Silly Grins

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Today's Menu: Christmas Grub

We had bird yesterday, on the Eve. 


Today, we had rice cakes that we pounded out in a five-hour marathon. 
Then, we had something that made my year. 

No. Not these.

(Warning: Further viewing not recommended for entomophobics) 

33 Days: Day 14

DAY 14

More sun!  Pretty much a repetition of the day before...
Clement is at the beach again with the girls, we talk quite a bit and I am amused by his crankily friendly attitude.  New ice cream vendors arrive from Rennes.  In the evening, the town is blocked off for a weekly "pedestrian night" where they have lots of little concerts and a night market.  

 Sea, Sex And Sun

I am struck by the fact that everyone and their dog rely on songs by Brassens or Gainsbourg for a hearty part of their repertoire.  Apart from that there is some funny Breton music (a Breton being someone from Bretagne), it sounds melodically like Irish folk music but they're singing in French, there is an old man playing a Yamaha synthesizer along with this old franco/celtic stuff, pretty whack...

Friday, December 23, 2011

33 Days: Day 13

DAY 13

Sun on the tent; oh lord it's work.  Corsican Battle to get motivated, I can hold my own against Angela  now, she taught me the game in the first place so I feel proud.  Angela asks to be placed on a different beach today because she's not making money at the one where she works now and it's too big, meaning miles and miles of walking around with the stupid chariot.  We drop her off at a small beach where there are lots of families and a large campground nearby, guaranteeing a steady amount of traffic and what promises to be a better income.  I start work at 3:30 p.m., weird after all those days doing nothing to supposedly be working again.  I meet an American art dealer who lives in London and his mom, I think I scare them a little because my English-starved brain latches onto the conversation and I am practically sputtering I'm so excited to speak in my language.  

A young man accompanied by two beautiful blonde little girls buys ice cream from me and asks if I feel like conversing a bit when he hears my accent.  His name is Clement and he works in a small, quaint hotel on the island which is run by his stepfather.  

The girls are his stepfathers' daughters, part of his job is to babysit them in the afternoon and they usually want to hang out at the beach so he finds himself babysitting and suntanning at the same time, not a bad situation.  I finish the day having made 15 euro, not exciting but enough to eat for a couple days.  

Back at the campground the Korean/French couple change their tent placement and end up right next to us, it's strange to eavesdrop on their conversation, the Korean girl's French is so heavily accented I have trouble deciding if it's French or some new Euro-Asian conglomerate language, refreshing.  The two have a quarrel within an hour or two of settling in, christ not again....

Dumpster diving in the evening yields a beach chair, a nice iron skillet, and a brand-new reusable shopping sac.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Out of the Blue

Out of the blue... and into the black


They give you this...  but you pay for that. 

Sometimes the tunes get all mixed up. 

I can’t remember what we’d been talking about, but that’s kind of how it came up. The news.

 “You haven’t heard what happened to Suzuki, have you?”

 “What? No.” Trying to remember, put a face with the name. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hiatus: Down, but not...

Not out.  Not now. 

 Just hit play.

The noise is for background while reading.

Recent conditions make it such that online activity is minimal for the next seven days. This blog had been set for auto-loading the 33 series, but the third group of six just weren't done on time. 

Unforeseen problems. 
Other deadlines to try and beat at the moment. 

As for the I-can't-believe--don't want to believe--what-I'm-hearing post, it's coming. Next. 

But not now. Not tonight. 

Gotta give my soul, if you call it that, a break... and maybe let the safe, ancient sounds and the simple images play back in my head. Like a continuous loop.

So, what's the score? Probably something like 0 - 2. 

Go on, get outta here. Nobody needs to watch this thing to the end, maybe wondering if it was just one person and whether or not they were trying to put some spin on the ball.

Friday, December 9, 2011

33 Days: Day 12

DAY 12

No work, cool and cloudy.  We go to a local cookie factory to taste their wares and then watch a pirated version of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels on Romu's little TV, dubbed in French. 

I find the film easier to understand in French than it was in English with all those trashy London accents.  We play "Corsican Battle", the card game which unleashed my whining the other day, after all it's my favorite card game and there is fucking nothing else to do.  

Reggae drifts in from all sides, everyone except for us at the campground has apparently brought a stereo and wants to share their amazing music far into the night.  I can't decide if my boredom will change into an "I'm on vacation" mentality or not...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Just Happened?

A sick feeling is overtaking me. The hard part is, I don’t quite know where all of it is coming from. I figure the stress is solely responsible for the temporal disorientation this afternoon. In a state of panic, the grey matter in my brain had me reading the clocks an hour ahead of where they really were. All of the clocks were digital. Okay, maybe not all, but that's no excuse. And it doesn’t matter.

33 Days: Day 11

 DAY 11

Death hangover holds me in uncomfortable tent bed until 4 p.m.ish, of course we don't work because the weather's icky.  Hangover is helped by neighbor's horrible hardcore techno + shit reggae, somehow time passes until 8 p.m. 

France loses the World Cup despite a ridiculous headbutt given to a cheeky Italian by Zidane (the badass on France's soccer team) toward the end of the match.  People honk and go crazy in town nonetheless, it is an island after all and there are a limited number of things to do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

33Days: Day 10

DAY 10

Do nothing until 4 p.m., this means the weather is still bad (?).  We go to Donnant, the biggest beach on the island, where there are waves and surfers, the whole bit.  The beach is packed and I can't see why we're not working today.  I end up going body surfing in the cold, cold ocean because I figure if I can't work then at least I can be battered around by the waves.  

We hitch a ride back home and participate in an 'aperitif party' with the other seasonal workers who are employed doing other crappy, tourism-related jobs around the island -- at least they're earning minimum wage though, from my present position that sounds like the high life.  Feeling glum and having a large amount of cheap alcohol at my disposal, I take pretty much whatever drink is offered to me and end up getting drunk off hard cider/carbonated wine/pastis/red wine/etc.  

Once I'm really drunk and Angela is slightly tipsy we go down to the town and dance around to a weird man with a guitar and machines playing covers of horrible French pops songs in a sort of one-man band situation, he is doing a concert on a little makeshift stage right next to the harbor for no apparent reason, O.K.  I go insane.  

I start writhing around on the pavement and pretend to break dance even though I don't know how, trying to look as stupid as possible.  A guy comes up and hugs me.  We go up and pass out in the tent at some point though I don't remember having left the concert.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

33 Days: Day 9


More shit weather but quiet without all the fighting next door.  Dumpster dive a laundry rack to dry our clothes on and say hi to the stray cat I met several days earlier, he seems to live in the area.  We cajole Romu into taking us to a little beach on the southeast side of the island, nice though Angela cuts herself on some jagged rocks when she is swimming and gets pushed against them by an incoming wave, she comes out of the water with bloody knees looking shocked but relieved.  We walk for several kilometers on the way bay before being picked up by a tourist guy in a rental car who looks seriously absorbed in driving or whatever he's thinking about and says nothing to us during the drive back to town except "goodbye!" as we get out of the car.  

At the campground we meet our new coworkers, a Belgian couple who have just arrived from the mainland, they seem cool and the dude even lived in Oregon for a year, making him the first European I've met who could tell me where Idaho is.  Romu buys us a pizza for dinner, I guess after five days where we haven't even made enough money to eat he feels slightly guilty and wants to remedy this.  

I feel slightly better when I learn he doesn't even have a camp stove and has been eating cold for a week straight now, but then again, he's been doing this for seven summers straight now and should theoretically think to bring something to cook on...feeling restless afterward I take a walk in the night, I go to the port and stare at the lights of the mainland, which twinkle and make me want to get off the island, even though I'm not really sure where I would go once I was off.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Heavy Doses: Moyers with Asimov

Seven of his books grace my shelves. 

Seven out of how many? Possibly over 500. 

 The actual number may be impressive, but it's not the number. 

 Why him? Why now?

No special reason for the timing other than for the fact that what he has predicted is happening now. The architects, if that's what they are called, are ahead of the curve by something like seven years. I could be mistaken; like I said, I'm a little behind...

Okay...make your point. You've got to be quick and clear. What's this about?

A number of things. Asimov predicted what is happening with regard to the Internet and education, "Now, there's a possibility of a one-to-one relationship for the many. Everyone can have a teacher in the form of access to the gathered knowledge of the human species." Khan Academy is an example.

Within the first minute is pretty much where it's all at.
 I would recommend listening from 0:06 mark till 
whenever curiosity gives way to distraction: 
The Internet and Education.

 The clip is part 2 of a Bill Moyers interview in 1988
Ten minutes is probably 3-4 minutes past the max attention span 
of most people who are not already familiar with a topic.

It's just, when he says that "[the student] has got to look forward to the fun in life, which is following his own bent..." as a student, a learner, he's talking about me and countless others. More or less coming from a place where thinking and asking questions was not exactly encouraged, I now find myself in an identical social environment.

"You have everyone looking forward to no longer learning and you make them ashamed afterwords of going back to learning."

Living in a society where information is so tightly controlled and managed is both fascinating and frustrating. At this point, I still care. 



33 Days: Day 8


Bad weather that looks suspiciously like good weather to me in the afternoon -- meaning we don't work even though we think we should due to Romu's thoughts on the ice cream sales outlook for the day.  I don't get it.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

33 Days: Day 7


Bad weather hahaha, it's warm and I feel 3 raindrops in the course of the entire day and wonder what kind of weather is really necessary in order to sell ice cream.  I find a sailor's hat in the dumpster, unfortunately it's too small to fit comfortably on my big head.  

I meet another cat, this one's nice too though a bit mangy.  We hitchhike to a little town called Sauzon with another islander, the town is a lame tourist trap full of overpriced restaurants, on the way back we are startled by the fact that tourists in rental cars with 3 or 4 visibly empty seats have no inclination to pick us up.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

33 Days: Day 6


Still bad weather, I guess, though it doesn't seem so bad to me, we are told this is not ice cream weather.  I dumpster some semi-edible bread and gnaw on it as we take a walk to an ugly beach -- there are lots of unidentified wormy things in the sand and the water is a suspicious, bracky green.  Perhaps due to motor oil seeing as there are a quite a few boats docked a little ways out?  

On the way back we take a route that follows the coast of the island and find an abandoned German bunker from World War II, lots of spooky graffiti,  a big open underground storage space for who knows what, I'm into it.  We meet a black cat as well a little farther down the road, it's real cute, lots of petting involved. In the evening Angela is tired ridiculously early (11 p.m., c'mon man) so I go for another walk, find myself on a little beach where I listen to the waves, a refreshingly clean sound after all the shitty reggae and hardcore techno the idiots around us in the camping are blasting at all hours of day and night.

Friday, December 2, 2011

33 Days: Day 5

Bad weather.  "Too much wind" says the boss.  We get a ride from Romu and go to a place called Le Point de Poulain, there is a lighthouse and dramatic cliffs, a little beach, all that good stuff.  

At the beach I watch a bunch of French people amuse themselves by throwing around a big dead crab and laughing as it shatters into pieces against the rocks.  We hitch a ride back with an islander who drives wickedly fast and has a bunch of what appear to be exposed fuses in his car dashboard...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

33 Days: Day 4


Another sunny day, we go dumpster diving in the morning and find a bunch of celebrity trash magazines from 2004.  2 1/2 hours of work on the beach, no one there so I spend most of the time reading my book in Japanese (being in France is not an excuse to let myself go!).  Romu passes by halfway through this little work spree to tell me my cop sunglasses are too imposing and that I need to take them off when I'm touring around and look people in the eyes in order to motivate them to buy ice cream from me.  What a load of horseshit, if people want ice cream they'll buy it, so I wait until he leaves the beach and then put them back on.  

A group of people I know from the campground come and buy 30 euros worth of ice cream from me, cool though this doesn't translate into much money for me (20% of what I sell).  Back at the campground the domestic violence next door continues.  

They quiet down in the evening (don't know why, then again, I don't know why it started) and we all decide to go to the local dance club together, too bad we get there before midnight and find ourselves the only ones in a kitschy dance club on a small-ass island.  I dance anyway though I'm not drunk enough for it to be fun.  Angela participates a little bit as well, but Jacob and Julie just sit and try to look cool next to the dance floor with their cocktails, hard to do when there's no one to notice you looking cool.  We leave within an hour or two.  Back at the campground Jacob and Julie decide to have a loud fuckfest, we are serenaded by the sounds of their inflatable mattress making strange wheezing noises and an endless refrain of "oui bébé oui" coming alternately from Jacob, then Julie, then Jacob, then Julie.  I take a walk because I'm already starting to feel the horrible claustrophobia of living in a tent and this just socks it home. 

Upon returning Angela relates to me how the moment they finished fucking Jacob got a call on his cell phone and took it without any thought for post-coital cuddle time -- this of course rekindled the domestic abuse flame and they were having a nasty row in no time, at least it was only verbal this time, apparently.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

33 Days: Day 3

Work commences.  Angela's plot to ask to work the best beach on Belle-Ile ($$) is thwarted by a fat, tan, competitive Belle-Ilois ice cream vendor who we later discover foots around the island on a moped like a gorilla in a cartoon.  He has a small, theoretically illegal stand (due to the law all vendors on the beach must be mobile, able to move at a moment's notice, and his stand is way too big for that) on the beach where he sells ice cream pretty much like ours but with a different brand name, soft drinks, etc. and makes a decent business so obviously he doesn't want us dipping into his profits.  Heated discussion ensues between him and Romu while all of us look on worriedly.  I don't really feel like leaving Angela there because I worry this fucker will give her shit (he has a lot of deadbeat-ish friends who hang around his stand and appear to have nothing to do besides harass another ice cream vendor should one decide to appear) but Romu assures us it will be o.k. and we leave Angela with her ice cream chariot, which has a big buoy-like thing attached to a metal frame with handles so that it can be pushed over the sand without too much effort.  I ask to be put on a smaller beach (less scary if there are less people to deal with, like I said, French isn't my native language) and find myself at a charming spot called Herlin, good sand and miniscule waves, perfect conditions for families who come to the beach with small children.  

In the end both Angela and I make practically nothing because there is no one there, the season hasn't really started yet.  I make the acquaintance of the lifeguard, David from Rennes, who has a really really red face and talks to me like we are both on some kind of sports team together, always trying to pep me up and giving me theatrical slaps on the shoulder.  I leave the beach at 6:30 p.m. and walk up the hill to the parking lot with no shoes since Romu assured me I wouldn't need my thongs on the beach and advised me to leave them in the van, on top of pushing the stupid fucking cart up the hill it's nice to have rocks stabbing into my feet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Integration Disorder

schizophrenia (play /ˌskɪtsɵˈfrɛniə/ or /ˌskɪtsɵˈfrniə/) is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness.(Courtesy of Wikipeida)

Not too long ago, schizophrenia was renamed. Now it is called "integration disorder" in an apparent attempt to deal with the negative stigma.  George Carlin would probably have said, "No matter what you call it, it's still 'fucking crazy'."

During another one of those talks over lunch, this time with families and at a park. Hadn't seen them for a while, not since the new addition. 
We talked about being here, what it means, and how to deal with it. The difference. The difference between the image and the reality. 

The image is of a very advanced and civil society. A doctor had remarked at how some papers had been published that dealt with renaming schizophrenia and how, wow, that place must really be ahead. 

He then said, the same doctor who has never visited Japan, an obviously intelligent and 'qualified' individual, paused...and also couldn't help but notice that, for 'developed countries' (or whatever the current term is), Japan's got an amazingly high rate of polypharmacy, possibly leading the pack by a long, long way.

When I heard this, I wanted to nod and pretend that I understood. But I asked for just a little bit more info. 

To people in the field, the idea of coming up with a more refined term through a very thorough process and then to agree on "integration disorder" is kind of on the bi-polar opposite side of the spectrum from the practice of old-fashioned polypharmacy... a practice where medication is all lumped together without too much consideration given to the side-effects, etc. 

At least that's how I thought I understood what he was saying. 

We'd been talking about crazy. And I'd wanted to reconfirm the chilling story he'd told, kind of out of the blue, last time we'd talked...

Something almost unspeakably dark had happened. 
"Could you tell it to me again?" I asked. 

" it is. Do you remember that guy..." 

That's a story that I'm still figuring out how to relay because of what it could mean. Maybe in a few days. Fuck. Maybe...


33 Days: Day 2


A ferry to Belle-Ile... 

We check into a decent campground next to Le Palais, the main town on the island. There are lots of trees in the campground and we are given a camp spot with no shade whatsoever; upon discussing with the lady at reception that seeing as we will be living there for a month it kind of busts our balls to have a spot which leaves our tent uninhabitable for half the day due to sun exposure, we are told that since we are seasonal workers and our tariff is lower than the other campers, we have no choice and that "it has been decided" by the powers that be that it should be like this.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

About Page: Redundant

 Almost Ten...

1. Emoticons: Not on a boat, not with a goat. I will not. But that's just me. Other people do it all the time and I actually believe that those modern day hieroglyphs add character to what people write. Those emoti-thing-ma-jigs just aren't my cup 'a tea.

2. Smilies (or Smileys): No. While those smilies are definitely an upgrade from their kissing cousin, the emoticon, I just would not, could not. Just ain't my style.

(Is it just me...or does the right side appear darker than the left?)

33 Days: Day 1


Pack shitloads of stuff into bags, subsequently into tiny-ass TGV (the French bullet train) storage spaces...

Three Horses for the Ride

Hardest thing is remembering...
"I'd needed to take three horses where we were going. Kind of nice, sleeping out under he stars. Three horses...that's how far and hard I had to ride. Herd had been let out to pasture and needed to be brought in. "

Yeah, I guess this was a roundup of sorts. Time to bring 'em all in. 

"When we got back and had them all together, one started to bloat. After a few days, it wasn't getting up. They said I could have know, they didn't really know what they were doing."

"Neither do I."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

33 Days: Prologue

The following is not mine in the sense that my decrepit hands and my dull mind are in no way skilled enough to have carried out such a task. 

In other words, I did not write it. No siree.

This collection of posts, thirty-three more or less, are the relaying of a story that has been passed along. 

Okay, here it is:

Paramedicine: A Good Idea

Over Drinks…

On the fourth floor of a company apartment, there was a fight of some sort going on that involved a husband, a mother, and her daughter-in-law.  Apparently, the daughter-in-law was getting really stressed. 


You see, another wife of a company employee on the second floor was wondering if she should call the police. But things had quieted down a bit and she really did need to finish her laundry. So, she went out to her balcony to hang up some clothes.

That’s when something fell from above. Down past the second floor where that other wife of a company employee, who happened to be ex-nurse, was hanging her laundry. Ex-nurse heard the very heavy futon-like sound on the ground, just two stories 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Silk Dreams Are Made of These

Ships and Sails

For many people
Dreams are something 
To be had while asleep
And for others...well, they may have forgotten to close their eyes.
Even when it's a long way down. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Japan: The Small Print

i never bothered to read the small print before coming here. but something seemed mighty odd. all the wincing smiles, the bowing, and the tweaked stress levels. 

there was something more than just a few Polite Lies being told. no, this isn't about that book, but the comments are worth a read. if you've got a moment to skim, you'll probably see why. 

Some Japanese and japanophile readers could be offended by the revelations about Japanese culture. -MoTisch

oh yeah, there was compassion, but that seemed to happen on very rare occasions and usually between the elder and the young, between the innocent and the retired, the newly arrived and the soon to be departed.

what was skewed? something was funny...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bits and Pieces: Letters and Memory

Bits and Pieces: Letters and Memory

Not A Happy Ending

For someone born to a man who had wanted a son, life was not easy...

...She rode with everyone while we were in Texas,  helping with doctoring the injured and sick livestock during the roundup time and during the summer when school was out.  Mother tried to keep her home under all kinds of "mothers'" pretenses so she didn't have to do that hard work and knowing Dad would be on her case for not roping and holding a 1200 pound angry steer...

...Life was not easy despite her having tied for the highest IQ in her schools' history. Rumor had them near 200...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scatterthought: From Nomura and Beyond...

The House
of Nomura:
The Inside Story of the World's Most Powerful Company

Apparently, the late Al Alletzhauser was willing to go against the grain in the writing of his book that came out in 1990. On the first page, just inside the cover:

On Monday, lawyers for Nomura in London wrote to Mr. Alletzhauser and his publisher threatening to sue unless they agreed to the immediate withdrawal of the book, payment of a suitable sum in damages, and a public apology.

"This isn't Nazi Germany and I'm not going to withdraw the book simply because they don't like it," said Mr. Alletzhauser..."Anybody who's familiar with the Japanese knows that the book contains one-tenth what it could have." 
                                                                          - Wall Street Journal, March 1, 1990

All of this is old 'news' though. But, there are some bits and pieces of what may be important information, the kind information that can provide an idea of how certain elements in the business world work. 

Even before they become members of the Japanese business community, students are taught that playing by the rules is the path of greatest resistance (184).

This 'understanding' of how the game is often played is not exclusive to any one country. In fact, some could argue that this is the way it is in the US too.

Does that mean that people cheat?
Well, it would appear so...and early on in the game. 

Maybe Richard Quinn was lucky, in a way... because, most of the time, whistle-blowers are the ones who 'get it':
'many whistleblowers report there exists a widespread "shoot the messenger" mentality by corporations or government agencies accused of misconduct...' (from this Wikipedia entry)

Shoot the messenger?!
Hell yes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Economic Collapse: An Education

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Bill Black, one of the guys responsible for jailing a number of the S&L people back when that was all we thought we had to worry about, showed up at the OWL, and had a little 'news' to share.

My encouragement to watch the following clip came from something posted on a Facebook wall.
"Bottom line: you NEED to watch this video, cuz nobody has said it better, so far. Gets it all down to bullet points and brass tacks."
This is compact, fits all into just under four minutes.

After watching the clip, I naturally wanted to learn more about this fellow, so clicked through a few more of the available clips on YouTube.

(Honestly, don't expect anyone to really continue beyond this point, at least not without a barf-bag. Really not liking where all of this is heading. Guess this kind of thing happens to those of us who've had our heads in the sand for just a little too long.)


Dreamers: A Renegade Harpist

You could have heard his music if you were somewhere in Northern Europe during any number of the summer seasons in the 1990's. From the crowded streets of Amsterdam where virtually "anything goes" to the mile-long pedestrian streets in Copenhagen where the gorgeous blondes are noticeably not into wearing bras...and on to the heavy drinking crowds in Oslo where knife fights are not all that uncommon.

Yeah, some people have seen their 'fair share' of this 'n that.

This post is about a number a things, but most of all, this is about dreamers.
And what can happen.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good Deeds...

'No good deed goes unpunished' or something close to that. 

A kei car had pretty much sunk its two front tires into a neighboring rice paddy. The two older women who were more or less responsible for single-vehicle accident looked a little embarrassed more than anything else. Whatever it was that they'd been talking about was no longer the focus of their attention.

Immediately, I'd pulled over to take a look. 
Things were starting to appear grim as I didn't have a cable or chain... I began

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lunch Lady: In Houston


Hard to imagine such a place...really.

Hell of a woman.  She had an edge. Maybe that edge came from working on the islands, in the refugee camps in South-East Asia. She'd also spent time in Bangkok. And knew how to navigate the Sukhumvit in the days when it was nothing but tuk-tuk, the pre-Skytrain era. She loved that place. Definitely not afraid to ask for a bargain and definitely not afraid to walk out. Tell you like it is. And, after a drink or two, tell you where to put it. Nope, not someone you'd want to upset. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not scared...

But feeling very uneasy...

If this...

can couple with something like