Tell me, Ralph Nader, which is better? Smoke? or Fat?!
Posted on July 5th, 2008 at 10:12 am by chowthemoose
(Note: all these Japan posts are really late. I scribbled this one down in a notebook on our flight from Japan to Hong Kong 6/25/08)
So the other night, the Kroks finally had the chance to have dinner with our sponsor in Japan. Her name is Madame Matsuda, a tiny 80+ year old Japanese woman who looks 60 and acts 40. Throughout the year, I’ve heard quite a number of stories about her, and our meeting certainly was not a disappointment.
One of my favorite things about her is her rule of “one table, one discuss” that was more or less strictly enforced. She quickly disrupted any conversation around her with a bang on the table only when they threatened to be more interesting than hers. Too bad the Kroks and her guests were spread throughout three different tables.
Some highlights of the night included her retelling of her career as a singer and ballet dancer. She proved the latter with an awkwardly amusing slow dance with her fellow ballet dancer, Dan. The entire time, Dan was mouthing “Scribe! Scribe!”
Even more amusing was her encounter with Ralph Nader, during which Madame Matsuda reveals why she is constantly smoking. Indeed, the entire night, I did not see her without a cigarette in hand, where it remained slightly burning and largely unsmoked. Chris and Nikhil were well equipped with lighers, ready to light a new cigarette after she finished holding a slightly shorter one. By the end of the night, her ash tray was filled with a dozen unsmoked cigarettes. Though she only pretended to be a heavy smoker, she still managed to acquire the decrepit voice of one.
Right, back to the story. So Madame Matsuda and Ralph Nader were casually conversing when Ralphie asked (of course, imagine this being said by a deep coarse voice), “Madame Matsuda, you’re such a classy woman. Why do you smoke?” To which, she enigmatically replies, “I smoke for my health!”
She continued, “You see, if I don’t smoke, I eat! And when I eat, I get fat! Now tell me, Ralph Nader, which is better? Smoke? or Fat?!”
Her guests answered for Ralphie like a bored junior high class with a low, monotonous, “Smoooke.” I suppose we all like going to Japan.
The Crotch of Environmental Awareness
Posted on July 4th, 2008 at 1:36 pm by chowthemoose
Trash bins are impossible to find in Japan. The streets, public buildings, some bathrooms, homes — all devoid of trash receptacles. The most reliable place for disposing of my waste is the kitchen at my homestays’ house. I have resorted to amassing a pile of trash (used tissues, cotton swabs, syringes, etc.) in my room before sneaking in the dead of night into the kitchen in order to avoid a session of bowing furiously to my hosts and muttering Japanese phrases (all learned from watching far too much anime) far too long to be said quickly, as I awkwardly sort out my trash into 23 different categories of waste/recyclable materials.
I considered the good ol’ American method of littering, but we were in Minamata City, where, 50 years ago, an Erin Brockovich-type story of water source contamination took place. Several decades of lawsuits and billions of tax yen later, the citizens of Minamata became the hippest of all hippies. Indeed, we were dropped off in the crotch of environmental awareness with our empty green tea bottles and assorted candy wrappers.
Watashi wa Kevin desu
Posted on June 17th, 2008 at 10:03 am by chowthemoose
I just reread what i wrote about Taiwan and realized that listing every possible event is boring. Hell, I was bored from reading it and I did it all.
I pledge to you faithful reader: no more lists.
A List of Taiwan Happenings
Posted on June 17th, 2008 at 10:01 am by chowthemoose
I wrote this all in bits and pieces while traveling through Taiwan and on the plane to Japan. Forgive the horrible inconsistency in tenses.
The flight from LAX was long and torturous. The first thing I did on the plane was watch “Lust, Caution,” and immediately after that I was completely over with being on a plane. I checked how much time was left for the flight… 12 hours. I sobbed uncontrollably in my seat. As a side note, I managed to develop a crush on the lead actress of “Lust, Caution.” She mysteriously looked Korean… And so twelve hours and one hour-long connecting flight from Hong Kong later, the Kroks finally landed in Taipei, our first international stop of our tour. We arrived just past midnight, and exhausted.
Our first stay of the trip was a boarding school in the Ban Qiao district of Taipei called Guang Ren. Our bus arrived at this pretty shady-looking alley way through which our bus could not fitted, forcing us to walk into the hot-as-hell-and-humid-as-hell night. I cannot stress to you enough the absolute humidity of this place, even indoors was extremely humid. Our dorms were nice enough, but the air conditioning, however, was nowhere near enough. The biggest trip we got was from the toilets – they were French toilets!!! i.e., no seats – it was this porcelain lined hole in the ground! So in other words, we would be squatting – something males are really accustomed to. Now the beds… They beds were nice enough, except that the beds were essentially wooden boxes with a thin mattress. The Taiwanese love their hard surfaces. I remember visiting my grandmother’s house in Taipei seven years ago and sleeping on their mattresses. Not only were the mattresses rock-hard, they were also covered with a wooden mat! Wtf. I felt sorry for Will Kehler having to sleep in one of these beds since the very top of my head and toes touched the ends of our wooden boxes. I remember waking up at around 3am with my ass completely numb from the lack of softness on it. Poor thing.
Guang Ren is a private Catholic boarding school, so we were woken up at 6:30 in the morning with Chinese inspirational Christian music… and Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Showering (with cold water, of course) in the morning was the most satisfying feeling in the world. Washing away all of the sweat from the day before made all the difference.
After breakfast, each Krok met his guide for the day – two students from the high school. My guides were Dino (she told me she was named after her dad) and Grace. Our first visit of the day was a stop to the National Ceramic Museum, which is pretty self-explanatory. While the tour was, well, as boring as a tour would be, the fun stuff happened afterwards. We were taken to a workshop where we learned about the greatness of Communism… Wait. Wrong country. We actually made clay dragon boats… well, at the very least, we tried. You can see the assortment of dragon boats on my Picasa gallery. And of course, the immortalize the memories of that day, we took thousands of pictures with our guides.
I also learned something new about the peace sign people do during pictures. Apparently, there are multiple variations on it! The traditional “V” form with your palm directly pointing at the camera is a thing of the past. Nowadays, you can point either your index or middle finger at the camera, have the back of your hand facing the camera, have the “V” upside down with the side of your hand facing the camera, etc. etc. We (Americans) are so behind on this stuff.
In the afternoon was our first performance in Taiwan! The audience was a whopping 1500+, including my five aunts, uncle, cousin (and his girlfriend) and grandmother. It was pretty nice to see them, as I haven’t seen them since 2001 – the last time I was in Taiwan. The performance went very well, I’d say (I didn’t get seriously hurt during any dances). I’d say the best-received song was “Name.” The name girl was our very own Dino, and the onstage antics were received with hundreds of piercing screams of Asian school girls… I could barely hear myself sing! Afterwards, I was able to meet up with my relatives, but only after making my way through hoards and hoards of school girls and boys asking for our autographs on CDs, shirts, school uniforms, etc. My grandmother was kind enough to make me a bunch of zongzi (the festival for that was just on Sunday). Awww. She’s a doll. Hundreds of pictures and autographs later, we were free to change and shower to have dinner at the Sheridan Hotel in Taipei, one of thirty top hotels in the world (we had already stayed at one in LA – the Casa Del Mar). There, I finally got to meet our sponsors for our trip to Taiwan – Mr. and Mrs. Feng and Henry Ho – and all of their friends in Taiwan or China. Mr. Feng and Mr. Ho are both Harvard alums who happen to love the Kroks… and have lots and lots of rich and successful friends… and are rich and successful themselves, of course. It was an amazing experience dining and chatting with these uber people of Taiwan, especially when they’re drunk.
The next day, we departed to Hsintsu (新竹), also known as the Silicon Valley of Taiwan. Our next performance was at the National Experimental High School, where Chris Lo attended. What exactly is the experiment? I personally thought it was Chris Lo. Then when we arrive they told us it was the mixture of Western and Asian curriculum. Mystery solved. To explain the peculiar picture, the auditorium where we performed still had the decorations of the graduation of the seniors the day before – a giant ship complete with a huge mast (the theme was “Adventure” (Chris Lo claims to not have remembered his graduation’s theme)).
After our performance, we met our homestays for the night. Mine were twins named Susan (har har, what a coincidence) and Linda. Both girls just graduated from NEHS and will be attending 台大, a university considered the Harvard of Taiwan. Fancy stuff. Our homestays took us out to dinner and then, the next day, downtown to shop around and go sightseeing at a local temple. The pictures will tell the rest.
And then we were off to Taichung, our final destination in Taiwan. There, we met our Taichung sponsor, Mr. Lai and his (fraternal) twin children Maple and Tiger. Mr. Lai is the owner of a new super mall in Taichung called Tiger City. It’s a ten-story mall filled with stores, restaurants, movie theaters, arcades, and private clubs. It kind of reminded me of Silph Co. from Pokemon, minus the evil underground operations… I think. Anyhow, we did plenty of fun things there: play in the arcarde, watched a movie in a private theater (Prince Caspian, which kind of sucked (luckily we got to order booze while watching the movie)), and have dinner at a really nice Japanese restaurant on the 8th floor. I feel so special.
During our two day stay in Taichung, we sang two shows, one at Morrison High School (an American high school) and at the hotel we stayed at, Freshfields hotel . Our sponsor was also friends with Mr. Ting, the owner of Freshfields, which is placed on a mountain, giving us a great view of the smoggy city. Our rooms were huge and nice… and had a hot spring. Each room is equipped with a huge stone tub/pool and a direct tap to the hot spring. Needless to say, it was amazing.
Some amusing occurrences include a Cold Stone visit, in which all the employees sang songs about ice cream, to which we thanked them with a performance of Runaway. Mrs. Feng sang a beautiful rendition of Unchained Melody on the karaoke machine on our bus. And lastly, on our flight to Japan, I was upgraded to business class… it… was… awesome. There was champagne, the seat could recline all the way, there was a foot rest, there were these dividers between each seat so we could have our privacy, and the headphones were noise cancelling. If only we could fly business all the time…
And so that ends our journey in Taiwan. Off to Japan!
I love sausage
Posted on June 2nd, 2008 at 5:49 pm by chowthemoose
I just came home from eating with a couple of friends at In-N-Out — the greatest burger place that surpasses even the famous Bartley’s. If any of you ever get the chance to eat there, you must go all out and not hold out:
1. Double-Double Cheeseburger with Grilled Onions
2. Animal Style Fries
3. Neapolitan Shake
Nevermind these items total to 5000+ calories. Just put it in your mouth.
Anyhow, when I was with my pals TJ and David, I get a phone call from Minji. When asked what I was up to, I answered, “I’m with a couple of my buddies from high school. We’re having ourselves a sausage-fest.”
“Oh! You guys are having a barbeque?”
“Barbeque? Oh, no. We’re having a sausage-fest without the barbeque.”
“What are you ta-… Oh. Okay then. I’ll leave you to your sausage-fest…”
And I went back to my sausages.
How to Look Like a Tourist 101
Posted on May 30th, 2008 at 6:55 pm by chowthemoose
I finally visited the Fogg Museum today. But first, a bit of irony. Gracie and I actually sneaked into Adams House’s dining hall to eat… the pathetic result of being at Harvard with no classes. While eating lunch some Johnny mentioned loudly that he was headed off to a museum, and at that moment Gracie and I looked up from our fatty chicken and bland fish to share an epiphany. We had both wanted to visit the poor, closing Fogg, but never got around to it. Alas, only in the idleness of pressure-free Harvard, we headed to the museum.
Only after having taken a Medieval History class did the Medieval art on the first floor of the museum look painfully boring. The second floor offered more excitement:
Following Minji’s advice, I checked out the gift shop and bought a book about… photography. And so I added a shopping bag to my arsenal of tourist gear: a big camera (and taking pictures every other second), a man purse, and cargo shorts. But the real souvenir from the Fogg was the photography-permission badge that politely reminds me mode de flash debraye. I managed to forget to return the badge to the front desk, leaving me with the last laugh. Take that HUAM!
Posted on May 29th, 2008 at 1:47 am by chowthemoose
We sang a show at the Hampshire House today, which is right next to the original Cheers bar! How exciting. It was a retirement dinner for Nancy, who is apparently nearing 80. We were all kind of worried she would break a hip if she were to sit down on Walter’s knee during “Name,” so she just remained standing… rather awkwardly.
Afterwards, Will and I met up with Wally and Dan for a “BTC punch event” at Dan’s house — beer and Battle Royale, the most ridiculous movie on earth. Apparently, in order to control the population in Japan, random middle school classes are dumped on a deserted island and forced to fight each other to the death until one is left standing…
And so now, I’m alone in my ugly Leverett room, eating a wonderful Z Square salad, and writing this post… I’m so ronery and so herpressry arone….
Recording at Busch Hall
Posted on May 28th, 2008 at 2:27 am by chowthemoose
On Sunday, the Kroks recorded several tracks for an upcoming CD at Busch Hall. The recording took five fun-filled hours of singing the same songs over and over again. Loch Lomond never sounded so good, especially after the 142nd time it was sung.
Anyhow, here’s what we recorded:
1. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Soloist – Arlo Hill)
2. Many Rivers to Cross (Soloist – Stephen Travierso)
3. Loch Lomond (Soloist – Medum Choe)
4. Turtle Dove (Soloist – Cole Dutcher)
5. Summertime (Soloist – Christopher Lo)
6. Mama, Look Sharp (Soloist – Medum Choe)
We’ll also be including our concert recordings of My Romance and Mr. Bassman arranged and soloed by Cole and Walter, respectively, on the CD.
That day marked the last day Medum and Arlo sang as active Kroks. Oh, such sadness.
a copy, i makez it
Posted on May 28th, 2008 at 1:23 am by chowthemoose
And so I have converted to this Harvard Law School blog after having seen Shan’s. Dedicated to Shan, of course. The fact that “harvard” is in the url makes this blog so much more legit… and pretentious.
Since Shan and Gracie started their blogs with a list, I’ll do the same:
LOLcats phrases that I’ve started to use in real life since coming to college…
1. o hai
2. i can haz [something]?
3. [something], i [verb] it (see title)
4. brbz (often preceded with “going to Narnia”)
5. roflmao zedong
6. banker kitteh/beatrice does not approve [something]
7. ma’am, i are the supervisor
8. teh day, i saves it
9. paranoia, it has me
Harvard with no work is bizarre. kthxbye.
Posted on May 28th, 2008 at 1:03 am by chowthemoose
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