Well, At Least SOMEONE Is Doing Something Cool for Kids   

Monster Exchange 2000.

Can you guess what MY monster looks like?

- Special thanks to Brian of the truly mysterious Hidden Fortress.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 30, 2003
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Kids today...   

...can do more at 10 than I can do today.

Explain again where there isn't some kind of aptitude test for parents-to-be?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 30, 2003
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All I want for Christmas    

is to be a Marchioness.
Be good and bow down for Sarcasmo...

- Via Breakfast Tacos

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 30, 2003
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"The bride’s previous six marriages ended under natural circumstances. "   

It is important that you really get to know the little things about your potential life-long mate before you say "I do." In fact, I recommend you sit down and have a long talk with them before the wedding announcements go out.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 30, 2003
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Rainy Days and Mondays Always Make Me...Oversexed?   

I drug some folks to see The Black Pirate on the big screen this weekend (with live musical accompaniment, thankyouverymuch), and I was struck my one or two things.

I don't know what it is about dirty, sweaty men with swords, exactly, but gosh do I like 'em. It's not just pirates, either. I'm drawn to Aragorn and disinterested in Legolas (he's just so...pretty), but could make do with Will Turner from Pirates of the Carribean (Jack Sparrow is my first choice, of course, but Will Turner would do in a pinch.) In general, I have no affinity for Orlando Bloom, but dirty him up a bit and hand him a sword, and suddenly you have my attention.

Freud, no doubt, would have a field day with me.

However, not to make it too easy for the dear, dead doctor, I also watched Eddie Izzard: Circle this weekend, and found Eddie unbelievably hot in his leather pants, sparkly shirt, diamond star necklace and full make-up. Funny, smart, and YUMMY.

So, doctor, grimy men with swords and witty transvestites....what's your analysis?

(I won't even begin to get in to what this suggests about Pop Culture Boy and his sex appeal....)

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 30, 2003
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And In Honor of the Doctor   

The Monday Morning Quiz is up.

Running a bit behind today. More fun to come!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, September 29, 2003
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Make Room Behind Your Couch...   

Dr. Who is making a comeback.

I want it to be 2005 now!

Thanks to Anthony Malloy for sending me this great news!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, September 26, 2003
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Bah, Humbug!   

I am in a snarky, cynical mood. Shocking, I know, as I am generally sunshine and roses, but hey, it happens to the best of us.

And baring them, it happens to me.

In the spirit of my "blahs" and "fehs", here are some weird links that suit my current mood. After all, why should I suffer alone?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, September 25, 2003
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Every Home...   

needs one of these.

- Via Everlasting Blort

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, September 25, 2003
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How To Stump a Room Full of Smart People   

Turn off the lights and make them watch Casino Royale.

Trust me. Works every time.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, September 25, 2003
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I Must Be Mad   

This morning I got an email from the fine folks at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) telling me that my user name was about to expire. However, if I wanted to re-up and participate this year, all I had to do was click the considerately included link.

And I clicked it.

Just like that, I was signed up. No forms to fill out. No "Are you *sure* you want to do this?" Just click, and it was done.

For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo challenges participants to craft the first draft of a novel...an entire 50,000-word novel, from start to finish...in the month of November. (This, I feel, is particular cruel, as November has 30 days, not 31, and includes a holiday that generally entails spending large blocks of time with family who may not appreciate a laptop at the turkey table.)

I was somehow able to con Peccable into participating with me last year (and we both completed the challenge, thank you very much). However, having a hair's breadth more sanity than I do, he seems reticent to do it again this year.

Smart man. Spoil sport.

I must admit, there is something really satisfying about finishing under the deadline and being able to say you wrote a novel (even if, like me, you then hide it in a drawer, petrified at the thought of how much editing it needs). I recommend that anyone brave and insane enough to participate do so.

It's fun. Honest (and only a little bit like the kind of fun you get whitewashing someone else's fence...)

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, September 24, 2003
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Because It Was One of the Most Challenged Books of 2002...   

and because this series makes me laugh out loud like a three year old, today's Monday Diversions all celebrate the heroic Captian Underpants. (Seriously, when I worked in the bookstore and kids would buy this book, I would get very excited and ask them if they did the bits where readers are supposed to flip the pages back and forth to create "animation" being sure to create their own sound efffects. They all told me "No" and looked at me like I was insane. Me? I still do the sound effects every time.)

This may be a good time to point out again that no, Pop Culture Boy and I do not have children. We purchase and read these books for our own amusement.

And now, on with the silliness:

Don't forget, celebrate banned book week by reading what you'd like and thinking for yourself!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, September 22, 2003
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I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature, a minor in Theatre Arts, and a certificate (read: a glorified minor) in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. I studied these things because I loved them (and still love them), not with any career goal in mind.

It is astounding that I ever found a job.

Lately I've been considering graduate level study. Pop Culture Boy has wisely recommended that if I do go back to school, I get a degree in Business, or something else I can apply to the professional world. This is solid, excellent, reasonable advice.

I would be bored to tears.

My biggest issue is that I don't really know what I want to do professionally. Something creative, certainly.

Ideally, I would be a professional novelist or columnist; leaving an interesting life by day and typing or scribbling away in the quiet of late night. Historically, however, I have proven myself too lily-livered to (a) complete a project through to fruition (including editing) and/or (b) send it out for publication. In this day and age without Patrons of the Arts, it is unbearably difficult to get paid to be a writer without ever writing anything.

Alas, until I get a bit braver, there are still bills that need to be paid. I'd just like to pay them without suffocating my soul.

To that end I've been poking around my education options. I have just registered for an on-line writing class with the Gotham Writer's Workshop (after making certain my high-school crush (who now teaches there) wasn't teaching the class. The crush is long over, but I just imagine an awkward assignment about first heatbreak....) just to keep myself in practice and (hopefully) get the guidance and inspiration I need to get off my sad behind and start submitting. I've also been examining graduate programs. The University of Pennsylvania has a Master of Liberal Arts program that allows students to design their own course of study based on their interests. I am curious...could I parlay my early education in English Literature, Theater and Medieval and Renaissance Studies into a Masters in PANTO?

Do you know, I think I can hear Pop Culture Boy screaming even now.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, September 19, 2003
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"I never knew a girl who was ruined by a book." - James Walker   

Pop Culture Boy and I went to the bookstore last night. This in and of itself is a danger; although I went in with a single target title in mind, I had just gotten paid, and it was a bookstore, the only place I truly like to shop. I can easily, happily, browse for hours (much to PCB's chagrin). I almost made it out with only one or two extra titles last night when I passed a table labled "Banned Books."

I never pass up a chance to purchase banned books. I do it as a matter of principle. I think it is terribly important to pay attention to the ideas and messages other people don't want me to see.

Happily I already own/have already read many of the books they had displayed: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which I initially read because of the banning contreversey), Lady Chatterly's Lover, Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Go Ask Alice, Animal Farm, Madame Bovary, Brave New World, Candide, Lord of the Flies; but there were several I hadn't yet read, and so I added them to my stack: Black Like Me, A Day No Pigs Would Die, Chocolate War (which I did read as a child, in the same week I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Chocolate Fever. I think perhaps I missed much of the point at the time), Jude the Obscure, and Bless Me, Ultima.

Banned Books Week is September 20-27. In the interest of free speech, free thought, and free will I implore you all to read some banned books this week.

(For you techies out there who think paper books are going the way of the dinosaur, you're in luck (you have no soul, but you're in luck), the University of Pennylvania library has an online exhibit of banned books which makes some titles available for online perusal.)

Please feel free to post your favorite banned titles in the comments sections. I'm always looking for one I might have missed.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, September 19, 2003
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Ahoy! (and such)   

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! In honor of this most auspicious day, I offer ye the following diversions:

Avast, there is yet work to be done this wicked day. (and you better believe I'll be pirate talking while I'm doing it).

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, September 19, 2003
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Lost in the Aether   

I haven't forgotten you all, I've just had a busy few days...not the least of which was coming home from seeing Alton Brown on Monday night (who is an excellent speaker, incidentally; very open, entertaining, charming, and patient with his fans. See him if you can) to discover that the power was out on our block, and apparently had been for several hours. (A rain storm had downed a power line.).

In and of itself this was no big deal. We had plenty of candles handy, and it was only an hour or two before I planned to go to bed anyway. Pop Culture Boy and I sat in the flickering candle light, planning our Halloween costumes and enjoying one another's company. The next morning, there was plenty of daylight to see by, and our hot water is heated by gas, so getting ready for work was no problem.

Overall, the power outage was a non-issue. Seriously, New York, parts of Canada and London had huge blackouts lately. I'm hardly going to whine about a measly 18 hours.

What I am going to whine about, however, is the fact that I haven't had a decent night's sleep since then, because although our power is restored, the electric company has been a permanent fixture on my block all week, and whatever work it is they are doing, it somehow involves continually jackhammering the sidewalk on my street between 10PM and 5AM every day.

I am amazed we have any sidewalk left to speak of.

Last night the jackhammering seemed to cease, which was nice. However, with Isabelle obscuring the skies and pummelling the shore, can another downed line be far behind?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, September 18, 2003
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And in honor of my plans tonight, here is the Monday Morning Quiz.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, September 15, 2003
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Call for Volunteers   

Hello, all. Peccable and I have been developing an interactive text-adventure (like the old Infocom games) for the 9th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. For those of you too young to remember, back in the stone age, some mass-marketed video games were text only, no music or graphics, and relied strictly on traditional story-telling and the story progressed based on decisions made by the player.

The competition deadline is in 2 weeks, and we are looking for smart, intutive, and willing people to beta-test the game before we submit the final version for judging.

The game, Slouching Towards Bedlam, is difficult to categorize, but terms like "Gothic," "Victorian," and "Steampunk" all apply. Anyone who knows either of will hardly find this a surprise.

Any constructive feedback will be greatly appreciated. If interested, please send an email to Bedlam@peccable.com.


Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, September 14, 2003
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I Am Disturbed...   

that Sarcasmo's Corner is in the top ten listings for the follow query string:

"woman sexy organ where a child drink milk with the help of pic"

What are you people *posting* behind my back?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, September 12, 2003
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Friday Diversions   

  • The Dangers of Fast Food: Penny Arcade exposes the truth about the clown. Robble Robble.

  • Cheaper Than Flying?: A grown man has shipped himself across country as freight. Clever? Perhaps. But he clearly never heard Velvet Underground's The Gift.

  • Stealth Disco: Can you get your groove on without getting caught? These disco fools can. Now if you'll excuse me, my webcam and I need find a group of clueless people to get down with.
    - Via Idle Type.

  • Monkey See, Monkey Kick: That's it; I will no longer be tickled by the idea of having a pet monkey. Instead, I will be tickled with the idea of having a pet Karate Monkey. I would love him and squeeze him and get him to wax my floors and paint my fences.
    - by way of Kid Icarus and the Gang.

  • Testicle Theater: Googly eyes can make anything funny, but there are some things a chocolate donuteshouldn't be asked to do. (Common Sense Notice: Testical Theater is exactly what it sounds like--so think twice before watching at work.)
    - found on Metafilter.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, September 11, 2003
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There is no greater offense than making me bored. It's true.   

Victor J. Lams has clearly been reading my mind. And he had the foresight to add music.

Cheers, Victor!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, September 10, 2003
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The Gaijin Invasion   

Trip pictures now available for your persual, enjoyment, and mockery.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 09, 2003
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Top 10 Dangers of Living in the Blog Space   

  1. You think everyone cares about your opinions: They don't. They care about mine.

  2. You stop having normal experiences: Every event you participate following your initial blog post will be constantly interrupted as you simultaneously live the adventure and write the corresponding blog post in your head.

  3. You will care what other people think: Even if you really don't. "Stats" will become an important part of your blogging life (also self-esteem),even though you detest math. You'll be glad your web-stalker is gone but regret losing the hits. When stats go down, you will start padding your posts with words like "naked", "nudity", and "clown porn".

  4. You will become more news savvy: You'll start reading several news sources to inspire more posts. Unfortunately, you will focus on items that are weird, quirky, or bizarre, thereby eliminating your ability to discuss these items with non-bloggers in real-life (ie around the water cooler) without coming off like the freak you really are.

  5. You will feel the need to post: Even when you have nothing to say. Just in case other people are reading. Sarcasmo's Corner, I'm a slave for you.

  6. You stop hearing from non-blogging friends: You're behind on their lives, but they feel like they haven't missed a beat with you, because they "keep up with you through your blog." Also, they are tired of talking to you because you constantly ask them "So, when are you going to get a blog?" (You laugh, but our local blog mafia has coerced four independent, strong-willed, intelligent, people into blogging (and we're working on a 5th). All hail the power of peer pressure!)

  7. Your work habits change: Why talk to those irritating, clueless, inane people in your office, when you can sneak a quick peek at your favorite blogs for clever quips, interesting insight, and comment-based conversations?

  8. You will stop having normal conversations with family and friends: Real life conversations will go like this. "Oh, hey, I saw So-And-So in concert and the weirdest thing happened..." Friend, "Yeah, I know, I read about it on your blog." Silence. Friend, "Did I tell you that I'm..." You, "Blog." Friend, "Yeah."

  9. You expect your friends to be witty and clever. Always.: I am lucky to surrounded by bright, witty people with bright witty blogs. I don't know how the rest of the world survives without these for distraction. I suppose they must come here.

  10. You demand that your witty and clever friends be blogging. Constantly: Why aren't you all busy shirking your jobs and entertaining me? I need INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION. Or, barring that, something really silly and inane to peruse. Seriously. I'm bored to tears, here people. For the love of Pete, POST SOMETHING. NOW.

*whimpers with ennui*

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, September 09, 2003
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am I going to be for Halloween?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, September 08, 2003
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Hey Pink Haired Girl, I think your little visitor has a friend, and it's has apparently taken up residence at chez Sarcasmo. I am now too skeeved to walk around barefoot, pick up the piles of laundry on the floor, or let me feet dangle under my desk.

I am also seriously wondering if the huge holes left by the electrician over a month ago might have been the way the little critter got in.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, September 08, 2003
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Better Late Than Never   

For this week's Monday Morning Quiz: Would You Survive in Japan?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, September 07, 2003
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The Gaijin Have Landed   

Yes, Pop Culture Boy and I have returned. We are culturally enriched, slightly tan, and very tired, but otherwise we have survived the trip unscathed. The Yen is only slightly down since our visit, and the Tokyo Tower is still standing, so it seems Japan has survived us too.

The jet lag, however, is killing me. I've not yet balanced out my sleep schedule, and Pop Culture Boy and I have seen very little of each other over the last few days, as we've been crashing out on opposite schedules. (He sleeps even now). Sadly, I must return to work tomorrow, so the blessed rest will soon end.

Super huge thanks to Pop Culture Boy, who encouraged me to sleep in as late as my body needed to today, while he did the first several loads of laundry. To truly appreciate this sacrifice, one must understand that there are seven flights of stairs between our apartment and the washer and dryers in our building.

I do have a little travelogue (with photos) in the works--but as PCB's computer seems to be holding some of my digital photos captive (curse the infernal machine!), it will probably be a few days before I can present you with eye-popping images from our journey. For those of you clamoring at the bit for details, here are some general impressions:

I must admit, we had a very American experience in Japan. My sister and brother-in-law, who generously hosted us this trip, live in Camp Zama, a military base in Sobu-Dai. When we stayed over night in Tokyo, we stayed in a hotel exclusively for employees of the US Government and their guests. This meant we had access to an English speaking community, ATM machines that would accept our cards and dispense cash in either American dollars or Japanese Yen, English language menus and maps, American fast food, and (most importantly) Western style toilets. I am a huge advocate of having a fully-cultural experience, but I must be honest with you, the Japanese style toilets intimidated me, and being there only a week, I admittedly never learned to use them. I waited until a Western style toilet was available every time. Mostly because I couldn't figure out a way to work these without (a) falling over (b) urinating on my own clothes or (c) some horrific combination of both.

Plumbing issues aside, I found myself to be quite comfortable in Japan. Apparently Japan and Philadelphia are in similar temperate zones, so my body barely felt like it was anywhere new at all (whereas when I was in New Orleans, for example, the affect the climate had on my person was palpable). The major difference was the intensity of the heat. I am a sweater by nature--that whole thing about women and glistening never has applied to me. In Japan, though, things were different. There was no sweat gathering at the nape of my neck to roll down my back in large beads. I didn't even know I was sweating; I was simply damp. I would touch my arm, and my hand could slide down the slick surface, clothing stuck like a second skin, my hair was a nightmare. It wasn't an uncomfortable heat, mind you. I stayed hydrated and seemed to do fine. It was more like my body was lubricating itself. Or, more accurately, basting itself. It was THAT hot.

On plus side, I am slightly tan, giving me a healthy pallor rather than the ghostly white of an inactive someone who spends too much time at the computer and never goes outdoors.

A warning, in fact, for those of you who work and idle your time in front of computer monitors rather than go outside and take in some healthy activity: Take up some exercise before going to Japan. By some miraculous defiance of physics, everything in Japan is up stairs or uphill. Steep hills at that. One would assume, of course, that when you've gone uphill to get somewhere, you would go downhill to leave. In Japan, this is strangely not always the case. Great on the leg muscles, not so good on the knees; but the views from up there are amazing.

Being a foreigner, I found the things most foreign to me was not the fact that everyone spoke in Japanese around me, that brothels were openly advertised (complete with women hanging out the top window, ample breasts first), or even items of Japanese cultural or religious significance. The things that galvanized my attention and reminded me that I was miles from home were American businesses wearing Japanese faces: McDonald's, KFC, Tower Records. They seemed strangely out place among the temples and massage parlours.

The Japanese themselves proved very friendly and helpful to idiot foreigners who couldn't be bothered to learn the language before coming to visit the country. Thankfully, Debbie and Tim have a smattering of Japanese, and I picked up enough to order food and go shopping. (Embarrassingly enough, many restaurants and coffee shops spotted us a mile away, and pulled out the English language menu as we came to the counter). Also, as Debbie explained, the Japanese have mastered the art of Pointing and Nodding, which basically meant they would patiently and calmly wait as I attempted to gesture and point at what I wanted when I didn't know the correct word. When pointing and nodding couldn't work (when, for example, asking directions for a business that may or may not still exist), I would find myself frustrated and having to stop myself from speaking French. (This was my brain's way of compensating for the problem; the person I was speaking to didn't speak English, and French is the only foreign language I have any working knowledge of). I never did actually try it, but I doubt it would have worked. I did learn, however, that some Japanese schools teach English reading and writing, but not speaking, so having a pen and paper at the ready can be handy. Or, even better, learn the language (you lazy American).

Not knowing more Japanese really troubled me, as I do see myself as a representative of the USA when I travel to foreign countries, and I desperately want to avoid the stereotype of the ignorant American traveler. Sadly, in this case, I am not convinced I succeeded. (Pop Culture Boy got the worst of it though. He was laughed at on the trains system for seemingly no reason other than being gaijin. An old man pointed and laughed at him on the train ride back from Kamakura (much to the embarrassment of the old man's son). Later in the week he caused no small amount of giggling by asking a group of young Japanese school girl's (clearly dressed in athletic gear) what kind of sport's team they belonged to. This caused a great deal of excitement, giggling, and argument among the girls as they decided who would be pushed forward to answer him. Finally, a brave young girl answered, "volley ball." Pop Culture Boy smiled and said, "Oh, Volleyball," and they all resumed their quiet stances. Later, however, when seats opened up further down the train, we would hear the occasional explosion of giggles followed or prefaced by one of the girls saying in a deep, man-like voice "Volleyball.")

And yes, for those of you who are wondering, Japanese school girls do dress just like the girls in Anime. I have never seen so many uniforms in my life. Also, everything does have flashing lights and play music, English language is really popular in the media right now, even when not appropriate, and the commercials on Japanese TV really are as we expect them to be. In other news, I completely dig on the bowing in Japan, I wish we did it here. There is something phenomenally cool about formalized politeness. (Or perhaps I am finally fed up with the customarily rude behavior I get here. Who knows?)

Going back to the commuter trains in Japan--they are a wondrous thing. There wasn't a place in Japan we weren't able to get to using the train system. The Japanese underground is a veritable other city of lengthily, well-lit tunnels. It was well organized, easy to use, and simple to navigate. The train stations and trains were clean and spacious, the train schedules were visibly posted and the trains all ran on time. Dear SEPTA, please take note: Why can't we have this kind of system here?

Here's a short preview of the things we saw and did in Japan, in no particular order:

  • Went to the top of the tallest building in Japan

  • Rode on what had been the world's largest Ferris wheel before the London Eye was built. (Note: although the Ferris wheel could accommodate our frames without issue, many other rides in this amusement park were clearly not built with our bulky American frames in mind. Be warned).

  • Sang Karoke and drank too much beer

  • Played Pachinko (neither PCB nor I could figure out what we were meant to be doing, but he fared much better than I.)

  • Saw the Big Buddah

  • Drank some sweat (tasted like grapefruit juice)

  • Visited lots of beautiful temples

  • Oogled loads of Koi

  • Played in the Sony playrooms

  • Watched some Kabuki theater (it's like Japanese PANTO, complete with audience participation!)

  • Ate the best steak I ever had (It was from Kansas)

  • Toured some museums

  • Walked through the Imperial Gardens

  • Went to the Gates of Hell

  • Walked through an outdoor museum

  • Rode a cable car over a sulphur mine

  • Sailed on a pirate ship

  • Looked right at Mt. Fuji but couldn't see it

  • Sat in a kick-ass BMW Z4

  • Played with the Aibos (and truly covet one)

  • Ate the best Indian food I ever had (in Roppongi (an ex-pat favorite), during a torrential downpour)

  • Participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony

  • Ate in a garlic restaurant

  • Went to an Oriental Bazaar

  • Bought a piece of furniture

  • Met a very helpful man from Minnesota

  • Saw the biggest crows I've ever seen (clearly the inspiration for the Skeksis)

  • Bought a Hidamari No Tami (and I want a dozen more!)

  • Wandered determinedly into a clearly not-so-good neighborhood in search of the Star Wars themed bar (apparently seen in some of these these pictures, but invisible to us at the time. Also, no one in the neighborhood had any idea what we were talking about.)

  • Spent not nearly enough time with my sister and her husband.

Is it any wonder we're exhausted?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, September 07, 2003
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Jet Laaaggggg   

Safely returned home.

Had fantastic time.

Can't stop sleeping.

More to come.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Saturday, September 06, 2003
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