nine-to-five noodle ninja 

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That'll do nicely, sir

Oh yes, one last thing - if trying to leave the country for a ten-day holiday during which you will be relying heavily on your credit card for day-to-day expenditure, I can heartily recommend not realising at 4am the day you are due to fly that you have lost said card.

If, however, you're going to insist on such a course of action, you could probably do worse than realise you have left the offending card at a 24-hour karaoke establishment in Shibuya. At least that way you'll be able to cycle 25 minutes (each way) through the freezing cold pre-dawn streets of Tokyo to retrieve the bastard at 5am.

Grrrr.

Posted by chris at 11:17 PM | Permalink


"Because I'm insane!"

Thanks for that, Dan - yes indeed I've been neglecting the blog. Every time I've got near writing something for it, I've stopped and thought, "Nah. Not right now." And, right again, I'm in New York over New Year's. It was interesting seeing people's reactions when I told them where I was going... invariably a look of consternation flitted across their face as they manage to stammer out a strangulated "New... York? That's... er... nice..." I nearly felt like appending a "...because I'm insane!" to the end of all my "Actually I'm going to New York"s by about mid-december. It's because I have people there I really want to see again and I had the time off work to take and it's a great city and no I'm not nervous about it I'm really looking forward to it actually allright thank you very much so there. Sheesh.

So right now it's about 9am; the jet lag finally kicked in at about 6 this morning, waking me up after three hours' sleep, feeling absolutely fine - albeit royally pissed off that I didn't feel like snoozing. Solution? Surf the net - that's what it's there for, after all.

It's odd being back in New York... I was last here six months ago, and of course a lot's changed since then. I'm in two minds about whether to visit Ground Zero or not... on the one hand it seems ghoulish; on the other hand, how could I come here and *not* see it? I'll have to think about that one.

In the meantime, here's a brief inter-office memo to Dan: write some more stuff about your Japan trip, boy - I'm not kicking you off this thing until you do. I have to go find bagels now.

Posted by chris at 11:02 PM | Permalink


I guess I should just

I guess I should just clarify the festive season hiatus currently being suffered by this blog. Having been given a taste of "real" life by yours truly, Chris has decided to continue to prefer it to the solipsistic pursuit of blogging. In short, Chris has gone to America for New Year, no doubt to be very, very naughty. Also, he expressed a desire to see in the New Year amongst people for whom "Auld Lang Syne" does not excite a primal instinct to go to the nearest checkout and leave. It is curious, though, that he's never spent New Year's Eve in his adopted nation - this year, however, he was there for Christmas Day. I wonder what it was like...

Posted by dan at 10:06 PM | Permalink


I could have done with

I could have done with a rangefinding stapler last night, certainly. In a pub in Northwood, Middlesex (average house price - GBP200K, typical indigenous resident - pretentious middle income with unruly kids) I was watching my local football team being eviscerated in the Cup quarter final. As the second (or was it third?) goal rifled in, a random woman, ugly almost to deformity I might add, pointed at me and started laughing. I proceeded to do something you never actually expect yourself to do (right up there with carrying on running after you go over the edge of a cliff a la Wile-E-Coyote, or winking at an imaginary camera/audience) - I looked behind me, over my left shoulder, in a really exaggerated fashion.

Discovering that there really wasn't anyone else there, I inaugurated a polite dialogue with the female (species undetermined), calling into question her powers of identification and suggesting a more appropriate course of action. That is, I said "Who the f*** do you think I am? You don't know me. F*** off." At which point her "boy"friend (quite extraordinary that two of these semi-sentient lifeforms should somehow have dredged up the initiative to discover each other. God forbid they procreate and produce a whole litter of abominations sharing their genes, although like as not nature would ensure the majority of these malformed abhorrences do not survive their infancy) starts asking me whether I want him to come over to where I am. As I felt unprepared for an even closer look at him, and even less inclined to take in the halitosis and BO that no doubt accompanied his cosmetic unpleasantness, I strenuously endeavoured to decline his invitation.

So in the end, I didn't get in a fight. If I'd had a Muji stapler, however, I could have taken all comers. The relevance of all this gibberish is quite simply - that although I'm an aggro little sod much of the time I didn't encounter any "trouble" the entire time I was in Japan. None. God knows I put myself in the way of a couple of potential serious beatings (not least karaokeing Bohemian Rhapsody and Candle in the Wind in a Kyushu bar full of drunken salarymen and youths only trying to enjoy themselves, pestering yakuza while they were collecting the rackets from a pachinko parlour, openly and brazenly eating in the street etc) but never was there the sniff of a ruck. Nor, indeed, was I fleeced, conned, pickpocketed, attacked, knifed, lightened, raped, stabbed, racketeered, mugged or buggered at any point during my time in fair Nippon, despite spending a good portion of it wandering around it slack jawed and aimless, like an asylum escapee. No language skills, plenty of ready cash and saleable documents, all my worldly goods in an easily made-off-with container, identification almost certainly limited to "one of those yellow chappies". I may as well have been adorned with Perfect Prospective Victim in nine foot tall flashing lights - though in itself that might make the most hardened criminal just a trifle suspicious, I suppose.

So. No crime. No fighting. No trouble. I don't know how Chris can stand it.

Posted by dan at 12:21 AM | Permalink


Kerchunk!

Whoa... I am getting seriously excited about my new Muji stapler. I think I need to realign my priorities.

It is particularly fine, though... it has an indicator to alert you to the fact that you're running low on staples (because heaven forbid you run out unexpectedly) and a particularly ingenious mechanism to retract the spring-loaded slider-pusher-feeder-thingy automatically when you open the casing to reload. And this is even before we consider the rangefinder apparatus (I swear I am not making this up), slung under the cartridge housing. Nail those staples in exactly the same spot with unerring precision, time - *kerchunk!* - after time - *kerchunk!* - after time! (*kerchunk!*) A new career in infomercials beckons, clearly.

Posted by chris at 11:26 PM | Permalink


Alternatively, there is the possibility

Alternatively, there is the possibility that the shop is only open during the full moon.

Another nice, relevant piece from The Onion this week. Reminds me of the Design Festa for some reason - an event Chris has been itching to blog about for a while now.

Posted by dan at 10:11 PM | Permalink


Shibuyakka

Spotted a shop in Shibuya today with the following neon sign in the window:

WERE
OPEN
The implication being that now they're closed? I missed them? Then why was the neon turned on? Isn't that a little perverse? Come to our shop! Some other time! Bye for now, though! If you could bring a book on elementary punctuation, that would be great too! Thanks!

Started half-heartedly doing the Christmas shopping today... though to be honest I wasn't really in the mood for checking things off lists and scouring the stores for that must-have pair of socks for Auntie Doris (NB: I have no aunts called Doris - so it would most likely have been a waste of time anyway). Instead I picked up a sandwich and cycled through Yoyogi Park, whooshing through the (shallow) drifts of orange-brown leaves. Honestly, they keep that place so tidy - I want bigger drifts, dammit. The weather was fine, though, and at least it was nice and warm as I cycled from place to place, failing to find a pair of snowboarding trousers that I liked.

Abort mission, abort abort abort. Back home to laze on the sofa and read the papers instead. I'm going to be so busy at work next week that I think I could probably do with the downtime, bad though I am at it. You know those people you work with? The ones who contrive to screw things up in various ways? The ones who appear incapable of following even the most explicit and straightforward instructions? The ones who make your work unnecessarily stressful and time-consuming? Well, guess what - I work with them too. It's a small old world, eh?

Posted by chris at 11:17 PM | Permalink


Crispy Edgy

Whoo! A new phoning-Pizza-Hut record: 44 seconds. I've been able to conduct the entire pizza-ordering conversation in just less than 55 seconds without a problem for a while now, but this evening marks a huge leap forward. The guy on the other end of the phone and I were both lightning-fast with our rubric tonight, throwing the arigatou gozaimasses, shitsureiitashimasses and kurisupii edjiis back and forth in perfect synchronization, a veritable whirlwind of aizuchi. Of course, it helps that, after a year and a bit of crispy edge medium size deluxe action, we both know exactly what the other person is going to say next, but that's half the fun.

There's a timer on my phone, y'see - it's not like I'm standing there with a menu in one hand and a stopwatch in the other or anything. Although just in case I ever feel the need to measure it to the nearest hundredth of a second, I'm not ruling anything out.

Posted by chris at 07:55 PM | Permalink


Snowball fight game

tiny quick blog post just so I have somewhere to reference it from come monday morning at the office: snowball fight game - brilliant.

Posted by chris at 04:47 AM | Permalink


Letting me post on this

Letting me post on this blog was a little like Chris giving me the keys to his flat (which he also did). Though now back in England there are loads of pertinent observations that I just darn well didn't make yet, so I guess I'll be hanging around a little longer - whether y'all like it or not. Rather like a bad smell. In any case, my suspicion that blogs only exist as a rather pitiful replacement for a real life rather than the documenting of one have been confirmed by the sporadic nature of Tokyo Tales of late (from the "how to offend everyone on the Internet at once" manual, p.92).

I think it's my duty to point out that, after a rough calculation, I deduced that Chris's average sleep hours per night while I was there came out at around four and a half, including a couple of real corkers like 45 minutes the night before his Level 2 Kanji Exam and two consecutive nights of 2 hour sleeps. They say Sleep is the Thief of Time, but in Chris's case, it seems Sleep's been caught in the act and sent down. No wonder he always seems to blog at the absurdest of times.

Posted by dan at 03:46 AM | Permalink


Fun! Car! Go! Funcargo!

Inspired by the Honda Life Dunk advert, I've put a new top five list on the sidebar: favourite Japanese car names. More fine examples of the art can be found here, and Metropolis also have a good piece on SUV tyre cover Japlish too, for those of you with an urge to "Keep Green".

Just keep those goddamn Bongo Navi Navi! away from me...

Posted by chris at 10:08 PM | Permalink


Coffee not included

Just spotted out of the corner of my eye: a TV ad for a new Honda minicar - the Honda Life Dunk.

Think I'm making it up? Suit yourself...

Posted by chris at 09:11 PM | Permalink


Dear departed houseguests

Right, yes, sorry, I'm back now. In fact, I never left - I've just been neglecting the blog for a few days. If you noticed, then, well, "sorry", whatever. If not, forget I said anything.

Anyway, Dan came back safe and sound from his travels around south-eastern Japan, loaded down with tales of derring-do, sacred islands, yet more big buddhas and all kinds of other stuff that I'd better let him try to explain - as soon as he a) touches down (should be somwhere over western Siberia as I type this) and b) recovers from his jet lag.

Meanwhile, it's suddenly become cold enough to ice up my stubble if I cycle fast enough. December's here (I'm *sure* that can't be right - didn't we just have one of those? Back me up, someone? Someone?) and I'm reminded of why I like Japanese winters so much - the beautiful cloudless blue skies, the weak but warming sunlight, and the lure of the snowboard resorts only an hour away by shinkansen. Hee hee hee. 'Tis the season to be throwing oneself down a mountain with an ironing board strapped to one's feet, fa la la la laaa, etc.

So much to do. I'll start right away.

Posted by chris at 08:38 PM | Permalink


Radio silence

Still no word from Dan... my houseguest has headed off south for a few days, armed with a few choice Japanese phrases and a rough itinerary scribbled drunkenly on the back of a flyer for a kabukicho "gentleman's club".

I'm sure he'll be fine...

Posted by chris at 01:12 AM | Permalink


Which online personality test are you?

[If I were an online test, I would be How British Are You?]

Heh - no sooner do I speculate about the inevitable meta-bility of the on-line personality test meme producing a "which on-line personality test are you" on-line personality test than I am alerted to this. Apparently, if I were an on-line personality test, I'd be How British Are You?

I'm with Meg on this one - can we all stop now? Please? (thanks to Nine for the link)

Posted by chris at 10:51 AM | Permalink


Chris's music collection is, in

Chris's music collection is, in general, very good. Some of it is less good, however, which suits me fine, because my music taste is pretty horrific anyway. He has, for instance, helped me rediscover the magic of Jane Wiedlin. At present I'm listening to Alanis Morissette.

I wonder about her. I don't know anything about her, or really want to, but my half-understood impression of her story really contains the seeds of any number of interesting potentialities. Transition from parentally overdriven under achiever cum incredibly unhappy chewed up and spat out reject of the one stop judgement shop that is American high school for most people as ugly as she is to grillion-grossing-gross-grillionaire - now THAT'S ironic.

None of which affects the serious business of mishearing lyrics. It's not fair, to remind me, of the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me (You Oughta Know). A quick check with the often mediocre and made up but occasionally scream with laughter, fall on floor crying, need to be taken away database reveals me not to be alone. Quick tip - the stories section is generally much better than the flat lyrics database.

Posted by dan at 04:24 PM | Permalink


I'm not about to program it myself...

I'm not about to program it myself, but I'm surprised no-one's come up with a "What on-line personality test are you?" on-line personality test yet. The laws of meta and memes practically demand it, after all...

Posted by chris at 03:48 PM | Permalink


Lizards

If I was a work of art, I would be M. C. Escher's Lizards.

I am a bizarre juxtaposition of the real and the unreal. Based in the realm of mathematics, my two-dimensional appearance belies a complex and free-willed behaviour which both delights and confuses people.

Posted by chris at 03:44 PM | Permalink


Even better still, If I

Even better still, If I was a work of art, I would be Heironymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights.

I am decadent and depraved. I have an eye for small details and love to fit in as much hedonistic pleasure as possible in everything I do. I buck authority and am not afraid to make a statement outside approved channels.

Which work of art would you be? The Art Test

Posted by dan at 03:35 PM | Permalink


Chris, sadly, has forced me

Chris, sadly, has forced me to confess that if I was a James Bond villain, I would be Max Zorin.

I enjoy horse racing, pretending to be sane, and setting off cataclysmic earthquakes.

I am played by Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill.

Who would you be? James Bond Villain Personality Test.

Better far than the disease test, which had me as gonorrhea, even though I made it clear that I was not sexually transmitted.

Posted by dan at 03:02 PM | Permalink


I suspect there may be

I suspect there may be some secret sport in Japan, perhaps a relic from the old samurai days, involving extensive throwing of very sharp things. Rather like the traditional Northern English pastime of catch the bottle. I say this on account of the extremely high number of people (maybe one in a thousand?) whom I've seen wandering around Tokyo wearing a gauze eyepatch, secured with medical tape.

Last week, Chris made me watch Fight Club (recommended), so perhaps this is influencing my perceptions somehow.

Yet this phenomenon is as nothing compared to the indigenous practice of wearing a cotton face mask in public when suffering from orally transmissable infections - a cold, cough, tuberculosis, pneumonic cholera etc. Very laudable from a public health point of view, but it is rather unnerving to sit between two of these masked murderers, sorry passengers, on a train, and to have them both turn to you making laboured breathing noises.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that both these cultural tendencies - eye patches and face masks - were fashion trends sparked deliberately and specifically to counteract the growing recession in the pivotal Japanese cotton gauze industry, and its affiliated corporate partners.

Posted by dan at 01:30 PM | Permalink


Except for the third nipple, of course

If I was a James Bond villain, I would be Francisco Scaramanga.

I enjoy good food, monopolising the world's energy supplies, and sex before assassinating people.

Who would you be? James Bond Villain Personality Test

Posted by chris at 01:00 PM | Permalink


That would be more true

That would be more true if I hadn't already eaten all the chicken pies. (Cue song). No doubt my innate self-preservation instincts are better than most - I was well prepared for being buried in rubble for six days, waiting for rescue. Continuing the theme of my trip to Japan / entire life, I was in the toilet when all the fun started, thought it is difficult to "miss" an earthquake. Perhaps the weirdest thing about it for me was how weird it didn't seem. Oh, the entire building, usually something entirely fixed and solid, seems to be swaying quite pronouncedly from side to side. Oh, look, the loo roll has fallen on the floor and is rolling around. Wheee!

Turns out the earthquake did do some damage after all - it made the milk curdle in *very* unusual ways (picture to follow... patience, patience).

Posted by dan at 12:33 PM | Permalink


Tremblor is a marvellous word

Earthquake! We had a 6.3 tremblor hit last night, about ten o'clock; they happen all the time, but this one was definitely one of the longest I've felt - it lasted at least a minute, maybe two, and the forest of wine glasses hanging upside down above the bar (oh don't look so surprised, of course I was in a bar) kept jangling for a good minute or two afterwards, like some kind of dipsomaniac windchime.

That the swaying was more pronounced this time was probably also something to do with being on the 7th floor; I was tempted to look out of the window and see if other buildings were moving perceptibly, but that would have meant standing up, and I was *way* too comfortable for that.

It's always interesting seeing how people react to earthquakes; everyone stops talking and looks up, silently, as if listening for the roar of an approaching tsunami or something. You look at light fittings, computer monitors, large pot plants - anything that might help you gauge the size of the wobble. You can see everyone thinking the same thing - can I get away with not standing up? Will I know when to make a dash for the exit? Is it... the Big One? My personal rule of thumb is to stay put if it's just horizontal movement - vertical movement, though, is a different matter - time to flee screaming and waving limbs crazily as I jump out of the nearest window. I'd probably still finish my drink first, though.

When it became clear that it was lasting a bit longer than usual, the bartender got up from his stool and sauntered across to open the door, which he held open for the next thirty seconds or so, until it had subsided. Not so we can flee when the building starts to collapse, really (we're on the seventh floor, people) but more so that if the doorframe is warped by the quake, the door is stuck open rather than stuck closed - although I can think of worse places to be stuck than in a bar with comfy sofas, its own radio station and chicken pies...

Posted by chris at 11:58 AM | Permalink


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