-jokingly offered to introduce me to her. That’s cool and all but…what would I even do?

Brain: Hmm, this guy here says maybe he could introduce us to Ms. Ayase.

Penis: Miss Tits? Up close and personal?! DO WANT.

Heart: Yeah, and? We’re married, its not like we can do anything.

Penis: C’mon now! The little missus would understand. She’d have to. This is one of those situations where you get the Get of Of Jail Free card!

Anxiety: Does anyone remember that Friends episode with Ross and the laminated list?

Brain: STFU Anx. No mentioning Friends around here.

Heart: Even if our wife did forgive us that (highly unlikely…), its not like we’d have a shot. “Hi, my name is Az, I was the foreigner on that show who said that you were his favorite actress.” “Oh, its you! Wow, I thought you were a manly stud on television, but in person you’re so much more studlier. And I was just thinking I wanted to have hot sweaty sex with a big black man. Won’t you take me to a love hotel right now?” Like THAT’s going to happen!

Penis: C’mon. Can’t you let a penis have a dream?)

Tokui also asked me why. Heh heh, why huh? I don’t quite remember what I said, but I think it was along the lines of her being very “talented”*. Tokui saw right through me though, and said “Yeah, talented with a nice body!” even drawing curves with his hands. …I’m glad to see that not all Japanese men are attracted to half-anorexic stick figures. This part didn’t actually make it on TV though, and that’s probably for the best.

*There’s a Sailor Moon dub joke in there. If you get it, pat yourself on the back for being a very old uber-nerd. If you don’t, appreciate the fact that you have a real life and don’t know enough about Sailor Moon, much less the dub of it, to catch the in-joke.

Tokui then asked about my favorite place in Japan. Again, temples and what not seemed like a boring answer. So I came up with the most non-boring yet honest answer I could – the toilet. I didn’t get to explain why, but there’s method to my madness – toilets in Japan have seat warmers. Seat warmers! The best thing ever. And then there’s the bidet, which sprays a warm jet of water directly into your ass…its a little off-putting at first, yes, but once you’ve had bidet you’ll never go back.

About a month or two later, the episode aired on national Japanese television. I watched it together with my wife – she was beside herself with laughter. I was more embassed than anything. Is my voice really that high pitched? Goddayum. BRB, gotta take some baritone lessons…

I figured that would be the end of my brief stint into Japanese television, but apparently not – I got a callback, asking me to come shoot more sketches. Apparently, I made a good enough impression the first time for the producers to want to use me again. I’ve been to a total of three shoots so far – material from the first two have already aired, with material from the third going on air tomorrow. So if you live in Japan (or have access to Japanese TV for whatever reason), tune into Samurai Chuto Tuesday, November 3rd at 11:30PM on MBS to see me in action. …Keep your expectations low.

(As for the stuff that’s already aired, I did a casual search to see if the show had been uploaded to YouTube or even NicoNico, as many Japanese shows are. While there are some random clips from Samurai Chuto, it doesn’t look like anyone bothers to upload the episodes regularly, or at least any of the ones I’ve been in. I recorded them using the TV tuner on my computer (One Seg), but I have no idea how to do anything with the saved video other than watch it.)

My wife is still hoping that this is my big break to stardom. I actually don’t particularly want to be famous. If I can get money from it, sure, but being famous doesn’t really look like a whole lot of fun. The only fun part would be loads of cute groupies, but being married sort of cancels that out as well. I’m actually sort of ambivalent about the whole thing. I mentioned to some friends that I would be busy Sunday with filming, and one of them said “I love how this guy just casually says “I’m doing a TV shoot tomorrow” like its no big deal whatsoever. What kind of life do you lead anyway?”

…Well…you know.

Maybe I’ll tackle radio next…

Categories: Gaijin Smash

Cultural Differences, Again

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

As most of you know, I don’t really care about celebrities and entertainment news. They’re just ordinary people who happen to appear on TV and in movies and what not, so I don’t understand the obsession with following their lives. I do try to keep up with the news and current events, and unfortunately in doing so I’m exposed to celebrity news. Its almost unavoidable. Anyway, looking at some celebrity “incidents” that have happened in Japan over the past year got me thinking about how differently these things are handled/viewed back home.

First off, for those who don’t follow Japanese celebrity news (most of you I hope…?) a brief recap.

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi – a member of the boy band juggernaut SMAP, he was found earlier this year drunk and naked in a public park, and arrested on charges of public indecency. Upon his arrest, he allegedly asked “What’s wrong with being naked?” Which, I think, is an awesome question. The answer, Mr. Kusanagi is fairly simple – you are male. Had you been an attractive female, you would not have been arrested.

The incident became a fairly big deal, conquering news headlines for about a week. …Economy in the shitter? North Korea pointing missiles at us again? Bo-oring! Hey, boy band member naked in the park? Now THAT’s news! Kusanagi was pulled from several commercials he starred in, and the SMAP variety TV show went on about a month long hiatus, at which point they showed reruns that carefully omitted Kusanagi. His office and his fellow band members apologized profusely, and Kusanagi himself retreated to Korea for a few months to let things blow over.

After the initial meltdown, the fallout afterwards was relatively light. Kusanagi came back to Japan and went back to work churning out generic boy band songs and the SMAP TV show came back, again featuring talking celebrities who eat things. Some of the commercials he starred in that got pulled even came back. Many people even sympathized with Kusanagi. Because hey, what’s wrong with being naked? …I like that catch phrase so much, I’m going to try and incorporate it into everything now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tomonori Jinnai – a comedian, he made headlines several years ago when he married the beautiful starlet Norika Fujiwara. I was in Japan when this happened, and I didn’t understand why this was a big deal. Still don’t, actually. I can only assume its because a comedian is getting hitched to a beautiful woman. Because you know, comedians have to fight off the beautiful women with a stick. People tell me I can be funny, and man, everyday I’m fighting off women who love me for my massive sense of humor. And everyone knows that class clowns in high school totally get all the pussy, jocks and assholes can only watch from the sidelines and cry over how they’ll never be as successful with women. …Okay, I think I’ve used up the sarcasm quota for that paragraph, gotta stop now.

Anyway, this year Jinnai’s marriage made headlines again – or rather, his divorce. Turns out he suffered from a massive case of infidelity, which, amazingly enough, was not a-ok with Norika. …What’s wrong with being naked (with other women)? Norika sweetie, you should have known the risks marrying a heartthrob comedian.

I wanted to continue another sarcastic “funny guys get all the girls” rant there, but I can already hear the National Sarcasm Bureau knocking on my door.
Anyway, fallout for this was rather non-existant. While there are some girls who may not like Jinnai anymore for being a cheating bastard (the wife included), he still regularly appears on TV. The divorce and his massive infidelity has even become a running gag of sorts. I dunno how his love life is faring, but as long as he continues to be a funny, funny man I’m sure girls will continue to line up around the block to wet their panties as he tells them jokes.

…I’m not bitter. Really.

Noriko Sakai – very popular actress and singer. Her husband was found carrying “stimulant” drugs (methamphetamines? I don’t think the media has really defined what the drugs are). She was called into the police station for questioning…and then disappeared. She resurfaced about a week later…roughly the same amount of time it would take for the drugs to wash out of her system. How convieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenient. /Church Lady.

After finding drugs and drug stuff at her house(s) and even finding some traces in her hair, she admitted to the charges. She is currently on trial, with prosecutors seeking jail time of 1.5 years. Though this is currently on-going, the potential fallout is devastating. Her career in the entertainment industry is most likely done.

(Another actor, Manabu Oshio, was also caught with drugs after a woman he was in a hotel room with died of an overdose. Much like Sakai, his career is probably over as well.)

I was thinking about this situation, and couldn’t help but to think about similar incidents that have happened to American celebs. I won’t name names (do I even have to?), but certain celebs are well-known drug addicts/abusers, and not only do they not face criminal charges, they also continue with their entertainment careers. We don’t even bat an eye if it emerges that some famous person did or does drugs – almost like its expected. We even make jokes about it. On the other hand, if it emerges that someone is having an affair, its treated much more seriously. I’ve read about the troubles of David Letterman as well as that ESPN sportscaster (too lazy/don’t care to look up his name). Letterman is one thing, but the ESPN guy got fired. For…having sex? Is that something you can fire someone over? Is that in the contract or something? (I’d better check my work contract…) And if you’ll remember way back when with me, we even tried to fire a president for it.

I’m not one to say which offense – adultery or abuse of illegal substances – is technically “worse”. I just thought it interesting in how two different countries dealt with these things. If they were American, Jinnai’s career could potentially take a blow, while Sakai could keep on keeping on.

I didn’t/can’t compare Kusanagi’s situation to anyone back home. Sure, there have been naked celeb incidents (that teeny-bopper High School Musical girl comes to mind, whatever her name is….God I feel old now…), but everyone knows that naked women >* naked men. This isn’t even the rambling of a heterosexual male, that’s just how it is in general. Pictures of naked men don’t crash celebrity gossip sites or get legal action started or really ruffle anyone’s feathers. No one cares about naked men. The female nipple, however, has the power to change movie ratings, alter broadcast and censorship laws (and even create a few!), cancel traffic tickets, feed hungry children, get air conditioners turned off (on cranked up higher…) I mean, what can’t the female nipple do? I know my nips don’t have that kind of power. I don’t even know why I have nipples, honestly.

It would have been interesting if, instead of Kusanagi, we got some female celebrity naked and drunk in a park. I’m not sure what the Japanese reaction would have been. Depending on which female celebrity, I would guess either apathy, disgust, or a complete and total meltdown of Japanese society. If we get lucky enough to have some Japanese actress get drunk and naked in public, I’ll be sure to report the results back here.

…If any Japanese actresses happen to be reading this, would you mind being a pal and helping out with this little social experiment? It’s no big deal, really. I mean…what’s wrong with being naked?

Categories: Gaijin Smash

Slurp Slurp

August 12, 2009 2 comments

One of the tough things about keeping up a site that catalogues the weird little quirks of Japan, is that the longer you live here, the more the weird becomes normal. Living here 5 going on 6 years, I don’t even bat an eye anymore at grandmothers with rainbow-colored hair, old men in dresses, festivals that worship the penis, et al. It’s just…Japan. But on the other hand, the closer I get to Japan being normal, the further I get from my home of America being normal. So now Japanese people can point out things about my homeland that they don’t get, and I can understand where they’re coming from somewhat. I’m not sure if America will ever reach the levels of eyebrow-raising hijinks that Japan does…but not for the lack of trying.

This is not the main thing I want to get at in this post (although it will become relevant later), but many Japanese people wonder why Americans are unable to slurp noodles. I, like most Americans I imagine, was raised on the belief that slurping or otherwise making loud sounds when you eat is fairly rude. When eating ramen, or udon/soba if it actually had a taste, I gradually bring the noodless into my mouth, soundlessly, and then chew on them. This FASCINATES Japanese people, who slurp on noodles like there is no tomorrow. Apparently, you are unable to “fully enjoy the taste of the noodle” unless you slurp it. I’ve asked for some sort of scientific backing of this claim, but have yet to get any. Japanese people have actually requested that I slurp noodles, and I just have the complete inability to do so, which also blows their mind. Its almost like I’ve said “I’m 30 years old and never experienced orgasm”, as if slurping in your noodles instead of chewing them brings your taste buds one step closer to orgasmic joy or something. You may think I’m exaggerating, but go ask the nearest Japanese person about their feelings on slurping noodles and see what happens. You may want to keep a raincoat or plastic tarp handy, just in case.

Which brings me to this; last week, a random Japanese guy asked me a question I honestly couldn’t answer: why do American women in porn make that sucking-in air noise?

You know what I’m talking about. Go fire up an American porn and listen for it. “Oh yeah baby….SUUUUUUU…oh that feels good…SUUUUUU…yeah, right there…SUUUUUUU!”

I don’t know if this sound has always been present in porn and I just never noticed it, or if its a new invention. I’m not sure who decided that women making vacuum-cleaner noises would be sexy in porn…but there are a lot of un-sexy things in porn, it feels kind of pointless to focus on just one.

Anyway, a Japanese guy asked me this, and I simply had no answer for him. He then asked if it was limited to porn; do American women make this sound in real life as well? Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer this question eithers. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been with a non-Asian woman, and quite frankly I’ve forgotten what its like (*insert some sort of teardrop smiley emoticon here*). This isn’t a result of some crazed Yellow Fever binge – I tried to find foreign women, but couldn’t, or they were just too difficult to deal with.

Anyway, yeah, the sucking-in air noise. I don’t get it. This is something my wife had also noticed when we watched some American porns together. Having been asked about it, I mentioned it casually to her upon coming home. She then hit me with this, and I don’t think I’ve actually stopped laughing since -

“Yeah, that sucking-in air noise! I have a new theory about that. I have a feeling that, during sex, that noise is natural, and this is why Americans can’t slurp ramen or other noodles. If women make the slurping noise, it reminds them too much of what they sound like during sex, so they become embarrased. If guys make the slurping noise, then he’ll sound like a woman having sex, so he can’t do it either. Yeah, I think I figured it out…”

I regained my composure long enough to ask her if the sucking in noise was “natural”, she said – “Well, you know, every race has their own unique noise. For us Japanese women, its crying like babies. For American women, it must be that sucking-in noise. I don’t know about other women though. Hey! Maybe you can go out there and do a survey or something!”

At this point, I asked – “Does this mean I have permission to have sex with girls from multiple nationalities?”

Her reponse – “No! Just find them, and ask them what noises they make during sex.”

Yeah, I’m sure that will be an excellent conversation piece. “Hi! Where are you from? How long have you been in Japan? During sex, do you find your screams of passion to resemble the sound of a 14.4k modem, or the sound you make when eating fried chicken off the bone?”

So my fellow Americans, the next time you go to a ramen/noodle place, do the wonderful sounds of noodle slurping remind you of hot, sweaty sex? If it didn’t before, will it now?

Its these little things that help us to understand our cultures better.

Categories: Gaijin Smash

New Train Crew

August 6, 2009 1 comment

I don’t think I’ve officially come out and said it, but I have a new job.* Its further from my old job, which means I have to ride an earlier train. Yep, you guessed it…new train crew.

*New job is also the reason why I don’t post so much. I’m getting closer and closer to the Japanese salaryman dream/nightmare with each passing day.

Although one morning, I was running late and ended up riding the old train. Didn’t see Sub-Zero (but this is the summer, maybe he’s hibernating…?), but I did see Shorty and Brandy. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but Shorty chews on her fingers, a bad habit that has apparently still continued up until now. Shorty is kind of cute, but girls who like to bite down on long cylindrical objects tend to lose sex appeal points. Brandy got a haircut – I like longer hair so I’m not a fan, but she’s still cute and still carries stupidly expensive bags. Even if we did hook up, I imagine she wouldn’t let me hit unless the condom was from Versace or something. I also didn’t see Massive Melon Tits or Tats, so I can only hope that they and their plentiful/graffitied bosoms are doing well wherever they are.

But anyway, enough about the past. Here come the new challengers!

Goth Velma – I figure this name should be self-explanatory. She wears an outfit very similar to Velma from Scooby-Doo, except all in black. Unlike the student I nicknamed Velma, she doesn’t wear glasses, and I’ve never actually looked at her face so I don’t know if the resemblance extends there.

Goth Velma, much like her cartoon counterpart, wears the same damn clothes every single day. Same black sweater, same black shirt, same black knee-high socks. She has a cardigan-coat-thingy (surprisingly enough, she has two in two different colors; gray and black!) which she also wore while it was still spring – being summer you figure she’d leave it at home, right? Nope, carries it. Or, wears it sometimes too, despite the outside weather being hot enough to make The Human Torch start to sweat a little bit.

In this culture of salarymen and uniforms, it shouldn’t be that unusual for people to wear the same thing everyday. But this woman’s attire doesn’t particular look like a uniform, which leads me to believe that she makes the conscious decision to wake up every morning and wear the same thing. Which, in fashion-savvy Japan, is just downright weird. That, or she has an entire closet filled with nothing but the same outfit.

Every morning, I look to see if she’s wearing something, anything different, and I’m always disappointed. At this point, I don’t know what would happen if I saw her in different clothes. I’m thinking along the lines of the fabric of space and time being ripped to shreds.

This woman vexes me, and one day I will know her secret.

Jigglypuff – Woman who rides at my stop. She would be the 3rd Generation of Massive Melon Tits, but the rest of her is also kind of round, which takes away the impact of the melon tits. Also, she does really look like the Pokemon Jigglypuff.

…And who thought up that name anyway? Just say it out loud a few times and see if you don’t giggle to yourself. Jigglypuff. Jigglypuff. This has got to be proof that there’s more weed in Japan than we thought.

Hefuna-san: Salary man in his 30’s or 40’s, he gets this nick because he reads the porn section of the newspaper every day. Not an exaggeration – every day. I may have ranted on this before, but what’s the point of reading porn on the train? To go into work sexually frustrated? To me, porn really only has one purpose, and if you can’t use it for that purpose…then what’s the point? But who knows, maybe he’s a photographer or something, and looking at it for the aesthetic values. “Hmm, yes, this is a nice picture, but if they’d kept the nightgown covering just one breast instead of full exposure, and if she moved her right leg about 7 degrees inward this would have been a powerful piece about the role of Japanese women in modern society.”

…But I highly doubt that.

The funny thing about porn newspapers though is that its not like the entire newspaper is dedicated to porn. Actually, I think its a sports newspaper with a couple of porn pages in the middle. I say I think because I’ve never actually bought one. …Not to say I’m all “porn is bad!”, because no, porn is wonderful. Just, in this day and age, I’ve graduated from still pictures (that was SO 1997…) and moved on to HD DVD rips.

I have a few of these HD DVD rips on my iPod (for porn emergencies), but would never actually watch it on the train. Since joining the salaryman working world and being forced to wear suits every day, I’ve come to realize just how thin suit pants are. In other words, if you start to enjoy the porn a little too much…well…pretty much everyone would know about it. If I were a bolder man, I’d get the attention of the cutest girl on the train, point to my raging erection and give her an “how about it?” wink or something. As is I’m timid and married, so that’s not gonna happen.

If any of you brazen single guys would like to try this though, I’d love to hear the results.*

*Gaijin Smash does not assume any legal responsibility for what may happen.

Toucan Sam – Much fuss is made over the broken grills of Japanese women. And yes, there are many women who seem cute at first, but then they smile and reveal a row of teeth that would make Jaws himself swim away whimpering in fear.

This woman has the reverse problem. Her teeth are fine. Its her lips. They look like she kissed one of Muhammed Ali’s fists the night before. Or rather, he punched both jaws inward first, and then smacked her in the lips. It’s actually kind of fascinating.

Baxter Stockman – This guy looks EXACTLY like Baxter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon (the classic ’87 version of course…heroes in a half shell, turtle power!). The resemblance is downright uncanny. …The human version, of course.

I sort of keep my distance from him, there’s nothing in this world I hate more than bugs, and if he were to someday undergo the fly transformation I just don’t have a can of Raid big enough for the job.

Categories: Gaijin Smash

Top 5 Most Hated Japanese TV, Part 3

June 18, 2009 1 comment

Before we get to the #1 spot, there’s one more show that deserves mention.

Dishonorable Mention: Waratte Ii Tomo!

The title of the show translates to “Its Okay To Laugh!”. Which is a pretty bold statement, considering they don’t give you much to laugh at. Its almost like a dentist who specializes in root canals hanging a sign up over the dentists chair that reads “It’s Okay to Orgasm!”

This show doesn’t make the main list primarily because its daytime TV…and I think it’s a rule of the cosmos that daytime TV must suck. Like, if Moses had stayed up on the mountain just wee bit longer, God would have carved “Thou Shalt Not Enjoy Daytime TV” as the 11th Commandment into the stone tablet. So I can’t hate on it for sucking, because sucking is a part of its destiny. This show did teach me something rather eye-opening about Japanese TV in general though, which is why it gets the mention at least.

The show features Tamori as a host (he joins Sanma as one of the “Big 3″). Tamori conducts a dull interview with some random celebrity, and the rest of the show is devoted to celebrities playing games, often with food involved. …But wait, this sounds almost exactly like every other show you’ve described so far, you may say. And you would be absolutely right. So, think about that for a moment – Japanese daytime and primetime TV are virtually identical.

The other thing I noticed while being subjected to this show is that the studio audience is 100% female. That got me thinking, and I realized that most shows had a predominately female audience. It makes sense, because Japanese guys are rarely ever home in the evenings. They work late hours, and even if/when they don’t, there are drinking parties, trips to the local whorehouse, or hours to waste away at the pachinko parlor. And that’s when everything clicked – Japanese TV is primarily meant for Japanese women. So its like a combination of daytime TV and the Lifetime Channel, on every channel, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So, for us guys, this is more or less the first step into Hell itself.

This is especially problematic for Japan, because Japanese women are exceptionally boring. This is a blanket statement, and of course there will be exceptions (like Ms. Americanized, for example), but any male who has ever dated enough Japanese girls can testify to just how infuriatingly dull they are. Trying to make conversation with one can be just as fun as trying to pull the wisdom teeth from a rabid sabretooth tiger, bare-handed.

What are your hobbies? a potential suitor may ask. Japanese girl replies – “I like to go shopping, and sleep.” Goddamnit, sleeping is NOT a hobby. Going home and losing consciousness for several hours does not count as a hobby! …The shopping I will refrain from commenting on. While I don’t think it’s a hobby, I’ll also admit that I don’t understand it, so I can’t say much about it. Might as well be witchcraft.

So when you consider that this is the audience that Japanese TV is trying to entertain…yeah. Apparently, they can do nothing better than go to sleep when they are not working (if they work…), so its no wonder they can be easily amused by whatever nonsense is on TV. I’m thinking of making a new Japanese TV show where I spin a nickel on a tabletop for 25 minutes. I’m expecting decent ratings, and perhaps if I can get Sanma to help me spin my nickel as we eat and he laughs uncontrollably as I read from the Declaration of Independence, then the show should be a 10-year hit.

So, having had this revelation about Japanese TV, that brings us to my #1 most hated show…

#1: Gout Temps Nouveau

In this show, three women meet up at a café or a restaurant, and eat, drink, and talk. …And, that’s it. No, really. There are no crazy situations or insane stunts, no plot or storyline, and there isn’t even the slightest bit of lesbian wrestling covered in baby oil (I would watch that…). This TV show amounts to nothing more than watching three women have a conversation, and perhaps eat or drink while doing so.

This is one of my wife’s favorite TV shows.

Recently, my wife met up with two of her friends; S-san, and R-san, who had a baby last year. They got together at a café and ate/drank while talking. The wifey was telling me about this, and I just had to point something out…

Me: So the three of you hung out at a café and talked about life and romance and whatever shit women talk about?
Wife: Yeah, it was fun!
Me: Doesn’t that sound a lot like that Gout Temps show you watch?
Wife: Well…when you put it that way…yes, it does.
Me: So then…if you can do this with your friends in real life…what’s the point of watching it on TV?
Wife: But, the people on TV are celebrities!
Me: And, what do these celebrities talk about?
Wife: Well…life and romance and what not.
Me: And what do you and your friends talk about?
Wife: Well…life and romance and what not.
Me: *raises an eyebrow towards her*
Wife: But…they’re celebrities!
Me: …Sigh.

It should be noted that “Gout Temps Nouveau” is a renewal of “Gout Temps”. What changed? I have no idea. I also don’t know how long Gout Temps has been around, but I know it was airing when I first came to Japan, so that puts it at 6 years at least.

So keep this in mind – if you just happen to be free some day and want to randomly ask a Japanese friend of yours out for some conversation and food or drinks, without making a proper appointment well in advance to do so, you will probably be turned down. Your Japanese friend (especially if female) will then watch a TV show where people have conversations, food and drinks.

…Yep.

So that’s my list. There were a lot of crappy shows I couldn’t include because I don’t want to write that much about bad Japanese TV. These are just my personal top 5 offenders. It amazes me that the television here can be so awful; it’s a level of crap that I never imagined possible. But on the other hand, thanks to Japanese TV, I’ve rediscovered how awesome video games are (television has to be used for something) so I guess its not a complete loss. My only problem now is finding a way to get my wife off these shows before I’m driven completely insane.

If you all have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Categories: Gaijin Smash

Top 5 Most Hated Japanese TV, Part 2

June 16, 2009 Leave a comment

The worst hits parade continues!

#3 – Sanma’s Dancing Palace

This is one of those “round up a group of talent and just have them talk” shows. They tell “you had to be there” stories, which is boring because…well…we weren’t there, these jackoffs aren’t interesting, and I just don’t care.

As this type of show dominates Japanese TV, I’m singling this one out because of the host, Sanma Akashiya. He’s considered to be one of the “Big 3″ entertainers in Japan, but watching this show “entertainment” is a terrible misuse of the word. As his guests say something supposedly funny, or stupid, he makes a horrible overreaction, braying like a donkey, falling to his knees, and often hitting a podium with a scepter that features a buck-toothed, dragon-head* likeness of himself. The podium seems to serve no other purpose than to give him something to hit with his Dragon Zord Scepter.

What, me make things up? Never!

This is primetime TV in this country. …Yep.

*…Maybe that’s more of a frog than a dragon? Or maybe it’s a dinosaur? Honestly, I just don’t care enough to try and figure it out.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about Sanma’s Dancing Palace is that this is a show that’s been on the air for over 10 years. Yep, 10 years of Sanma overreacting to stupid shit. How many of you couldn’t finish watching the YouTube video before wanting to chew your own arms off and beat him with them? Yet this is a show that’s apparently interesting enough to survive on Japanese TV for 10 years. There are people watching this, perhaps even amused by the fact that Sanma fell to his knees in laughter or smacked the podium with his Moon Princess Stick for the I-don’t-know-how-many-th time.

I actually bear no ill-will towards Sanma. I figure the guy lives a rough life. I mean, if I had to horribly overact to shit that wasn’t even remotely funny in the first place, and keep up this act for over 10 years, I’d probably cry myself to sleep every night.

Unofficially, another show of his shares the #3 spot – this one is called “Much Ado About Love”. Instead of talent, a group of mostly young girls are gathered to talk about love and romance. And again, Sanma overreacts to stupid shit, but I don’t know if he has any sea horse shaped rods in his image to smack against podiums. And I don’t care to find out.

(EDIT: Curiousity got the better of me. Okay, so this time it’s a giant white finger. …Don’t ask me, I don’t know. Oh, and for those of you who will probably ask “what are they saying in the video”, do this – just imagine what they’re saying in your head. I promise you, whatever you think up will be 100x more interesting than what they actually did say.)

I suppose shows like this feed into the Japanese need to laugh at people who are dumber than they are. Whenever this show is on air, I usually make it a point to be somewhere else, but I remember being stuck on the sofa for one airing…

Sanma: So, how many of you have boyfriends now?
(A number of girls in the group raise their hands…which includes one particularly overweight and unattractive girl. Everybody pauses at this.)
Sanma: Wait, wait, you have a boyfriend now?
Brunhilda: Yeah, I do.
Sanma: Like, right now? Right this instant?
Brunhilda: Yeah!
Sanma: Well, how often do you see him?
Brunhilda: Hmm, last time I saw him was three months ago.
Sanma: So, he’s really busy with work or something?
Brunhilda: I dunno.
Sanma: You dunno?! If he’s your boyfriend, how do you not know?
Brunhilda: Well, that was the first time we met, so I can’t say if this is normal or not.
Sanma: Waitaminute…the last time you saw him was three months ago…and that was the first time you met?
Brunhilda: Yeah, that’s right.
Sanma: And he’s your boyfriend?
Brunhilda: Yeah, of course! I send him email every night!
Sanma: And does he reply?
Brunhilda: Well…not yet…but one day he will!
(Sanma drops on the ground and starts rolling around)
Wife: OMG, this is hilarious! She’s so stupid! Isn’t this funny!
Me: …If there is intelligent life out there in the universe, I’m convinced that this TV show is the reason why they’ve stayed far, far away from Earth.

Back to the Dancing Palace, the show ends by rubbing salt in our wounds; while the credits roll, the cameras follow the talent backstage to show us them…eating! Because, what TV show wouldn’t be complete without watching famous people eat. I know my life is certainly enriched by watching Daigo talk about Evangelion and then chow down on fried noodles afterwards. That’s just great television right there.

Someone hold me while I cry.

Speaking of watching people eat…

#2: The Tunnels Thanks To Everyone

I have never understood the fascination with food shows. If its something I may be able to cook myself, or a restaurant I could actually go to, sure. But just watching people eat – what in sweet Baby Jesus’s name is the point?! Is it some sort of pleasure by association? “Well, I can’t eat these foods, but I’ll get my jollies watching famous people enjoy them!” Is it like culinary porn or something? I don’t get it.

So a large part of my beef with Japanese TV comes from the massive amount of watching people eat that you will be doing if you attempt to tune into, oh, any channel. There’s nothing to make it at all relevant – they take the talent to these places way out in Japan where there’s no real point in going, or to some stupidly expensive restaurant where one meal will cost you approximately the GDP of Great Britain. And then, its horribly monotonous – the talent eats, pauses for a few seconds, and then exclaims “oishii/umai!” (trans. “delicious!”) and proceeds to exclaim why the food is so good. Maybe, if they threw a forkball in there, and there were foods that were not actually delicious, and you got to see the talent wrenching in horrible taste bud agony, that may be interesting…but it’s the same damn thing every time. Eat, pause, umai!, describe, repeat until you just want to die.

“The Tunnels Thanks To Everyone” takes my idea and finds a way to make it spectacularly dull. Together with the two hosts, the comedy duo “The Tunnels” (do I even have to say here how not funny/interesting they are?), two celebrity guests are brought on the show. During a talk that is so bland it could make Louisiana gumbo taste like bread, the two guests are treated to a four-course meal. The catch is that out of the 4 courses, one of the dishes that particular celebrity hates. At the end of the show, the guests will try to figure out which was the dish that the other didn’t like. So while eating, they will both try to hide the fact that they didn’t like a particular dish, while engaging in wit-less, flat banter. What this entire program boils down to is watching people eat things they may or may not enjoy.

Primetime television, folks.

And again, this is a show that’s been on the air for over 10 years. 10 years of watching people eat. Why is this on TV? Why are there people filming this and then editing it and producing it and broadcasting it to homes? Why are people sitting down and watching this? I’m scared that one day my future child will ask me these questions, and I won’t have an answer for him/her other than “culinary porn”. And that’s a talk that no father should ever have to have with his children.

I really hate this show. Really, really hate it. And I really wanted to give this show the number 1 slot, but there’s one show that gets under my skin even more. Tune in next time to find out what that show is!

Categories: Gaijin Smash
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