It’s available to see now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w
It’s available to see now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w
In the past year, I have, in public, beaten strangers savagely with a pillow. I have made my opinion known as a judge at the LA Grilled Cheese Invitational. I have run down city streets with a shopping cart, handing out ice cream sandwiches to anyone who’d take them, amongst a shopping cart-wielding crowd of hundreds. I have witnessed the savage and erotic competition of the Los Angeles Air Sex Championships. I have tasted the most delicious that LA has to offer in the Cupcake Challenge. I have smelled the worst scent LA has to offer in the once-every-ten-year blooming of the Corpse Flower.
In the past year, I have thrown an impromptu house party at Ikea. I have ballroom danced in a supermarket produce section. I have joined hundreds of people in a spontaneous game of “Follow the Leader” at the most famous museum in Los Angeles. I have set up a “finish line” on a bike path, and given gatorade, encouragement, and medals to all cyclists. I have led a group of 30 to a busy intersection, held signs with them, and chanted with them, lauding all passersby as fantastic and important.
In the past year, I have brought down the house at a conference of 400-odd people by educating them about the practice of erasing animal genitalia from Hollywood pictures. I have helped another presenter inform the same crowd about the fecal Christmas traditions of Catalonia. I have every month stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most interesting people in Los Angeles, and in so doing, been welcomed as one of them. I have been invited to join them in finding fascinating speakers, and I have accepted.
In the past year, I have learned at the feet of one of the most well-known foam monster-makers on Earth. I have made two Halloween costumes complex enough to send my friends’ minds reeling. I have signed up for more workshops at the same venue.
In the past year, I have started working at DreamWorks Animation. For my job, I have brought honor to my department by winning a Rock Band tournament, filmed myself throwing chimichangas at the intern for reference, and stared slack-jawed as Oscar-award winner Hans Zimmer jammed “I Like to Move It (Move It)” on guitar to inaugurate our new parking garage.
In the past year, I have written a great “Interesting things to do in LA” list.
In the past year, I have visited Japan, New Zealand, Chicago, and my hometown of Louisville. I have missed LA during each of these trips.
In the past year, I have, after a decade, finally made a home of Los Angeles.
The other day, they had a health fair at work. I’m… apparently unbelievably healthy.
Still need to go see a doctor for a more thorough checkup, but hey! Feeling pretty good right about now.
For the past several months, I’ve been on a mission. One movie that I worked on, early in my career, introduced me to the concept of “tent removal” — that is, the erasure of an untimely erection through the usage of digital effects. I was very nearly tasked with it (and so very nearly earned the credit of “crotch wrangler”), but narrowly dodged that bullet. But it got me thinking, who else has had to do that?
So I started asking around.
And around a hundred emails and a half-dozen in-person interviews later, I’m likely one of the foremost experts on the subject.
So, in the interests of spreading the knowledge around, I am going to be giving a presentation on this very obscure topic this Thursday, at Mindshare LA. It promises to be a very entertaining, slightly insane thing. If you’re reading this and you’re in LA, I recommend that you attend.
Civil war has broken out in my body. Every heartbeat floods my arteries with strife, cells goose-stepping to the commands of a rogue organ.
I housed the army gladly, wheeling this Trojan gift into my town square, making it my focal center. I stocked it with wishes until it was pregnant with them — to a man, experts on my every strategic weakness, my every resource, my every last recess. And when I am alone, in the still times, they turn on me. They fill my streets and break my windows, tear me down and salt my earth. They have made me a prisoner of this war.
And after each skirmish, again and again this dictator is put to justice. Made to defend every action, account for every word, detail every weakness. “You arm them. You train them,” they accuse. “They are an army because you have made them one.” Promise, they say. Promise to never again invite barbarians to our gates. Promise to defend us. Promise that this will be the last.
The heart will not. The heart stands defiant. “Have I not woken you from your long complacency? Have I not put you to purpose, each of you? Have I not razed these lands that something greater may be built? Have we not built this from a sleepy hamlet to a towering metropolis? One day the invaders will join themselves to us. They will gaze on our works and lay down their swords for plowshares. You have tasked me with this. I will never promise such a thing.”
And so the body is silenced and the heart reinstated, viciously cycling again and again, until hope can be content to reside in the city I have made of myself.
“Your voice is different,” my ex says to me on the phone. “It’s lower, somehow.”
Of course it is.
My Japanese voice has always been different from my English one. It’s exacting and polite, engineered for small talk. It starts high in my throat, birthed two doors down from its graveÂ — a punch from the elbow instead of from the shoulder.
This time around, my voice is worming its way up from the pit of my stomach. A gut punch. My Western voice.
High and low. Head and heart. East and west. As ever.
I’ve come back to Japan after a year and a half, to see old friends. Only a handful remain, with most back in their home countries. With so much free time and so few people left, I find myself alone a lot of the time.
Two days into my stay, I meet up with my friend Megumi. We go out drinking, shouting across the table to be heard. We sing karaoke, my voice reverberating deeply enough to be heard in the bathroom. Later, we’re talking and I ask, from my gut, “what’s going on in your life?” She replies: “Nothing.”
“Okay,” I say. Japanese voice.
Years ago, I watched Paranoia Agent, an anime that I feel is more important than many realize. It’s a series about Japan’s troubles post-WW2. How they can’t face what they’ve done or what’s been done to them. How they’ve sanitized reality with Hello Kitty. How they look at cell phones more than each other. How they’ve retreated into their shells, never to stick their necks out.
Weeks ago, I am telling my friend Satoshi Okabe exactly this. I jokingly call it Okabe no kabe (Okabe’s wall). He smiles. He says he agrees. Then he talks about the weather.
A week ago, I am in my ex-girlfriend’s living room. We are talking about her job, her health, her desire to travel. We are talking in Japanese, and I am speaking from my throat. She says my English voice weirds her out. After an hour, we stop talking and watch a rented movie. She asks several times if I’m hungry, or cold. Three hours later, I give her a chaste hug and leave. Her last words to me are “Enjoy your new job.”
My last night in Tokyo, I am at a club with Megumi, and she is very drunk. She is leaning towards me, speaking in English, a voice several octaves lower than what I’m used to. She is telling me about her life for the first time.
Within minutes, though, the conversation’s over as she rushes to the womens’ restroom to check on her sick friend. After a half hour, I am standing outside the restroom, knocking on the door to make sure they’re okay.
And there we are, on either side of a door.
I am knocking and there is no answer.
When I was in Madrid, staying with my frined Amanda, I had a conversation with Moritz, one of her German roommates, about words that don’t translate well to other languages. As an example, he used the German word GemÃ¼tlichkeit, which he explained as the “feeling of being around a fireplace with your friends, comfortable and drinking hot chocolate.” We determined that “coziness” was the best equivalent, but that it didn’t quite capture the essence of the word.
GemÃ¼tlichkeit, it turns out, is what Munich was all about.