Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Avenging Soy Sauce

I'm sure that all of you have seen this, but I think we need to revisit the Soy Planet:

In case you're wondering what the hell's going on, here's a slightly different version with English subtitles:

I'm not sure if I'm impressed or repulsed by this. Regardless, it makes me wonder about Japanese culture. On the one hand, I wish that all my sauces had superheros to represent them. Ketchup man, Mustard Lad, The Relishinator...

The options are endless. I wonder if Peanut Butter would be a man or a woman.

At any rate, though, Kikkoman seems a little oddly homoerotic. Added to this, there's the strange details:

1. Apparently Kikkoman has a little sauce posse. However, his tendency to put them in harm's way apparently means that he needs to exact revenge for the death of his sauce buddies. Maybe he shouldn't use them as human shields in the first place?

2. Why does Kikkoman wear a huge diaper? Why does he dry-hump that huge flying fish? Why does he have a fish head?

3. Soy sauce clears up acne? Who knew!

4. Making kitty cats commit suicide is NOT COOL!

5. I like soy sauce and all, but I have to draw the line at condiments that have sex with underage-looking female superheroes. I know, I know...I'm a total prude.

Like I said, I've now got an attraction/repulsion thing going on with Japanese culture. I originally thought this was a joke, but my friend John did some digging (actually, he talked to a transplanted Japanese woman), and discovered that this is real.

One thing's for sure. I don't want to piss off Kikkoman.

If, by some strange coincidence, you find me hanging, you'll know who to blame.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Sickly Week

So, after spending a week taking care of my sick wife and daughter, I was still healthy. Best of all, they were both on the mend, and we were able to spend the last couple of days wandering around New York seeing wonderful things and enjoying each other's company.

Unfortunately, I was booked on a 6:30 AM flight out of LaGuardia. Since we don't have a car in New York, this meant that I had to take a shuttle that was departing at 3:30. Actually, since we were switching over to Standard Time, I actually had to leave at 2:30. Which meant that I had to get up at 2. Which meant that I had about two hours of fitful sleep in my last night in New York.

The shuttle was filled with college students, none of whom had slept the night before. One of them responded to this lack of sleep by developing motion sickness, which necessitated a visit to a gas station and an emergency clean-up by the driver. We finally made it to the airport at 4:30, I whizzed through check-in (actually, there were only about fifty people in the terminal, so it was really easy), and was able to hurry up and wait.

Long story short, I arrived in Roanoke about twelve hours later. The highlight of my travels was a stopover in Cincinnati, where I got to have Cincinnati Five-Way chili in Cincinnati. As I'm something of a chili junkie, this was actually a fairly significant event.

When I finally got home, I decided to stay up until ten or so to avoid getting jetlagged.

The following day, I started getting sick. I've spent the last two weeks trying to get better.

So, anyway, this is a very roundabout explanation for my absence over the past two weeks. I'm starting to feel better, although I'm still producing various effluvia in exciting colors and textures. I'm starting to think that I might have allergies. Alternately, I must consider the possibility that my body has simply decided to take up mucus production as a profitable sideline.

At any rate, I'm going to try to return to my blogging responsibilities. As a apology, I offer the following clips from "Flight of the Conchords," which gave me many a smile during my time of misery.

If you liked that one, take a peek at this:

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Apologies, As Always

For Spring Break, I decided to visit the wife and George in New York. After a travel experience that made me long for the days of the Conestoga wagon (avoid Delta Airlines, if at all possible!), I arrived in the city to discover that my nearest and dearest were both plagued with the dread ick.

So, anyway, the last four days have been a blur of nursing, cooking, and cleaning, with the occasional short field trip and a brief break for meeting the wonderful Odat (more on that later). Needless to say, I have brutally neglected my blogging duties, but I promise to catch up when things ease a bit (probably sometime around Monday).

Thank you, as always, for your patience,


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Thursday, March 01, 2007

D-Day in Bedford

Maybe it's a lingering side-effect from growing up on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., but I have a warm spot in my heart for memorials. There's something wonderful and magical and creepy about statues of our heroes; I love these idealized forms, permanently frozen in the middle of giving a speech, riding a horse, or just sitting in a chair. More to the point, the way that we position them says volumes about our perceptions of heroes. Lincoln restively sitting. Jefferson mid-stride, papers clutched in hand. Roosevelt in a cape, Fala by his side. These iconic images are like prefabricated nostalgia, simultaneously creepy and stirring.

My special love is reserved for the military memorials. The Vietnam memorial, a brutal black slash across the mall (I hated it when they put up all those silly statues!); the Korean memorial, a ghostly aluminum and marble vision of a forgotten war, and the World War II memorial, a horrendous, pave-the-earth monstrosity that will one day play host to gangs of giggling Rastafarians overcharging tourists for nickle bags of catnip.

Oddly enough, though, my favorite war memorial isn't even in Washington. It's in Bedford, Virginia.

Before I go any further, I should mention that Bedford is a backwater's backwater. It is a nothing town, practically the defintion of BFE, fifteen minutes past the middle of nowhere. However, for all its isolation, Bedford proportionally suffered the severest losses in the D-Day invasion, so Congress decided to place a memorial to the invasion in this area. In 2001, the memorial opened amid fanfare and a monosyllabic speech by G-Dub(ya):

Driving to the D-Day memorial is a surreal experience. After getting off the highway, you wander around for a while, following the occasional little sign and mostly wondering if you've taken a wrong turn. After a few minutes, you end up on the access road to the memorial, which takes you past an elementary school, through a field, and finally to a little tollbooth, where you pays your money and you takes your ticket.

And then you're at a huge plaza, a dramatic and beautiful pile of concrete, granite and shrubbery that seems as out of place as a marble statue in a McDonald's. You drive past the flags and huge "Overlord Arch," past the poured concrete and careful landscaping, and park in one of the hundreds of empty spaces in back. You wonder who this huge memorial in the middle of nowhere is for, and then you realize: it's for you.

You start off in the English gardens that represent the planning stages of the invasion. You see where, one day (if optimism and donations have anything to say about it!) a folly will be built. The brochure that the guard gave you tells you that there will ultimately be a statue of Eisenhower here, where it will face the memorial. You stand in the same position.

The memorial is poured concrete, ugly with pockmarks and dimples. You wonder at the carelessness of its construction until you realize that it looks like one of the gun emplacements at Normandy, and you start to understand what this memorial is doing. You aren't just honoring D-Day. You're supposed to be reliving it. Not for nothing is this plaza built in the land of Civil War re-enactments.

As you climb the stairs to the main memorial plaza, you start to hear what sounds like whales breaching. Of course, you wonder what the wet snuffling snorts mean, but it would be rude to break the silence of this place, so you keep your mouth shut and your thoughts to yourself. You cross the huge plaza toward the fountain area, and the snuffling gets louder. If your wife is with you, you might make a smartass comment. If not, you keep your stupid mouth shut because the old veteran-looking guys hanging around don't look inclined to take a joke.

And then you realize what the squishy sounds are. Between the main plaza and the "Overlord Arch," there's a large pool and what looks like a sandy beach. In the pool, there are a lot of little fountains that occasionally shoot off, looking like strafing bullets and explosions hitting the water. What you're hearing is the sound of bullets without gunshots. You want to take this really seriously, but you can't, because it reminds you of how your St. Bernard used to wake you up with snorts and wet kisses.

It doesn't help that the statue in the middle of the pool has been cut off at the waist. From a certain angle, it looks like a soldier wading to Omaha beach, but it mostly looks like Johnny Eck, the amazing half-boy.

There's a black marble stall set up on the edge of the pool area. Looking through it, you see the whole point of the scene. It's like standing in a landing craft during the invasion. In front of you lies the beach area, with statues of dying men lying across it. A little further on, you see a wall of soldiers, scaling "Fortress Europe." Simultaneously awed and amused, you wonder if the snuffling was as irritating on D-Day as it is now. Then you realize that this is blasphemy, and you are despoiling a sacred place.

Still, you wonder...

Note: ironically enough, as I was writing this piece, the statue of Eisenhower was finally installed at the memorial. Here's an article on it.

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