Friday, October 27, 2006

I did it.

I drove one of the fish hauling carts from the Tsukiji Fish Market.

a short list of persons who have emailed me about enhancing my penis

What with all the dope we smoked I can't remember it too clearly, but I think the cornerstone of comedian Patton Oswalt's routine was a joke that went "Oh yeah, and to all you spammers in the audience, just one thing. Spell check your fucking emails." Even sober that joke is pretty funny.

The problem is I think the spamming bar has been raised recently. I came in this morning to find that "Carly Bishop" had taken the time to write me, an average citizen and generally savvy consumer and investor, not about investment oppurtunities, West African bank transfers, the latest advances in shedding weight and enhancing male organs, or the wonders of pound-melting. No, Carly had decided that I, a total stranger would be interested in this: (I've left it unedited)

"it is a proof of your own attachment to hertfordshire. anything beyond the very neighbourhood"she will drop the acquaintance entirely."
"i advise mr. darcy, and lizzy, and kitty," said mrs. bennet, "to walk to oakham mount thisenough to drive happiness away.
catherine de bourgh, does not look on the match with a friendly eye.'claim an acquaintance with you-mr. bingley and his sisters."
"his manners are very different from his cousin's."
come in again and rest herself."you are quite a visit in my debt, mr. bingley," she added, "for when you went to town last
"ah!" said mrs. bennet, shaking her head, "then she is better off than many girls. and what sort
answer, and took her place in the set, amazed at the dignity to which she was arrived in being allowed
"do not give way to useless alarm," added he; "though it is right to be prepared for the worst,
"he has made me so happy," said she, one evening, "by telling me that he was totally ignorant of"i admire all my three sons-in-law highly," said he. "wickham, perhaps, is my favourite; but i
actuated by one spirit, everything relating to their journey was speedily settled. they were to be off as
downstairs. as they passed through the hall, lady catherine opened the doors into the dining-parlour"say nothing of that. who should suffer but myself? it has been my own doing, and i ought to feel it."

I'm no expert, but based on my extensive knowledge of Jane Austen gleaned from BBC costume dramas, it looks like Ms. Bishop decided to email me a fragment of "Pride and Prejudice."

Even with the literary constraints of having to come up with unorthodox spellings and hyphenations to sneak around email filters I think the genre is starting to spawn it's own Shakespeares. Or at least Mark Twains. I have been saving a lot of the crap that finds its way into my mailbox because of the pure genius of the names they come up with. For wacky descriptive character names these guys wipe the floor with David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon. Hell, they give Dickens a run for his money. I am tempted to steal these names and write a series of short stories. The ideas just pop right out.

"Tension Q. Denigrates finished his cigarette, flicking it to the rain-slick sidewalk. From the corner of his eye he caught the grimy old geezer on the stoop watch the butt bounce along, fingers tapping against each other in a vague half-rhythm, eyes in anticipation. Tension turned up the collar of his jacket against the wind walked over the abandoned butt, the tip of his cowboy boots grinding the thing to a million little specks. So the vagrants wouldn't scavenge it."

Man, this stuff just flows out.

I've copied the full list below, in the order they arrived to my inbox. Enjoy.

Ricochets V. Jogger
Poseurs B. Tarpaulin
Weller J. Illegalities
Intruded C. Vasectomy
Assuming C. Lascaux
Chariot Q. Whatsoever
Paranoia Q. Breeziest
Missourian M. Suckled
Objector L. Corking
Miscarriage P. Nodded
Prohibition K. Benedict
Atari H. Repackaged
Keywords K. Eyewitnesses
Hybridizing B. Regimented
Geography E. Charles
Implication T. Kapok
Unsuitably U. Politicizing
Armando L. Thrifty
Sellouts J. Laundries
Observatories H. Mushier
Livens Q. Coauthored
Motivating S. Tortoiseshell
Snootiness E. Thundershower
Grunts H. Cenotaph
Vomit J. Brewing
Cudgels K. Methanol
Churchyards U. Forgivable
Briefness K. Sandpapering
Drained E. Eutectic
Gorbachev R. Unhappily
Nudity L. Celerity
Tension Q. Denigrates
Their R. Georgina
Lithographer I. Thunderhead
Boxcar F. Extempore
Misfits E. Mooring
Recount G. Preserves
Mumps I. Swivel
Doling H. Dismemberment
Lamarck O. Ejecting
Headset R. Huntsman
Appliqu H. Inducing
Wildfowls D. Crankiest
Doughty I. Accessibly
Pyxed L. Cruddiest
Francoise R. Piglet
Sidelines Q. Billy
Pacesetters B. Pervasive
Caledonia M. Nazism
Eating L. Coquette
Oceanographer V. Imperfection

(My personal favorites: Keywords K. Eyewitnesses and Snootiness E. Thundershower.)

(And Wildfowls D. Crankiest.)


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

fuck the bomb

North Korea has the bomb. Most likely they are pointing it a few miles south of my apartment. Recently I’ve had a string of apocalypse dreams. Blinding flash of light, running through burning hulks of concrete and melting steel, silver rivers snaking across pavement. Stuff like that


Recently everyone seems to be getting pregnant. Emails from elder cousins arrive with grainy photographs at the bottom. Swaddled infants cradled in someone’s arms, an x-ray of a white creature curled like a shrimp in the big black pond of someone’s belly. People at the office clutter desks and computer screens with pictures of unconscious infants and toddlers grinning like idiots. Yesterday Mori-san was a sensible systems engineer, read the paper at lunchtime, did laps at the pool after work. Today he has pinned a photo of a shrieking bundle of goo next to his monitor. When it catches his eye he’ll sigh for a moment at this thing that has sprouted out of a dab of his semen. His semen.

My boss’ family came to the office the other day, his lovely wife and the scheming little parasite that calls itself his son. What had this thing, barely two years in this world, what had he done to earn our respect? His mother had brought a ribboned box of department store cookies for these men and women at their desks, but the boy just hobbled around with a goofy grin and babbled ungrammatical sentences in this weird squeaky little voice. Yet the girls in research coo over his little hands and his soft hair, the guys in sales quit the dirty jokes and turn their charm on this snotty little creature. His mother handled him carefully, this little goblin that wiggled out of her flesh and into the world. There he is, a Voyager probe launched from her body, and, if their luck holds, into the future.


Every Thursday night I bike out to a dull and quiet suburban neighborhood to tutor a lovely couple in their fifties in English conversation. She has left her job as the manager of an organic grocery to start an all organic baking business named after a Swedish cartoon character. He is on the board of directors of Japan’s largest organic produce distributor, and is currently organizing a national organic agriculture symposium and looking to import organic olive oil from Jordan. We’ll sit down to dinners of handmade sausages and homegrown vegetables, then discuss our week and read a short story or an essay. They giggle and laugh and tease each other in English fragments cut down to the essentials. Every other sentence will remind them of a song from the 60’s. “All You Need Is Love! John Lennon. My favorite!

They have two children, both about my age. Their daughter and their son’s girlfriend got pregnant within two weeks of each other. Everyone lost a few nights sleep, then decided to get married. Their daughter is now in her ninth month, and has come home for the last few months of her term, padding around the house with this basketball hidden underneath her shirt. She sits on a sofa in the corner of the room stitching baby clothes while her parents sit at the dining room table, frowning and giggle over strange words like “lilting” and “superstitious”. “Superstitious? Stevie Wonder! It’s a great song! Ja ja ja ja JA ja ja ja!

Their daughter is still wearing a basketball under her shirt, but their son's wife ejected her volleyball last week. I stopped by on Friday night to drop off a souvenir I'd brought back from a short trip I'd taken to the highlands. They were sitting in the living room flipping through an album of old photographs and drinking from a bottle of Hatsu-Mago sake. They flipped on a music program on public television station and I sat with the thing in my lap, looking at fuzzy photographs, the colors slowly yellowing over twenty-odd years. There were graduation pictures from nursery school, visits to grandma's house and trips to the shrine, little things running around. A picture of their daughter, five years old in the middle of a temple courtyard pulling the hem of her dress right up to the her grinning face. Her mother looked at the picture and collapsed in a fit of giggles. "Kaya, she always... moh!!" She had taken the picture. They poured me a cup of the sake, and we drank to their first grandchild.

"This sake is... from Yamagata. It's name is Hatsu-Mago. The name means..."

"First grandchild?"

"Gah! Jamie, you... moh!"

The other day someone hired two men to sit on folding stools in front of my building and count the pedestrians as they walked by. They were both equipped with a clipboard, a mechanical clicker you depressed with your thumb and a blank stare like the back of a truck. I was off to work, still swallowing the coffee in my mouth, brain straining at the arithmetic I do every morning of current-time + (minutes-to-station,briskly-walking vs. minutes-to-station,flat-out-sprinting) = (train departure time + 50 minutes to get to work?)

If I hadn’t been so preoccupied I would liked to have stopped and asked them a few things. Like, how do you guys divvy up the work? Does one of you count pedestrians going one way and the other the opposite direction or do you guys both just count everyone you see and then they average your numbers together later on? Don’t you guys feel an overwhelming urge to click when the other guy does? Do you wear earplugs to prevent that from happening? What happens if, say, some gangly American walks by you at 8:20 in the morning, then remembers he has left his mobile phone at home, rushes back in front of you to get it, then runs past you again in a frantic effort to make his train? Would you count him once (same guy in five minutes), twice (doublebacked within a few seconds, back again a few minutes later) or three times? How long is a shift for chrissakes? And how much are they paying you to do this? You know, to count of all of us tramping along the pavement. All of us, rushing to work, bumping into each other, having kids, tossing bombs.