Silly Grins

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chapter 4

“What’s it like, teaching in Japan?”

Head tilts forward with a hint of a grin, eyebrow raised, “You ever read Orwell?”

Wide-eyed now, “As in 1984? Big Brother, Room 101… Thought Police!”

Chuckles, then breaks into a full smile, “That’s society. For understanding what goes on around the ‘business end’ of education, A Clergyman’s Daughter is a good read, especially for people on the teaching side of that ‘profession’.”

“No. Haven’t read it. By the way you talk about it, it reminds me of that gentleman’s joke the jowly one told… something about merely negotiating a price.”

“Well, it can be like that. What I’m thinking about is Dorothy’s story, particularly Chapter 4.” 


“Here, let me try. Will only take a few minutes. Anyone who has done the rounds should be able to get every line. Here,  let me pour you another one."

 IPA image of cleansing beverage 'borrowed' from here.

In a soft, reassuring tone, "It’s on the house. Now, just sit back, relax, and get ready to watch the thoughts scroll.”

Friday, January 25, 2013


Mary Kay, she does skin. Cosmetics. Fixes people up, makes them look good, and gives them confidence.

Captain 'Kandy', Kay Nogami, she did just the opposite. You wouldn't have wanted her near your skin. She wouldn't have been making you look too good. She'd probably have destroyed your confidence while making you beg.

They say she could do pain. Her work was serving up pain for the dreaded kenpeitai.

I do not know what happened to Kay. Her face was one of more than eighty million. It revolved in my consciousness for a while, then gradually receded until finally I saw her no more. She was just one of the people you meet in a business like mine.

When asked if she had tortured any of the prisoners, she denied it.

And even if I were guilty, your American intelligence officers aren't smart enough to prove it.

Keyes said she liked the Americans. And knew who was going to win. So, she passed off 'gifts' to the men. Stuff like soap, cigarettes, chocolate... sweets.

Want some candy? 

But one of those little men did something stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Then, one day, one of the guards found some candy on one of the prisoners. When he refused to tell where he got it the guard beat him up. The he told the guard that I had given him the candy. A stupid man! I was called to the prison for an explanation, of course. I denied everything. When I was confronted by the prisoner I flew into terrific rage and beat him up again.

You see, I had to; otherwise he would have destroyed my usefulness to the other prisoners.

Keyes said she had connections, after the war. And that she knew everybody on both sides of the law, the rule makers, the rule breakers, a well as the muscle in between. Ended up as kind of a nanny, Mary Poppins-like. Began to run the show.

I always knew when he was going to call on his Japanese mistress because he always took along his swagger stick.

 Homer modeling a 'swagger stick'
It made him feel superior.

 At the end of the war, when Hiroshima was the first to get hit,  the government of Japan kind of didn't know what was going on. But she did. She knew exactly what it was.

I was listening to the short-wave radio broadcasts from America.

Keyes thought that was not allowed, but she explained to him:

It was [prohibited]. But I knew an American GI at Camp Omori who had a short-wave set and we heard President Truman's announcement.

Keyes couldn't figure out how the POW had access to a set. If there were any airmen there, maybe a navigator like Bill Dixon, they probably would have known how to build something like this:

He builds boxes.

The material or 'quotes' for this post come from pages 77 and 78, from here.
  Sweet stuff from right here.
Homer's mention/inclusion in the blog is mainly because he's holding a swagger stick. He is not the individual our Kandy Kay refers to. Homer was kind of bad-ass and probably didn't need any kind of prop whatsoever.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Less Than 15 Minutes....

Three years later two men obviously from somewhere else, were sitting in the corner:

Somewhere in Texas

"So why are we here, in this joint? I already told you, I don't want to go to Abilene."  

"It's okay. We're headed to Paris. Here comes our order."

"Wow, that sure looks like a burger from that Hawaiian burger joint."

"It ain't, but it does look goooood." 

"When you say that, you know who you remind me of? Wait a minute...  you see that? That old man over there... looks like he's crying."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What? An Asshole?

Click. Press. Read. 

Elderly should be allowed to _____________ ? 

Check your answer here (click).

One of the more surreal, but very real, experiences I've had is observing a physical therapist working with an elderly man who was clearly tired and wanted to die. Everything about the old man who was having his life prolonged in virtual isolation, save for regular nursing care... everything about him was saying that he wanted to be let go. 

There comes a time in life where people are better off addressing the inevitable.  There's a window of opportunity that many people miss. And families have a nasty habit of tearing themselves apart when it happens. We'll see.

I do believe in hospice care.

Friday, January 18, 2013



Maintaining Order at Any Cost 

There's a lot here. Maybe too much stuff for anyone in a hurry. But that's okay. Take it or leave it.

At the beginning of this week, I had no idea anyone like Mr. Steve exists – had no idea who he is. And I still don’t. But he talks about important things.

Yeah, important things not everyone is comfortable with.

His sort of open autobiography  - what’s on the Net -  is there for anyone, though maybe not everyone, to read.

The link is provided below.

The first time through his story (it takes a while, but worth it)… the first time through, not being familiar with the fighting world, I didn’t have such a clear picture.

What I did get out of the reading deals with the issue of maintaining order in this society. Japan is vertical. And some places are vertical in an unforgivably extreme way. Mr. Steve is not the only 'outsider' who has been through it either. 

No, I don't intentionally live in a way that takes me anywhere near the world of violence experienced by the Gary, Steve, or anyone else. I got close enough... once.  And after hearing what they had/have to say, I'm glad I didn't fall for it.  But I am here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Smokin' It

Smoking anything occurred to me a year ago when reading confessionals. Since then, I've been wanting to try it, but not willing to put any money down for hardware.  When I showed her Chris' blog, she said she doesn't need any special equipment and huffed at the idea of a big bird. Wifey has actually smoked bacon in the kitchen a few times. Instead of arguing with her, I started planning. And waiting... been waiting a long time for this.  

Tonight (melodramatic pause) is Phase I.

 Supply list:
  • 2 cardboard boxes (free)
  • 2 bbq grates (lying around)
  • flexible aluminum duct (980 yen)
  • 1 Captain Stag walnut smoke block (250 yen)
  • handful of apple smoke chips (maybe 50 yen)
  • 2 one kilo blocks of cheese (980 yen each)
  • sticks to hold up the recycled grates
  • trimmed concrete wire mesh (another 50 yen?)
  • aluminum foil (sacrificed my good hat)
  • metal bowl (recycled) 
  • newspapers

Think that's about it for what it takes to smoke 2 kilos of cheese. Could probably do more, but since this is the first run, we do what we can.  Oh yeah:

Friday, January 11, 2013


"In ten minutes or less?"


"That's pretty quick."

"Always pays to take precautions." 

"But I still wanna do it." 

"So, what are you going to do?" 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gender Equality 101: Not Quite Here Yet



Dower's Embracing Defeat features a few of the posters used in an educational awareness campaign carried out by the occupational authorities. The top two are actually from the same poster. Presumably about Article 14 - the one that supposedly dismantled the feudal system (or did something like that).

And the second half of her artistry was kind of alluded to the other day.

Take a look.

New Year's Chill

He paid us a visit. 

Think-tank bright brother-in-law, science-smart and rugby tough. 

He's put in plenty of lab time and he still plays. He was actually worthy of a year’s scholarship to do research on the east coast of the US, somewhere in Massachusetts. Rucking is just his hobby, a way to letting off a little steam. 

Now brother-in-law does stuff for 'important' people. Kind of stuff that takes him around to neighboring countries that haven’t made it to the industrialized phase of development. Which isn’t a bad thing. No, not at all.

We had a chance to catch up a little over New Year. And we had one of our first pretty decent discussions at the dinner table while Johnny was distracting the rest of the family. Mainly we talked about kids.

When I was a kid, the future was a place where we would all boldly go instead of something we needed to be able to escape to before time runs out. 

 From Them

We talked about kids because the world is fucked up in a bad way that’s really hard to ignore at the moment.

When ADHD was maybe six, his mom explained to him why we need to learn about the world around us. A lot of things we take for granted won’t always be here in such abundance

Ozone might have been the topic that day. Either way, it ended with our non-medicated offspring running to the toilet where he proceeded to vomit. He’s sensitive about these things. Just a little.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gender Equality 101: Not in Japan

Women Are Not Equal Here

No. Not even close. 

But better than before.

(image to be added in a few days) 

Now, keeping anyone’s attention for more than a paragraph into a lecture or thesis takes a lot of work. Especially for those of us not familiar with or smitten by a certain slice of the past... history, culture, & wutever.

The mind is its own place, 
and in itself can make a heaven of hell, 
a hell of heaven..

 So, we will keep this short for a number of reasons. Let’s get down to it. 

She was twenty-two years old in a room full of men, mostly in their forties. They had no idea how good she was. I didn’t either. Not till just a few days ago (though I'd read about her before).