Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving, Nicole Kidman, and Plastic Surgery

So, there I was in the supermarket, doing some Thanksgiving shopping. We are hosting the feast for eighteen adults and ten children. It might sound like a lot of effort, but it isn’t that bad. We do a pot luck meal, which means there is a lot less preparation for us. Being vegetarians, we are not obliged to cook the turkey - some friends will do that and haul it over for the final basting and roasting. However, I wanted to cook something for the festivities, something which could be a culinary centerpiece for vegetarians, just as the turkey is to meat-eaters. One Thanksgiving, several years back, I found myself at a friend’s house celebrating a vegetarian Thanksgiving. The main dish was a delicious, pastry encrusted nut roast, drowning in fragrant, spicy, veggie gravy. I decided I would attempt this. Thus, cookbooks were dusted off, opened, and a recipe procured. The end result was me wandering the aisles of our local supermarket last Saturday, shopping for the ingredients, complete with our youngest tethered to the shopping trolley, trying to get his chubby little collagen-laden hands on anything within arm's reach.

However, that’s not what I want to write about - Nicole Kidman's face is the subject of this entry. While wandering among the morning shoppers, I stopped at the magazine rack. I couldn’t help but notice Ms. Kidman’s waxy, stretched visage staring at me from the cover of Marie Claire magazine (it was racked beside Vintage Guitar Enthusiast – I swear). The night previously, whiskey in one hand, remote control in the other, I had been rambling through our 750 channels, looking for something remotely worth watching, when I came across Far and Away. Having never seen this travesty, but having often heard how awful it is, I decided to give it a few minutes of my time. Maybe it would be one of those so-bad-it’s-good movies. It isn’t. It is truly atrocious, and racist. After a few minutes of begorrahs, we have ascertained that the English are bastards, and the Irish, although down trodden, are happy, voluble, drunk, stupid, and prone to fisticuffs at the slightest provocation. As most people know, the stars of the movie were the then-married Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Whatever you may think of their relative skills as actors (I dislike Cruise, but I think he's good in narrow roles a la Collateral or Minority Report, while Kidman is a fine actress), this is a steaming turd of a movie. I gave up after thirty minutes. Life is too short.

So, there I was 12 hours later, staring at her face on a magazine. Truly, I normally don’t pay attention to this stuff, but the contrast between the natural redhead in the previous night's movie, and the wax doll on the cover, blew me away. Arched eyebrows, inflated lips, chiseled nose, and molded cheeks, nary a freckly in sight. Why? I thought she was pretty cute to begin with (by begin with, I mean the natural, freckled, frizzy haired Dead Calm era Kidman). What's up when someone beautiful, talented, and acclaimed feels insecure enough to do this? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really see anything wrong with plastic surgery per se. Fuck it, if you don’t like something, be my guest. One of my wife’s friends had a chin and nose job years ago, and it changed her life. I read somewhere that the fastest growing demographic volunteering for a nip and tuck, are older people. With medical improvements, exercise and diet, many feel a lot younger than they look, and want to narrow that gap. I understand wanting to look good for your age (I will hold off judgment until I find myself staring in the mirror at the double chin that resists exercise and diet), but this constant effort to stay looking like a twenty five year old baffles me. If you are going to get it done, look good for your age. A forty year old trying to look twenty years younger is just sad.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bush Killed JFK


Halloween night. At first I thought he was a wacko, but then I realised he was handing out fliers for a poetry reading. Guerrilla marketing at its best. It was working, he got a lot of attention.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not So Mellow Yellow


Some sort of emergency vehicle on the freeway leaving Tokyo. I just happened to be taking some shots out the window of the airport bus when it flew by. It went by so fast I didn't catch what kind of vehicle it was.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dear United Airlines

Dear United Airlines,

I realise that mechanical failures are par for the course in the airline business. I am truly glad that you discovered the problem with the heating duct on flight UA 838 from Tokyo to San Francisco before we took off. Avoiding a fiery plunge into the Pacific at night is always a good thing. The good captain of the plane, explained (in vivid detail), over the intercom, that this would be the consequence of ignoring the problem. Apparently the heat escaping from the broken duct was hot enough to melt metal. I appreciate that the airline crew were friendly and pragmatic and kept us plied with water, and as up-to-date as possible on the progress of the repairs, and that they allowed us off the plane into the waiting area when the plane became too stuffy and hot. I am not even unhappy that you had ultimately to cancel the flight for 24 hrs. My problem is this: Surely this was not the first time you’ve had to cancel a flight and deal with 300 stranded passengers. In fact, talking to two of my fellow passengers, both regular San Francisco -Tokyo - San Francisco travelers, it seems that this is the third time this year that this flight has had to be canceled. Thing is, wouldn’t it be a good idea to formulate some sort of fucking plan, that could be implemented in the advent of a flight cancellation, so we wouldn’t end up being stuck in the airport for 12 hours? For example:

  1. You know that the flight crew can legally only work for a certain amount of time, thus there is an exact time at which you know, that even if the plane is repaired, the length of the flight plus the time already elapsed will exceed this limit. If the flight is canceled, all the passengers will need visas to go back to Tokyo for the night. Instead of waiting until after this line has been passed, start organising these visas early. As was shown, it is just a matter of re-attaching their exit visas to their passports. Having these on hand would hugely speed up the process, as opposed to the over two and a half hours it took. If you alerted immigration and had the visas ready to go this could have been done in 30 minutes.

  1. Start organising transport and notifying bus companies you may need transport for the stranded passengers. It’s an hour an a half to Tokyo. Waiting until you cancel the flight is a guarantee that your customers will be stuck in the airport for extra hours. We were delayed even further in the airport because you couldn’t find enough buses. It nearly caused a riot when it was suggested we try to get taxis, and then submit the receipts to United, so we could be reimbursed the $200 fare. Not one passenger took you up on this. You see, we don’t really trust you. This was not misplaced. By the time we eventually departed, several passengers who had submitted meal receipts, with the promise these would be covered before the rescheduled flight took off, had not been paid.

  1. NEVER tell passengers that they will have to share a room with a stranger because you cannot find enough rooms. I was chatting to a cute Swedish women as you announced this, and while the whole idea might have been acceptable to me, it probably wasn't to her, and anyhow it might have resulted in marital discord downstream. Luckily, this didn’t come to pass because of passenger pressure. When we insisted a supervisor come and talk to us we were informed that your other representative had inaccurate information, which leads to the last point.

  1. Communicate the plan to your employees. Be able to outline it to your passengers immediately instead of piecemeal. Your United staff gave regular updates (appreciated), but they contradicted each other which caused confusion, which led to more delays as passengers crowded the ticket desk looking for clarification.

This is the third time this year that I have been on flights which have had major delays or unforeseen cancellations. In all cases, some effort at planning and communication would have saved everyone stress and headaches. Airline companies have taken to treating their passengers like shit. This is unacceptable, especially as it was our tax dollars that bailed you (a private industry), out after the post 9/11 slump.

Yours truly,



Tuesday, November 06, 2007

All You Need Is Love


This was taken through the "V" in this:


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Sunday, November 04, 2007


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shinjuko Train Station

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tommy Lee Jones

Tokyo_20071026_0139_Auto Level_Crop_Curves
Like many American actors, it looks like he has been making a few extra shillings doing advertising in Japan.

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