: With Deepest Sympathy :

An Open Letter To Musubi-chan

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your husband, Onigiriman… The last time I saw him he was happily talking about your summer trips and his life in the 70s. It was such a pleasure to see him so enthusiastic about his married life and about issues that are universal to many Japanese/Asian Americans. But now we only have the memories, as we have now lost him to a greater purpose. He is no longer of this world, but resides peacefully in a better, more meaningful place, his own personal skybox, as it were, populated by the ghosts of other college football junkies and sponsored by the likes of Budweiser and Doritos (no, Mr. Quayle, there is no “E” in Doritos). 


Yes, I know, it is hard to believe that he is gone. There he lies in front of the TV in his favorite position, on his right side, head propped up on his right elbow and a can of beer in his left hand. I have notices others drop by and comment, “He looks so lifelike.” Indeed, I too, thought he was alive with his occasional burps, grunts, and trips to the bathroom. But I new he was in his special place when I saw him surfing with his remoted control and EVERY channel had a football game on… May he rest in peace…


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Hah! Just kidding, people. Yes, I’m more or less dead to the rest of the world when football season starts, but only on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays and Monday nights and Thusday nights)… Yes, I’m a jerk for isolating myself for these few hours on these 14 Saturdays of the year; but it’s the only real vice that lingers from my youth: I have forsaken other sports such as baseball and basketball, I no longer smoke (both), I drive within the speed limit, I help around the house, I take showers regularly. NOTE: Drinking does not count because Musubi-chan and I indulge equally; and, of course, if she was interested in football, we’d have lots to talk about…


Go Bruins! 

: With Deepest Sympathy :

An Open Letter To Musubi-chan

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your husband, Onigiriman… The last time I saw him he was happily talking about your summer trips and his life in the 70s. It was such a pleasure to see him so enthusiastic about his married life and about issues that are universal to many Japanese/Asian Americans. But now we only have the memories, as we have now lost him to a greater purpose. He is no longer of this world, but resides peacefully in a better, more meaningful place, his own personal skybox, as it were, populated by the ghosts of other college football junkies and sponsored by the likes of Budweiser and Doritos (no, Mr. Quayle, there is no “E” in Doritos). 

Yes, I know, it is hard to believe that he is gone. There he lies in front of the TV in his favorite position, on his right side, head propped up on his right elbow and a can of beer in his left hand. I have notices others drop by and comment, “He looks so lifelike.” Indeed, I too, thought he was alive with his occasional burps, grunts, and trips to the bathroom. But I new he was in his special place when I saw him surfing with his remoted control and EVERY channel had a football game on… May he rest in peace…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hah! Just kidding, people. Yes, I’m more or less dead to the rest of the world when football season starts, but only on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays and Monday nights and Thusday nights)… Yes, I’m a jerk for isolating myself for these few hours on these 14 Saturdays of the year; but it’s the only real vice that lingers from my youth: I have forsaken other sports such as baseball and basketball, I no longer smoke (both), I drive within the speed limit, I help around the house, I take showers regularly. NOTE: Drinking does not count because Musubi-chan and I indulge equally; and, of course, if she was interested in football, we’d have lots to talk about…

Go Bruins! 

Are you ready for some football?!?

Sorry, don’t mean to bore anyone, but I get the impression that there are few football fans out there… Well I love it. A few games have already been plyed–San Jose State v. Grambling, Maryland v. No. Illinois–but the season really startes today. I got ESPN Gameplan which will be broadcasting over a hundred games over the season. I also have FoxSports package, which will broadcasts the local games ABC/ESPN will not carry. So I’m set until New Years. I made the mistake of explaining to Musubi-chan what a football widow is… now she uses it all the time to explain her…

Onigiriman to star in new animation; Storyline, details murky 
Just  kidding… sorta. Piratechan, a budding animation artist at a university known for being “Most Tech Savvy”–see Newsweek article–sought and received from her professor’s permission to do a story on–get this–the O-Man. Its a class assignment, I think, so she’s pretty free to do almost anything she wants… I hope! The more creative, the better. Cutting edge, man! Technically and creatively! The prof set down some guidelines, like linking it to her life and making it more universal… whatever that means… But even if it turns into something completely different, I’m still totally flattered…

Are you ready for some football?!?

Sorry, don’t mean to bore anyone, but I get the impression that there are few football fans out there… Well I love it. A few games have already been plyed–San Jose State v. Grambling, Maryland v. No. Illinois–but the season really startes today. I got ESPN Gameplan which will be broadcasting over a hundred games over the season. I also have FoxSports package, which will broadcasts the local games ABC/ESPN will not carry. So I’m set until New Years. I made the mistake of explaining to Musubi-chan what a football widow is… now she uses it all the time to explain her…

Onigiriman to star in new animation; Storyline, details murky 
Just  kidding… sorta. Piratechan, a budding animation artist at a university known for being “Most Tech Savvy”–see Newsweek article–sought and received from her professor’s permission to do a story on–get this–the O-Man. Its a class assignment, I think, so she’s pretty free to do almost anything she wants… I hope! The more creative, the better. Cutting edge, man! Technically and creatively! The prof set down some guidelines, like linking it to her life and making it more universal… whatever that means… But even if it turns into something completely different, I’m still totally flattered…

: What I did this summer 2 :

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA
Besides Colonial Williamsburg, and we also went to Busch Gardens, whos parent company is Anheiser-Busch, the makers of that world famous king of beers…
Budweiser.


As you can imagine, Musubi-chan and I had to stop off at an Irish pub and partake in this local brew… It was such a hot day, we drank the first cup in no time flat. Musubi-chan told me to wait, as she was going to get some more… I protested, but she scowled, reminding me of the stocks from the previous day… So as an obedient (read: cowering) husband, I waited.

At the bar, she chatted up the bartender. Apparently, he actually IS from Ireland! Imagine that, I thought…


…as I heard them talking, I waited……

Musubi-chan decided to step out on her own and get some fresh air. She walked through the Italy section to see a Roman Show.

The show was actually pretty good, singing such standards as “O Solo Mio” and “Volare”.

They had some good singers and the band was first rate, better than D-Land, and certainly better than Onigiriman, according to Musubi-chan. And so as she enjoyed this Holiday in Roma…


Recalling my hours in the stocks fromt he day before, I continued to wait patiaently…

After the show, Musubi-chan wandered about a bit more and found herself in the French Quarters where they stage a show called Imaginique, with mimes, magicians, jugglers and dancers.

Before the show, “Imaginaires,” costumed performers known for their imaginative display of skill, interact with guests on the streets of the French hamlet, providing comic relief. As expected, Musubi-chan clowns around…

Of course, Musubi-chan being Musubi-chan, her nose led her to that most famous of beer festivals… Oktoberfest.

Busch Garden has a huge building that houses a center stage and lots of long benches where you can enjoy a variety of sausages, one of Musubi-chan‘s favorites saurkraut, and Musubi-chan‘s all-time favorite… BEER. Busch advertises this place as “high-energy oompah song and dance will have you dancing up a German storm.”

And as you can see, Musubi-chan did just that, dancing to German Polkas at Oktoberfest, while…


“I’m thirsty…”

: What I did this summer 2 :

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA
Besides Colonial Williamsburg, and we also went to Busch Gardens, whos parent company is Anheiser-Busch, the makers of that world famous king of beers…
Budweiser.


As you can imagine, Musubi-chan and I had to stop off at an Irish pub and partake in this local brew… It was such a hot day, we drank the first cup in no time flat. Musubi-chan told me to wait, as she was going to get some more… I protested, but she scowled, reminding me of the stocks from the previous day… So as an obedient (read: cowering) husband, I waited.

At the bar, she chatted up the bartender. Apparently, he actually IS from Ireland! Imagine that, I thought…


…as I heard them talking, I waited……

Musubi-chan decided to step out on her own and get some fresh air. She walked through the Italy section to see a Roman Show.

The show was actually pretty good, singing such standards as “O Solo Mio” and “Volare”.

They had some good singers and the band was first rate, better than D-Land, and certainly better than Onigiriman, according to Musubi-chan. And so as she enjoyed this Holiday in Roma…


Recalling my hours in the stocks fromt he day before, I continued to wait patiaently…

After the show, Musubi-chan wandered about a bit more and found herself in the French Quarters where they stage a show called Imaginique, with mimes, magicians, jugglers and dancers.

Before the show, “Imaginaires,” costumed performers known for their imaginative display of skill, interact with guests on the streets of the French hamlet, providing comic relief. As expected, Musubi-chan clowns around…

Of course, Musubi-chan being Musubi-chan, her nose led her to that most famous of beer festivals… Oktoberfest.

Busch Garden has a huge building that houses a center stage and lots of long benches where you can enjoy a variety of sausages, one of Musubi-chan‘s favorites saurkraut, and Musubi-chan‘s all-time favorite… BEER. Busch advertises this place as “high-energy oompah song and dance will have you dancing up a German storm.”

And as you can see, Musubi-chan did just that, dancing to German Polkas at Oktoberfest, while…


“I’m thirsty…”

: What I did this summer 1 :

Williamsburg, VA
Over the 4th of July weekend, we went to Colonial Williamsburg, and I thought I’d share a few random photos. Williamsburg is about 120 miles south of here. The drive was not so long in terms of miles, but the traffic, especially around Fredericksburg was horrendous. But we got there safely and at least one of us enjoyed out stay…

Musubi-chan playing around with a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg. This is, in general, one street about four New York blocks long. They have a number of retail stores for souvenir hunters like us, as well as colonial demonstrations of bootmaking, hat stitching and the fife and drum group.

These guys were suprizingly good… and I think they were all 20 years or younger. At least they sure looked young to me…

Musubi-chan (thanks Matt) with a couple of really old people

Another “attraction” was The Governor’s Mansion where former governors, including Thomas Jefferson, made their residence. It was restored recently and they did such a good job that it looked very nice–even the people populating the mansion looked rather good, as usual Musubi-chan was quick to make new friends.

At this point, you may–or may not–be wondering where Onigiriman is. Taking all these wonderful the photos? Fat chance. Musubi-chan was pretty pissed off at me… She said, in her most commanding voice, “Be up and ready to go at 9AM,” but of course I NEVER listen–I’m a night person; being ready by 9 requires me to be up around what? 7 o’clock? 8? Forget it! Well, in our house, there is a price to pay for not obeying the edicts of the mistress…
Musubi-chan warned me, and I did not heed…
so this is what I get….


Musubi-chan tricked me into taking a snapshot in the stocks, but after taking the photo, she left me hanging , literally… for a few hours….

 Personally, I think a simple shiri pen-pen would have been sufficient… and more pleasurable… Just kidding!

: What I did this summer 1 :

Williamsburg, VA
Over the 4th of July weekend, we went to Colonial Williamsburg, and I thought I’d share a few random photos. Williamsburg is about 120 miles south of here. The drive was not so long in terms of miles, but the traffic, especially around Fredericksburg was horrendous. But we got there safely and at least one of us enjoyed out stay…

Musubi-chan playing around with a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg. This is, in general, one street about four New York blocks long. They have a number of retail stores for souvenir hunters like us, as well as colonial demonstrations of bootmaking, hat stitching and the fife and drum group.

These guys were suprizingly good… and I think they were all 20 years or younger. At least they sure looked young to me…

Musubi-chan (thanks Matt) with a couple of really old people

Another “attraction” was The Governor’s Mansion where former governors, including Thomas Jefferson, made their residence. It was restored recently and they did such a good job that it looked very nice–even the people populating the mansion looked rather good, as usual Musubi-chan was quick to make new friends.

At this point, you may–or may not–be wondering where Onigiriman is. Taking all these wonderful the photos? Fat chance. Musubi-chan was pretty pissed off at me… She said, in her most commanding voice, “Be up and ready to go at 9AM,” but of course I NEVER listen–I’m a night person; being ready by 9 requires me to be up around what? 7 o’clock? 8? Forget it! Well, in our house, there is a price to pay for not obeying the edicts of the mistress…
Musubi-chan warned me, and I did not heed…
so this is what I get….

Musubi-chan tricked me into taking a snapshot in the stocks, but after taking the photo, she left me hanging , literally… for a few hours….

 Personally, I think a simple shiri pen-pen would have been sufficient… and more pleasurable… Just kidding!

: Summer Ends :

I know what I did this summer… I think

As I roam Xanga aimlessly and read the entries of others, I see that almost everyone is going back to school… and that includes me. I have a few more hours of relative freedom before summer comes to a close, and I will enjoy it with a song that reminds me of the summer before I went up to No. California to do my graduate studies… I spent the summer of ’86 in Japan, my last one as a true bachelor (as opposed to a divorced one). But before you think the worst, let me tell you I went to work part-time editing a catalog of Japanese universities for AIEJ, and spent my time on the train listening to Skipped Beat by The Kuwata Band…

: Allergies : Ragweed sucks major.

Yeah, ragweed really sucks. And I think I’m having a bad reaction to Claretin… My face starts to get numb, not a lot, but noticeably so. I thought it was something I ate, but I have not had any of the tell-tale GI track symptoms and more its been giving me a buzz for the past three days now, so its probably not the food. Its supposed to be a non-drowsy formula, so its kinda scary. I think I’ll forego my pill today, even though weather.com has forecast the
pollen index at 10.4

I’d stay at home, but I have a meeting at school… I must protect myself with what Masumi called my “Bosozoku” look, and suffer the stares and occasional questions from non-sufferers…


Not Living Up to Expectation
Installment seven. Originally posted on the JAJournal Saturday, August 23, 2003


I get in my car–did I mention its a midnight blue ’73 Chevy Camaro?–and drive the five minutes it takes for me to get there. I walk into the dark bar on this late-afternoon Sunday. The restaurant didn’t open until 6, but James an T are sitting at the bar, as the employees run around getting ready for business.

“N-san is on a business trip and can’t make it to the contest. I want you to represent the restaurant,” T said matter-of-factly.

“Huh? What happened?”

“The TV people were going to replace N-san with someone else, but I told them the replacement had to come from this establishment. And I want you.”

“Really.” I said, not knowing what else to say. It took a few minutes before what she said actually sunk in. “So what am I supposed to do?”

“Practice,” T replied.

And I did. Everynight for two weeks. The pianist at the bar, K, suggested I forget “Futari de osake wo” and sing another Asuza Michiyo song called “Melancholy.” I didn’t know the song and was hesitant at first, but relented after she convinced me that a newer song sung by fewer people at piano bars would have a greaster impact. I had to admit that “Futari” was a popular–and hence, tired–song at piano bars. But this also meant that I had to memorize the lyrics of a song I barely knew…

On the night of the contest, I was nervous as heck. I went to the contest with my sister, two high-school friends and one drinking buddy. My parents were somewhere in the Grand Canyon–“Do you think you really have a chance?” my dad chortled as he left the day before. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see my uncle and two aunts there in the audience, as well as two ladies from the retail shop of the sweetshop.

The contest was held in the hall of Koyasan Temple in the middle of J-Town. When I got there, I found out I was 29th out of 32 contestants. My friends and sister entered the hall and I went backstage to wait my turn. The first few singers were pretty good, nothing spectacular, but passable. The thing that got me though was the fact that each contestant was on stage for a long time. It took thirty minutes to get through the first 4 to 5 singers, meaning it would take another hour and a half before I was called on stage. Nervous to begin with, the waiting made me all the more so. I went out the side door and headed toward a local sushi bar in Japanese Village Plaza. It had a small service bar where maybe four people could sit. Jim, the bartender, served me a couple of Cuttys as I played the lyrics in my head over and over.

Mickey CurtisAfter three belts, I returned to Koyasan Hall, no less nervous, but perhaps a bit braver. I went on stage on cue and sang “Melancholy”. I’m not sure if my experience with the band had anything to do with it, but once on stage I sang and walked around and always kept my eyes on the audience, looking at the judges–which included Mickey Curtis, (fading) star of film and music–looking toward the back of the hall, to the sides, trying to make eye contact, even though I couldn’t see anyone beyond the second row. It was like old times, sorta. I wasn’t sitting at the piano, but I was center stage… What a ham, my friends would tell me later, but at that moment, I was totally relaxed and confident.

After the requisite interview–Yes, I’m sansei. Yes, I work at the M sweetshop where I learned Japanese–I went off stage. I found one of the producers who informed me that after the last contestant, the judges would deliberate for a while and then announce the winner. I stepped outside to grab a smoke and found some of my friends out there, incuding JI. She told me that she thought I would win. The people she was with said the same thing. They thought I had a stage presence that the others lacked–yeah, Onigiriman, you looked like you’ve been there before.

I became nervous all over again, but with a different sense of anticipation. Did I sing that well? Did I nail it?

They announced that the judges had made their decision and we were to gather on stage. With great anticipation, I waited eagerly as they announced the names of the winners in reverse order. 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd…

“And 1st place goes to Sam F.”

I was stunned. I mean, I felt pretty good on stage, but everyone else also told me I performed well. Shit! I didn’t even place in the top five. I should have known better. I should have just ignored all these idiots and focused on selecting the proper courses to take at the community college. I mean, seriously, what am I doing here?!?






Photographic Evidence
Yes, that’s me in the center. Is this not the face of someone who is completely surprised?!?
I looked around the stage. Which is the fastest way off. I’m sure there’s an exit behind that curtain… When suddenly everyone applauds and cheers. I hear my name and some one grabs my arm and pulls me to the front. What’s happening?

“….plause for this year’s Grand Champion, Onigiriman, who sang….”

I was stunned. I thought I lost and was looking for a way off the stage. It never occured to me that Grand Champion did not equal first place? What? Oh, yeah, the prize.

“…a round trip ticket to Tokyo, Japan…”

Will someone please pinch me?

End of installment seven….

: Summer Ends :

I know what I did this summer… I think

As I roam Xanga aimlessly and read the entries of others, I see that almost everyone is going back to school… and that includes me. I have a few more hours of relative freedom before summer comes to a close, and I will enjoy it with a song that reminds me of the summer before I went up to No. California to do my graduate studies… I spent the summer of ’86 in Japan, my last one as a true bachelor (as opposed to a divorced one). But before you think the worst, let me tell you I went to work part-time editing a catalog of Japanese universities for AIEJ, and spent my time on the train listening to Skipped Beat by The Kuwata Band…

: Allergies : Ragweed sucks major.

Yeah, ragweed really sucks. And I think I’m having a bad reaction to Claretin… My face starts to get numb, not a lot, but noticeably so. I thought it was something I ate, but I have not had any of the tell-tale GI track symptoms and more its been giving me a buzz for the past three days now, so its probably not the food. Its supposed to be a non-drowsy formula, so its kinda scary. I think I’ll forego my pill today, even though weather.com has forecast the

pollen index at 10.4

I’d stay at home, but I have a meeting at school… I must protect myself with what Masumi called my “Bosozoku” look, and suffer the stares and occasional questions from non-sufferers…

Not Living Up to Expectation
Installment seven. Originally posted on the JAJournal Saturday, August 23, 2003

I get in my car–did I mention its a midnight blue ’73 Chevy Camaro?–and drive the five minutes it takes for me to get there. I walk into the dark bar on this late-afternoon Sunday. The restaurant didn’t open until 6, but James an T are sitting at the bar, as the employees run around getting ready for business.

“N-san is on a business trip and can’t make it to the contest. I want you to represent the restaurant,” T said matter-of-factly.

“Huh? What happened?”

“The TV people were going to replace N-san with someone else, but I told them the replacement had to come from this establishment. And I want you.”

“Really.” I said, not knowing what else to say. It took a few minutes before what she said actually sunk in. “So what am I supposed to do?”

“Practice,” T replied.

And I did. Everynight for two weeks. The pianist at the bar, K, suggested I forget “Futari de osake wo” and sing another Asuza Michiyo song called “Melancholy.” I didn’t know the song and was hesitant at first, but relented after she convinced me that a newer song sung by fewer people at piano bars would have a greaster impact. I had to admit that “Futari” was a popular–and hence, tired–song at piano bars. But this also meant that I had to memorize the lyrics of a song I barely knew…

On the night of the contest, I was nervous as heck. I went to the contest with my sister, two high-school friends and one drinking buddy. My parents were somewhere in the Grand Canyon–“Do you think you really have a chance?” my dad chortled as he left the day before. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see my uncle and two aunts there in the audience, as well as two ladies from the retail shop of the sweetshop.

The contest was held in the hall of Koyasan Temple in the middle of J-Town. When I got there, I found out I was 29th out of 32 contestants. My friends and sister entered the hall and I went backstage to wait my turn. The first few singers were pretty good, nothing spectacular, but passable. The thing that got me though was the fact that each contestant was on stage for a long time. It took thirty minutes to get through the first 4 to 5 singers, meaning it would take another hour and a half before I was called on stage. Nervous to begin with, the waiting made me all the more so. I went out the side door and headed toward a local sushi bar in Japanese Village Plaza. It had a small service bar where maybe four people could sit. Jim, the bartender, served me a couple of Cuttys as I played the lyrics in my head over and over.

Mickey CurtisAfter three belts, I returned to Koyasan Hall, no less nervous, but perhaps a bit braver. I went on stage on cue and sang “Melancholy”. I’m not sure if my experience with the band had anything to do with it, but once on stage I sang and walked around and always kept my eyes on the audience, looking at the judges–which included Mickey Curtis, (fading) star of film and music–looking toward the back of the hall, to the sides, trying to make eye contact, even though I couldn’t see anyone beyond the second row. It was like old times, sorta. I wasn’t sitting at the piano, but I was center stage… What a ham, my friends would tell me later, but at that moment, I was totally relaxed and confident.

After the requisite interview–Yes, I’m sansei. Yes, I work at the M sweetshop where I learned Japanese–I went off stage. I found one of the producers who informed me that after the last contestant, the judges would deliberate for a while and then announce the winner. I stepped outside to grab a smoke and found some of my friends out there, incuding JI. She told me that she thought I would win. The people she was with said the same thing. They thought I had a stage presence that the others lacked–yeah, Onigiriman, you looked like you’ve been there before.

I became nervous all over again, but with a different sense of anticipation. Did I sing that well? Did I nail it?

They announced that the judges had made their decision and we were to gather on stage. With great anticipation, I waited eagerly as they announced the names of the winners in reverse order. 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd…

“And 1st place goes to Sam F.”

I was stunned. I mean, I felt pretty good on stage, but everyone else also told me I performed well. Shit! I didn’t even place in the top five. I should have known better. I should have just ignored all these idiots and focused on selecting the proper courses to take at the community college. I mean, seriously, what am I doing here?!?


Photographic Evidence
Yes, that’s me in the center. Is this not the face of someone who is completely surprised?!?

I looked around the stage. Which is the fastest way off. I’m sure there’s an exit behind that curtain… When suddenly everyone applauds and cheers. I hear my name and some one grabs my arm and pulls me to the front. What’s happening?

“….plause for this year’s Grand Champion, Onigiriman, who sang….”

I was stunned. I thought I lost and was looking for a way off the stage. It never occured to me that Grand Champion did not equal first place? What? Oh, yeah, the prize.

“…a round trip ticket to Tokyo, Japan…”

Will someone please pinch me?

End of installment seven….