Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Sunday, 12/7

AKA The Day We Slept In.

Royanne’s apartment was as quiet as a university chapel on a Sunday morning, and we slept and slept and slept.

When I did finally get up, it was only to spend a brief moment gawking at their high-function toilet.  What does the button labeled “Emergency” do, I wondered: Call the police or the ambulance: which is a more likely potty emergency?

I heard banging and investigated. Steve was sneaking boxes of wine into his wine room while Royanne was out.  I told him I knew Susie did the same thing with yarn.

Susie and I did finally go out, looking for a restaurant that served curry.  Our Google Maps research let us down—it was only an Indian curry restaurant, or so it appeared, so we wandered on.

Susie was in an extremely fragile mood: when I suggested we try the grilled fish restaurant instead, she choked back tears.  Now, I’m as sensitive and observant as the next guy, so I soon figured out that fish was not the true cause of her upset.

No, in fact, it was just that she was feeling overwhelmed by the total volume and density of oddness that Japan holds.  Too many signs that she couldn’t read, too many menu items she didn’t understand.  We walked around, looking for a restaurant that seemed easy and familiar, and ended up back on the main street of Ginza that we’d been to on Day 2.

It was shut down except for pedestrians, full to both sides with approximately 237,331 people and their kids out christmas shopping.  Up ahead, on the left, past the Apple store, was a place that seemed to call to Susie: A fake German beer hall.

So we went in, had a beer stein, some pretzels, some pickles and potato chips and fried chicken balls and (as our one nod to Japaneseness) a 9” grilled squid sliced into bands.  The Japanese girls dressed in lederhosen were an especially surreal touch; they could have used about triple the bosom to be accurate German fraus.

It seemed to help Susie at first—substituting a bizarre culture we understood for one we didn’t—but by the end of the meal, she was ready to head back to the apartment, and I wanted to soak in Tokyo a little more. We decided to split up.

I wandered the streets looking for trouble, but the closest I found was a small, seedy sign that said “4F Internet comics cafe” which is as close to a sign saying “Hey Travis Come In Here Now” as I could imagine.

Just going in the door cost Y500 / hour—which either gets you a seat at a computer, or you could stand and read all the unwrapped manga comics you wanted.  They had every volume of every series—or so it seemed to me—and it was a much better rate than buying manga yourself.  The titles ranged from gangster stories to soldier stories to school girls arguing over a boy, to school boys arguing over a girl, to little round pets in top suits getting into trouble at the office.

There was manga about car racing, and manga about elves, and, drum-roll please, manga about wonderful and abhorent sexual acts.

I spent a little time doing research on that last topic there, and it turns out that:
* Japanese people are pretty good at drawing wet naked women

* The difference between the way women in Japanese comics act and the way women on the street in Japan act, is like the difference between seeing a drunk, horny Jennifer Aniston in a strip club, and seeing Condaleeza Rice testifying in Congress.

* That said, Japanese women are especially likely to have sex with you if they happen to be wearing a white shirt and a short pleated skirt, or if they live in your building, or if you have short spiky hair and a sweater on.

* Japanese people are much more creative in their porn than Americans are.  For example, I’ve never seen American porn that involves a half-fox, half-human woman having sex with a police officer while tied to an airplane seat

* Japanese artists will very often place speech balloons in views I would have thought should be left uncovered lest the paying customer become upset. These careless artists will also sometimes forget to draw genitals accurately, choosing instead to draw “action lines” or white rectangles, or simply Ken/Barbie style crotchal areas.

* Surprisingly, while every other genre seems to have a continuum of sex in the stories, from very little to very much, I found very little crossover between science-fiction and porn.

Theory 1: geeks don’t want sex to get in the way of their sci-fi.

Theory 2: geeks are smart enough to realize that every panel that explains about how the aliens are attacking is one less panel that shows a girl in a (space) bed.

After my research was complete (i.e. when I’d used up the minimum 30-minute charge at the comic store), I headed out for a coffee and got ready to head back to Royanne’s place for a home-cooked (or at least home-served) meal.

* * *

Dinner was an amazing balance of too many/much lamb chops in a sweet glaze on the one hand, and too much Japanese roast beef, cooked rare and thickly sliced on the other.  In between were goat cheese and bacon potato salad, and green veggies of the snow pea / Chinese stalky thing variety.  All was super good, and Steve cracked open three bottles of delicious wines to complement the meal. I was underable to appreciate the wine, but they were all spectacular.

I went to bed after the meal wound down, but Steve and Susie ended up talking for a long time, sitting in Royanne’s stellar living room.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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