life

Too meta for words

om nom nom

I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to announce my blog on Facebook or just to my friends or whomever.  I think I like it the way it is; just a few people know about it, and none of them read it with any consistency.  That feels good.  This blog is for me, like my journal.  The whole point was to give myself some accountability so I would start making note of what I’m up to now and then, not to keep other people informed.  I really enjoy the anonymity.  Thank you, interwebz.

I’m rapidly approaching my 100th (public) blog post, and the one year anniversary of this blog next month.  I have it marked on my Google calendar (the day before Easter, on which I will not have to work!  My first actual weekend in forever, wahoo!).  But how should I go about celebrating something no one knows about?  It’s like being in a foreign country during your birthday; people can tell you’re excited about something, but you’re the only one who knows why.  I guess it doesn’t matter if other people are aware that those are benchmarks for me.

I’m going to try not to make my hundredth blog consist of only an announcement that it’s my one hundredth blog.  That’s just too meta.  And an announcement about self-reference (a blog post about said blog) is not a good post, it’s just a bad excuse.  But no promises.

So what should I do to celebrate?  There will be wine, that’s for sure.  That sweet Austrian wine, yes, that’s good.  And maybe… hmmm, no sushi is too much… I’ll definitely end up doing a little dance, probably in the kitchen.  It’s where most of my spontaneous dancing happens.  I might try to watch some anime with friends (or maybe start the second LOTR movie).

*GASP*  Maybe I’ll finally get that pedicure I’ve been talking about getting!  I want to have presentable feet at the dojo, and I’ve never gotten a pedicure before.  My mom took me to get manicures with her a few times, but the Asian women who did our nails looked so worn down and dejected, and then we were all, “Thanks, here’s five bucks for all your work!  I’m gonna go jump in my super nice gas-guzzling SUV and get a steak dinner!  Later!”  Yikes.

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goodness, life, martial arts

Zobo politics of crumbling joints

lol gross

Sister’s fiance (let’s call him Carpenter, since that’s what he was for a long time) dry heaves whenever anyone mentions vomit or poop.  Just saying the words will send a visible shiver down his spine.  It’s pretty priceless.  Carpenter can be a pretty tough guy, but then he’s also allergic to a ton of stuff (like tomatoes), and has a ton of old injuries that make him wince whenever he stands up, sits down, jogs, coughs, etc.  He’s like an old man at mid-thirty.  Sister used to run cross-country, so her knees are shot, and her finger knuckles are all permanently swollen from cracking them all the time and jamming them while playing basket ball.  The two of them.  Fallin’ apart.

Still, in a pinch, they’re both totally on my zombie apocalypse survival team for their self discipline, intelligence, and short-term physical abilities.  Regardless of their rapidly deteriorating bodies, they’re very coordinated and physically capable people.  I figure by the time their joints fail us, we’ll have already set up an impenetrable base of operations, been airlifted to safety, or eaten alive.  But they’re both pretty bossy.  That would be a lot of people trying to pull rank on each other.  Hmmm…  I’ll have to give that some thought.

Speaking of body parts going bad, I was at kung fu last night and while I was doing a sweep, my left shoulder slipped almost out of its socket.  I felt it start to go, heard a click and relaxed my body to take pressure off of it so it would go back in.  It’ll hurt for about a week, it isn’t the first time this has happened.  I need to start doing some exercises to strengthen both my shoulders.  They click when I sleep on my sides.  Bleh.

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Fiaaaaaaaaaaat

Just made an appointment to test drive a Fiat 500 tomorrow afternoon after Office Job.  They apparently have three models: Pop, Sport, and Lounge ($15,500, $17,500, and $19,500 respectively).  The Pop is what I’m looking at because it’s cheaper, but they only have one automatic transmission Pop model at the location I’m doing my test drive.  I might have to wait around, driving Dad’s old Exploder until more arrive.  The guy said they sold three yesterday, “Boom!  Gone!” but translated from car salesman speak, I’m guessing that means four test drives and one sale.

WAAAAAANT

If this Fiat doesn’t work out… I’m going to regret selling my Pontiac.  It would have been so much more economical to keep it that I’m still panicking about selling it.  But when I mentioned that to my friends last night, they all sang out at the same time, “Nope!  That car always had problems, you made a good choice!”  Maybe they were right.

Cost of Pontiac: $9k

Cost of Pontiac with upkeep: probably around $11k

Sold for $2,200

So I end up $8,800 in the hole.  I had it for three years.  That’s about three thousand dollars a year.  Yikes.  Not a very good investment.  I should have hung onto it.

BUT NO! I found the front right headlamp had fallen out of it’s place, and was dangling from it’s wires over the front fender once, for no reason!  And every time it rained the light would go out and I would have to take it to the shop to get replaced!  And Dad had to manually install a switch to turn off the security feature that caused it to stop recognizing my key, and occasionally not start!  And the snap-crackle-popping noises coming out of the rear speaker were so bad, I had stopped listening to music at all!  And only half of the speakers worked!  And every time I looked at the dented fender, it made me feel bad about myself for being a bad driver while sick!  And the fuel pump broke within the first year just like my first Pontiac (not cheap), but this time I was on the freeway… in the fast lane… on my way to Medieval Times for a friend’s birthday party, which I ended up missing RAAAAAGH I’m still angry/sad about it!  And the doors were really heavy because the coupe was too long, and I was never able to find the the rear center seat belt, and the middle seat was rock hard anyway, and there was a small crack on the windshield from a tiny pebble hitting it on freeway on the way back from Pomona, and it was such a dark green that it was hard to see in the dark and was unsafe and was sweltering hot in the summer, and the AC wasn’t great, and neither was the heater, and the front right blinker hasn’t worked in forever, and Dad had to duct tape part of the door bumper on (before I took it to the shop and they forcibly screwed it back on), and the volume control on the stereo didn’t always work, and when Carmax sold it to me and I had my mechanic have a look at it, he pointed out (among several other problems) one part under the hood that was being held on with twine!  The brakes sucked (they made a horrible, deep whining sound when I had jam down on them), the pickup sucked (there was a full 1-2 second delay from when I hit the gas, and the car would speed up).  And it was about to hit 100k miles, which means its value would have plummeted if I hadn’t sold it when I did (it was at 99,964).

Things I liked about my dark green Pontiac Grand Am GT:

-red light-up display

-thick steering wheel

-enormous trunk space

-can’t think of anything else.

UPDATE: March 15, 8:56pm

Did the test drive.  Loved it.  The ride is pretty smooth, there’s plenty of room for two people with some small dogs in the back seat, and groceries in the boot.  Look at that.  I’m calling it a boot.  Because it looks like it was snatched off the very streets of London.  It looks so much like one of those black cabs they have, it’s uncanny.  Larger on the outside that I thought, which I like (safer).  Cramped for head and legroom for anyone taller than me in the back, but fine in the front, so I don’t care.  Loads of standard features that are actually attractive.  USB hookup, remote lock, etc.  Good shit.

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life

Challenge: English

Anyone who is at all familiar with me or my blog knows that I love English.  As a language, it’s just awesome.  It’s also difficult to learn as a foreign speaker (or a native speaker for that matter), however, and I have a few theories on specifically why that is.

1. English has a ton of single-syllable words.

When you’re trying to understand what someone is saying, every syllable is a new opportunity to do so.  Each one is a puzzle piece.  Some get discarded, others get mushed together until something recognizable starts to show up.   I think this might be one reason why the romance languages are so pleasing to listen to: they use so many syllables to get to where they need to go.  Then again, so does German, and that language sounds like a train being dropped onto a crowded freeway.

Back me up, Wikipedia!  “English words of more than two syllables are likely to come from French, often with modified terminations.”  English gives the audience so few chances to hear and understand each word, pattern recognition (understanding groups of sounds [phrases] rather than words, and anticipating meaning) and years of experience become necessary to become an accomplished speaker.

olé!

a google search for "sombrero fashion" does not disappoint

2. English has no single point of origin

English seems to be the mutt of languages.  Heavily drawn from French and German, English must be a bitch to learn if you weren’t a native speaker.  English vocabulary and rules of grammar don’t always have the same source.  That’s crazy!  That’s like speaking Spanish with Japanese rules of grammar (verb at the end, etc.).  Or using your fashion sense to solve a math problem.  Irrationally fabulous!

3. English class is never over

English has the largest vocabulary in the world, which is one reason why I love it so much.  We have a word for just about everything!  But as a direct result, even native speakers occasionally encounter words whose definitions escape them.  If you didn’t go to college, you will not understand at least four words in an hour-long conversation with an intelligent college graduate (unless the topic is Jersey Shore or some such nonsense).  And this doesn’t include the subtle differences between words like clock and watch (a watch is worn, a clock is mounted), shade and shadow (a shadow creates shade).  Compare to Spanish sombreroSombra is shade, so sombrero literally means “shader.”  SO SIMPLE.

4. English is a fucking quagmire

The rules only apply some of the time.  Spelling is really really important, because three different words pronounced the same way can mean three different things when spelled differently (there, their, they’re).  Use the phrase “in so far as much” in a sentence.  Properly.  Yikes.

he's pretty pissed

I wonder sometimes if I love English because it’s my native tongue, or because it’s such a challenging language and it gives me pride to know that I have, by and large, mastered it.  Even native speakers acknowledge that English is a bitch to learn and consistently speak without butchering repeatedly.  One of my favorite games, Kingdom of Loathing, won’t allow its players to chat without passing a basic English test… proctored by the ghost of the English language.  When you pass, he tells you to “avenge his death.”  Classic!

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anime, badness, goodness, life, martial arts

Japan, you are loved

A 8.9 earthquake is really, really huge.  The scale America uses is scary because the intensity of a quake is measured with exponential values.  Meaning a 4.0 quake isn’t twice as intense as a 2.0 quake, it’s eight times more intense.  Now look at the number again: 8.9.  On a scale of 0-10.  Scary.  Plus, you’re a coastal country, so the tsunami that inevitably follows a quake of this magnitude only exacerbates the problem.

Japan is going to make it through this because the world needs their economy to get back on their feet, but also because the Japanese are an amazing group of people.  Period.  Who blogs about the amazing ideas Russia comes out with on a daily basis?  No one, because Russia sucks.  The Japanese have a repressed culture that somehow allows its people to think outside the box in ways the rest of the world marvels at.  And for that, we love them.

In honor of how awesome Japan is, here’s a list of ten reasons why I love Japan, in the order they occurred to me:

1. Anime

 

Paprika made my brain melt

Who the fuck would think that there could be billions of tiny, diverse ghosties floating around that effect us (Mushi-Shi), or that dreams could be your next form of therapy (Paprika), or that a young girl could work in a bath house run for (and by) spirits (Spirited Away)?  And who else would write a fully-realized, philosophically-driven, action packed science fiction series on the future of human-cyborg robotics (Ghost in the Shell) that actually makes sense?  The Japanese direct my imagination in directions I would otherwise never explore.  Thank you.

 

delicious

2. Sushi

I realize that raw fish has been a celebrated dish for (tens of?) thousands of years, but it was the Japanese who spread it across the globe for my pretentious Los Angeles palate to enjoy.  It’s a simple pleasure that always makes me think, “Wow, the Japanese are geniuses.  And bears.  Bears who eat salmon all day and sleep all winter.  Fucking genius.”

3. Cars

I’ve had two Pontiacs, and I’ve had trouble with them both.  My roommate has had her Honda for over a decade, and she bought it used, and it’s still running just fine.  Am I buying American again?  No way.  The Japanese know how to make a damn car.

 

adorable

4. Maru

The cutest, and most famous cat in the world lives in Japan.  He has his own website, loads of YouTube videos, and millions of fans.  His owner keeps us up to speed on his newest toys, favorite napping spots, and intense fear of crows.  He’s the only life form (other than his owner) who I feel like I’ve kinda gotten to know over the past year, so his well-being was one of the first things that occurred to me when I heard about the earthquake and tsunami (sorry humans!).  Turns out he’s safe, yay!

 

epic

5. Samurai, Ninjas, Martial Arts

Where do I begin?  The samurai bushido “way of the warrior” will never be replicated en masse the way it was in feudal Japan.  The intense philosophy that ran throughout every aspect of the samurai’s life from the way they fought to the way they ate and slept is just incredible.

Raise your hand if you never wanted to be a ninja.  You, you, and you; you’re all liars.  EVERYONE wants to be a ninja at some point. I just learned recently that ninjutsu is not a martial art, but an art of war.  Yikes.  Awesome.

I’ve been practicing martial arts since I was 14.  I earned two black belts, and now I work at a dojo where I get to teach kids how to be polite, work hard, and beat the shit out of their siblings who are too stupid or unlucky enough not to be included in class.  With all my experience, I can safely say that everyone on the planet would benefit from learning a martial art (especially a soft style like hapkido or aikido).

6. Nintendo

It’s not just some 8-pixel side-scroller.  It’s a virtual world.  My generation grew up with the gray-box Nintento, and Mario was as real a character as any idiot on reality TV today.  Nintendo set the bar for video gaming.  It started an entire sub-culture.  With a video game.  Cultural references to the original Mario Bros. will never end.  There will always be a “Sorry, Princess is in another castle” joke for unforeseen failure.  Coins will always be shiny, floaty thing we all yearn for.  Stars will always look like a chance at temporary invincibility.

 

ruuuunnnn!!

7. Godzilla

Haha, oh my god.  I can’t believe Godzilla is #7.  Where was my brain.  The Japanese took fear of giant monsters to the ultimate extreme.  So classic.  I still haven’t seen this movie, btw.  Must remedy soon!

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woah

8. Noh

If you don’t know anything about the theater of Edo era Japan, wake the fuck up.  The makeup, the masks, the nuances, the costumes, the stories… amazing.  Google it.  It’s the oldest form of theater (even older than the famous Greek tragedies).  Kabuki centered around drama, love and all that mushy crap.  Kyogen was mostly comedies.  The actors were huge celebrities.  Some even had trading cards.  It’s true!  And one of my favorite comics is based on the masks worn during these iconic plays.

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i will never understand it

9. Sumo

I wonder if this should go under martial arts… haha just kidding!  Can you picture one of these guys rounding a corner in full battle gear?  Hilarious!  But seriously, there’s a ton of ceremony that goes into every match, which are fun to watch.  Giant dudes pushing brutishly each other out of a small ring?  While the referee holds a fan and wears traditional robes?  And the attendees get crushed whenever one of the sumo guys tumbles off the platform?  What a sport!

10. Takeshi’s Castle

This is a little-known series that aired in 1989 that started the wave of shows that put normal people through ridiculous obstacle courses for the world to laugh at.  America has a show called Wipeout that does the same thing.  Genius.

I want to write more about each of these but I’m at work, and no one wants to read that much about this stuff (including me).  Suffice to say, the Japanese people have my adoration and respect.  Now if they could just give a serious apology about invading Korea, and the whole “comfort women” thing, that’d be great.

UPDATE: March 15, 5:32pm

Wait!  I thought of another reason to love Japan: the Polysics!

I mean people do fun, silly stuff people do in music videos.  The Japanese are clearly no exception, and for that, I love them.

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goodness

New glasses!

They’re ready!  My new glasses are ready to pick up at the optometrist!  But I can’t make it because I’m covering for a sensei friend!  Craaaaaaaaaaaaap!

a little hipster

They’re not my usual thin-rimmed specs.  I figure I already have a set of those, why not push myself out of my comfort zone a little?  And if I end up looking like a hipster, that’ll be hilarious, so why not?  The frames are Salt. brand.  I didn’t know they were Japanese when I picked them out.  I’m such an egg.

UPDATE: March 15, 12:19pm

They’re super cool.  Boyfriend calls them my “sexy glasses.”  I really like them.  So glad I branched out.  And they’re made of acetate, which is the same stuff vinyl records are made of nowadays.  When I told Dad about the acetate, he responded with, “Hm.  Highly flammable.”  THANKS DAD.

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Easy now…

Let’s not spill hot tea on my white cashmere sweater two hours before my first performance review at Office Job, shall we?

I’m going to have to miss Kung Fu tonight (again) to practice karate moves with some sensei friends.  Turns out I’m being evaluated at Karate Job too, in two weeks.  I need to work on my self-defense and grappling.  Everything else should be pretty solid.  My form has always been excellent, but they’re also making sure I know how to teach all the moves, not just do them (an important distinction).  I’m feeling pretty good about it.  Except for the grappling.  Yikes.

i am not very good at grappling

The good news is that I remember something about a raise if my performance review at Office Job goes well.  And if I pass my evaluation at Karate Job, I definitely get a raise.  So this is all good stuff, it’s just stressful.  Plus the car, and Boyfriend, and Russian Neighbor, and I’m sure I could think of something else that was bothering me if I wasted time to complain some more.  But I’m gonna pass on that.  Doesn’t seem worth it.

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Sucker Punch

There’s this movie coming out, Sucker Punch.  It could be amazing.  The main and central supporting characters are all women.  They’re armed with various guns, axes, swords, and huge imaginations, and supposedly do some really cool stuff with all of them.

ComiCon, you have your next costume contest

Like I said, it could be amazing.

It’s directed by the same guy who did 300 and Watchmen (Zach Snyder), both of which I found visually tingling, if a bit overdone.

So here are the parts where it could suck.  It’s easy to confuse these for reasons it might be awesome, so try to focus:

-Fire-breathing dragons

-An army of bad guys in gas masks

-Giant, gatling gun-wielding samurai robot

-Zeppelins

-An evil stepfather

Bear in mind, all of these things are presumably defeated by a tiny, non-muscular woman armed with nothing but a samurai sword, a skimpy sailor costume and copious amounts of peroxide to keep that hair looking fabulously, naturally blonde.

If it works out, I’m going to see it with some martial artist friends of mine.  Naturally, we’ll all be pissed we weren’t cast for this, given our extensive training and dashing good looks.  I’m not even an actress, and I can tell you right now… nah, never mind, who the fuck wants to be an actress?  Acting is hard.  No, wait: good acting is hard.  Doing an action sequence over and over while having the right expression on your face must be exhausting and downright challenging.  So fuck it, I wish all these ladies the very best.

Still, I work with some pretty beautiful, talented martial artist/actresses.  Sure would be nice if someone hired someone with a martial arts background to do an action movie for once.

PLEASE SEND ALL JOB OFFERS TO TIGERLILYTOPH@GMAIL.COM

KTHXBAI!!!1!

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