As You Were

12/15/05 | by silverso | Categories: Links and Articles, Trains


Quite some time ago I posted a link to a video called Statement of Agreement by James P. Wong. The title is a reference to the contract all us ALTs have to sign, and the video was about the experience of heading home after working on the JET program. Well James just emailed me to let me know that he has a new one called "As You Were". It was shot both here in Japan and in California and clearly took a lot of work and planning to pull off. I think it's a great short film and suggest you check it out if you get a chance:

Novelty Christmas Albums

12/12/05 | by silverso | Categories: Novelty Music


Since I've recently added a "novelty music" category to this site I thought I would be amiss not post anything about Christmas novelty songs. There is likely no other subject that has been the inspiration for more novelty music than Christmas. Megablog Boing Boing posted a neat Xmas song mix MP3 by a guy named DJ Riko made up of 30 rare and strange holiday tunes. I've written before about the most notorious Christmas album of my generation, "Christmas in the Stars" and have also mentioned the rare Knight Rider single "The Night KITT Saved Christmas", so I thought I would take a shot at finding some more strange Christmas albums to share with you. This list isn't ment to be at all comprehensive, so you won't find any Jingle Cats or Dr. Demento classics here; just a few peculiar albums that for whatever reason have escaped my attention all these years.

Christmas With the Brady Bunch

Partridge Family Christmas
Merry F#%$in' Christmas (Dennis Leary)

Rupal: Ho Ho Ho
Flatulina's Fabulous Holiday Spectacular

Hung for the Holidays (William Hung)
Merry MeX-mas (El Vez)

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas (Tales From the Crypt)
Jobe Bells (Afroman)

Bonanza: Christmas on the Ponderosa
Christmas Eve with Colonel Sanders

Cristmas with Colonel Sanders
Christmas Day with Colonel Sanders

As long as we're talking about Colonel Sanders, here's the most infamous KFC album of them all "Tijuana Picnic".

Anyway, the search continues. Now that you have been turned on to the wonderful world of novelty Xmas music, I'm sure you must be dying to learn more but find yourself wondering "Where do I begin?". Well I would recommend starting with one of the classic Dr. Demento Christmas compilation albums:
Dr. Demento Presents The Greatest Christmas Novelty CD Of All Time and

Holidays in Dementia

Here are a few more links to unlikely holiday albums, enjoy:

Killer Heaters

12/06/05 | by silverso | Categories: Links and Articles


Just in case you have ever wondered if those kerosene heaters most of us JETs have in our apartos could kill you in your sleep... then the answer is yes. Maybe in a few decades Japan will finally learn of the amazing new technologies of carbon monoxide detectors or better yet, central heating.

Little IXY's last photos

12/02/05 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

It's no joke when I say that walls in Japan aren't insulated at all.

Today is a sad day for Jamie. I pulled my trusty Canon IXY 600 camera (Powershot SD in North America, IXUS in Europe) out of my pocket this afternoon and was shocked to discover that the LCD screen on the back was broken! The outside surface wasn't scratched, but it looks like somehow the LCD's guts have cracked. Now instead of having a useful screen to frame my photos, I have a colorful pattern of purple crevaces and colorful rainbows on the back of my camera. When I press on the screen, dark black liquid blobs emerge from the crevices and begin filling the screen. Once I let go they slowly flow back leaving behind them thousands of tiny multicolored particles. It's really a very pretty piece of crystal art that I now own, but sadly not worth the hundreds of dollars that it cost. The camera isn't completely broken as I can still take photos using the view finder (The shot above was taken that way), however there is no way to focus the shots properly or review them once taken. Until I get it fixed, the camera is basically useless.

I have since discovered that apparently the Canon IXY 600 (or PowerShot SD500 back home) is notorious for having an extremely fragile LCD screen. This however isn't considered a defect by Canon so damage to the screen isn't covered by warranty and costs over $150 USD to repair; or a little cheaper if you dare try to do it yourself. I know how popular this defective camera is among my fellow Hirosaki JETs, so if you've got one please take good care to protect your LCD at all cost! (Though I'm not sure if there is any way to stop this problem from happening. It seems to happen at no fault of the user). Another IXY camera belonging to the camera club at my school has the exact same problem. At the time I figured it was the fault of a careless student, but now I'm pretty sure that it's all Canon and Sony's fault (Sony makes the LCD's Canon uses). I still don't know how much, if anything, I'll have to pay to fix the camera, so I'll save my tirade against Canon for another day.

Anyway, here are the last pictures you're going to see from Little IXY for a while...

Full story »

Cute Japanese Food Songs

11/29/05 | by silverso | Categories: Novelty Music


People all over the world love songs about food, but perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Japan. If you read these comments the other day then you already know that grocery stores in Japan always have repetitive little jingles playing at their various food counters. When Matt and I made some derogatory comments about these songs, Kate came to their defense and even went so far as to track down her favorite ditty, the Hokto Mushrooms song, to prove us wrong. Thanks to her, I've seen the light and have embarked upon a mission to find as many of these cute Japanese food songs as I can. Here are the ones I've got so far:

Hokto Mushrooms (Midi version)

Kita Yasai (North vegetables?)
Gyu Tan (Grilled cow tongue)

The Biscuit Song
Dango San Kyoudai (Three Dumpling Brothers)

Kikkoman Soy Sauce (As seen on 2CH and ABS)
3-A-Day (Thanks Sachiko)

Osakana Tengoku (Thanks Steph)

I'm sure there are many more great ones out there, but my ignorance of Japanese food and the Japanese language is making it hard to find them. If any of you reading this know of any other websites with cute Japanese food songs, videos or animations I would love it if you left a comment with the URL. Onegai shimasu!

While searching for food songs I found this strange music video for what I can only guess is some kind of slugicide:

Slug Killer [website]

Late Fall Photos

11/24/05 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

Daiso sells "Playboy Hair" for all those wishing to become graceful dandies.

Happy American Thanksgiving y'all! Here are some random pictures from the past few months that didn't make it into my other photo galleries...

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Memo to Japan: Have a heart!

11/23/05 | by silverso | Categories: Links and Articles


Someone give this kid a heart already!

Apparently in Akita there is a 14 year old kid named Hideyuki who is in desperate need of a heart transplant. His family is trying to raise ?60,000,000 (about $600,000) to send him to the US for surgery. Perhaps you are thinking to yourself "If Japan is one of the most wealthy and technically advanced countries in the world, then why would his family need to do that?". Well I was surprised to learn that in Japan you must be at least 15 years old to have a heart transplant, or to donate organs. Since Hideyuki probably won't live long enough to get one here, he has to find a way to get one someplace else.

I was even more surprised to learn that organ transplants from brain dead people were illegal in Japan as recently as 1997. Still today the procedure is rare and most people in the country don't donate their organs when they die. Japan isn't a terribly religious country, so why would this be? This article does a good job breaking down the reasons, and I think they are quite interesting.

Japan's first heart transplant in 1969 was performed under suspicious circumstances and has left Japanese people wary ever since of the procedure. Apparently the donor in that operation may or may not have been brain dead, and the person receiving the heart may or may not have needed it. Add to that a general distrust of western medical practices and you get a systemic irrational fear among Japanese people that they will be declared braindead when they are not in order for doctors to obtain useable organs from them. This isn't the only reason for why organ transplants are so rare. Japanese people's idea of the soul includes the whole body, not just the brain. While it's easy for a Westerner to think of a brain dead person as dead, it's not so easy over here.

According to the article another factor in the unpopularity of organ donation is the difference in attitudes about gift giving in Japan and in the West. The idea of altruistically giving a gift to someone you don't know, and who can't give you a gift back is also contrary to traditional ways of Japanese thinking. Fortunately Hideyuki's family has already apparently raised over ?69,000,000 for his operation (Much more than he needs), so I suppose that attitude can't be the case for everyone in Japan. It might be possible that all those who contributed money are just waiting for one Hell of big thank you gift from Hideyuki after he gets his new heart. Anyway, I don't know if he still needs money or not, but if you want to possibly be on the receiving end of some of those gifts you can always make a donation yourself at Gambatte Hideyuki.

Puzzling Signs 3

11/22/05 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

It's time once again to look at some puzzling signs and products that I've come across in my travels.

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Noheji Railbus Found! (Sort of)

11/10/05 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts, Trains

I still haven't been able to track down the old Noheji-Shichinohe Railbus that I mentioned before in this post. I think I'll have to accept the fact that it was likely turned into scrap long ago. I did however find some traces of track and old train bridges along route 4. I was also successful at tracking down this awesome working N-scale model in an Aomori hobby shop! (Thanks KS)

As you may have noticed, I've once again redesigned the site. I decided to replace the pastels with a colour scheme that goes well with my shoes and sweaters. Do you likes?

No! Not again! Not so soon!

11/09/05 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts

It's official, the snow if back in Noheji. It's been jumping back and forth all day between rain, freezing rain and snow flurries but I think I'll just declare today the first snow fall of the season anyway. That means that it has come 21 days sooner than last year, and 13 days sooner than my first year here. I'm sorry my snow evidence photo lacks the fun seasonal border this year, but my new camera doesn't have that feature in it. I better go dust off the shovel. Knowing Noheji like I do, there will probably be half a meter of snow by tomorrow morning. :(

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Avoiding life and teaching English in Noheji, Aomori, Japan


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