Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ball in Japan: The G Suns, not the おじさんs


When I first came to Japan, I really didn't ball for maybe 6 months, other than once or twice every two weeks with the kids. I was bigger than them, so I couldn't really hit the post as hard as I wanted to. Couple that with my unnoticed but almost unbelievable loss of shape, (undoubtedly due to the abundance of two things that I had never had enough of: money, and beer), and I was in trouble. There is no such thing as pickup ball in Japan. Let me repeat...there is No Such Thing. This was especially troubling for me, only ever having played pickup ball my whole life. I talked to the coach at my school, and he introduced me to a club team in my area. That club team turned out to be the G Suns, or Glowing Suns. Here are the founders:

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(In the beginning, I'm like, 'This is the G Suns', but I say it wrong and it sounds like Ojisans, which means old men. My teammate is like, that's not what it is. I then ask how long have they been running the team, and they said over ten years.)

When I first started going to the G Suns' practices, I spoke Japanese, but in an effort not to sound dumb, I rarely spoke. It was pretty cool though, because for a while our main form of communication was ball. I've found that's how you make your friends. You can tell a lot about someone from the way they ball.

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These guys are more relaxed than the other team I play with, the Hailars. All of them are really nice guys, although they are a little rough on me at times. They refuse to try and speak English. "お前のために日本語喋ってるやん、いい勉強になるやろう?" (For your ass we are speakin' Japanese, you better study!).

Overall, practice is the shit. Everyone watches every game, so if you pull something nice off, you get hooked up. At the same time though, if you do something dumb, you get the catcalls. It's a nice little atmosphere.

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(Here's a dude I had trouble guarding when I got here, the dude who hits that J in the beginning of the clip. This dude's J is, can't even describe it. Cash, Milk, Money, Splash, Bottoms - all that. You can hear it too, it's just common sense that he's gonna score, no one cheers or anything. If he's open, it's a layup, from wherever. And he is real good at getting his shot off, from whatever position. I take pride in my ability to block J's, so I've spent a lot of time guarding him, and he's definitely helped my game. He's also the captain of that other team I go to.)

So, yups.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Further Away You Are...

...the easier it is to see the other side.

I've just finished doing my Christmas classes this semester, and it's been really interesting to see how much, or rather how little, the kids here know about Christmas. Obviously, in the western world, Christmas is huge. I won't even try to describe it. As a kid, along with everyone else, I would get ridiculously excited about Christmas, get the Christmas spirit, everything. That whole month of December would just be awesome. I think a big part of why that is is because Everyone is involved, Everyone thinks the same thing.

Everyone in the western world, that is.

It's been really interesting to see that there are things that get people riled up in the same way, but just have nothing to do with things that we care about. Conversely, the things that get us riled up have no effect on other people. No one in Japan, (can't say no one, some people do), really cares that Jesus Christ was born in December, it didn't affect them. No one in America really cares about the various Gods that the Japanese festivals are dedicated to. It has no effect on them. It's such a cool experience to see things from both sides. To look at Christmas from the Japanese perspective, as a whole. It seems so easy to write off as something that isn't important, fat white guy giving presents, Jesus birthday, how are those two things connected? Doesn't make sense. Oppositely, looking at Japanese holidays, big floats, chants, doesn't make sense. The thing that does make sense is that Everyone is involved, Everyone believes in the same thing. And that has been the most interesting thing to me. If you and Everyone believe in the same thing, it lights something in you. Community, faith, something...can't really explain it.

The depressing part is the level to which this feeling is taken to. When you try to explain Christmas to someone who hasn't experienced it or understands how it came about, it doesn't get through. When someone tries to explain どんたく to someone who hasn't experienced or understands how it came about, it doesn't get through.

I'm always tinkering with that phrase in my head, 'Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything'. That has been my problem. Belief is such a powerful force. People really into their own causes, own religions, I've always looked at them two different ways, at the same time: pity, that everything they believe is focused through one prism, one way of thinking, that a filter is placed on the very root of every idea they have; and envy, because they have the bravery to do so.

That's the big question I've been messing around with recently: What do you stand for? What is the thing you pour yourself into, that you can stand up and proclaim? I'm comfortable with the fact that I can see both sides, but not comfortable with the fact that I can't feel either.

Merry Happy Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ball in Japan: The Golden Stars of Itoshima

It's the end of the semester, so we have some half days before the real winter vacation. This is great for me, because I can hook up with the kids and play ball at work. Excellent situation. Anyways, I'm always talking about how good my kids are, so I wanted to give a first hand account of what a practice is like at our school.

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When it came time to say how he was doing, he replied with, 'I'm fine, thank you'. Classic.

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Almost every team in Japan has team managers. They do all the stuff that the team takes for granted. Taking stats from the games, making tea to drink after the games, cleaning the bird shit off the court. These guys are awesome.

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Here's some of the drills the kids do. We have a lot of kids on our team, so it's pretty impressive that every one can stay in tune and not stray away from the team.

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One of our girls got injured pretty seriously and won't be able to play for a couple of months. That doesn't stop her from coming to practice and getting her shots up though.

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The architect of it all, the coach. His English has gotten really good, to the point where I can just speak to him regularly and he'll understand. He is also the one who introduced me to the teams I play for now. I owe a lot to him.

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Here's the end of practice huddle.

It's like this every time I go. Talk about lucky.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sorry for the Absence

My fault. I've been half busy and half lazy, so I'll take half the blame. A lot of stuff has happened, don't know really where to start, but here we go.
  • Got sick.
  • Finished all of my classes for the year.
  • Got better.
  • ...
That's about it. Haven't surfed at all, and haven't really played ball as much as I have been wanting to. Really trying to get all my stuff together for the trip to Germany, and tying up loose ends. Kinda hazy right now, Christmas spirit mixed with Christmas preparation leads to Christmas pressure/haze. So, I'll leave this at this. Here's some video from the other day.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Long Weekend

Broke it down like this:
  • Friday: JET Nabe thing - was pretty fun, didn't really eat too much, but Lena got some really good video that I gotta get from her and put up...Straight MCing.
  • Saturday: Brand New Heavies at Billboard Live with friends, explored Daimyo a little, made some new friends.
  • Sunday: Didn't go surf in the morning (still angry at self), 忘年会 with EN friends and Lena.
Three straight nights of drinking have taken their toll on the throat.

Other than that, just looking forward to getting to Germany for the Christmas break. Haven't been there since I left when I was...11? 12? Gotta lot of stuff planned, can't wait to see those guys. Apparently, my Mom has been hyping me up to all of her friends over there, I'm gonna be the main attraction for a while. Hope I live up to the hype.

Here's some stuff I saw over the weekend, thought it was pretty funny.



"You are now my homeboy." The face at the end of the video is just great.



I used this one cuz it has the KG quote. Awesome.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bored at Work: Awwww...

I'm sure a lot of you saw this on the Yahoo front page the other day, but I gotta put it up here. I was, unexpectedly, affected by it. Started thinking about other videos that hit me like that, here are some of them.



Video speaks for itself.



I was bumbling around on Youtube and found this video...That is the best birthday wake up dance I've ever seen.



The flex at 1:39, I still do that when I get fouled and score on putbacks in the lane.



This one is just awesome. You can see the buffaloes kinda hesitate, but then one of them is just like, no way, this is not happening. Classic.



I watched it again as I was putting it on the blog, and STILL got goosebumps when he said it.



"It's one thing to talk about it, but it's another thing to go out there and do it." This guy is on another level.

I'll end it with that one.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Flow-etry

I love this talk. It takes about twenty minutes, but if you got time, it'll make you think about what makes you 'flow'.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

End of the Year Party: You so nassty

Our school's end of the year party, (忘年会 - translated as the 'forget the year party'), was this past weekend, a little earlier than usual. Here is the basic set up of an end of the year party at my school:
  • Greetings, everyone real quiet and relaxed
  • Vice Principal and Principal give speeches, congratulating everyone on their hard work over the year
  • KANPAI!
  • Usually someone that's not really good at speaking in front of people begins to speak in front of everyone about the game that is to be played tonight and is roundly ignored by the people now hurriedly drinking their beers
  • Bingo (I won a box of Qtips this year)
  • Uncomfortably loud senseis become even more uncomfortably obnoxious, alcohol flows
  • When it becomes time to wrap it up, everyone stands up and...
  • BANZAI!
After the party ends, a lot of people go out to their own drinking places. I always get invited to hang out with the guys who live in my area. Can you imagine how hard it would be to not understand Japanese and be in this conversation?


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I try to take notes at these after parties too, because you get the really good stuff here rather than in everyday life. Here's what I learned from my last one.

  1. 教授 (kyouju) - Professor
  2. 差しでお願いします (sashi de onegaishimasu) - Go head to head, face to face against someone
  3. 鬼の居ぬ間の選択 (oni no inuma no sentaku) - Finally being able to say something when the master of the house has left the room/house
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I don't know how this came up, but as we were drinking and exchanged our knowledge of profanities, this is what happened. (Watch for language!)

Ride to the Station

This past week, we had our annual ALT midyear seminar. It was cool to see people you don't really get to see, and how they interact with their supervisors and stuff. That morning, I, for no reason other than my own curiosity, decided to film the bike ride from my house to the station. Here it is, with dialogue.


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Top of the World Syndrome: A Small Example

I have this theory, and I've had it for a while: Top of the World Syndrome. It's basic principles are, once you have become content with your life, all the parts that make it up, and you are 'on top of the world', something happens which knocks you back into reality. In my life at least, there have been a number of times this has happened. The first time was a little jarring, but I've come to expect it, as it has happened so consistently. Today, I had another small episode with the syndrome.

I rode my bike to school today, in an excellent mood, and was greeted by the baseball team lined up outside the gate, saying 'おはよございます' to everyone that came through. Me, being in the excellent mood that I was in, and with the speed I had achieved from jamming to school (not from a downhill either, on a flat, that's how excellent my mood was), swooped in and gave 'em a 'HOOOOOOooooo Good Morning!!'. They answered back just as heartily. It was a good start.

I put my bike in the bike area and began to walk toward the entrance when I heard two kids call out a big hearty 'Good Mooowwwnnniinnnguu'! I turn around, and two of my boys from the baseball team who were cleaning up the bike area are smiling and waving. I'm feeling good now, so I look at them and, in a loud voice, go, 'WAAAAaaaazzzzaaaaapppp!?!? Goood Morning!!!', shakas all over the place, tongue out, just jamming. Now, in movies and stuff, you usually hear people say 'oof', but I always thought that if I were in a situation where I would need to say 'oof', I wouldn't. It doesn't seem natural. I found it today, that it is, indeed, natural.

Still shakaing and tongue out and looking at my boys, I continued my walk to the front entrance. I can't imagine their horror/excitement, because two steps in front of me was a parked car, right in my path, that isn't usually there. Without warning, I hit my knee on the bumper at a faster than normal speed because I was walking at a trotlike pace, turn just in time to get my elbows up in front of me to stop my face from knocking against the glass, and, still not sure what is happening, let out a 'OOOuuuFFFaaahhh' against this cars' back windshield, head slightly whiplashed. Still disoriented, I look at the car and immediately to the kids I had just said wassup to...and fuckin buuuuusted out laughing. Luckily, it was only the two boys, and not the entire team that saw it, but they t0o busted out laughing.

Top of the World Syndrome...gotta watch out.

Bored at Work: Natsu Matsuri (夏祭り)

This summer, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in our city's annual summer festival, or 夏祭り. It was the first time a foreigner had taken part in it, so it was a pretty cool atmosphere. Me smarting from the small piece of cloth wrenched between my butt, and everyone else wondering why the foreigner was making a funny face the whole time.


This is us, easing out of the cultural center parking lot. It wasn't so heavy at this time, but we hadn't started running yet. Once we got to the main street, the guys in front started chanting, something that sounded like this: yuuushhhhshooooiieeee yuuuusshhhhshooooiiiieeeee. I got into it to, and we started jamming.

It was a pretty heavy float, and the dude standing on it was jumping around and having a good time. I had a funky weight distribution situation, because I was tall but at the front, so I had to stoop a little and run with a slight bend in my back. All in all though, it was awesome. Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life in a Different Country

I got this from FreeDarko, some French television program following Nicholas Batum through his pre-draft workouts. I can't tell you how many times this happened to me when I got to Japan. It's long, so watch from about the 3:02 mark.


Windburn

The first cold water session ended up not being too bad. It was really windy, and kinda all over the place, but it was fun. Wasn't too cold either. I had just gotten my new wetsuit in, and let Keoki use it. As you can see, Keoki didn't exactly fit real nicely.

山口 was jamming as well, using his new 6'6 shortboard he had bought. Here's his pose to show how excited he was. (He actually stole this from a Japanese comedy duo, はんにゃ, I'll throw the video down underneath).



(Quick explanation: It's cleaning time at school. Neither of them want to clean so they decide to play a game, loser does it all by himself. Dude on the right suggests a game, and it goes from there. You should get it from there.)

After surf, jamming. It was pretty fun, but the next day, I had a weird feeling on my face. Keoki told me later on that it was windburn, something I had never had before. Freaky.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Goal

I remember right around when I first started surfing, going all the time with Bryce to Barbers, I met this dude, well didn't actually meet him, I observed him. Me and Bryce used to always see this dude, on like a 9'6 or something like that, just ripping, like he was on a shortboard, busting floaters and cutbacks and whatever. We were just in awe of this dude, so we went up to him and asked him how he was doing it. He showed us how he was using just super small fins, only two of them, so he could get wherever he wanted to on the wave. Real nice dude too, super local but super friendly. Anyways, we start seeing this guy out all the time. Then one day, there was a big south swell, and a lot of people came out to Barbers. On that day, I observed the dude I was talking about earlier, who happened to be that longboard ripper's friend. I saw him and the longboard dude talking when I paddled out, and gave him the shaka. I then proceeded to watch the smoothest surfer I had ever seen. His friend was so mean. He surfed exactly like I wanted to surf. Nothing real fancy, just all about riding. From then on, I've tried to surf like that dude. He surfed a lot like this, Nat Young from Morning of the Earth.



The reason I bring it up is because 山口 and 徳永 are always like, why don't you do maneuvers? While there is one very good reason - I usually just can't - I always tell them I just want to ride, which doesn't really translate into Japanese.

So, today, me and Keoki are gonna head out. It's the first real cold water surf experience for both of us, so we'll see how it goes. The air is like 45 degrees, but the water is closer to 65. I'll try and take pictures if I can. With that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow...

for 5 minutes at least. It was sleet really, but was still surprising.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008


Recharge

A pretty relaxed weekend. Went out with my sensei, Lena and Lauren on Friday, recovered on Saturday, and had a nice surf session with the newly recovered 山口 yesterday. The biggest thing I did this weekend though, was clean. I remember one of the guys on my basketball team, an elementary school PE teacher, telling me what he tells his kids when their stuff is dirty at school - 'If your area is dirty, then your soul () is dirty.' While that may be intended for elementary school students, it does apply to me as well. When you are a dirty dude like me, cleaning is hard to do, much less for nothing in particular. (I clean when girls come over...usually). But after having cleaned up this weekend, I feel a lot better, motivated.

So, from Friday, I had a pretty humbling episode. I spend a lot of time with Lena and 中田先生, but never at the same time. So, when we got together on Friday, the Clint bashing got a little out of control.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bored at Work: In Public?

I have never eaten a booger. The idea is just beyond sick and I can't even imagine doing it. These guys, though, apparently, have no problem with it. I love how they try to hide it too.



See, this one could kinda go either way, could've just been a slip.



This though...I knew a dude when I was in elementary, he would peel off his scabs and eat them. Was Kevin Durant like that too? His classmates must be like, 'Oh, that nasty kid from school is doing well now. Feel bad for his teammates though.'



In the middle of the game, god damn...



Totally unacceptable. No mistake here.



Did someone say something to him? What do you do when your congressman eats his boogers? You HAVE to change your vote, don't you?


At that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ball in Japan: We Talkin' Bout Practice!

Practice. These are the guys I practice with every Wednesday night, the Hailars. They are pretty good, but my video of the game is pretty choppy. These are also the guys I talked about here. There wasn't too much of that nonsense tonight, but there was some questionable calls. I guess I'm just getting used to it.

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This is the coach's wife. I asked her to do an interview but she wasn't having it.

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You thought I was lying about the free throws. And Kenji knocks down a J afterwards.

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The boys, after practice.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rasheed Is a Toaster

I got these from Slate Magazine via Truehoop. Frickin' funny.

First, Gilbert:


Now, Sheed:


I don't know how to resize the pictures correctly, if you click on them, there is more to them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pocky Day


Today is November the 11th, 11/11. My co-worker, 中田先生, was amazed that I didn't know today was 'poekey' day. I asked her to say it again, and she said it the exact same way - 'poekey'. I wasn't sure, but I thought maybe she was talking about poke, but to go so far as naming a day after it, I wasn't sure. I showed her the page and she laughed and told me that it wasn't poke, but Pocky, just with a Japanese accent. They look like 1's, and today there are a lot of 1's, so...we started talking about Hawaiian food. She started taking notes. Here's her page after we finished talking.

Hilarious.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Local Boy

Here's a pretty cool article from the advertiser about where Barack used to live in Hawaii. It's pretty cool to think the area that I think I know pretty well, he probably (definitely) knows better. The President!? What a crazy time to be an American.

Weekend Surf: Golden Balls, Good Waves


So, all last week, 山口 was telling me that there was supposed to be waves on the weekend, so I made sure I had nothing to do so I could surf for as long as possible. Seriously, when you want waves and there aren't any, you have to take advantage of when there are waves. So, schedule cleared, me and 山口 hit it on Saturday morning. After a long session of not very good waves, we went home. 山口 and 徳永 were gonna hit it again for an afternoon session, but I passed. I wanted to save my energy for the next day. It was a good thing I did, too, because...

Someone had an accident. The waves were pretty decent size, overhead and breaking in pretty shallow water. Apparently, 山口, on his 7'4, was trying to catch an inside set, and got thrown. The board went out first, hit the ground, and stood straight up. 山口 came right after, and got hit right in the 金玉. He was hurt by it, but he thought he had just knocked himself, and he had a wetsuit on, so there didn't seem to be a problem. He surfed for another hour, until the pain overwhelmed him and he went in. That's when he found that...his 金玉 had been...split. He's fine now, but...DAMN, just thinking about it give me the shivers.

The next day, minus 山口 and plus Keoki and 徳永, we went out and got a bunch of decent waves. Was a nice day, a little windy, but fun. Keoki caught me pigdogging a couple of times, which was embarrassing, but other than that, it was an excellent time.

That's it for now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nagoya: Part 2

The Nagoya crew.

Man, this was a crazy time. The pictures pretty much tell the whole story. Let's get into it.

Here's our raft, startin' out.

Check out this sequence:





These are scary man. A lot more powerful than you think.

At the end of the run, there was a nice cliff that you could jump off. We took the opportunity to do so.

AIt looks like a dive now, but it was a front flip.

Michelle with a more traditional approach.

Roy, spread out backflip.

Nick, with the sick form.

And that was it. We got some beers and hit an onsen once we got back. Awesome time. There were definitely some characters up in Nagoya to be sure, but it was a good listening to some of the stories. Here's a good example of one (don't kill me, Michelle), at a restaurant:
"Oh, did you order a cake? One time, me and my friends? We went to the store? And we bought a big cheesecake! And then? We ate it!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Who I Want To Be When I Grow Up



(1:42) "Got me smilin', I don't smile; Got me changin' my expression, I don't express."