Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Colds, Japanese-style

Due to a sore throat, I went native the last two days, donning the infamous surgical-style face mask people in Asia are famous for wearing at the drop of a hat. Have a cold? Mask. Someone else has a cold? Mask. Bird flu? Mask. Morning commute? Mask. Don't want to participate in school? Mask. (I'm looking at you, middle schoolers...)

Epidemiologically speaking, I am given to understand although the mask can help with spread by trapping coughs, sneezes, and regular old germy breath, it won't prevent you from catching most stuff, since your eye membranes are still exposed, but feel free to correct me, medicine-y people. What I found over the last two days is that it does something really awesome for a sore throat: traps warm/moist air around your face. It's like walking around with your own humidifier. Of course, the breakout around my nose is going to be epic. It really sucks to be teaching high schoolers and realize they all have better skin than me.

In addition to the mask, I've done the Mystery Gargle from my coworker Aki (I swear she just dripped minty-flavored blue ink into a glass) and stolen the hot water heater from the school kitchen so I can have a pot of decaf tea on my desk at all times.

The ultimate reason for all of this? Faculty karaoke is on Friday, and I. WILL. BE. READY. Come rain, come snow, come zits, come ink, come forty trips to the bathroom a day. Because let's face it, people, The Final Countdown ain't gonna count itself.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Goodness gracious, great balls of... EVIL

Justin and my love for ACROS continues, as we followed up on the saki-ori and Agano pottery exhibits with a trip to the Yanagawa Sagemon embroidered ball exhibition. I don't really know what the story with these is, and Google has not availed me of further information. Basically, they're springtime decorations. Why? I don't know, except that they're cute.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That price tag reads 315,000 yen. That's $3,150 in dollars. Handmade cute does not come cheap.

In addition to the traditional ball shape, you also have lots of funny animals, such as the bathtowel-head octopus:

the Sistine Chapel ceiling shrimp:

and the uncomfortable husband who hates pretending to look at things while I take pictures but whose mother is always disappointed when he disappears from the blog:

Also a chicken.

(That one's for my brother-in-law Ryan.)

Since we didn't stand an embroidered ball's chance in... a place inhospitable to embroidery? - of purchasing the top-notch goods for ourselves, we thought it would be a good idea to take on the DIY Sagemon rabbit display. For a mere five bucks we could take home a bunny of our very own. How cute - how kawaii, as they love to say here.

Cut out the parts:

Sew a little pouch for the body:

Sort out body fabric in preferred color order.

Get overruled by Japanese attendants and glue fabric on in their preferred order to appease them:

Apply gold trim:
Add face:
Fail spectacularly at adding ears, necessitating rescue by aforementioned attendants:

(Full disclosure: actually, I needed intervention on basically every step listed here except the cutting out. I sure can cut. If I remembered my preschool teacher's name, I'd send her a thank-you note.)

As far as I could tell, the pink shading on the ears was just blush. Maybe it was special sagemon dye with a special sagemon applicator, but really, I think it was just blush.

Add a cotton tail:
And recoil in horror at the realization of what you have wrought upon the world. I mean, look at this rabbit. Is he not the incarnation of pure evil?


We call him Mr. Bun, because when we suggested that name to him, he let us live. Mr. Bun exists at the tragic intersection of unadulterated rage and abject powerlessness. He hates everyone and wishes to destroy everything, yet he is crippled by the realization that he is a styrofoam rabbit without limbs or a mouth. He can neither execute his own vile schemes nor recruit minions to carry out his will. Mostly, he just sits on the pantry shelf next to the peanut butter, exuding impotent loathing and hoping perhaps to fall on somebody and cause them to burn themselves on the microwave. It's not nuclear armageddon, but at this point Mr. Bun has to take what he can get.