Tony & Andy’s favorite YouTube video

I can still remember when Tony was a baby who only knew how to drool, eat, sleep and poop his diaper. Now he surfs the web all by himself. He even knows how to switch the keyboard to Japanese input mode and type out words in romaji. I have no idea how or when he figured that out. Kids amaze me. I wonder, if someone were to take the DNA from an ancient Egyptian and made a baby out of it, in ten year’s time would the kid be reprogramming the TV remote and doing all that other technical stuff preteens seem to be able to figure out instinctively?

Anyway, here’s the video the boys have been watching over and over lately. They found it on this site, which Tony can navigate through like you wouldn’t believe.

Kevin “Tokyo” Cooney

Why does every attention-whoring foreigner who stays more than a few months start calling himself “Tokyo” (yournamehere?) And why is it only guys? As far as I know, there’s only ever been a “Tokyo Rose” but never a “Tokyo Beth” or “Tokyo Christina.”

If anyone ever calls me “Tokyo Rich” I will kick their ass. You’ve seen me play Wii Boxing, so you know what kind of damage I’m capable of. You’ve been warned.

So, the subject of this post is TokyoCooney, a popular YouTube vlogger. I’ve only seen one of his videos so far, and it was only a few minutes ago. I might watch a few more.

On Oliver’s last night in Tokyo, he wanted to go to the Tokyo Comedy Store so we went, although I was skeptical that we’d witness anything actually funny, seeing as how Japan is as far from the English language comedy club circuit as you can get.

I was right. It was painfully, annoyingly, unbearably not funny. What was even worse was that people who were painfully, annoyingly, unbearably not funny were attempting improvisational comedy. Not surprisingly, it was a lot like watching people make complete asses of themselves on stage. When we could no longer take any more, Oliver and I paid the bill (over 10,000 yen for cover charge, a few beers and some meager finger food) then went to a convenience store and bought a bottle of whiskey to extricate ourselves from our lingering foul mood.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I don’t normally complain about or insult people. But the no-talent hacks at the Tokyo Comedy Story really, really sucked. Neither of us could figure out why the audience was laughing at everything. It. Wasn’t. Funny.

The only exception was Kevin Cooney. He was genuinely funny and had an excellent stage presence. We quoted his jokes to each other as we passed the whiskey bottle between us. (Oliver drinks whiskey like a pussy, BTW. Can’t take a swig without scrunching up his face. Friggin’ lightweight.)

In summary, Tokyo Comedy Store: bad. Keven Cooney: good. Oliver: whiskey pussy.

Motoki Log

Motoki Log is the blog of a twentysomething gaikokujin mother of a 3 year old who was born prematurely. I feel like I’m invading her privacy by linking to her, but she’s a very good writer and her son is absolutely adorable. She also has a photo blog.

I’m still fighting back tears after reading her post about the birth of Motoki.

Free online Japanese lessons

A website called Mango, for some unknown reason, is offering free, high-quality, Flash-based language lessons in nine different languages, including Japanese. I took a quick look and there are 101 lessons for Japanese alone, and they teach you in hiragana from lesson one. Hover your cursor over hiragana words and it shows the phonetic pronunciation in English.

Lord only knows why the site is free and doesn’t have any advertising. Maybe from lesson 102 they’re going to teach you how to shop for Coca-Cola at Wal-Mart.

Update #1: Ha! I was right! A little Googling turned up this press release:

The site plans to offer free service through revenue generated by paid advertising as site traffic grows. That is planned to include both banner advertising and “product placement” within the actual language lessons. For example, instead of teaching someone to say “I would like to order a soda” in another language, someone would be taught “I would like to order a Coca-Cola.”

Update #2: Check out my Japlish Podcast with my son Tony.

A Blog Worth Reading

Miles Levin was 19 years old when he died of a rare form of pediatric cancer a few days ago. He kept a blog at hospital sponsored web site for people receiving medical treatment and their families. There’s a write up about him on CNN that I just came across, so I hunted down his blog, which is buried rather deep and can’t be linked to because you have to register as a user to access it. But here’s one of his posts from two years ago:

July 7th, 2005.

I went to the driving range the other day and I was thinking…
I was thinking how you start out with a big bucket full of golf balls, and you just start hitting away carelessly. You have dozens of them, each individual ball means nothing so you just hit, hit, hit. One ball gone is practically inconsequential when subtracted from your bottomless bucket. There are no practice swings or technique re-evaluations after a bad shot, because so many more tries remain. Yet eventually you start to have to reach down towards the bottom of the bucket to scavenge for another shot and you realize that tries are running out. Now with just a handful left, each swing becomes more meaningful. The right technique becomes more crucial, so between each shot you take a couple practice swings and a few deep breaths. There is a very strong need to end on a good note, even if every preceeding shot was horrible, getting it right at the end means a lot. You know as you tee up your last ball, “This is my final shot, I want to crush this with perfection; I must make this count.” Limited quantities or limited time brings a new, precious value and signficance to anything you do. Live every day shooting as if its your last shot, I know I have to.

I found out today 5 year survival rates are just 20%.