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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: Japan
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 21,800

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Back in the days of cheap American-made black-and-white sets,

they didn't come with remote controls, but they did come with annoying commercials:

"Louann, you look like you could use a truckload of Ex-lax!"

"Ha! You think you're soaking your hand in lotion, but it's actually dishwashing liquid!"

"Mr, Whipple, please don't squeeze my.... Charmin!"

One day I was in Radio Shack and found a great new gadget that I could use to zap, or at least mute, those commercials. So I bought one and installed it as follows:

"First, unplug the TV. Failure to unplug the TV might result in getting the shock of your life.

"Then, let the unplugged TV sit for a while to disperse the static electricity inside. If you don't do that, well, see above.

"Now, remove the cork backing of the TV and find the speaker wire. Are you sure *that's* the speaker wire? You'd better be darn sure it is. Otherwise...

"Have you made sure that's the speaker wire? Really? You're sure, now. OK, good. Now, cut the wire. You read that right-- cut the wire. Just cut it, OK?

"Are you sure you cut the *speaker* wire? OK, then move on to the next step.

"Strip off about an inch of the plastic at the two ends of the cut wire with a wire stripper (available at Radio Shack). Now, make sure the two wires of your commercial zapper are also stripped. OK, now intertwine one set of exposed wires from the speaker wire with one set of exposed wires from the commercial zapper, and wrap tightly with electrical tape. Then do the same with the other exposed wires.

"OK, you're almost ready to go! Now, run your commercial zapper cable through the hole in the cork backing that the power cord goes through, and reattach the cork backing. Then plug in your TV and turn it on. The moment of truth is here! Are you seeing smoke coming from the back of your set? No? Good! Now try your commercial zapper. It works! Hooray! Now you can zap those pesky commercials, as long as you're within about 10 feet or so of your TV and have your commercial zapper in hand!
Posted by Art_from_Ark | Mon Dec 1, 2014, 10:36 AM (0 replies)

(With apologies to Tammy Wynette)

Sometimes it's hard to be a flunkie
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times
And he'll have good times
Doin things that you don't understand
But if you love him
You'll forgive him
Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him
Oh, be proud of him
Cause after all he's Da Man

Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
when nights are cold and lonely

Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

Tokyo Dating Story, Part 2

Well, it seems that Mr. X had been pouting about his perceived botched relationship with Miss Y for the past couple of days. This morning, as he boarded the train for Tokyo, he thought to himself, "OK, I've only gotten a couple of generic e-mails from Miss Y, so I don't think she's really interested in me. After all, she had a few glasses of wine at our dinner, and no doubt she now regrets giving me the impression that she was actually interested in me, but she can't actually come out and say it. OK, I understand. Today at work, I'll just ignore her, and she will understand that I understand that she's not really interested in me."

Well, at work, Mr. X did his best to ignore Miss Y for most of the morning. But then, about a half our before lunch time, Miss Y came over to his desk.

"How would you like to have lunch with me?" she asked.

"Oh, my gawwwwwwww" thought Mr. X. "Can this be real?"
Speechless, Mr. X could only manage a "two thumbs up".

"So I take it that means 'yes'?"

"Hai, hai! Yes, yes"

"OK, let's meet at the restaurant section on the 1st floor."

Before Mr. X knew it, it was lunchtime. He saw Miss Y furtively slip out of the office, so he gathered up his things.

"Are you going home?" asked one of his co-workers, with a surprised look on his face.

"No, I'm...I'm..."

"Aha!" cried another co-worker. "Going for a secretive rendezvous, no doubt!"

"No, I...I...just want to eat at...Burger King today!" lied Mr. X.

"Uh huh, suuuuuuure."

Mr. X hurried to the elevator, only to see the doors shut just as Miss Y got in. So impatiently, he waited for the next one, which seemed to take forever. And when the next elevator came, it was too jam-packed to get in, so he waited for the next elevator. Finally, an elevator that wasn't so crowded arrived.

It seemed like forever, but the elevator finally made it to the 1st floor. Miss Y was waiting where she said she would be.

"I couldn't find an unoccupied table, so I had to ask someone if they would share a table with us" she said.

Mr. X was a little surprised. Someone had told him that Europeans do this, but in Japan it is almost unheard of to ask a complete stranger to share a table. But, no matter, at least they had someplace to sit.

After apologizing profusely to the woman who had agreed to share her table, Mr. X and Miss Y sat down for lunch. Lunch consisted of "bento" that each had brought from home. Mr. X had no idea what Miss Y was eating, because he was too busy looking at her, and thinking what a lucky day today was.

Tokyo dating story

I know this guy, let's call him "Mr. X". Mr. X gets off work one Friday, and as he is getting into the elevator, so does one of his female coworkers ("Miss Y"). Mr. X is kind of surprised, because usually his female coworkers will duck into the nearby ladies' room if they see him getting into into the elevator after the work day has ended.

Anyway, Miss Y, who recently entered the company, gets next to Mr. X in the elevator and strikes up a conversation. There is the usual chit-chat, which, when it does occur, usually ends on the 1st floor where the elevator stops. However, Miss Y continues to walk with Mr. X to the train station, which is extremely unusual. And even when Mr. X stops to buy his ticket, Miss Y stays with him. This usually doesn't happen even when Mr. X is talking to a male coworker after work.

Anyway, they get in the train together. Mr. X is headed for Tokyo Station, Miss Y is going to Akihabara, two stations after that. They continue to talk in the train. For Mr. X, this is the first time in 4 or 5 years that he has talked to a lady in a Tokyo commuter train. The conversation appears to go well.

When the train arrives at Tokyo Station, Miss Y says, "Is this where you're getting off?" Mr. X replies, "Oh, heck, might as well go to Akihabara, because we're having such an interesting conversation."

At the turnstile at Akihabara Station, Miss Y says, "I'm meeting a long-time friend here and we're going to have dinner at a restaurant. Maybe you can join us?" Mr. X is very keen to that idea, so Miss Y goes off into a corner of the station and phones her friend. The restaurant is a reservations-only place, so it takes a while to get everything set up. But eventually, Miss Y comes back and says that it's OK, Mr. X can make it a threesome.

So the friend ("Miss Z") meets them at the station. They walk together to the restaurant and have a great time. During the conversation at the restaurant, Mr. X finds out that he has several things in common with Miss Y. Miss Z, the longtime friend, turns to Mr. X and says, "Looks like you've got a new girlfriend." Mr. X and Miss Y exchange coy looks.

The conversation continues until the reservation for the table has expired. Miss Y and Miss Z have further plans for the night, while Mr. X has to go back home because he has to work at another job the next day. So they accompany him to the train station. After everyone says what a great time they had, Miss Y tells Mr. X, "Monday, give me your private e-mail address".

Well, Mr. X's heart starts pounding when he hears this. After years of loneliness, and several unsuccessful attempts at dating, it seems like he might be able to finally get into an interesting relationship with a woman. He can hardly wait for Monday.

Monday comes around, and Miss Y seems to ignore him at work. But eventually she comes by Mr. X's desk and talks to him briefly about last Friday's dinner, and Mr. X gives her his private e-mail address, and eagerly awaits for her reply. But she writes a kind of a generic reply, and Mr. X is a little disappointed. But eventually, he sends her a reply telling her how he loved the get-together and how he would love to do it again. Miss Y replies that she would love to do it again as well, but first she wants to make as many new friends at the company as possible. Mr. X scratches his head and thinks, WTF?

It is, indeed, too bad that the sites I have listed

are not available in English. They contain quite a bit of interesting information. The first article (about repopulating the town of Naraha), for example, includes the story of an evacuee from Naraha who is currently living in Iwaki and has her doubts about being able to move back in 2 or 3 years. She visits several places in her old town and is sad to see that so much has changed.

For example, the park where she spent much time with her family has been turned into "ground zero" for the radiation clean-up effort and much of the greenery has been replaced with steel and concrete. She visits the downtown area and sees that a store near the train station has been vandalized. Then she goes to her home (which she and her husband were buying with a sizable home loan) and says with a great sigh, "How can I come back here under such brutal conditions?"

She also visits the industrial park where she used to work, which housed 24 factories at one time but is now a ghost town, and reflects on the 2011 disaster. She says that from the high ground of the industrial park, she and other workers could see the tsunami coming. They cried out in horror as they saw the disaster unfolding.

"The Arrogance of Power"

That is the title of a book authored by one of America's greatest Senators, J. William Fulbright (1905-1995). Senator Fulbright, who had also served at one time as president of the University of Arkansas and US Representative, was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he voted, along with 97 other Senators, for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964. However, Senator Fulbright soon realized the error he had made, and in 1966 published "The Arrogance of Power" which was a major critique of the Vietnam War. However, it is as relevant today as it was back then, and should be required reading of everyone with a position of power in government.

Here is an excerpt from the book, written on the back cover:

"...America is now at that historical point at which a great nation is in danger of losing its perspective on what exactly is within the realm of its power and what is beyond it. Other great nations, reaching this critical juncture, have aspired to too much and, by overextension of effort, have declined and then fallen. Gradually but not unmistakably, America is showing signs of that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened, and in some cases destroyed great nations in the past. In so doing, we are not living up to our capacity and promise as a civilized example for the world; the measure of our falling short is the measure of the patriot's duty of dissent."

More excerpts of this excellent book can be found here:


This thread has inspired me to write the following song:

I woke up this morning feeling kind of gory
Like the cockroach fellow in that Kafka story
My family now shuns me, my friends all abhor me
My girlfriend told me, "Go away,
You're starting to bore me.

'Cause you're not on Facebook
No, you're not on Facebook
Oh, you're not on Facebook
And you're not nobody if you're not on Facebook"

I sent out my resume a-looking for a job
'Cause despite what Mittens Romney thinks, I'm not a lazy slob
The interviewer told me, "Your c.v. is not auspicious.
In fact, I got to tell you, son
It's downright suspicious"

'Cause you're not on Facebook
No, you're not on Facebook
Oh, you're not on Facebook
And there's something 'funny' if you're not on Facebook"

I heard some bubbleheads talking on the tube last night
Saying, "If you're not on Facebook, then something isn't right.
Just look at Andre Brevik, he's not a Facebook fan
And neither is the Unabomber,
Nor is the Son of Sam

Oh, no, they're not on Facebook
No, they're not on Facebook
And if you're not on Facebook
Well, you may be psychopathic if you're not on Facebook"

The greatest intro to a Japanese TV show ever

This is the intro to a show called “Age, 35: Koishikute” which aired briefly on Fuji TV from April to June 1996. It is a drama about a married couple, Hideshi and Akemi Shimada, who each end up finding themselves in an affair. The intro opens at a bar with a live band (Sha-ran-Q) performing its hit song, “Iiwake” (“Excuses”). The song begins:

"Sabishii yoru wa gomen da
Sabishii yoru wa tsumannai
Sabishii yoru wa akita
Sabishii yoru wa cry cry cry"

(I hate lonely nights
Lonely nights are boring
I am tired of lonely nights
Lonely nights make me cry, cry, cry)

Then there is an instrumental interlude in which we catch brief glimpses of the 4 main players, including a very coy look by a woman, Misa Terui, who becomes Mr. Shimada’s girlfriend.

The scene switches to black-and-white as we get an introduction to the four main characters in the drama, starting with Mr. Shimada. The singer sings:

"Konna onna wa nidoto inai to
Muchu de horeta…"
I’ll never see another woman like this again
In my dreams I have fallen in love…

then there is a sensuous pan of Mrs. Shimada, and the singer sings

"…horemakutta onna ni…"
fallen many times in love with a woman

then switches to the girlfriend and the singer sings

"…nigeraritari shita…"
whom I have found refuge with…

Then we see the fourth character, Shin Narise, who ends up becoming Mrs. Shimada’s boyfriend. And the singer sings:

“Boku ga inaku nara, dare ka naku kana”
If I die, will anyone cry for me?

Then we see Mr. and Mrs. Shimada at the same table, and the singer continues

“Neru made, tama ni, konna baka na koto to ka
Kangaetari shita”
I sometimes lay awake thinking about such stupid things…

Then there is apparently glass breaking, signifying the couple’s broken relationship.

Next is a scene where Mrs. Shimada is sitting at a table with her husband and his girlfriend. The singer sings:

“Damasu hou yori, damasarerya ii”
I would rather be cheated on, than cheat on someone…

Mrs. Shimada leaves the table in a huff, then, sits down at the table of her soon-to-be boyfriend

“Nante uso kana”
Well, maybe that’s not true…


Then four brief head shots of the 4 characters, perfectly timed to the beat of the music.

Then we see scenes of tonight’s episode, then return to the bar where 3 of the characters are taking turns leaving the bar. When the singer finishes his song, the only one left in the bar is Mr. Shimada, who, presumably, is going to be spending a lonely night.

Hey, Clint just wants to be "in" with the "Mitt Crowd"

(with apologies to Dobie Gray)

I'm in with the Mitt crowd, I go where the Mitt crowd goes
I'm in with the Mitt crowd and I know what the Mitt crowd knows
Anytime of the year, don't you hear? Dressing fine, making slime
We strut up and down the street, we demand respect from you people we meet
They blow wind day or night, they know the Mitt crowd is full of shite

I'm in with the Mitt crowd, I know every latest schtick
When you're in with the Mitt crowd, it's so easy to be a prick
Any time of the year, don't you hear? Empty chair, he ain't there
We make every tax break count, our share is always the biggest around
Other guys imitate us, but the original is still the greatest,
The Mitt crowd!

Any time of the year, don't you hear? Spendin' cash, talkin' trash
We'll show you a real good time, grab your gun, leave your troubles
I don't care where you've been, you ain't no one unless you're in

With the Mitt crowd, with the Mitt crowd, yeah the Mitt crowd!

Here's my version

I bought a broken down wagon and we call it a klunker
Serf City, here we come
You know it's not very cherry, it is really a junker
Serf City, here we come
Well, it ain't got a back seat or a rear window
It barely even gets me where I wanna go

And we're goin' to Serf City, nowhere else to go
You know we're goin' to Serf City, ‘cause we’ve no more dough
You know we're goin' to Serf City, nowhere else to go
You know we're goin' to Serf City, ‘cause we’ve no more dough
Two bucks is all we got

You know they’re gonna throw us in the clink if they think we're homeless
Serf City, here we come
And we can’t even rent a room because we are jobless
Serf City, here we come
Yeah, and there's two swingin' billy clubs for every guy
And all you gotta do is just blink your eye


And if my klunker breaks down on me somewhere on the serf road
Serf City, here we come
I'll strap my stuff to my back and walk with my full load
Serf City, here we come
And when I get to Serf City I'll be scouting for sites
Where I can set my box up to sleep at night
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