Jason Porath

has a website, i guess

Category: bitch bitch bitch (page 3 of 3)

Remember to breathe

This isn’t going to be a post about Wacky Japanese Adventures ™, so if that’s what you’re reading for, you might want to skip this post. Hell, check out the `ubt` tag — I imported a lot of my old livejournal entries into this blog, so you can read all about my Uncanny Bus Tales from LA.

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Been busy, so not much blogging. Still haven’t written about Singapore, Kamakura, or my friends Keiko and Eric coming to visit. At this rate, I may not have time to.

Last night pretty much the entire world went insane (not in a fun way), and I need some time to think before I’m going to write about it. Everything’s okay now, but some things are going to change.

Sorry for the cryptic note. Just wanted a placeholder here in case I don’t post for a bit. In the meantime, enjoy the 150-odd photos I just posted to flickr.

Traveling solo sucks

Don’t have the time or inclination to write a huge blog post now, but I leave you with these three experiences, which I think are indicative of my time in Singapore:

  1. Today I got lost inside a shopping mall. Which, it turned out, was actually three shopping malls, interconnected by underground tunnels, and all located right next to each other. Topping this off was the fact that I had been there for several hours yesterday AND DID NOT REALIZE IT.
  2. The most interesting thing I saw today was a gang of monkeys ripping apart a garbage bag. I have pictures!
  3. I saw a Japanese person today, posing for a photo with the “V” sign, and thought, for an extremely brief moment, “Whew, someone from someplace familiar. They know what’s going on.” Weird.

In which I get caught in the midst of yakuza riots

My streak of “getting caught up in the midst of weird shit” continues. In this edition: grab-ass with drunken yakuza on the way to see the Emperor of Japan; techno dance parties; insane Japanese Republicans and the street riots who love them; self-inflicted foot bullets.
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The comedy that is my life

So, two things. One that`s kind of a funny look on Japanese culture, the other that`s more introspective, personal stuff (which I`ll put behind a cut, so you can be spared 😉 ).

Recently I`ve been trying to learn a bit more about Japanese comedy. My attempts to find out about Japanese culture through the television have been completely useless — every time I turn it on, it`s another goddamn food show. Seriously, almost every show on (regular broadcast) Japanese television involves people traveling around, eating things, and saying how delicious they are, with D-list celebrities superimposed in a box in the lower corner, nodding their heads in agreement. Every other word is `oishii` or `umai`. It`s frustrating.

So I set off to youtube to find some comedy bits. Most of the comedy I saw fell into two categories — bizarro hidden camera/reality skits (a la Hard Gay, the Don`t Laugh guys, and other increasingly cruel, game show-esque comedies), and owarai genin (comedians). The camera/reality skits were actually pretty funny, but the owarai genin were just baffling. Let me talk about the three popular ones I found:

  1. The Touch (aka Za Tacchi). These are two short, kind of ugly, weird looking twins. Their trademark is putting their hand out like a karate chop, and saying a word three times, in a specific rhythm. Usually, it`s `chotto, chotto chotto,` or `doumo, doumo doumo.` I CANNOT figure out why these guys are funny. Everyone knows who they are. They`re just short and weird and extremely lame. I have asked around a dozen Japanese people, ranging from 8 years old to 80 years old, and the only answer I`ve gotten is, `culture.` Apparently the rhythm and their manner are just hysterical to Japanese people. I don`t know.
  2. Yasua. This guy used to be a lawyer. He`s got this incredibly weird overgrown bowl cut that extends about a half a foot to the left and right of his head. His thing is to give the thumbs up and sort of cycle his hands up and down, grinning like a maniac. He looks like a complete doof. I guess that, in and of itself, is funny, but… Japanese people seem to find it hilarious. No idea.
  3. Taka and Toshi. These two will get up and perform this incredibly fast skit, which basically has one of them chiding the other for doing anything vaguely western. Basically, they`ll pretend to go eat, and one guy will order `cherri pai` (cherry pie), and the other guy will yell `Oubeika!` (westerner) and hit him. He`ll pretend to cut his pie with a knife — oubeika! Say `hello`– oubeika! This was kind of funny, but I don`t think for the same reasons Japanese people thought it was funny.

Alright, onto the other stuff.

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Something just crystallized in my head about my JET situation, and why it bugs me: it’s high school all over again.

There’s a limited number of people to socialize with, as it’s extremely difficult to find people outside of JET that you can really relate with — the language/culture barrier is that intense. We are all in it together, so we have to get along, for survival’s sake. JET’s basically its own little microcosm, a private ecosystem with just enough people for regular social dynamics to take place. Sociologists would have a good time doing studies on the program, I think.

This all came to mind because of the recent prefectural Thanksgiving dinner we held up in Mito. Overall it was a wonderful time, with an awe-inspiring amount of food, ranging from traditional food like turkey and cranberry sauce to Frosted Flakes and latkes (courtesy of yours truly). The place was pretty mobbed. To get a pretty good idea of what it was like, check out Rick’s video here. He ends up spending the last half leaving a message for his own family, so you might want to cut out midway through, unless you want to see a couple people (Sherley, Laura, and I think Leo?) show up late. I’ll be posting pictures soon.

Anywho, the event that triggered this train of thought was actually the Frosted Flakes. To give a bit of context — I have had trouble getting along with Shawn, one of the JETs here. He’s not a bad guy, well-meaning and generally agreeable, but I find him a bit… transparent, and it raises my hackles. While planning the Thanksgiving party, some of the Brits, unfamiliar with Thanksgiving traditions, were asking on our webforum about what food to bring, and one jokingly suggested Frosties. Several members gnashed their teeth about it, saying that if they brought Frosties, there would be hell to pay.

So Shawn brought Frosties. As a joke. I talked to him as he was buying it, was a sounding board as he schemed out its presentation, and bore witness to his whole scheme. He decided to wait until partway through the dinner, at which point he would loudly urge silence, in deference to the Lord’s Prayer — whereupon he would give thanks for Frosties, and produce the box, to much fanfare.

The plan (although I didn’t find it half as funny as he did) went off without a hitch. The entire room erupted in laughter. Two JETs promptly donned paper towels on their arms, and took on the roles of waiters, pouring alternately cereal and milk for any who wanted it. Usually straight into someone’s mouth. Chuckles were voiced, vomit was nearly induced, good times were had by most.

I just couldn’t help but think it was cloying. Everyone wants to be popular, yes, and everyone works at it in their own ways — I mean hell, just watch Rick’s video and witness how he pulls attention to himself — but that sort of calculated in-joking just gets to me. I keep wondering if I didn’t feel this way because I’m jealous, but I think the honest truth is that I’m not. More than anything, I think it gets to me because it’s a reflection on me. I used to pull the same sort of routine Rick does, but I’ve pulled back a lot on that, trying to come across more genuinely and more down-to-earth. As a result, yes, I’m lonely, and I’m having a tough time, but I feel like it’s the path I should be taking. Stunts like Shawn’s seem dishonest to me. With that, it’s not your personality that’s making friends. It’s merely shared experiences. It’s a false charismatic persona. It’s an empty association.

Ah, hell. I’m knee-deep in culture shock, aren’t I. Sitting in my room and writing like a friggin’ 13-year old on Livejournal. I really need to unclench a bit.

Everything I know about Japanese culture I learned from immature teenagers

Been a bit since a substantial blog entry, and I apologize. I’ve had a bad run of things, and have tried to get out of the house more, to improve my mood. Results have been mixed at best. Anywho, the Kyoto trip was a pretty big deal, so I figure I should blog about it. Here we go.

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This post is going to be a little sensitive, so in a few days, I’ll probably put it behind a password lock. I’m probably going to set the password to my middle name, spelled in reverse. If you don’t know it, email me and I’ll send it to you. Also, as a precaution, I’m translating every name in the blog. If they’re in Japanese, they become their english equivalent (Hiroshima –> Wide Island), and if they’re English, they get Japanized (Jason -> Jeison). Alright, with that said, on to the meat of the post.

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