Category Archives: Trivial Anecdotes

Stories, tangents, or otherwise experienced.

Tokyo 2010: Odd Remainders

There’s this expectation most Americans have that there are many strange things that you will encounter in Japan. This is not untrue. An abridged list of these things, some of which have been mentioned previously in passing:

Snuggle Bear UFO Catcher

UFO Catchers filled with Snuggle Bear dolls.

Chelsea Hotel?

The Chelsea Hotel, in Shibuya.

Bloodtype Bath

Bloodtype Bath, previously mentioned, currently available at RanKing RanQueen in Shibuya.


Hiphopsicles, which “makes eight funky-fresh ice cubes”. Available at KIDDYLAND.

Tamagotchi Doughnuts

The Tamagotchi Store, which appeared to be selling Tamagotchi Doughnuts, in Harajuku.

Poetic Nail Clippers

A giant pair of nail clippers in our hotel room, with text that reads:

I want to sing with
a romantic scene.
It perfectly fits
my private time.

The Greatest Sign, Possibly Ever

A fountain, labeled as having “Naturally Pure Hudson River Water”, at Tokyo DisneySea.

Obligatory Japanese Toilet Picture

And yes, our hotel room did feature a Toto Washlet toilet, in its own room separate from the bath and shower. With “front and rear cleansing options” and a heated seat, it makes American toilets pale in comparison. I wish we could get one in our apartment.

To Hannah and Jason

Thank you all for coming today.

I am not normally the type to give wedding speeches. Despite the nearly fifteen wedding ceremonies I have attended since my own wedding in 2002, I have never once been asked to give a speech about the couple. (To be fair to my friends and family, I have not volunteered to, either.)

Continue reading To Hannah and Jason

Burn The Witch

I’ve been having a blast playing Left 4 Dead – possibly the greatest co-op experience I’ve had this year, far beyond Gears 2 and Little Big Planet. I cannot recommend it enough. (I’m playing on the Steam version, in case you’re looking for teammates.)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a fantastic post up today about the one enemy that really unnerves me (and many others) – the witch.

This is an ode to a strange, huddled creature. A crying, singing, tangle of ragged limbs and ferocious eyes. Terrifyingly deadly, and yet so distressingly vulnerable. Left 4 Dead’s Witch is unparalleled for me amongst all of gaming’s enemies, more frightening and fascinating than any before. She is pure fear.

…She casts no spells. She possesses no apparent magic powers. She does not cackle, and she certainly does not wear a pointed hat. No cats surround her. She throws no runes. She shuffles no bones. But she is a Witch. The most terrifying form imaginable. For God’s sake, turn off your flashlight, stop firing toward those cars, and just walk past. And whatever you do, don’t turn around to look.

My first play-through of the L4D demo, we came upon a witch in a subway car. We weren’t quite sure how to proceed – all of our flashlights were off already, but having not dealt with one before, we weren’t sure how peripheral her vision could be.

I eyed my inventory – I had a pipe bomb. Surely, I thought, a squarely thrown pipe bomb could take her out.

I lobbed it at her, and watched it land right at her feet. I smiled as the beeps increased, and waited for the explosion.

Thirty seconds later, after my teammates had saved me from a severe witch-induced ass kicking (which coincided with another zombie swarm appearing), I had learned my lesson.

Friends don’t let friends pipebomb witches.

In The Political Deep End

Five minutes ago, I’m resting on the couch, nursing a pinched nerve in my neck; I have my laptop open for scanning Twitter, political blogs, and Metafilter to catch impressions on the debate.

I hear a female voice coming from the TV – Countdown with Keith Olbermann was on but I had zoned out. My brain identified it quickly as Andrea Mitchell, and I carried on.

And then I stopped to consider: *I can identify political commentators without visuals*.

Somebody, please, save me.

Sing When You’re Winning

Thursday night, we were playing Rock Band, and she was giggling again.

“What?” I asked between a break in the lyrics.

“Nothing, nothing!” Katie smirked as she kept banging on the drums.

But I knew what it was: my vocals were coming through too loudly, and they sounded ridiculous. A quick visit to the controller and my vocals were muted behind the lead vocals, allowing me to avoid being mocked for the time being.

Continue reading Sing When You’re Winning

Hardcore SingStar

Hardcore SingStar

When my first set of DDR pads got destroyed after nine months of abuse at the feet of college kids, I can’t say I was terribly surprised – but it made me sad.

When I got Rock Band, and stories of flaky hardware were abound, I wasn’t terribly surprised that the strum bar on my guitar got a little flaky. Not bad enough to send in, but causing the occasional miss.

I’ve had to retire two DSes (busted speakers and buttons, then a non-functioning touchscreen), a Mac Cube (optical drive motor), two Sidekicks (trackball both times), a lampshade iMac (optical drive malfunction), a G5 iMac (power supply), and there was that whole 360 thing.

Things break, I know.

Never did I think I’d be such a hardcore SingStar player that I’d break the blue microphone, but here we are. Color me surprised just this once.


I have a small subset of my home music collection on my work computer. A number of these tracks are things I purchased off the iTunes store, which includes a fair number of tracks that I can only justify owning as “for nostalgic value”.

Because I value nostalgia so deeply, many of these songs end up in rotation, and I’ve taken a small amount of shit from a coworker about the number of times he’s heard House Of Pain’s *Jump Around* in the last month.

After publicly threatening to purchase a copy of Wreckx-n-Effect’s *Rump Shaker*, Adam Kuban (a fellow crap music lover) gifted me the song on iTunes.

But this, I fear, is not enough. Two obnoxious 90’s songs are not enough to terrorize an office, and even the Richard Cheese albums have too much artistic merit to enjoy ironically. I promised my friends that I would out-crazy them in 2008, and if there was ever a resolution I intended to keep, this is it.

So to my coworkers, I apologize. My hand has been forced.

This is, as it turns out, the second CD I ever owned as a child (the first being the original C+C Music Factory album). For the years of 1991 through 1996, I lived on a musical diet of the sorts of things one would hear at a middle school dance (not strange, considering I was *in middle school* at the time). Regardless, my mom was throwing out some of my things and came across a pile of CDs. This one deserved rescuing.

Now if only I could find my MTV Party To Go CDs…

Metrocard Telepathy

Approaching the subway turnstiles this morning, I realized that I had pulled the wrong card out of my wallet. Seemingly ready to swipe my debit card through the turnstile, I snickered at my stupidity and pulled out my Metrocard, quickly swiping it through the turnstile.


Oh. *Ohhhhh.* I see what I did there.

As I doubled back to buy a new card, I deposited my dead Metrocard in the recycling slot. And while normally I wouldn’t pay him much mind, an older gentlemen was there, furiously swiping discarded cards in the hope of finding a leftover fare.

Poor guy. If only he had my gift of unintentional psychic Metrocard reading.


I’ve been enjoying the various forums this morning to watch people freak out about Warner going exclusively to Blu-Ray, more or less killing HD-DVD and ending the hi-def video format war. Format fanboys are akin to mutated console fanboys – the lack of logic is truly astounding.

But there’s a lot of acronyms that get thrown around in these circles – circles I am not usually native to – but I’ve been able to gradually piece them together. HDM is “high definition media”, DD is “digital distribution”, or perhaps “digital download”. I did get stuck on “J6P”, as in:

I’m hardly J6P, but I prefer to stay off of the bleeding edge.

Getting a huge sum of money or not, Warner is making a decision based on it’s sales numbers for both sides and deciding they need to pick one in order to get behind it completely and get J6P to get behind it.

After a few minutes of pondering, I decoded this as “Joe Six Pence” instead of (what I later discovered to be correct) “Joe Six Pack”.

Lesson learned: my brain is innately British.

(Katie, upon hearing this story, retorted with “Your brain is not innately British, it’s just *innately retarded*.” This is also an acceptable lesson.)

One Last 2007 Story

In lieu of my traditional end of year posts, I instead offer an anecdote I offered a friend when summarizing my year, one that was left out of the relevant post:

On September 9th, around 3 PM, I went on the Cyclone at Coney. It was the last day that Astroland was going to be in existence; I had already seen the Zipper get driven away. In an effort to get the ride finished sooner (always hate the lines!), I opted for the last car – which I would be sharing with someone else. Someone considerably larger than me.

Sure enough, I had forgotten everything I had ever been told (NEVER RIDE THE LAST CAR) in a wave of nostalgia.

The first 30 seconds were fantastic, even as my back was reeling and my chest was crunching into the bar as we free-fell over and over again. Then we hit a sharp turn and my seatmate slammed into me, nearly breaking my ribs. It wasn’t much fun anymore, it was just pain – so I braced myself to avoid a repeat, and held on for the remainder of the ride.

I got off, collected my bag – cursing myself for deciding to lug all of my lenses and a monopod with me that day. It hurt enough to nearly bring me to tears, but not nearly enough to have me call an ambulance. At the same time – that was going to be my closing memory on Coney Island? I was livid in my pain – walked onto the beach, shot a 270° panorama, and hobbled to the train home.

It would hurt to breathe for the next week, and the pain would continue for about three weeks – and I think it ended right around the time they announced that, surprise, Astroland will be open again next year!

2007 is all right there – the joy, the pain that makes you wince, the regret and the stupid dramatic twist at the end.

Rollercoaster of a year, indeed.