Thursday, September 28, 2006

Merry Man In .... Australia!?!

So.... I decided to take a wee holiday. On this holiday, I had several key priorities. In fact, you can see them clearly reflected in my Aviators

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Of course, the Aviator lens on the left is a picture of my dear brother, Kurt, who has been carousing around Australia with reckless abandon for the past few months.
Here is some topless reckless abandon to get this photo - preview - party rolling!

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Note the family resemblance, which manifests itself most clearly in our shared expression of the "crazy booze drinking", "hamming for the camera" and "sunglasses of choice" genes.

One of the things I was really looking forward to is a nice change from Japan. It helps to get some outside persepective, after all. As is the first picture on my camera: the ride to the airport

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This is the next picture, the view from our campsite on the first night:

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There was definitely some beauty on that beach
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We went for some nice hikes...
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...and saw some natural beauty...
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...very close up
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Brisbane was cool. Like a regular city, but oddly full of Australians.

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We visited a rainforest, which was stunning.
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In fact, it was beautiful enough that I even manufactured some horribly awful "pondering" shots.
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I mean... cause I'm so, like,

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Faces of Fuji #2.2

Sweet Matt put together this glorious composite. Good work chum.

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Faces of Fuji #2.1 I was saying...

Fooge is a very different mountain than Fuji-san.

Where Fuji-san is a beautiful and serene mountain, Fooge comes right out and challenges your sexuality.

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Fortunately, I was there, and vouched for our group's ambiguity.

After suiting up and preparing our blinding headlamps, we stretched for a good hour and set off.

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Fooge doesn't make any bones about being a jerk either. The climb is a hard slog, and if you aren't prepared, you will probably have an uncomfortable climb. Fortunately, there are some helpful signs in both English AND Chinese (Japanese too, of course) to help tell stupid people to get the "$#%&#"% off the mountain.

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Still, useful advice like "Don't bring an umbrella, dumbass" and "you need warm clothes, dumbass" still didn't prepare me for the shock of seeing hundreds of Japanese girls/women who WEREN'T wearing high heels. This must be the only country in the world where sightseeing can be done in stillettos (I'm looking at you, Hakone Pirate Ship Passengers).

Of course, there was one guy who didn't get the memo. We spotted him about halfway up the mountain, wearing a t shirt and flip-flop sandals while everyone else (except cold-lovin', shorts-wearin me) was bundled into coats and winter hats. He was carrying a plastic bag with all of his shit and was clearly as high as shit. I made this educated guess based on the fact that as we started to pass him, he looked at us, nodded, and thoughtfully remarked "woowoowowowowwoooowoowowwowowoowowooooeheheheeheeeeeheehhhhhhhhhh"
...after which he kicked up his heels and zipped up the hill ahead as fast as he could.

Fooge likes these kind of things.

Fooge also likes irony, such as this rest lodge that has very clear priorities.
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One of these shops, at about 3500 metres, is probably the only ramen shop in the the world where customers huffing from oxygen tanks is a regular occurance.

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When one finishes the climb to the top, I feel it is also important to celebrate just how wonderful Fooge is with a suitable beverage.

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Of course, with all of the lovely staff and shops and whatnot, it must be tough to hike all that shit up, right?

Hah. think again.

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Still, you are allowed to be tired after climbing up and down a huge volcano for seventeen hours.
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Fun was had.
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Stay tuned for more commentary. I'm headed to australia today, so I will have plenty of thrilling time alone on various forms transportation. All the added security means that covert masturbation is probably out, so I'll be able to spew plenty of verbal abuse.


All your mobile post are belong to me

Friday, September 08, 2006

Faces of Fuji #1

Some smart dude once remarked that mountains have several faces. This fact is most definitely true for Mt. Fuji.

That is, of course, if by "having different faces" you mean "Jekyl-and-Hyde-esque Multiple Personality Psychosis", that is.

Let's call them "Fuji-San", "Fooge" and "Let's The Mt. Fuji Experience Having (tm)"

Or, for clarity: "Natural Beauty", "My Friends An I Disturbed The Wa Alot" and "Really? You Sell Gatorade and Hot Soup a kilometre up the mountain? Whaa..!?! For HOW MUCH?!"

Fuji-san / 富士山

The first face of Mt. Fuji is the one that everyone knows. Hailed by the Japanese as "Fuji-san", you can read about this Mt. Fuji in guidebooks, see glorious snow-capped pictures on postcards, and generally appreciate Fuji-san for what it is: a beautiful intersection of beauty and the awesome forces at work behind it. It's also really bloody high.

Fuji-san rises to 3776 metres above sea level, and can be seen from miles around - including from my classroom window on a good day. Much like sushi, shinkansen (bullet trains) and tentacle-schoolgirl-demon porn, Fuji-san is a symbol of Japan to people all over the world.

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This is a picture that I did not take, taken at a time at which I did not climb, from a place I did not visit. But it has the same mountain in the picture.

The fact that you can climb Mt. Fuji without any special hiking gear beyond a desire for punishment is less well known outside of Japan, but it is a quintessentially Japanese thing to do. Of course the Japanese love to do things "by the book", so there is a specific designated "climbing season" during July and August. Suggest climbing on a weekend outside this, and well... people worry that you might die in a flash snowstorm on the first weekend of September.

According to legend (ie. one of my students), Mt. Fuji is one of the many gods of Japan. Climbing is supposed to be a purifying experience, whereby the climber is ... um... made clean by virtue of the effort expended. Personally, I was actually made dirtier and sweatier, but I can say that I felt much better about being sweaty and dirty than I usually do when in that state.

In any case, the apex of the climbing experience is seeing the sunrise from the top of the mountain.

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And my oh my...what a sight it is.

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Maybe it's the extra UV rays that do the purification.

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Quite possibly the most beautiful and glorious sunrise I have ever seen in my life. It's all about perspective, I suppose. There's nothing out there quite like hiking yourself above the clouds just to enjoy the view.

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The face of Fuji that I saw through my eyes was considerably different than the reality that most people experience, expect or fear. For myself and four earstwhile adventurers, "Fooge" (it rhymes with "Huge" or "Splooge") begins both much lower in elevation. In fact, the Fooge experience begins right down near sea level, where you have a wonderful chance to collect the supplies that are needed to climb a mountain. Shopping is always a bit wacky in Tokyo, and actually shopping for specific and essential goods adds a whole new layer of crazy to the usual plan of "go some place and wander until you find something that amuses you as much as the thing you had originally planned to buy".

For example, the way you say "bottled oxygen" in Japanese is to hold your hand in front of your face with your fingers apart and pant heavily into your palm until the sales clerk clues in. The sales clerks at the Tokyu Hands department store can have a hard time with Foreigner Charades (aka "Survival Japanese") because...along with Hiking/Sports Oxygen packs, Tokyo Hands sells just about everything else on earth. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the people on earth (eg, all the people in Japan) know this.

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When you climb Fooge, (after properly equipping yourself with 12kg of shit to haul up there), you can head for the mountain. After a lovely bus ride takes you to base of the mountain, the next step is to do absolutely nothing, as the bus barely slows down at the base, and keeps going up...up...halfway up the mountain. Much like installing cable cars and pirate ships to help people enjoy the lovely scenery in Hakone, the Japanese have no problem combining authentic natural experiences with authentically paved roads. The view along the way was rather nice, but the last chance at sleep was too tempting for most to pass up.

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After about two hours, the bus arrived at a series of gift shops and restaurants that serve as the base camp. These were also thoughtfully closed. WTF?

Anyway, if you are ever climbing Fooge and the base camp restaurants are closed, do NOT purchase either of the following room temperature foods in the gift shop:

1) Strange Bitter Shit that looks like Stew. It's not stew. It's strange, bitter and tastes like shit.
2) Apricots that taste really good, but will drastically shorten the time between bathroom breaks for two of your team members.

We set off from base camp around 9 pm, thinking that we'd make our way leisurely to the top for sunrise at around 4:30. You see, if you want to make it to the top of the mountain by sunrise, you have to climb at night. Thus, armed with headlamps, peanut butter sandwiches, walking sticks and a lot of potty humour, we set off confidently into the wild black yonder...

...and promptly got lost.

In a turn of events that in no way indicates our collective intellect, we managed to get confused and lose our way at the first fork in the road. It wasn't until we'd accosted some very sweaty and very tired people heading the opposite direction that we could continue in the knowledge that we were, indeed, headed for the top of the mountain.

The way up looked something like this...

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Beautiful, isn't it?


Hold it right there, folks! It's time to hear from one of our supporters!

Ok, dear reader! You please select Door #1 or Door #2!


Door #2 you say?

well.... behind Door #2 is....

DOOR #1 Wow! Choose again!

What? You'll take Door #1?

Behind Door #1 is a special offer from our sponsor!


Wow! Fancy that.


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hey! Look Over There!


Me: Fuji post? What? It's been HOW long? Look... I'm really sorry... I'll put it up tomorrow. you see...I've been kind of busy and I wanted to excer...
ME: Ok...shut up. Just do it. And...
Me: ...yes?
ME: You'd better not shit the bed on this one.
Me: I won't. I promise. And I'll try not to oversell it with a huge buildup either.
ME: It's a bit late for that. Just get it done, ok?
Me: Ok! I....I won't fail me again, I promise!
ME: Good. Now get out of my site.



um....hello. when did you guys get here... nice..uh...browser... er...



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er...what should we do about it, you say?


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Ok? Satisfied? I mean...come ON. The melon comes with pink plastic camels and a sphynx sticker, for goodness sakes!!!!

Isn't that enough!?!?



What? You're still here?

Well..... how about a joke, then.

So... this guy walks into a hollywood talent agent's place, and says "Boy, have I got an act for you... it's a family act, you see... with my wife, and my kids...and my dog...."


1) "Site" is not a typo but rather a weak joke. (website)
2) The closing line is the opening line from a famous joke called The Aristocrats. Click if you have a good mind for disturbingly foul humour.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Posting is thirsty work

I'm still bashing away at a post about climbing fuji, but I wanted to take a quick break for a nice cool drink.

A nice can of bottled water.
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mmmmm... that's refreshing.
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Sweet Japan, you always quench my thirst.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Smile

What was I smiling at?


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Things that rock:

1) Planet Earth

2) Sunrise

3) Hauling your sorry, moderately rotund ass up to 3776 metres above sea level to the top of a mountain to really appreciate #1 and #2.

As you may have guessed, I climbed Mt. Fuji last weekend. It was glorious, challenging and most of all very, very typically Japanese. I'll talk your eyes off about it soon enough. For now, enjoy some sweet pics.

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