Patient Zero

It has not been a good week for me, dear Reader.

I have been, frankly, sick as hell — to the point I’ve lost about a pound of body weight a day for the past four days due to not being able to keep any food down. Today’s pukefest was the straw that broke the dromedary’s back, and I decided to take the day off to get some rest and go see a doctor.

I enter the neighborhood clinic. I explain my symptoms to the doctor, a man who acts as if he’s in a terrible hurry despite the fact that I am the sole patient in his clinic.

“I’ve been throwing up for days,” I explain. “I have occasional hot-chills, and my joints hurt. I think it’s a flu bug.”

The doctor examines me. He examines me to the point where I want to smack him for prodding my stomach and asking, “How is this?” when the previous several prods have almost made me throw up and I have through gritted teeth informed him of such.

Finally, Dr. Prodder determines that what I have isn’t a flu bug but a stomach virus. He begins writing out a prescription.

“Also,” I mention, “I had to take a day off work for this, so could you please write me a shindansho?” I ask, using the word for a doctor’s certificate. As in, the thing that can prove to my bosses I was actually being seen by a doctor and wasn’t out getting piss drunk or something.

only“What would you like it to say?” Dr. Prodder responds.

This takes me back a bit.

You’re the goddamn doctor, I think to myself. You’ve examined me, now just put something about this experience on a piece of paper.

I look at him. He looks at me, obviously expecting an answer.

“Uh … That I didn’t go to work because I felt like I had flu-like symptoms, and that you examined me for it?” I ask.

Dr. Prodder looks at me, tilts his head to one side as if not quite understanding where I’m going.

“As in, mention your condition and prescribed medication?”

As sick as I am, I want to put my foot through the back of this guy’s head.

“Yes. Please.”

He grunts, scribbles something into my file and mentions that a shindansho will take chotto (“just a little”) more money. I say that’s fine. And then I’m practically being shooed out the door.

I’m told my bill at the receptionist’s window: 4,200 yen, or roughly $42. In America I wouldn’t have blinked at a bill like that, but I’ve gotten used to doctor’s fees here regularly being in the $5-$10 range. Regardless, I fork over the cash.

Once outside, I give my shindansho a glance-over. Unlike the last one I received for that time when the people of Tokyo decided to screw up my back, this one is actually handwritten.

And the writing is so terrible that I can barely make out what it says.

“Virus … Work … Medicine something. What the fuck is this?!”

I get frustrated, move my attention from the shindansho to the printout of my bill.

Visitation fee: cheap. Medicinal fee: cheap.

Cost for written materials — i.e., my shitty illegible shindansho:

3,000 yen. Thirty goddamn U.S. dollars.


Really, REALLY juvenile ways of employing new technology

Inbetween doing a bit of overtime, drinking too much and watching a couple Tony Jaa movies this past weekend, I decided to try out the recently launched “computational knowledge engine” WolframAlpha and see what it was all about.

faggetPredictably, it didn’t take long for me to sink down to the level of a 14-year old.

I had no business giggling as much as I did over this screenshot, but there’s just something about seeing this word — which has meant everything from a bundle of sticks to weird English meatballs to a homosexual to someone embarrassingly lame — being used as a unit of measurement that I apparently find pretty amusing.


I’m an idiot.

Novel ways of fighting organized crime

I passed by this poster in the station for a week or so before taking a good look at what it had to say … and then I was pulling out my cell phone and snapping a photo.

crimeIt’s a poster released by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police concerning 暴力団 (boryokudan), or the organized crime syndicate. It specifically concerns how best to 追放 (tsuiho), or drive them out. Three helpful suggestions are offered there on the bottom right:

Do not fear them
Hell, yeah! Stand your ground!

Do not give them money
Show those bastards who’s boss!

Do not employ their services

Your police department at work, folks.
Feeling safer yet?


treeSunlight. Birds twittering excitedly.

The muffled sound of the occasional car passing below.


“Shit! Shit!”

I spring out of bed, flip open the cell phone that doubles as my alarm clock.

Why didn’t my alarm go off?!

I look at the time as it’s displayed on the phone’s digital readout: 4:27.

Four-fucking-twenty-seven am.

Hey Japan — You might want to think about instituting a goddamn daylight savings program sometime soon.

And shutting these idiot bluejays up while you’re at it.


Having gotten such a kick last week out of the weirdness that is your coworker Mr. Balls, you’ve found yourself listening in to his conversations to see if he has any other interesting anecdotes. Or updates regarding the state of his genitalia.

Unfortunately, neither have been forthcoming.

What has been forthcoming, however, is Mr. Balls’ rather annoying overuse of the word sugee, meaning “awesome.”

Given the number of times sugee gets thrown around on any given day, there are apparently a great many things Mr. Balls finds pretty fucking awesome. And the awesome-to-any-other-word ratio gets upped even more when fellow office drone and stater-of-the-obvious The Parrot gets in on the conversation. A typical example:

gnomez“This is awesome!”
“It’s awesome, right?”
“It’s so awesome!”
“It’s pretty awesome.”

According to Mr. Balls’ strict criteria, anything that is not awesome would by default seem to be yabee, meaning “bad” (as in, having potentially damaging consequences).

“This is bad.”
“It’s bad, right?”
“It’s for real bad.”
“It’s bad, this is.”

On rare occasions, when something is really bad, the two words are combined to make sugee yabee, or “awesomely bad.”

Today, as it turns out, nothing bad is occurring. On the contrary, something must be pretty freaking incredible, judging by the number of times sugee is being used.

You’re staring at your computer, putting the finishing touches on a paragraph that’s been giving you a fair amount of grief for the past half hour. Mr. Balls and The Parrot let loose with another “Awesome!” and you sigh loudly, shaking your head. The Posture, seated in the cubicle to the left of yours, leans in toward you.

“What do those guys even do?” he asks you in English.

“I don’t think they do anything,” you reply, which gives him a bit of a giggle. Just then, the pair in question shoots off yet another “Awesome!” The Posture, who’s actually turned out to have a decent sense of humor, mimics snatching a dictionary off his shelf and punting it over the cubicle. This time it’s your turn to laugh.

Then — as if on cue — you hear Trixie the Monotone Pixie walk up, thus completing the unholy trio.

“Dude!” Mr. Balls calls out. “Look at this!”

You hear a paper rattle.


And then a female voice exclaiming:

“This is awesome!”

Identity theft, redux

You are walking down the street drinking a beer.

There is nothing unusual about this: Since having become unemployed, it’s been pretty much a given that if you are walking down the street — hell, if you are engaged in any ambulatory act whatsoever — you will be drinking a beer. Today’s beer is a sweet, hoppy microbrew, a splurge from the bargain-basement stuff you’ve been imbibing recently to save a bit of coin. You take another sip, savor it.

menuAnd that’s when you notice Mr. Charisma bicycling toward you.

You’re not on close enough terms with Mr. Charisma to call him a friend, but he’s at least an acquaintance. He’s a bit older than you, married with a third kid on the way — but with his dashing blonde-haired, blue-eyed American looks, he’s still got charisma to spare. He’s a good deal more charismatic than your jaded and bitter ass, that’s for sure.

Mr. Charisma is pedaling while talking to someone on his cell phone. As he approaches, you hear that his conversation is in English. Again, there’s nothing too unusual about this; he and his wife communicate mainly in English, and his Japanese is still a bit shaky.

The two of you make eye contact. Mr. Charisma lowers the phone to his chin and calls out to you.

“You doing all right?” he asks in Japanese.

“Doing great,” you reply, reflexively, in Japanese.

“Keep fighting the good fight,” he says. Again, in Japanese.

And then he goes back to his phone conversation.

In English.

He pedals past you toward a nearby intersection. You take a sip of your beer, cock your head a bit to the side.

And wonder just what the hell that was all about.

Coffee prick

I’m an ornery person, dear Reader. This will come as no surprise if you’ve spent any time glancing over my profanity-infused writings. And perhaps because of this goddamn cold that won’t go away, or the fact that I was tossing back a Theraflu and vodka at 3:00 this morning while watching episode 2 of The Mentalist (a sort of silly show that nonetheless manages to entertain), I realized today that I also really hate this fucker.


Yes, you.

You stare at me on the trains. You stare at me from vending machines. You’re always either staring at me or looking contemplatively off into the distance. Who the fuck are you and what do you want?!

Apparently, the good folks at Kirin thought that this tosser would make the perfect poster child for their Kirin Fire line of canned coffee. They also thought it would be hip and edgy to make him a man of substance, a man of unswayable morals. Look no further than the incredibly deep tagline below.


“I hate … [dramatic pause] lies.”

Well, congratulations.

I hate your brooding countenance.
I hate your fortune cookie-like attempts at wisdom.
I hate your entire ad campaign.
But most of all — and I’m sure this comes as no surprise — I hate you.

Get a haircut and quit staring at me. Idiot.