The Easiest Money

Posted October 23, 2007 by schmeicheljp
Categories: Japanese Frequencies

Tags: , , ,

It all started in a seedy foreigner bar in a small city in Japan. I had been drinking shots of Cuervo with my friends, enjoying the Karaoke sty-lings of Billy Joel, when a group of young Japanese ruffians entered the establishment. They hardly afforded a second glance, and when it was overheard that they had all ordered frilly pink drinks with umbrellas, no more thought was put into the matter. As my friends and I contemplated the yen to dollar ratio and the the resulting squeeze we found ourselves in after the economic bubble had burst, I realized that I would have to break the seal and go to the loo.

I had noticed the group of Japanese had taken a seat near the bathroom, and they were eyeing me with interest as I walked past them. After I finished my business and was washing up, one of their group came into the bathroom and prepositioned me. Before you start thinking all T.V. drama on me, let me finish. The man, probably in college or at least college age, looked very nervous as he asked me in Japanese if I spoke Japanese. I had learned the Japanese virtue of modesty soon after arriving in Japan, so I said, “A little.” Then, in perfect English, he asked, ” Would you like to have an arm-wrestling tournament with me and my friends?” This was a proposition I could handle. I said yes and we walked back to their table.

There were five of them, and only one looked anywhere near strong enough to beat me. They bought all of my drinks from then on in, a kindness I took advantage of with great zeal. The first three opponents were down within seconds, and after twenty minutes or so, I had already finagled three shots of tequila and a pint of Asahi Super Dry. I had also drank so much that even the fourth rendition of “Just the Way You Are” sounded like sweet aural candy. The group was fun, and they all had questions about life in America. Everyone tried out their English, but only that first guy had any real chops. I told him as much in front of his friends and he was positively beaming.

The fourth to step up to the plate was the skinniest and assholeiest. (It’s a word) He hadn’t spoken to me all night and seemed to only want to sip his pink frilliness with a scowl. I guess I had gotten a little too cocky, or the adverse affect of alcohol on reaction time and strength was kicking in. But from the first, I knew I was in for a struggle. We went back and forth, once he almost had me pinned. But I conjured up the image of Sylvester Stallone in “Over The Top”. I remembered that sweet move where he slides his wrist around the opponent’s, giving him the upper hand. I also remembered what a pansy his son was in that movie, which didn’t help my concentration. Finally, after a hard, grueling two minutes or so, I triumphed. Frilly-pants, (that was his new nickname) turned out to be a good guy and shook my hand. We had a good laugh when I tried unsuccessfully to translate “Frilly-pants” into Japanese. But then, from behind us, hid away in the dark corner of a booth, a loud grunt ripped through the bar. The CD on the karaoke machine skipped, and my friend Jason peed a little in his banana hammocks. (His underwear is another story for another time) Arising from the abyss of the booth was the largest non-sumo Japanese man I had ever seen. His arms were Mammoth rock piles, his gut Buddha-esque. He didn’t say a word as he sat down opposite me. Frilly-Pants grinned like some sort of cat that has the ability to disappear.

I wanted to call him “Kinniku Man”, which means muscle man, but what I actually said was, “Ninniku Man”, which translates as Garlic Man. This got everyone laughing, but it was like the laugh of the dead. I knew something was up.

The English speaking guy asked me if I would like to wager. Now I understood. They were sharking me. How could I have been so stupid. “5000 yen”, he said. This was all too much. They were going to beat me up right there in the bar if they didn’t get all the money they spent on me back. I also was entirely unconfident that my friends would have my back. It was time to get the hell out of there. But somewhere between the message from my brain to the muscles in my legs, my mouth intercepted the signal.

“OK.”

What?!!! What the Hell did you just do? You could have ran! You could have thrown their pink, frilly drinks into their faces. It looked like anti-freeze, maybe there was some kind of corrosive material inside. Maybe I should point out at this time that I only had about 2000 yen in my pocket. And my stupid mouth says, “OK.”

It was too late now. I was in it and thick. We locked hands. We locked eyes. “Just the Way You Are” sounded louder and more out of tune than any time before. It could have been because my friend, Kyle, was singing, and he never could get the whoas down. Maybe if he just found another song to sing he would be… No. What the hell are you thinking? Concentrate dammit! The count was on: Three, Two, One… And then it was over. Ninniku Man folded like a paper shit house. The whole group surrounding me were smiling. English Boy handed me a crisp 5000 yen bill and thanked me for speaking English with them. Everyone shook my hand, and looked at me quizzically because I couldn’t seem to be able to close my mouth. Overall, they probably spent 3000 yen on booze plus the 5000 they gave me after, for a glorified English lesson and, admittedly, good company. I came out about 8000 yen to the good.

As I waved my last goodbyes to Ninniku Man, Frilly-Pants, and the others, I realized that goodness and kindness can attack you from all angles, that tequila is liquid evil, and that “Just the Way You Are” is one of the best Goddamn songs ever created.

until we meet again…

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Crybaby

Posted October 18, 2007 by schmeicheljp
Categories: Entertainment

Tags:

I am moving into dangerous territory so early in my writing career, but I wanted to be true to myself and to you, my fellow readers. Today I would like to embark on a journey, if you will. A journey that truly tests my masculinity, but I have faith that I will come out on the other side stronger and more appealing to the ladies. I have decided to write about movie scenes that have made me cry. Why now? It’s a good question and one that I have no answer to. So take that home in a doggy bag.

Disclaimer – If there are any spoilers, I apologize, but only half-heartedly.

My list is in no particular order, so don’t hassle me about it. I’m very fragile.

1. Awakenings – I start with the one scene that gets me every time. Leonard Lowe realizes that his condition is getting worse. He is shaking all over and his motor skills are deteriorating at an alarming rate. He meets the girl that he loves, Paula, in the cafeteria of his hospital to tell her that their relationship can’t go any further. He tries to leave, but Paula grabs his arm. They do a little slow dance in the middle of the crowded room and by the time you realize that his shaking has completely stopped, it’s almost impossible to see the screen through the tears. And then, to top it all off, the next scene is DeNiro watching her leave from his window. It’s the subtleties of the scene that are so effective. Cheesy, yes. Heartbreaking? Absolutely.

2. When a Man Loves a Woman – When Andy Garcia tells his step-daughter that he has to move to Denver. The little girl is so cute and so hurt that the waterworks are all but impossible to shut down. Even with the redemptive ending of the movie, the pain of that scene overshadows it. When I first saw this movie I didn’t have any children. Now that I have two, I never want to see it again.

3. The Prince of Tides – This was a hard one for me to swallow. Nolte looks like the bottoms of my old work boots and Streisand looks like the tops, but it hardly matters who the players are. The scene that brings it on is where Nick tells Barbara that he needs to go back to his wife in South Carolina. It’s not the storyline or the dialogue that really gets me. It’s the atmosphere of the scene. You have two drenched, hurting people, in the rain, on a New York City street, trying to hold on to each other for as long as they can.

4. Rent – From about halfway in to the end of the movie I was a wreck. This was one of the few movies that actually made me change my way of thinking about my life and the choices I needed to make. Angel’s death and his/her funeral were horrible and beautiful at the same time, but what I cried weren’t tears of sorrow or pain. We live for today and we love for today or we don’t live at all. Now that, my friends, was a revelation.

I think that is enough for today. I would love to hear what opinions you have about these films and any other that I may have missed. If you want to rip on me, go ahead. You have that right. But just remember, there has got to be something better to do with your lives than talk about things you don’t like. (I might get a little hypocritical later when I write about how much I hate the Boston Celtics. Too bad.)

Until next time…

Hello Kitty! Can Kiss My…

Posted October 11, 2007 by schmeicheljp
Categories: Japanese Frequencies

Tags: , ,

In an effort to broaden the minds of my many listeners, I have decided to start a semi-regular post on the beautiful and wonderous world of Japanese merchandise. I will only be posting items that I have personally bought and tried. The low quality of the pictures I will take full responsibility for. But the sheer genius of the products… well that’s all Japan, baby.

Today, I thought I would post one of my very favorite finds, something that made me laugh out loud and get furious stares from the 7-11 workers:

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Yes indeed. It is the fabulous Pepsi Ice Cucumber. Now I’m not sure if it is Pepsi Ice: Cucumber or Pepsi: Ice Cucumber. I’ve never seen or tasted an ice cucumber before so I’m going with the former. I know you are all saying to yourself, “Goddamn that is one refreshing looking beverage.” You would think there is no possible way you could go wrong. You got Pepsi. You got Cucumber. And I guess you got some Ice in there. Surprisingly, this was not very refreshing, nor did it taste anything like cucumber. It was more a mix of cinnamon and melon flavors. Not revolting, but I understand why I could only find it on shelves for about a week.

I would love to hear about any sweet Japanese stash, (stash, I said, stash) my fellow readers have found. Also, I’ve been living on Planet Nippon for awhile now, so I don’t really know if any of these products have seen the light of an American day. Give me a heads up if you’ve got some information. Until next time…

ManU and the Keeper of Destiny

Posted October 6, 2007 by schmeicheljp
Categories: Sports

Tags: , , ,

schmeichellceleb_l.jpgHow many players have left a team where they were beloved and ranked as one of the greatest of all time, only to turn around and sign with the hated enemy? In America, you have a delayed Roger Clemens move to the Yanks. Maybe Dennis Rodman to the Bulls. There’s also Gary Coleman’s guest spot on The Facts of Life. And that’s about all I can think of.

In soccer, it happens more often, partly because rivalries between certain teams have been stewing for a century. In England, there is Tottenham and Arsenal. When Sol Campbell left Tottenham for Arsenal in 2001, the attack was swift and brutal, although often vocalized in song rather than any kind of violence. European soccer is almost like watching a sport musical, where the fans from rival teams “talk” to each other in cheeky songs. It’s almost like the insults and slurs the fans are trying to get across are benign because they are being sung to some Gary Glitter pop.

Some players need to leave a club to find more playing time. Some players just get a little too old and are let go. Sol was in his prime and playing fantastic football. Then he leaves on a free transfer across London. Even now, almost eight years later, he still gets abuse whenever he plays against the Spurs, (he now shows his defensive prowess on the bench for Portsmouth).

In contrast, we have who I consider the greatest keeper of all time. That’s right, the namesake of this wonderful blog, Peter Schmeichel. No history lesson. Either you know who he is, or you can find out. Let’s just say he was real good and did good things for United. Alright, you kept harrassing me, so I will give you one example. I was a young United Fan pup when I first tasted the sweet sweat of victory. It was the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, 1999. Phil Phucking Neville gets a card in the box, leading to a penalty kick for Dennis Bergkamp. Schmeichel saves the ensuing shot, and starts yelling at his players and clapping his be-gloved hands. That was enough for me.

Schmeichel played for a few more teams after United, Sporting in the Portuguese League, then moving back to England with Aston Villa. His final season, though, saw Peter sign with United’s most rivaled rival: Manchester City. Now ordinarily, this would be blasphemy on par with John Lennon deciding that making screechy noises with Yoko was more enjoyable than harmonies with Paul. But that’s not what happened. Schmeichel’s name echoed throughout Old Trafford. The only person who looked truly angry about the whole deal was Gary Neville, Phil Phucking Neville’s brother and right back for United. But Gary was always a cock.

This is why I love English soccer so much. I love the fact that Sol Campbell gets his bell rung every time he steps onto the turf at White Hart Lane. I love the fact that Peter Schmeichel is recognized for what he did at Manchester United, no matter what transpired after his time was done. It shows just how much the fans care about their team. Maybe, like Arsene Wenger was talking about a few days ago, the soul of English football, namely it’s fans, are being sucked away by corporate business designs. That could be, especially if the very fans that carry the team through the good times and bad can’t even watch their team because ticket prices are so high. But my friends, who have been supporting their teams for much longer than I have, haven’t lost any of their love. I wonder how many of my American friends could do the same with their favorite teams.

Questions

1. Can this kind of loyalty to a club or team happen in the professional leagues in the US?

2. Do you think the EPL is losing it’s soul?

3. If one of your Japanese relatives gives you a plate full of slimy limbs with suckers that are still spasming on the plate, is it o.k. to refuse point blank, or does some of that sea nastiness have to go down your gullet?

These are things I need to know.

Hello world!

Posted October 5, 2007 by schmeicheljp
Categories: Firsts

Well, this is it. My first venture into Blogdom. I have no idea what I’m doing so if anyone out there happens to come across this, please be kind, at least in the beginning. Here’s a little info about me. I have been living in Japan for almost 11 years now with a 2 year break in there somewhere. I moved back to Michigan, couldn’t find a job that paid and had to move back to Japan. But we will talk about all of that in the coming weeks and months. I want to use this blog as a steam conduit for all of the strange winds that blow through my mind. Just a taste of what you might expect:

1. The joys and travails of living in a foreign country. This has probably been written about a million times before, but not by me, so therefore doesn’t count.
2. Some kibbles and bits about sports. I dig ’em, and I want to talk about them.
3. Books and the people who write them.

What you shouldn’t expect:
1. Flawless blog presentation. I actually have no idea what flawless blog presentation is. So with that reasoning, everything I write will be flawless because I don’t know any better. Right?
2. Guest bloggers. I know nobody.
3. Wit and humor on par with the likes of the great ones: George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Shania Twain, Bill Simmons, and of course the indomitable Dane Cook. What? I said you shouldn’t expect it. That doesn’t mean it might not flare up once in awhile.
Also, before I go, I want to add that the above Expected and Unexpected List is subject to change at any time. (This writer pauses, closes his eyes, and smells the sweet winds of destiny)

…It’s almost as if I am king of the world.