Sunday, April 29, 2007


WARBLER HEARS CONCRETE BLONDE


Out airing the sheets and pillow covers over the deck rail in the full sun of the cool morning, I was trading songs with an early warbler who was in splendid voice, broadcasting his aria from a downmountain tree out of sight behind the nearly full-leafed plum. Since he couldn't see me, I whistled his very own medley and he responded eagerly, even aggressively. I was being a territorial competitor.

Then after a few exchanges, for a bit of variation from polytonic monotony I decided to be an eccentric competitor, and began to whistle his song exactly, but with the last note off-key. He responded as before, but with what sounded to me like a bit of impatience, a sort of correctional emphasis on the last note.

It could be me, but I swear it sounded like he was either trying to correct me or to find out if I was an impostor. Maybe it's just my governmental conditioning, but his tone seemed challengingly inquisitive. This went on for several bars, until I was going in to get the futon and decided to throw discretion to the wind, see what happened.

So I whistled the entire pattern as before, but using a patch from the melody of Still in Hollywood by Concrete Blonde. There was a kind of shocked pause in the distance, then a discreet kind of birdy cough, followed by implacable silence. I stood there whistling and listening, but not a peep further.

Either the warbler doesn't like Concrete Blonde (which is ridiculous--he's in the music business) or he's never heard them before-- more likely the latter, living out here up on the mountain, playing only one song for who knows how many millennia. In any case it must have been quite a shock for that professional, heritor to generations of songcraft, to be trading riffs with a clearly amateur competitor only to have the tyro come back with a clip of great music the pro never heard of. Probably took his breath away.

Nature can be cruel sometimes. But if the warbler hangs around here for the summer, he's sure to pick up some more great sounds from my open windows. Then a hundred or a thousand years hence someone will hear a melodic birdsong, and say: Isn't that a song from Surfer Rosa?

Thus do cultures blend.

PURE MEDICINE


Additional doses as required.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Before morning work
I empty out my garden boots -
the last cherry petals

Friday, April 27, 2007


SOMETHING AKIN TO SPRING


Freewheeling down the mountain these early mornings through the old dun landscape of winter - and in the old dun mindscape of winter - I suddenly sense a change ahead, something there... new... around the curve... the light on the leaves is different... I slow--

I round the bend, to behold a startling brightness laid out right on the ground where there was no such thing yesterday; "it's the same color as the sky," says my old dun mind, "with some sunlight and clouds in it..." it's a flooded rice paddy, the first of the year! And there's another patch of sky over there, shining on the dark earth... and one more there in the distance...

Each morning I go through the same new startle to the old winter mindscape as more and more patches of light are added to the quilt of sky piecing down the mountainside, day by day transforming the mountain into a creature of Spring-- and greenleaf summer to follow, nature willing.

There at the bottom of it all shines the Lake, aquamarine set among brown winter mountains and faceted with light in the same way as the paddies - dappled with clouds, now and then stippling in the morning breeze - and I feel in myself something akin to Spring, new life rising from a winter mind. In my day-to-day awakening, I too mirror the season and its sky.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


PUNK GARDEN


This time of year the garden looks like a punk with green hair, insouciant, casual, certainly uncultivated. Clumps of cleavers stick up everywhere like they could care less how they look, no respect for decorum. In the early morning after a dewy night the whole thing looks like it's ready to revolt and revert to uncultivated.

I don't have a Japanese garden, needless to say; such things would never be tolerated in a staid and pristine Japanese garden. I have the opposite: a weedy, somewhat productive and nearly purely utilitarian 'garden' with a vegetable patch, several stacks of firewood and some shiitake logs, but just let me not do much for a few days around this time in Spring and WHAM! The chickweed and cleavers (opinions differ) take over the place and start giving orders to the perennial residents-- festooning the rosemary, draping from the gardenia, making the early flowers and herbs bow to their green whims and flattening the chives, though the lemon balm hangs in there.

The cleavers, which gives the garden its punk attitude, is especially prolific before the trees leaf, when it grows like a weed in a real hurry. I'll bet in a proportional race it could beat kuzu, which they say can cover a sleeping drunk. Chickweed, on the other hand, is said to be the most common weed in the world, though here it's less common than cleavers, commonness being the essence of weedness.

Fortunately though, both weeds are tasty greens (sauteed chickweed!) and have medicinal and other herbal/cosmetic uses (cleavers hair rinse!), so that takes care of a modest portion of the natural largesse - we are but a small household until the hordes arrive – but the sight of all that cleavers can be pretty intimidating in the bright morning. Weeding cleavers is like plucking at sticky green ghosts. Messy too, cause the stretchy-strandy plants don't let you toss them easily into a pile, they cleave to you in a very delicate but ultimately irritating way, like a guest you can't quite get to leave: "Well alright -- if you really --insist -- I'll go on the pile --are you sure?" You pull a few thousand of those, you can call it a morning. And there are hordes of legions out there, awaiting my next move.

These mornings of mental preparation I gaze over the punky green field of contention, planning my campaign as the countdown begins. G-day is mere days away now. They better have enough seeds in the ground by then.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


THE DIN OF DEMOCRACY


You know the old saying, "a squeaky wheel is very like a politician..." or is it "an empty barrel gets the most votes..." I forget. Anyway, here in Japan it's election time again-- it was another election time just a week or so ago, but the trappings of democracy are repeatedly appreciated here the country of the longest single-party rule in the world, ever since Mexico turned another version of the old leaf.

So, seems like every few weeks about this time all over the country they put up one of those electionface boards with the numbered squares painted on it, each candidate allotted the same-size square in which to paste his (now some hers too) same-size electionface a few days before the election, so everybody can drive by and look elsewhere. The length of the board depends upon the number of candidates, which seems to be growing.

The foto above shows the earlier electionface board in our village. For this week's election there are 53 or 54 candidates, so it's a long board. The foto below shows a portion of the electionface board for the lovely city of Omihachiman across the lake, where we went last weekend to see a festival at Hachimangu that I'll write about maybe when the election is over and I can concentrate whatever metal capacity remains. It's hard to concentrate in mid-campaign, because it's more than just electionfaces everywhere; there's an aspect to the process in which laws regarding public peace (if any) are suspended.

To be in Japan at election time is to know democracy's true decibel capacity. This is no lone candidate on a soap box on a downtown street corner; this is candidates and their zealous supporters by the truckfuls bearing multiple loudspeakers, with loopy tapes manically shrieking the candidates' names over and over and over and over in mass syncopation, or simply soundblasting loopy live statements right outside your bedroom window on a Sunday morning, as though to say "I'm loudest, elect me!" or "I have the biggest speakers, vote for me!" or "I make the most noise by far, I deserve your vote!"

To hammer home and then clinch your sense of democracy, the trucks of all the candidates tour the neighborhood all day every day reeking soundwaves until the election, with the white-gloved candidates leaning out the front window of their deafening vehicles, smiling and waving, displaying not the slightest hint of embarrassment at the racket (the Japanese seem to accept it like the weather) that sets the dogs barking, wakes napping babies and husbands and likely worsens the condition of sickly elders, all in a country so polite that out here in the country drivers bow to each other at rural intersections... and this in the same culture that created the karesansui garden at Ryoanji...!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Cherry wealth in the morning sun,
gathering interest.

Friday, April 20, 2007


LOOKING FOR LOOPHOLES


I rail a lot against bureaucracy, because it's healthy to let off some of those pent-up volumes of steam now and then, particularly against amorphic abstractions, and what better target than a shapeless morass of vague requirements that at best makes your life remorselessly complex, and at worst can send you up the river?

But apart from the precious time spent railing while finding out what the right forms are, getting the right forms, filling them out correctly and mailing them off, or standing in a long line with a bunch of filled-out forms in your hand -- then a certain time later frequently doing it all over again in a manic cycle -- as I say, apart from that, it's all quite educational in demonstrating how imaginative people are in cheating bureaucracies, which are after all simply the massive efforts of lawmakers to thwart the massive efforts of lawbreakers.

And don't kid yourself, we're all lawbreakers at some level; there's always been an adversarial relationship between the governing and the governed, with neither at rest, both continually seeking to optimize any advantage over the other.

I speak in a worldly sense of course, from beneath the shadow of the many governments I've lived under in my decades of travel, some of those governments downright despotic, which makes me a bit hard-boiled when it comes to dealing with that humungous interface whose individual representative is often as hardboiled about it all as I am, especially at Immigration. This may sound cynical, but it's not, because truth can never be cynical. Life itself often wears all the trappings of cynicism. Anyway, in some deep place where freedom has its roots it feels good to give a government a noogie.

What got me thinking about all this was the form I had to use in order to get the US government to send my paltry (as per my long travels and minimal employotime in the US) pension checks to a US bank (no way I'll cash them here in Japan). After I applied for Social Security (what a misnomer that's gonna be before too long) I found out I needed the form, requested it, waited for it, filled it out and sent it off to the logical place, the SSA. Each month since then my check in dollars has nevertheless come to my mailbox on the mountain. I figured my meager form Z19-EA-4Q2 or whatever it was might take a few months to get those massive bureaucratic hindquarters in gear, so I waited... When the eighth check came I delved into the SSA website and found after some gnashing time that no, according to the small print I had to send the form to the bank I wanted the checks sent to!

It was counter-intuitive until I descended to a lower moral level I frequently inhabit, especially with regard to government, whence I offer this explanation if you'll just step right down here a moment: as soon as the check-to-bank thing was initiated way back when, some members of the public began at once to find a way to use the situation to their advantage, thereby making it necessary for subsequent users to send a form to the bank for complete verification of everything and everyone's existence or whatever; and the bank then had to send it on to the SSA, who will not take your word for it, even though it's your money. They must have stopped taking anybody's word for it a looooong time ago.

So next time you're struggling in whatever big web and wondering why it has to be this way, just remember that it's all your fault-- and while you're there, you might as well look for loopholes to use before they slam shut.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


FIREHORSE


I hadn't thought we'd need another fire this year, so it was a bit of surprise in mid-April to find that during the night some strong northerly winds had carried a big slab of Siberian Spring on their broad shoulders and shrugged it off right around this part of the country. So yesterday morning I decided to light a small fire in the wood stove, just enough to burn through the day and take the edge off the Spring chill.

I started the fire as usual and checked some time later as usual, only to find that despite the usual quantity and quality of starter wood, the fire seemed to have no appetite for being alight, as though it had intuited my wish for not really a fire but some semblance of a fire, just a little bit of a fire, and I guess fire has feelings too in a way, fire has pride of a sort, because somehow, there in the smoky dark of the stove the little crimson creature looked as though the spirit had gone out of it, as though it had no ambition to flame. It lay there like a small animal curled up, not quite feeling itself, lukewarm toward existence. As I tended to the barely flaming embers, I instinctively spoke (and later recalled with an odd feeling that I had done so):

"What is going on here, why are you acting like this, so down, so half-hearted? Look at all the fuel you have! You're not cold, you're not darkness, you're not ice! You're warmth, you're light, you're FIRE! We need you! You're IT! So perk up, don't be depressed, be proud! Be brightness! Get as hot as you really are!"

And sure enough, as I talked to and prodded the dispirited, embrous creature, as though it understood me it began to flicker and flare like a young red colt and soon was cantering along with full mane flying, lighting up the stove and warming the whole house just enough.

Fires are a lot like kids growing up; they need the basic necessities, but sometimes they need encouragement too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


TALKIN' 'BOUT MY GENERATION



By The Zimmers

BLAZING TOILETS


The serene Japanese art of toiletics has always been something of an aesthetic experience for those who could afford it; as for example back in the 16th century, Takeda Shingen's lacquered box with gripping bar, set in the floor at the center of a large, calm tatami room (when his task was completed, Shingen shouted "Finished!" to a retainer just outside the door who in turn shouted the command onward like a voice brigade to another retainer who, holding a big bucketful of water, stood at the ready before a lacquered chute and upon hearing the word, dumped the water into the chute, thereby flushing the contents of the lacquered box out into the serene pond in the lovely garden, which may be one reason Shingen changed residences a lot.

Anyway, now that modern Japanese can fork over several thousand bucks for a top-of-the-line shoutless toilet that looks like it could get you to Mars and back (the popular Z series - not sold overseas; you don't know what you're missing over there - features a pulsating massage spray, a power dryer, built-in-the-bowl deodorizing filter, the “Tornado Wash” flush and a lid that opens and closes automatically), and now that so many households can afford at least a simulacrum of the Toiletship Enterprise "To boldly go," etc. (which topic I touched upon in a much earlier post regarding my foray into the Japanese toilet market -- we settled on a Model A), competition for multi-accessory toilet marketshare is steadily intensifying. Is it any wonder then, that in this mad rush to be first in the nation's bathroom - as though this were a house full of teenagers - a manufacturer might overlook a small safety problem that could lead to flaming posteriors?

In hindsight, so to speak, it's easy to criticize Toto, pioneer in hi-tech toilets and a name known to all toilet users in Japan (especially males, who get to stare at the logo) and the maker of the unfortunately blazing toilets, who are offering free repairs to 180,000 toiletships across the nation, after 26 of their sanitary craft overheated and three burst into flame, fortunately while not in use, but it's only a matter of time...

As for me, I'm really not interested in getting to Mars.

+

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


GIFT OF THE CRAZY BIRD


The crazy bird yelled his extended and manically repetitive klaxon call from a tree branch right next to my open window before dawn this morning (I've never seen a crazy bird, they only scream at the dark edge of morning while I'm sleeping), levitating me to such a height that I gave up and got up earlier than I would have, so was privileged to stand at the loft railing just as the sun was clearing the mountains across the lake and filling all that water with molten gold. It was like looking into an outdoor-sized gold foundry, while at the edges the distant reaches of Shiga were taking on that hazy gray-blue you run into at the far side of imagining, which is always a good place to be, especially before breakfast, which I ate while watching the rest of the gold get poured into the mold of the day. Thanks, crazy bird. But maybe you could yell somewhere else tomorrow morning?

Monday, April 16, 2007


EIGHT VIEWS OF MT. FUJI BY NTT LIVE CAM


Just click on thru...
(Too cloudy this morning, but
hourly images in boxes below view.)

w/thanks to Achikochi

Sunday, April 15, 2007


under the village cherry trees
I've never looked
so up

OMIKOSHI
ROCK ON...


Yesterday being a fine afternoon, Echo and I went to see latter part of the multi-phased Sanno-sai festival, one portion of which I described in Omikoshi Rock, in which the several omikoshi from the splendid mountain precincts of Hiyoshi Taisha are brought down for "birth" in the Yomiya otoshi ceremony, but we hadn't yet gotten to see the subsequent phase of the multi-day festival (the entire ceremonial proceeding actually takes about 6 weeks).

I'd previously noticed the big torii that was standing by the lakeside on some otherwise empty land next to a nice little park beside the road into Otsu, but I hadn't known how the place was used, never connected it to the Sanno-sai. But yesterday being the afternoon it was, Echo and I went to see this part of the festival and that's where it was held. The day after Yomiya otoshi, the seven large and heavy omikoshi were brought down to the shore and loaded onto a barge by the young muscular guys who were doing all the extended rocking the night before.

Pumped full of energy from last night and ready to go, the fundoshi-clad groups rocked and loaded the heavy omikoshi onto the ceremoniously decorated barge that was moored at the torii (on the barge, note the four bamboo poles at the corners, linked with straw rope hung with shide that sacredize a space), then when all omikoshi were boarded, the barge pulled away and ceremonially sailed on the lake for an hour or so. The photos below show from loading to departure.







Friday, April 13, 2007


AND SO IT GOES...


"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."
Kurt Vonnegut 1922 - 2007

Neighborhood Shinto shrine in Otsu at cherry blossom peak

Thursday, April 12, 2007


THE LORD PROCLAIMS HIS DOMINION


This morning as I was gazing trainwaitingly over the same lakeside strip of land regarding which last week I posted about the ducks landing and feeding there (today the ducks were feeding further to the north on the strip), my blurgaze was suddenly focused by a loud squawk from right out there in the golden stubble of the Spring wildfield, the 'there' concurrently advertised by a bright flurry of flashing wings.

It was Lord Pheasant atop one of the many low promontories that stud his realm, a wild Chanticleer every few minutes briefly proclaiming his dominion over all the lands hereabouts in no uncertain terms, brooking no argument and getting none. Strutting, preening and gleaming like any natural tyrant, he paraded the pinnacle of his eminent worthiness as his harem fed invisibly in the bent grasses of the lower places around him.

In the last couple of years several houses have gone up here and there on the Lord's vast territory and encroached on the necessary wildness of his birthright, but he doesn't seem to mind since he owns the houses as well, to say nothing of the sky, the lake and the railway, all of which his worship graciously permits us unfeathered, earthbound creatures to employ in getting cumbersomely from here to there for all the incomprehensible purposes we seem to have.

He would not be amused to learn that these creatures have named him the national bird.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

It's hard to believe that this month marks the fifth anniversary of Pure Land Mountain. Seems like only a year and a half ago it all started here...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


DAYTROTTER MUSIC


"These fine people – as they're traveling through America's heartland – take two hours out of their travels between shows to stop in for a Daytrotter Session at Futureappletree Studio One in downtown Rock Island, Ill... What they leave behind is a pile of ashes, sometimes a forgotten stocking hat and four absolutely collectible songs that often impart on whomever listens to them the true intensity that these musicians put into their art, sometimes with more clarity than they do when they have months to tinker with overdubs and experiments. These songs are them as they are on that particular day, on that particular tour – dirty and alive. We want you to make this your new home as it is ours. We promise that you will love it here."
I've just begun to explore all the free music at Daytrotter, so far I particularly like The Seedling by Bonnie Prince Billy; good music, good lyrics, uniquely sung...

THE CURSE OF SANTAYANA
Now that I've lived this long, I can say one thing for certain: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to hear that damned Santayana quote for the rest of their lives.

Monday, April 09, 2007


RAINGUTTERS et seq.


Today was a just-right sunny day with a bit of cooling wind so I decide to take a break from hauling and splitting, and clean the rain gutters instead, this time in advance of rainy season; usually I do it in severe downpours, which says a lot about my character.

My old character, that is, since now that I'm doing the task ahead of time, I've clearly turned a new leaf. But I've done that before, so I'm not really fooled - though it feels good nevertheless - and at the next heavy storm I'll enjoy staying inside and watching the downpour instead of cursing and wondering where the hell I put my poncho last year.

So it was that from early this morning I was climbing ladders and dangling from various eaves around the house, working to foil the collaborative attempts of the wind and all these trees to jam their leaves and needles (oaks, cherries, cedars et al.) into the narrow rain gutters, which they do with impressive ingenuity. I've devised a series of stepped screens in the gutters, but I can see that the elements and the forests are evolving hard to get around my tricks and clog up the main downlet.

So I have to be the Edison, the Einstein, the very Argus of raingutterists if I am to have anything I can rely upon to gutter the rain, I muse as I hang one-handed from a corner eave with one foot on the ladder in a stiffening wind, bending a gutterscreen into place, but how does that differ from anything else in life I muse a moment later as I reach barehanded into the sludge-filled gutter and scrape the contents out onto the ladder, the deck, myself and some laundry Echo hung out there that I didn't see. Have to tweak the system for that, and stay alert.

Our jerry built rain-drainage system also relies on some ground culverts: one in back into which the rain gutter empties, and one in front to catch front eave runoff, the whole then emptying via underground pipe into the culvert that runs down the roadside. But since the grade of the road is so steep, all the rain runoff flooding down the road toward us hits our road culvert and there deposits much of the upmountain sedimental downwash from paddies and forests, with hydraulic effect sufficient to lift the culvert grates high and shove them on downward or just bury them in place.

This sediment, though a curse, is also (with a lot of work) a blessing, because each Spring it provides me with wheelbarrows full of superior and naturally composted soil, with lots of earthworms who came along for the ride, made the culvert their home and began to raise their families in that ideal environment.

So as part of my rainguttering I have to clear the road culvert of its rich soil into the wheelbarrow and roll it back to dump on the garden, which believe it or not, brings me to my point, such as it is. I was getting out the soil using shovels of varying sizes and clipping off the long rootcables of bamboo that love to snake for meters along the culvert bottoms to new places, when I cleared a shovelful of soil and saw the back end of a hibernating frog sticking out of the soil in the bottom of the culvert.

Thinking I might have injured him with my huge metal monster of a shovel, I pulled the frog out of the muck and set him on a nearby rock in the sun to look him over. But in his desire for hibernation he was so sleepy and groggy he hadn't noticed a thing, and still didn't. At least he was still intact. The look on his face reminded me of the face I used to see in the mirror the morning after a fraternity party.

At least he'll get an early start this year, with whatever his equivalent of raingutters is.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


GODFATHER TIME


Echo tells me that while I was off at work in the big city on Friday a gang of monkeys came for their vig, a half-dozen mid-level operatives in the simian mafia swaggering around like they owned the place, and when they found out that I had taken all the mushrooms for myself, they swung from the trees in disbelief. This kind of personal insult is very disturbing to a bunch of made apes. It's the image, you know, the reputation, a matter of respect. They were very upset.

Echo chased them away a few times, but they just kept coming back to stare at the empty mushroom logs, turning them over, shaking their heads and screeching at each other, biting the logs in incredulity, scratching their armpits and trying to think, but I guess that didn't work.

After a while they took their frustration and disappointment out on the young lettuce. They even pulled up some heads and bit off leaves of others. They never eat lettuce, who are they kidding. They just wanted to show me who the hell's in charge here, but if they think some hairy illiterate thugs are gonna make me fork over my hard-earned mushrooms, they don't know I'm from Neeyawk.

They try that while I'm at home, it's Godfather time. Fuggeddaboddit.

Saturday, April 07, 2007



One of my favorite Kaya fotos,
taken during a winter morning walk
a few years ago, when she'd just turned three.

Friday, April 06, 2007


ALL IN A MORNING'S WORK


This bright blue morning I was standing on the elevated train platform down by the lakeshore, waiting for the train to the big city and gazing out at the lake, when I noticed a flock of about a dozen geese flying by at eye level. They circled and came back low; I watched them from above so could see the light patterns they present to an overhead view while flying, probably very effective against raptor birds, the effect of their rapid wingbeats and light/dark coloration resembling brief glimmers of sunlit water...

They rose and turned as one, flew off and came back, all this time over the dry unharrowed rice paddies by the lakeside, the paddies now greening with the first tender weed buds of Spring. Back and forth the ducks flew, high and low, searching for the ideal spot in all that new softness: a spot rich in breakfast, yet with sufficient distance on all sides from predator hiding places.

They were selecting very carefully: here? no... here? no... It took a while, and a lot of flying energy, but finally they selected a spot right down there in front of me and made their landings. Being used to landing on water, seems they land on land in much the same way. The new grasses being soft, but fluffy, the ducks didn't glide in and water-ski to a graceful halt as usual, but sort of slid a bit on their hind ends, then as soon as their feet got tangled in the grass they flopped forward onto their beaks in a brief three-point landing, all in a morning's work.

From that point the bright males waddled around nibbling buds to their hearts' content; the females, their responsibilities being so much greater, were practically invisible.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Just posted The Salamander Legacy
at
The Blog Brothers

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


YELLOW DUST

A couple of evenings ago I looked out the high windows from the loft for my usual fading-light view of the Lake and noticed that the air was not only a bit mistier than it often is at dusk in Spring, it was also strangely colored; the unsettling yellowish-orange tint to the air reminded me of LA back in the fifties and sixties, but this had no eye-sting to it, no nose-burning odor.

The next morning I went out to go to work and the morning had a yellow tinge to it; what's more, the black seat of my motorcycle was now yellow. Then I remembered all the yellow days in Tokyo back in the seventies when I lived there, the kousa days that came in early Spring, when the high winds lifted up the dust from the Gobi Desert in China and blew it all the way to Japan. I hadn't noticed it this far south before, but here it was, dusting everything a light yellow, including me. The dust is ranging further lately, reaching all the way to Hawaii this year. And apparently the recent Spring winds from China are carrying more than dust.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


TO GET BACK TO GARDENING...

"'These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt.'

Interest in the project arose after human cancer patients being treated with the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae unexpectedly reported increases in their quality of life."

Medical News Today

Monday, April 02, 2007


ANPANMAN SNACK

A popular kidsnack right at kid eye level in the supermarket. The character is the ageless Anpanman (Kaya is a big fan of his). The little baby milk bottle character on the left says "Contains Milk Calcium!" On the right, Anpanman's girlfriend Melonpanna (from melon bread, another "pastry" favorite among kids) says "Contains no peanuts!" as nutitional awareness and increasing allergies find their place in commerce, possibly due to all the off-the-shelf snacks fed to kids...

BRADY 50, MONKEYS ZERO

I don't know where they are these days, all those no-account marauders, they must have jobs or something in the city, because I've been snagging major mushroom output from my shiitake logs for a week now, in the morning I walk to the mushroom sector in complete confidence and find fruition there, nothing says 'Here I am!' like a ready shiitake mushroom, its moist brown round wings outspread in a unique show of deliciousness soon enjoyed.

Amid such largesse I take all the biggest ones, leave the others to grow bigger yet, and even if the monkeys were to come today while I'm not looking, it is as nothing to me, for I'm too far ahead this year for the hairy losers ever to catch up to my score, I'm already many dozens of mushrooms ahead in this lopsided contest, put a big five-oh up on the scoreboard just today, setting a new record for one morning, those turkeys are just gonna have to find another line of work, which I suppose they're busy doing right now. Clearly not much future for them in the mushroom line.