Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I am Surviving a Japanese Game Show

Oh dear, oh my - our computer decided to have a mental breakdown.  Probably couldn't handle any more baby slobber.  Anyway, we couldn't fix it until we got back to Tokyo.  So I wrote a few columns by actually putting pen to paper and will post as if they happened in real time.

If I were staying in America this summer, there are a couple of shows (here and there)that would be programmed into my VCR (or DVR, TiVo, Blue Ray, HDTV, LMNOP - I honestly do not know what most of these are).  My Sweet explained that these games are based on Japanese shows from 15 years ago where TV personalities competed in "extreme challenges" that put their comedic skills to work.

While at Most-Honorable-Mother-in-Law's I noticed that the game shows had shifted from eating to actually learning a thing or two - like why stall doors in public bathrooms fall open inwards when not locked* or why some train tunnels are square and others are rounded.**

So I figured that the days of Japanese contestants doing inane things were over.  Oh no, not by a long shot.  In one show I saw two women hooked up to a wii type of contraption and their characters were cave women carrying a stone wheel while jumping over pterodactyl turds.  On another show comedians had to do pelvic thrusts into a gigantic air machine in order to move a heart shaped balloon up to a female face. 

Watch this if you dare.

All I can do is laugh or sigh.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

* They fall inwards to A) keep you from bonking someone on the head as you try to get out, and B) it is easy to see if the stall is in use without the undignified action of peeking under the door.
** Square ones are easier to make, but rounded ones can handle pressure better, so the ones deeper in the earth are rounded.  Oh, and FYI some Tokyo subway level are a mere 12 centimeters from each other.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hot Spa Haiku

Again, since I have provided a grandchild, my honorable mother-in-law took us to my favorite spot. After my third time in the hot mineral bath I relaxed enough to try my hand at something creative. I'd seen some lovely biddies, and biddy-dudes, using calligraphy brushes to write haiku and posting them on the wall. I'd been reminded again how rich God's world is. So here is my English haiku:

Dancing steam floats high

Water drains our sore muscles

God's gift makes us smile

When I gave my work to the clerk, she accepted it with many thanks and promised to hang it with the others. I think that was said out of politeness more than anything else, but just in case if you ever make it to the Iwaki-sou Hot Spa in Northern Japan, let me know if it is still up there.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Most Honorable Mother-In-Law

Well as I mentioned earlier, we came to Japan to visit Baby-san's paternal grandmother. And in her eyes I performed a miracle. For you see I have provided her with a grandbaby! Everything I do is perfect; except for the way I dress, wash, play with, feed, diaper or put to sleep the baby. And I do not prevent drool from getting all over the place. OK, I confess that I had given up on that last one. I mean really, he produces enough slobber to put out a volcano. Most-Honorable-Mother-In-Law has to squeeze a year's worth of spoiling into a few weeks. This calls for a nearly daily trip to the indoor mall were we hit the very traditional kid's store of Oshkosh B'Gosh.*

Now my mother-in-law does not speak any English, and my Japanese is pretty much covered in the lyrics of Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto, so communication is always interesting. She must think I am an idiot. Not only am I unable to read labels to know which is a carton of milk and which is a milk-ish, but I can't even count change. Let me explain this one. You see my mother-in-law thought it would be cute to see the foreigner give money at the cash register. I figured "what they hey, give her a thrill." After things were rung up, I looked at the machine and saw that the total was 750 yen (about $7.50). "Great," I thought, "I get out a 500 yen coin, two 100 yen coins, and a 50 yen piece." One thing you need to know about me is that I can be a little scatterbrained and after I dug out the 500 yen coin, I continued to converse in my head:
  • I am glad Japanese money had the amount stamped on it.
  • It would be a bit difficult reading the amount.
  • American coins are not so simple to know their value.
  • I can blog the lines: Why is a dime worth more than a nickel even though it is smaller? And the color of the penny stands out more, so shouldn't it be more important?
  • When did Japan go to 100 and 500 yen coins, and will America ever shift to $1 and $5 coins instead of paper bills?
So with all this going through my mind, it is quite easy to see why I absentmindedly took out two 10 yen coins instead of 100 yen ones. Unfortunately as much as my mother-in-law occasionally gets under my skin, she was not inside my head. She did not know the complexities going on up there. Instead she is convinced that her son married a number one nincompoop!

Well, Baby-san is calling for me, so I will sign off for now.
  • I wonder why it is called sign off?
  • What if it was sing off instead?
  • Would singer and activist Bono then be able to get his message across better?
  • What if he...
* To give credit where it is due, My Dear Sweet Mother has more than spoiled Baby-san with some totally adorable outfits!

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Up Up and Away

It has been almost two weeks since I got on the plane with My Sweet and Baby-san for a 10 hour flight to visit Number One Honorable Mother-in-Law. Traveling with a three-month-old on an airplane, let me tell you - it isn't that bad. Imagine putting an infant in the back of a car and going on a really, really, really long car ride. He was out like a light before the stewardesses finished vaguely showing us how to put on the life jackets located somewhere under our seats behind or above, or maybe even below, the 15 over packed carry on bags everyone has chosen not to pay extra to have put in cargo.

When we booked our flight, we requested the use of a bassinet. I thought that was very nice of the airline to provide, especially since we were going cheap and not buying a seat for the baby. It wasn't until about two hours into the flight when I found out that even though we'd talked to three different people three different times to confirm that we had the bassinet on reserve, none of these folks had fricking noticed that we were not booked in seats that accommodated space for the little bed. So I sat for 10 hours with a passed out baby on my lap, trying not to spill the airline dinners on him (the dinner roll might have put his eye out).

And while he slept most of the time, he did get fussy when wet or hungry. Both of these events always coincided with a key part of each movie I was watching. So on the Bucket List I know Jack Nickolson truly pisses of Morgan Freeman (is Jack pissing someone off really a surprise), but I have no idea why they get back together. And I have absolutely no idea why the Spiderwick creatures inhabit the home the kid's family just moved into, or how the cute old granny fits into anything, but I do know they defeat the creatures by the eccentric retired professor type of guy go out in a flurry of magic. And to be honest, do I really need to know the plot to Mad Money? I am just glad that Katie Holms gets out of her habitat, I mean mansion, once in a while.

There will be more to come from the land of Ninjas and Hello Kitty.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Greetings from the Land of The Rising Sun

Greetings from the land of Freshness Burgers, Happy Drugs store, and actual customer service. Yes, we as a family have ventured to the Land of the Rising Sun to take Baby-san to meet his paternal granny. There is a whole post on the whole hanging with the in-law who is a first time grandparent, but I need a break from all things baby.

I just love coming to this country! When you can't speak the language, and especially can't read anything, you have time to observe random things around you. The other day we were walking to the market and I spied this sweet little old great-aunt-Flora type hobbling down the lane. She has probably never had anything more dangerous on her person than a pair of worn knitting needles, and yet she was sporting a sweater adorned with a black skull that had its eyes X-ed out.

Here you also can not assume anything concerning taste and style for gender or age. I saw a very expensive grave marker for a venerable husband and wife who passed on at a ripe old age. How does their family distinguish their spot? By the three foot statues of Snoopy and Hello Kitty.
There will be more coming soon. Sayonara

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!