Category Archives: Fun Stuff
Anyone who freelances knows that having a web presence is key… social plug-ins, community involvement, yadda yadda. But another detail that shows you’re the shit is having the right business cards. Especially here in Japan. (Hi. Yeah, I live in Japan now… but I still write for the U.S. so please don’t freak.)
Say hello to Moo. These are cards for creative people.
Mashup your info in fun ways with their templates or, design from scratch. In my case, I just used my own photos. I model too, so to cover both worlds, I upload a couple of different versions of my CPC logo and a bunch of modeling shots. Each card has a different image (up to 100). Fonts, colors, backgrounds… I wrote my name in Japanese and in English, then put the usual contact and social stuff.
Instant portfolio the size of a card case– BOOM. Oh and the clincher? They’re on thick, 16 point card stock and cost less than twenty bucks. At moo.com.
They didn’t pay me to write this.
It’s been just over a month of living in Japan and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I have a slightly better idea than I did when I got off the plane four weeks ago, but that bar was pretty low. Pretty much on the ground. Actually there was no bar. More of a random line of dust.
Trains, directions… easy. Just be patient and follow directions. But banking, post office-ing, taking a bus: the language barrier makes doing even the simplest tasks exponentially more time consuming. And the few phrases I do know are pointless because they invariably evoke questions for which I have no answers. For some INSANE reason, I sometimes try to answer in Spanish, (the only other language I do know) so I find myself saying “si” when I should be saying “hai.” It’s like the Foreign Language Department in my brain is headed by a over-tenured professor who hears a question, shrugs, and says, “Here try… this?” and then goes back to his New Yorker. Lazy bastard.
I was fake-whining about shopping with a friend today who, like me, has traveled extensively without the native language…but as a tourist.“Oh just buy what you know,” he tells me, “fruits and vegetables… things you recognize.” OH OKAY. Gee why didn’t I think of that. Have you been to the grocery store?
Is this soy sauce? Fish sauce? Mystery evil pipe cleaner sauce? What about soup? Or coffee, or tuna, or butter… or those squishy purple things in the meat case? WHAT ARE THOSE. Even things I think I recognize aren’t what they seem… I bought a case of eggs…EGGS for crying out loud, and they were partially hard-cooked for some magical fish broth egg soup dish. Eggs. I can’t even buy eggs right.
But other things I buy really right.
Like the Family Mart mini pancakes with happy-sauce inside.
Or the Calbee potato chips in Nori flavor.
And even some healthy stuff I happen upon by accident, but that isn’t nearly as exciting as when you stick the contents of a cartoon packet of madness in your face and realize not only that you’re not going to get sick, but you’re going to possibly eat whatever it is, forever. The little successes keep you rolling.
Same thing goes for the beauty stuff, which by the way, like the Nori potato chips, the Japanese have mastered. Hair products, makeup, skin care, body voodoo creams… I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s going on because I can’t read anything and just go by the photos… or the occasional generous phrase of English. Want to know the fairy dust they use over here for amazing skin? I’ll post about it later but here’s a hint:
Since being here:
- My skin is looking rad (surprisingly), no thanks to stress, weather, Nori potato chips, and Crunky.
- I’m eating more junk food than I have in years but I’m not gaining (I attribute this to chasing trains and constant fear of offending someone with my apparently giant 8.5 feet. PS: Shoe shopping? Another story).
I can’t imagine what I’ll discover once I can speak at a higher level than age four. In the meantime, when I do ask for help, people are always kind enough to give it to me, but seldom to they take the initiative to offer it without request. I’ve come to the conclusion that in Tokyo, there is nothing more frightening than a middle aged, unmarried, nori-chip reeking American woman with giant feet.
Courtesy of The Plain Language Programme
Happy Fourth of July! Here’s bit of American history for you…
Did you know that our separation from Britain was approved by Congress on July 2nd and not the 4th? Congress bickered over the wording for a couple of days… (editors!). Here’s part of a note John Adams sent to Lady Abigail (via wikipedia, a source you should trust implicitly for everything, forever):
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
So if you took the whole week off, just tell your boss it was due to the nation’s historical confounding of the true Independence Day and you were just covering your bases. Now onto the whole Liberty Bell myth:
In 1847, Poe’s buddy, George Lippard wrote a story for The Saturday Courier entitled “Ring Grandfather Ring,” in which the elderly bell keeper exhorts a young boy to listen in on Congress and get the signal when the Declaration of Independence was signed, for an appropriately timed bell ringing. Lippard’s fictional tale in the paper was stirring enough to stick in the American collective conscious… and made even more dramatic by the infamous crack in the bell, which was thought to have happened on that same fictional day. Historians disagree as to whether the bell was actually rung on July 4th 1776 because the steeple was in pretty bad shape and the progressively worsening crack has been dated back to the bell’s delivery back in 1751.
Although the stories and mythologies of Independence Day and the bell are historically inaccurate, it’s still a lovely day to celebrate how lucky we are as Americans. And my Granny Hazle was born today eighty-five years ago today. Here’s a photo of her and my grandfather on their wedding day, 1946… she was just nineteen. Such a lovely couple .
Once of the many reasons I adore nineteenth-century print culture is the bone-dry humor often found in advertisements and announcements. And some clips just remind me how so little has changed. Here are a few recent finds…
The era of social media did not invent OMGing…
Wry criticism at its finest…
And lastly, little Clarence dreams big:
Sam Spade “The Maltese Falcon”
If you have a free afternoon, ten bucks, and any interest in San Francisco literary history, go on Don Herron’s super-informative Dashiell (pronounced Dash-eel, not Dash-shell) Hammett walkabout. I know, geeky. But seriously. Go. Don was especially cool and super up on his mystery fiction, giving proper props to Hammett as the second most influential mystery writer in America. Because we all know who came first. When he asked if anyone knew, me and a pasty, slightly crazed Goth guy shot our hands in the air yelping “Oh oh oh!!! Poe! It was Poe. POE!” When Don cautiously acknowledged that we were correct, we shared a knowing smirk and made fun of the east coast tourists who said Chandler. Ha! Losers…
Anyway, I decided to go for several reasons… among them:
1) I couldn’t write and needed to get out of the house.
2) Next to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (“Can I call you Fred, dahling?”) and “Shawshank”, it’s one of my all-time favorite movies.
3) I wrote a paper about misogyny and gender play on Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and love the book more than the film, which is saying something.
Now this is tour isn’t for slouches. It’s four hours long and you walk several miles (mostly in the Tenderloin) but you are rewarded with amazing bits of SF historical insight.
Like 620 Eddy Street… a very pretty building in the Tenderloin where Hammett lived with his wife and daughters… he paid about 45.00 a month for rent. He also rented a room down the street (it’s a playground now) when his tuberculosis acted up.
Then he lived up the street on Post… in the top floor, right corner apartment. That’s where he wrote about the black bird… this is walking distance from my apartment. Cool no? No?! That’s what I thought. Hell yes it’s cool. Unfortunately this apartment was taken by a wealthy fellow who has since restored it and no longer lets people visit it. Boo.
Top right corner…
Now the coolest part was when we got to the plaque on Bush Street, across from Dashiell Hammett Place, know where I’m talking about? Near Tunnel Top and the Green Door Massage Parlour?
Well, as it turns out, the Green Door wasn’t there back in 1941… that whole building wasn’t there… and you can see where the moldings change and the cement is new. Before, it was a steep ditch where Brigid O’Shaugnessey shot Archer in the film. And the plaque gets you close to the spot, but if you go down the alley, you get right to the spot where Bogart raced down at 2a.m. after getting the call Archer was murdered. Standing there, with Don and Goth Boy and the dumb Chandler tourists, I just kept thinking… I wonder if Bogart was a diva on set. His freak outs would have happened right about… here. I then realized the group was watching me laugh out loud to myself so I made an excuse and awkwardly departed.
Just kidding. Not really.
But… considering he wasn’t deemed leading man material at this point in his career, it’s unlikely. He was still coming up in his career and hardly a star before “Maltese”. In fact, he’s considered the actor, whilst donning sport-dork white shorts and tennies, responsible for coining the phrase “Tennis anyone?” As a part-time, hack actor, I find solace in knowing that Bogart had to play small time dork parts before hitting his iconic status with this film.
Mr. Animal Magnetism. Tennis anyone? Gotta start somewhere…
If you’re a holiday cynic and enjoy crafting, you’ll love this post from The Art of Doing Stuff… Karen is a felted riddle, wrapped in a macrame enigma, wrapped in awesome sauce. Not only are her craft posts interesting and helpful but she’s super funny too. I heart her and her cool blog…
So you have to find a gift for a book nerd but you don’t know what kind of books they might like? Let me clear up some common bookworm misconceptions:
1) Not all bookworms like Shakespeare. Technically he was a playwright, and not all actors like Shakespeare either. Yes he’s a big shot in literary history and required reading for anyone getting an English degree, but that doesn’t mean we’re all a titter about either of those points. So don’t think this is your easy way out, because that copy of “Midsummer’s” will end up on eBay faster than you can say “anon”…
2) We’re not all tech idiots. Now it’s true, most of us are, and many of us are even a bit proud of our neo-Luddite status, but there is a small constituency that is attempting to grasp the world of social media and all of it’s codalicious nuance. Neo-Luddites tend not to worry about such things, as we’re far too preoccupied with Derridean ethics and elbow patches.
3) We like bookish things, not just books themselves. Here comes the gift idea part of this post. Ready? Here it goes…
These are freaking cute! Anyone into vintage stuff, art, or books would love to get one of these journals…
For the tech-saavy bookworm… a great little app for reading when you don’t have WIFI or 3g…
Forget bookworm for a second… Any Office Space fan would appreciate this…
For the traveling worm… yes I know. I’ve resisted getting one myself (it feels like I’m cheating on my books!) but I do see how this little gadget makes a ton of sense when on the road.
And for the bookworm who has everything (or a serious E.A. Poe fetish) a rare volume is always most appreciated.
If you have a novel gift idea for book lovers please don’t hoard it… do share.
So if you ended up at tree lot this weekend, despite my compelling and articulate plea as to why it makes little sense, I understand. I ended up going with friends, who bought a lovely tree at a charitable lot from an organization I love to support. My partner, Martin,* objects not to tree slaughter or holiday consumption, but rather to the arbitrary price points he’s set in his head that determine whether he’ll partake in a given holiday tradition. Here’s a clip of the dialogue at the aforementioned tree lot:
Him: “$80.00 is too much for a tree. We’re going to Home Depot.”
Me: “Why get a tree at all? We’re traveling, and it’ll only be up for a month. Let’s just appreciate other people’s trees.”
Him: “No. I like the pine smell. We’re getting a tree for twenty bucks.”
So, after coaxing me with an Arizmendi Bakery breakfast, we went. And just like he plotted, he found a tree, with a stand, for $25.00. And aside from being disproportionately wide in relation to its height, I’ll give it to him: the tree is pretty. I’ve named it “Fat-Prickly Bastard.”I think it’s cute.
Anyway, getting to my point. While at the Delancey lot, our friends also picked up mistletoe, which again, led me to google out its significance. Turns out mistletoe was sort of the duct tape of the pre-Christian world.
The word “Mistletoe” dates back to the 13th century, and is thought to be derived from the Norse word for sword, (“Mistilteinn”) and has long since been a symbol for manhood, fertility and romance. Other sources suggest that the word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words, “mistel” (dung) and “tan” (twig), Old English “misteltann” after bird droppings on a branch. But even before that, in the 8th century, the Vikings thought mistletoe could raise the dead (I couldn’t find any results to back this claim…). The Celts used mistletoe for animal fertility but it served other uses too: poison remedy, medicine, hunter’s aid. Folks hung the branches in their houses all year long to protect against lightening and fire, and would replace it every Christmas. The connection between medicine, bird poop, and kissing seems a little blurry, but American author Washington Irving wrote about the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe back in 1820: “The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”
This hodgepodge botanical doesn’t have a clear line of provenance, at least according to the twenty minutes of arduous research I did for this post. And though many of mistletoe’s uses have faded into history, it’s interesting how the tradition remained for it to serve as a potentially creepy way to kiss someone you might not otherwise have access.
* Not his real name. He’s not shy, mind you, just paranoid.