June 26, 2006

If sleep's for the weak, you can call me a sissy...

I feel fine now, but wow was my weekend tiring! I got up early to hit the closest mall so I could pick up a small birthday cake for my friend Mari. Early for me on a weekend being before 10am. I wasn't able to buy one the weekend before (which was her actual birthday) because I didn't have any money. Don't act shocked, it's a constant of my life over here.

Anyway, she dropped by around 11:30 laden with groceries!! She'd said she going to make sushi but she also made niku-jyaga, which a kind of stew with beef, noodles, potatoes, carrots and onions. It's pretty tasty.

Of course most of you have probably eaten sushi before, and some of you may even have made it, but I never have. It was a lot of fun and really isn't that hard to do. Once you have the rice cooked (don't forget to add sushi vinegar!) and everything you just lay it out on the nori (seaweed sheet) and roll things up. Like this:
After you roll it up, gently of course, just plop it down on the cutting board and slice it up. The rice is really sticky so you can't just sit there sawing away at it. One cut or everything'll fall apart. Luckily I didn't make a mess of anything and they turned out to be pretty tasty. Best part of it all was that I didn't have to cook again until well...maybe tonight I guess!

Saturday night I headed down to the regular pub and had a few drinks with the regulars. I didn't stay too late as I had plans for Sunday, but apparently the rest of the crew stay out late enough to be able to go to McD's for breakfast! I'm glad I went home long before that, because Hiro came to pick me up at 7:45am! I don't care who you are, that's early for a Sunday morning, especially when you don't get home until almost 3.

Sunday was a fun, if tiring day. I met up with the folks from Project Luck (the same people I went planting / made pizza with last month) to play some badminton and have a barbecue. That was a good time, but of course i totally neglected to take any pictures. Sorry. Anyway, I finally got back to my place around 6:30 pm, utterly beat.

So I'm thinking, "Great. I can sit down, relax, maybe watch a movie and just chill." Right? Nope. Hiro informs me that we're going to Hiroshi and Michiko's for yakiniku (kind of an indoor barbecue) at 8! Cool, but man I was full and I was tired. We went anyway and had a great time. Everyone is always really nice at these things, but I have to admit that sometimes I get a little embarassed. More often than not (most notably it you're the only non-Japanese) almost all of the conversation revolves around you. I will usually do my best to deflect it and ask questions of the other guests to keep them involved, but that doesn't always work.

Long story short, I got home at 11, was very tired and slept until 10am Monday. Good weekend, but I think I need a break just to catch up! :)

Jya, mata neh!

June 23, 2006

And then it hits you!

Ever sit around wondering just exactly what you accomplish in a day? Happens to me all the time. My job isn't exactly a difficult one to do, but I enjoy it for the most part. It does leave me with a fair amount of free time though, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on the day.

Lately I've been trying to focus a little more on some of the various projects I've started, or want to start. I'm one of those people with too many hobbies, way too many ideas and not enough knowledge, motivation or assistance to get anywhere near all of it accomplished in my lifetime. That doesn't necessarily stop me from working on stuff, it just slows me down a lot.

Anyway, what's my point here you say? Well, I've had this story idea for quite a long time. I have lots of story ideas...but they're just that unless you do something with them right? Well, yesterday I was struck by some inspiration. Two of my concepts that had been kind of wallowing in the ether of undeveloped thought suddenly came crashing together and gave me one of those moments where everything stops and you just go, "Whoa." After shaking off the unpleasant Keanu-ness of the whole thing I typed away madly for something on the order of three hours while searching the internet for characters names, historical reference and various other minutiae. After all that was finished I had to say it again...


At this point it's still just an idea, but it's a damn GOOD idea. Oh yeah.

June 19, 2006

Same old same old?

It sure feels like it this week. Mondays are pretty quiet at work, as I'm usually the only person on staff. That means I open and close the school, chat with any visitors or parents that come by (as best I can) and essentially am bored stupid when I'm not actually teaching a class. One of my co-workers stopped by today though, so at least I had someone to go for lunch with. :)

On the weekend I had a few people over for dinner, which is always interesting in my tiny little apartment. I made pasta and salad, my friends provided desert and drinks. Everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoyed my cooking, so I guess you can say it was a successful evening. We drank our way through my last birthday present too: a bottle of (what I'm assured was very good quality) Japanese sake. It was pretty good chilled, but probably not for the faint of heart or easily hung-over. Some of you may choose to stick with beer.

Sunday was pretty warm outside, if cloudy. I didn't really have anywhere to go or anything to do, so I spent most of my day reading and sketching. I've been working on a comic project for a friend, but I have to admit it's coming along really slow. So far I've only pencilled like 2 pages in the past two months. I could pull a Japanese and say I'm too busy, but we'd all know that'd be a pile of crap. I'm a little more focused on my Joe Kubert pencilling course, so it's not like I haven't been drawing!

Let's see, um...one of my closest friends here in Japan had his last day at work on Saturday. He doesn't live very close so we don't see each other much, but I'll be sad when he's gone. He'll be around Japan for another month or so. We're trying to set up a weekend to hang out before then; I just hope funds don't make it impossible to do.

What else? Edmonton won game six, just as I said they would. Japan and Australia lost their most recent games in the World Cup, also as predicted. I called my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. It's hot here. I guess that'll do for now.

June 14, 2006

Time differences really hurt my hockey experience

I'm about 16 or 17 hours ahead of my "home" time zone, which means that evening games of hockey are mid-morning in my schedule. Problem is, I usually have to leave for work before the friggin' games are over. It's rather annoying listening to a tied game (via internet radio) and having to leave with ten minutes left in the third period. When you get back home it's over and all you can do it check the final score.

Admittedly listening on the radio isn't nearly as interesting as watching the games, but hey, you gotta take what you can get. I was happy to come back today to find that Edmonton's own cardiac kids were able to pull out an OT win and send things back for a game six. Way to go boys!

Yes, I consider myself a Calgary fan first having lived there for almost a decade...but I grew up in a small town smack in between Calgary and Edmonton. People say you can't cheer for both, but to that I say...well, I can't type that because I'm trying to keep my blog PG.

The best part of forcing a game six is that it'll be on Sunday morning for me, which means I can get up at a leisurely hour, not have to hurry and catch the whole game. Of course when (not if, WHEN) it goes to game seven I'll be back in the same boat as this morning. But, make do with what ya got and all that, right?

June 12, 2006

The World Cup can be fun...

Japan's team lost their first game, but I've been out a few times since the World Cup started, just to see what the mood is like. With the number of foreign people living in my city there have been supporters for almost team playing, which has been pretty interesting. I'll admit that the Aussies at the bar last night had the Japanese people beat in terms of volume. Rowdy bunch that.

I'm a hockey fan at heart, and try to catch what I can on internet radio (damn you Oilers...ya dropped another one), but World Cup soccer here comes close to the same feeling. It's fun to see people get worked up over sport like we do back home. Some things are just universal I guess.

June 08, 2006

Can you be addicted to plastic?

My name is Aaron and I collect toys. Ok, my name isn't Aaron, but the second part is true. I've been trying to organize my possessions here and have been having a hell of a time making progress getting things into boxes. "Why's that," you ask? Well, Japan may have a lot of strange things (like vending machines that sell just about everything) but if nothing else, Japan easily has the coolest toys around.

I've collected stuff for as long as I remember: comics, DVDs, books, toys, ex-girlfriends, whatever. The thing is, that when you collect things, you don't really give them much though when you buy them. You know, a few comics here, a Transformer there, a couple DVDs next payday... It hardly seems to register all that much. That is, until crunch time comes and you have to put it all into nice organized groups to pack and ship home! Joy.

Having lived here for nearly two years, I have somehow managed to accumulate a surprising amount of stuff. The funny thing is that I have bought next to nothing for myself since my trip home for Christmas. With my recent birthday presents though (ok yeah I bought a few toys for that...shut up), and a few friends down in Osaka who keep sending me free stuff, there are probably more toys in my apartment than individual pieces of cutlery in your kitchen drawer. So the next question becomes: what do I do with them all!?

I've been selling stuff online for several months; a few items a week, and I think I've got it down to a few more rounds of that. I also started making some custom toys to waste some of my copious amount of free time. Of course I'm still drawing and doing 3D modeling, but one can never have too many hobbies.

With that I leave you with these: my first three custom action figures ever! They're made from Microman figures, which clock in just under 4 inches tall (that's slightly taller than a GIJoe figure for you toy nerds out there). Go ahead. Make fun of me. If you're not careful you just might end up with a big box of useless plastic arriving in your mailbox.

Symbiote Spiderman:

Alpha Flight's Guardian (with guests):

Batman Beyond:

June 05, 2006

So uh...yeah.

I felt like posting something but don't really have a firm direction to go here. Not only that, but I am a little short on time before I head back to work. That being the case I thought I'd just post up a couple of funny signs I found in my travels over the past week.

First up:

Ok maybe this is only funny to me, but one of my friends from another school pronounces it exactly like this. So when I was walking down the street and saw this I started laughing right then and there. Had to take a picture for posterity.

And second:

Ok read that out loud. Now check it again. Yes, it really does say "Tit Collection". Somehow though, I am rather doubtful as to that being the intention of the sign's creators. My guess is that it's an unfortunate scripting choice. Since the shop was closed at the time I can't be certain. I've been meaning to go by again to see just what they sell in there. Maybe it's not a typo...

That's all for now kids. Tune in next time for further adventures...

June 03, 2006

Party pics

I picked up my pictures this morning, some of them are pretty good. I added some silly captions because it seemed like the right thing to do. So here's a link, I hope it works.

B-day party pics