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Shrines and Skyscrapers

    I still havent' figured out where the center of town is. The Emperor's Palace may be the center, but I haven't found it, and perhaps it is not even visible to Western eyes. I am pretty sure that, as I look out the hotel window, it is off to the left, if you can picture that. Beyond those buildings, toward the sun. Yes, there.

     This morning I walked to the Hie-jinja shrine, which was totally open, and empty, not a soul around, at least not any that were living. I feared I wasn't supposed to be there. My vulgar footprints may have been a desecration. Perhaps I was being watched. Stalked. I eased out of there slowly. With the disposable camera I got a good shot of the shrine with the Prudential Financial tower in the background, kind of shooting out of the roof. Lots of shrines and skyscrapers here, which tells you a lot about modern Japan. Ancient and modern. Spiritual and technological. (I hear in Kyoto the city leaders have preserved a few areas of the old seat of Japanese culture, but otherwise developers have come in full bore, unapologetically, and leveled block after block to put up modern buildings.)

     Tokyo is impossibly modern, with stacks of freeways like in a science fiction movie. So many people look sharp -- clothes and hair immaculate, eyeglasses stylish. I need a barber, a tailor, a complete make-over. Everyone is kind of gleaming, just like the hotel. I know this isn't a travel-writing type of word, but most of Tokyo seems really spiffy. In fact I will tell people that today. I will say, "Your city is so spiffy!" They should put up a sign on the outskirts: Welcome to Tokyo, The Spiffy City.

    I wonder what the Japanese word for spiffy is. My Japanese is rusty. Indeed what I would most like to learn how to say is, "I'm so very sorry for coming to your country without learning how to say 'Hello' or 'Thank you'  or any of the other phrases that are useful as social graces."

    I was hoping to get points for using chopsticks correctly. Had dinner last night at Gonpachi, a restaurant built like an old-fashioned warehouse of sorts, with wooden beams, an open kitchen built like an outdoor shed, and chefs that shout a greeting when you take your seat at the counter. Rumor has it Bush ate there -- hopefully the second Bush, since the first had that bad experience with the hurling and so on. The service is exquisite; the diner thinks of the waiter and he somehow materializes. Raw meat and fish on skewers sit in trays in front of the counter. You can pick from the menu, or you can point. The food is brought incrementally, like tapas: A seaweed-sprinkled tofu croquette in a sweet sauce; a deep-fried shrimp wrapped in lettuce with two other mysterious greens and a hot sauce; a crunchy house salad of mizuna leaves, buckwheat sprouts and fresh clams (!); grilled steak and grilled tuna on wooden skewers; and then a satisfying basket of soba noodles, which can be immersed in a rich, beefy broth with grilled duck and Japanese leeks. I know what you're thinking, and you are totally correct: A really spiffy meal!!!

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 29, 2005; 5:50 PM ET
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Next: From Tokyo, Pondering Disaster


I know you can't believe that I didn't make a ninja joke.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 29, 2005 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a fan of Japanese food and yet the description of that meal made my mouth water.

Spiffy Ninja is a great name for a rock band.

Posted by: Snarky Squirrel | August 29, 2005 8:53 PM | Report abuse

dont forget to eat something whose head is still alive-especially lobster. make sure its looking RIGHT AT YOU and twirling its antenna while you eat its raw tail. yum.

Posted by: bunterfly | August 29, 2005 9:11 PM | Report abuse

From the Japanese movies I've rented every visit to the big city ends in a sword fight defending one's honor. Do the men still wear their hair in topknots? I also hear that American movie stars do TV commercials.

Posted by: Videlicet | August 29, 2005 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm. Joel, this Kit made me hungry.

Thanks for all the extra punctuation with this Kit, too. It's a nice way to show the 'boodlers you care.

Another couple of phrases to look up in your English-Japanese translation book might be: "Please excuse my appearance. I am an American, and therefore live in the past."


Posted by: bc | August 29, 2005 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Videlicet, please to be seeing more Godzilla movies. Rare is the sword fight in those.

Lots of cardboard skyscrapers being knocked over by dudes in rubber monster suits, with smoke-spewing model jets suspended by fishing line whipping around, but no Ninja-sweet swordfights that end with limbs and heads being chopped off, and throwing stars falling like snowflakes.


Posted by: bc | August 29, 2005 10:21 PM | Report abuse





Posted by: Momz | August 30, 2005 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I was in Japan about 7 years ago, staying with a friend, so in a teeny apartment rather than a spiffy hotel. It was quite the experience though. Make sure you ride the metro. Taking the train home at 7am after a night of clubbing and seeing Mount Fuji through the train window was a pretty amazing experience and the near-spirituality of it almost countered the maddening tunes that the trains play whenever they reach a station.

By the way I'm also blogging a visit to another culture, spending a week in India. I referenced your post, Joel, and think that in regards to spiffiness India is the anti-Tokyo. if you're passing by.

Posted by: Andrew | August 30, 2005 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I've never been to Japan, but I picture Tokyo as a conglomerate of every futeristic 80's movie. A pinch of Blade Runner, a dash of Total Recall, just a smidge of Robocop [yeah, I know it was (will be?) set in Detroit]. Joel, you need to explore the gritty underbelly of this city and find yourself a young and disenchanted android vixen. Take her to a Kareoke bar, and then try to save her from an evil corporation bent on eliminating rogue technology. Wait. I just got a great idea for a movie!

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Blast from the past: check out the op-ed on PowerPoint:

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 8:10 AM | Report abuse

The rebuilt Tokyo is new and spiffy because we fire bombed the old un-spiffy one. No one has burned any of our major cities to the ground recently so we just make do with mixtures of new and old.

Posted by: LB | August 30, 2005 8:20 AM | Report abuse

LB, don't give real-estate developers any bright ideas.

Completely Tasteless Comment Alert!

Looking at the designs for the Freedom Tower, you have a point.

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 8:23 AM | Report abuse

You are right. There is no center to Tokyo. Actually, it goes against everything that we think as Western... that there needs to be center, a downtown... The palace is at the dead center. And it's totally devoid of anything. Not even a train station. The city is a circle with multiple nodes. As a studying in planning, it's fascinating.
As for history, Americans tend to hold on to any thread of our short history we can, saving buildings everywhere. The Japanese, like the Romans, have built on top of cities for thousands of years. Even their historical buildings are often reconstructed. It makes no difference, as the ground is sacred not the buildings themselves.
The Japanese have an aversion to noise and dirt. So it's intentionally Spiffy. Consider that their are more people that live in Tokyo than New York City (millions more) and it doesn't take up more room. The urban limit is static. The streets are clean. They've even developed wall paint that will clean the air.
It's Japanese technology and efficiency.
Be sure to take a high speed train up to a place like Sendai. It's not a traditional tourist city. But has wonderful temples and is very modern.
Learn to say "Good morning" it's very much a standard greeting used throughout much of the day: Ohayou gozaimasu And thank you: Arigatou gozaimasu

Posted by: DC1974 | August 30, 2005 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I doubt that any other country has such spiffy, affordable, everyday food--noodle shops, even the 7-11 stores. Tokyo metro government runs several fine old gardens--Koisikawa-Korakuen makes you forget the incredible roller coaster towering over it and Kyu-Furukawa has a turn of the century mansion that would look at home somewhere near Dumbarton Oaks. With an amazing Japanese garden! Both on the Nanboku subway.

Posted by: Dave | August 30, 2005 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Every now and then it is good to be reminded about the Japanese. See The Great Raid. I had no idea American prisoners were intentionally killed in such a brutal way in order to destroy evidence of inhumanity in prison camps. It's like the Nazi destruction of the crematoria.

Posted by: norman | August 30, 2005 8:32 AM | Report abuse

JW the closest we got to that was urban renewal in the 60s. They tore down the downtown area, but never got around to rebuilding it.

Posted by: LB | August 30, 2005 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I liked your word picture of the temple with the Prudential tower "shooting through the roof". When we moved to Boston, we immediately loved being able to use our Prudential building as a "guiding light". No matter where we wandered, we could always orient ourself to the path home by looking up and finding the Prudential (I imagine one could use a guiding light when wandering Tokyo as a newcomer!).

Posted by: bostonreader | August 30, 2005 8:44 AM | Report abuse

How can you miss the Emperor's Palace? It's even easier to find than Starbucks. It's on a gazillion acres of the most valuable real estate on Earth and it's the only green spot in the city. Just get above the tenth floor of any building and look out the window. Just don't expect to see the emperor's palace itself. It is deliberately obscured from sight in all directions. A total of three people live there, and one is about to move out.

Tokyo Station is in the middle of the city and Shinjuku which is on the "perimeter" has a skyline that would be the envy of any rust belt urban area. Also the most confusing confluence of trains and subways in the world. Particularly if you do not read Japanese.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2005 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Fortunately, a Japanese student studying in the States guided me through Tokyo Station to help me find the train to the airport, otherwise I would still be wondering around that place.

Posted by: LB | August 30, 2005 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Try to get out of the city for a day or two. I have an album of photos from northern Honshu that no one believes were taken in Japan. Verdant mountains, volcano lakes, and due to the time of year, cherry blossoms galore. The temple in Hirosake is especially lovely, as are the people.

Posted by: Pixel | August 30, 2005 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Norman, sometimes it's good to be reminded about the Europeans and Americans, too. Manzinar, Andersonville, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, the Middle Passage. It's a long long list.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 30, 2005 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I haven't seen "The Great Raid" yet, norman, but I mean to.

Sadly, there are extremist websites that portray Abu Ghraib and Gitmo in roughly the same light as we do the Japanese camp.

It is unfair to paint a group of people or a nation with a broad brush, dappled with the hue of a few who unthinkingly made some horrendeous choices.

The seeds for all of the atrocites in human history are in all of us. The question is how we behave when confronted with our wildest dreams and our darkest fears.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Always enjoy your blog and have lived in Japan for most of the past 25 years. Based on your description of the environs where you are staying, have someone point out the prime minister's residence (as in Koizumi-san's "spiffy" digs). It is quite the contrast to our WH.

Posted by: William Heishman | August 30, 2005 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I had three trips to Tokyo in summer 03, and never did manage to see the Emporer's palace. Meant to, but didn't. Same with Kabuki. And going up into the Tokyo Tower.

However, try to see Mount Fuji and the surrounding resort area if at all possible.

And the word you want to learn is 'sumimasen'--which translates to 'excuse me', and is the most useful word, IMO. :) It was also on the first CD of the Japanese for Travelers set I got from the library. :) Quite useful.

And be sure to check out one of the Bic Camera locations, and (my favorite) the big toy store at the Shimbashi end of the Ginza--Hakihunan (sp?) Toy Park.

And if you miss American food, there's a nice pizza place in Harajuku. :)

Posted by: Marseille | August 30, 2005 9:11 AM | Report abuse

How do we know Achenippon doesn't already have an audience with the Emperor? I think his name starts with an H. Joel could bring his notebook so the Emperor can blog. Bet he has a spiffy back porchu!

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 9:24 AM | Report abuse

"The seeds for all of the atrocites in human history are in all of us. The question is how we behave when confronted with our wildest dreams and our darkest fears."

Bravo. That is so true. Although it's always easier to blame the other guy, we can usually learn more by looking within ourselves. Despite all our superficial race and gender differences, what we have in common is our humanity.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 30, 2005 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dreamer.

I'd originally written that first sentence: "The seeds for all of the atrocites in human history are right there in the mirror.", but since I do my best to avoid responsibilty, I changed it.

Got some things I need to wrap up today, so I'm going to be a bit scarce 'till tomorrow.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"Spiffy," huh? Well, that's a word I would've never thought to apply to Tokyo, particulalry not after 25 years here. Confused, exasperating, boring, exciting, Safe and Orderly, yes!. . . these all pop to mind in differen moods, but not spiffy.

As an earlier poster noted, we firebombed Tokyo to ashes in March 1945 and killed more people than at Hiroshima, and unfortunately, urban planners weren't left alive to do anything with the ashes, thus the current untidy sprawl. The Yamanote line (the loop) does define a kind of center to Tokyo, but only in a rough sense. Some people would think of the area around Tokyo, Otemachi, and Ginza the "center" of town, but you can avoid them if you're lucky.
Head out of Tokyo to the suburbs and see how the people actually live.

--Norm (not the earlier norman)

Posted by: Norm | August 30, 2005 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer, a quote I heard recently was that we like to think of ourselves as fallen angels but in fact we are risen apes.

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I can't help but think of my experience teaching English to Japanese students from Johoku School the second summer I taught at Hawaii Prep Academy on Hawaii, the Big Island.

It was a teacher's best dream. No student ever arrived late to class. Every (and I mean EVERY) student of the 30 16-year-old boys I taught completed his homework assignment the night before. Each student had received enough sleep and was mentally engaged and paid attention in class.

Contrast this with the teaching experience a year later when I taught at West Point--the small-dot town in the Sierra foothills of California, not the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. About half the students in my classes had not read the assigned texts or completed their written tasks. (How to make progress?)

Many of the West Point junior high kids had tough home situations and were not performing to their grade-level abilities. When some came into my empty classroom and overturned desks and wreaked havoc, that was difficult. When some of the kids started tampering with my car, I said "Enough!"

I left teaching (with the state of California threatening to revoke my credential since I terminated my contract several months into the school year), and became a general assignment reporter at the South Lake Tahoe newspaper. Life has never been the same since I made this career switch.

Shortly after dawn, the Johoku kids exercised together in the school courtyard before taking a short morning run. They exercised together in the sand on those afternoons we had gone to one of the Big Island's beaches, after which they dispersed to pursue their own individual recreation. They have a group espirit de corp--that "animating spirit of a collective body and devotion to its honor and interests."

I am not surprised that you find Tokyo "spiffy," Joel.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | August 30, 2005 9:47 AM | Report abuse

bostonreader, you're making me homesick - for new york. Except instead of the Pru, we would use the twin towers as our compass needle, and now I'm getting all misty-eyed.

And the Pru has that great restaurant at the top - I'm going to have to make a point to go back there one day.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

The only useful thing I learned in high school was how to write a thoughtful essay on a book I hadn't actually read. Well, and that girls are cool.

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 9:57 AM | Report abuse

LP, Top of the Hub! One year, I went up there during the Boston Marathon when I got sick of how crowded Boylston St. was. It was pretty dead, but my friends and I ordered a couple drinks, and walked over to the giant windows to gawk at the news helocopter hovering in front of us about 50 yards away. We then leaned our heads against the windows, stared straight down, and watched the first tiny Kenyans cross the finish line.

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 10:01 AM | Report abuse

That was a tangent, and I'm sorry. Japanese folks are great. In college I was very close to two Japanese students, a music major from Chiba, a guy, and a girl who was from the country side and raised in a very traditional manner- she new all about tea ceremonies and taught us how to make sushi, and they were the nicest people I've ever meet.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I want to know why you have to take your shoes off in Japanese homes. Don't they own vacuum cleaners? Plus Japanese deserts suck.

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, top of the Hub. I had a friend who was a hostess and took a few of us as dinner guests - the chefs kept sending out platter after platter of the most delicious appetizers, and we had the best table in the corner. Then, just when it couldn't have gotten better, they sent out a dessert platter - a whole tray filled with ALL the desserts. We ching-chinged forks and had at it.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't get better, or worse, after six months. I came feeling welcomed and ignored, and I am about to leave feeling the same way.

Managing to build a little gaijin (foreigner) world around yourself is not too difficult and it definitely helps to stay loneliness, but stepping outside it every day for a few hours--going to a new soba bar or trying a new sake with yet unknown friends--can make a trip as unique an experience as this hamlet deserves. It's much like LA and NYC in that once you know where to go, with whom to go, you can have a great time... but getting those two things takes a little time and luck. Nearly everyone speaks some English, just don't haggle them to do it. Just beware Shinjuku station; I have somehow never managed to find the same exit twice.

Tokyo definitely has its own flavor, I just haven't decided yet if it's spicy, sour, or sweet. Good luck in your stay.

Posted by: Brock. | August 30, 2005 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Ha! "We like to think of ourselves as fallen angels but in fact we are risen apes." I like that.

Perhaps we humans will continue to rise, to evolve. (It's taking us a long time, though. The apes, Neanderthals, etc., seem to have been better at evolving than we are . . .)

Posted by: Dreamer | August 30, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I had two Korean roommates last year and they couldn't have been farther from the descriptions of the Japanese. They were the messiest people I've ever met, they were never on time, they never did their assignments. It's amazing how different cultures from similar parts of the world can be. Of course, there's always a big chance that I'm tarring an entire culture with the brush that these two Korean girls gave me. Every culture has its odd ducks, and these two might have been it.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Although you may not like Japanese desserts, remember that Japan doesn't have the same obesity problem we have here in the Western World. Maybe we could use a few more sucky desserts.

(That being said, I must point out that I just can't get enough green tea ice-cream and green tea cake. Mmm-Hmm!)

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse tea ice cream

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I suppose that with a discussion of Japan, the topic of WWII will inevitably come up. (I have seen kurosawaguy's reply to morman already this morning.) How does one turn one's life around after experiencing the horrors of war and serve humanity?

Henry Loomis was born in Burlington, N.Y., on March 4, 1839. He entered Hamilton College in 1860, where he was a classmate of Hon. Elihu Root. Loomis enlisted as a private in the 146th Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers in August, 1862, and served with the Army of the Potomac to the end of the war. He participated in 24 battles and was wounded twice.

He was promoted to 2nd Lieut. in January 1863, to 1st Lieut. in September 1864, and Brevet Capt. in March 1865. He was present at the surrender of Gen. Lee at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. He mustered out of the service in July 1865, and returned to college, graduating in 1866.

Henry Loomis entered Auburn Theological Seminary in 1866, and at the end of his studies was ordained as a missionary to China. Illness preventing him from leaving for the Orient until May 1872, during which time he assisted the Board of Foreign Misions and served as pastor of the Presbyterian church at Jamesville, N.Y.

In the interim, his appointment was changed from China to Yokohama, Japan. In July 1874, he organized the first Presbyterian church in Japan and continued as its pastor until 1876, when he was obliged to return stateside because of poor health.

According to the Loomis genealogy tome, "After five years spent in California (during which he introduced the culture of the Japanese Persimmon into the U.S.), [Loomis] was appointed Agent of the American Bible Society for Japan. At the website,, there is a reproduction of Loomis' Japanese Persimmon letterhead dated April 4, 1873: "Based in San Francisco, nursery owner Rev. Henry Loomis explains he is unable to supply any more persimmon tree orders until next year as his stock is exhausted." Commodore Matthew C. Perry also returned with Japaanese persimmon root stock to Washington, D.C. after his voyage to Japan in the 1850s.

In a letter dated April 30, 1908 and written by James Wilson, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to the then- Secretary of the State Department, Wilson commends Rev. Loomis for the discovery of a parasite the gypsy moth in check in Japan.

I can only note the missionary zeal of my Loomis forbears. I apologize for an error. I mentioned that Levi Loomis was the first white child born in the Hawaiin Islands and the Levi's father was Nathaniel. Levi's father was actually the Rev. Elisha Loomis. There is a article in "Hana Hou!", the magazine of Hawaiian Airlines about Rev. Elisha Loomis and his efforts to publish in Hawaii, in the Hawaiian language, :

Posted by: Linda Loomis | August 30, 2005 10:28 AM | Report abuse

All right, now look what you've done. I read Joel's Kit and felt a slight hunger pang. No big deal. Preservere. Then the Boodletalk goes to green tea ice cream. I had to march to the break room and wolf a pastry. Day is ruined. Arigatou gozaimasu, indeed.

Becoming CowLike

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Linda Loomis, you rock. I love your recollections. And, I remember our persimmon tree in our yard in California. I learned the hard way that to eat the persimmon, you have to let it get so ripe it's nearly a smoothy. Otherwise, you get excruciating cat-tongue.

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Ummm...that's "norman," not "morman." Must have been a Freudian typo--on the topic of religion..(Joel is writing about shrines, right?) Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion in the United States, is also a Loomis descendant.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | August 30, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, CowTown -- I should have been more sensitive. I myself face a daily battle to not try one of those new Green Tea Frappuccinos from Starbucks. I know if I taste one I'll love it, and then I'll be doomed. So far, I've managed to resist -- I'm so proud of myself.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Don't the Japanese take down their shrines and completely rebuild them every 30 years or so?

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 10:38 AM | Report abuse

This is my last post as I must get on with my day. I worship Japanese persimmons! I 've read subsequent posts by you and figured form our previous exchange that you were a SoCal guy--what with Pacific Ocean Park and Carpenteria and all. Then you confirmed it for me in one of your more recent posts.

My mother made the best persimmon pudding with rum sauce. We had a persimmon tree in our Bakersfield back yard--planted by my father during my early teens. When my husband and I bought our first home in Tracy, Calif., we planted a persimmon tree just outside our master-bedroom window. As the fruit would ripen into the fall, my husband would climb a ladder to wrap EACH fruit in nylon (hosiery) anklets, in order to keep birds from pecking the fruit and destroying our "crop." A labor of love. (The occasional fruitstand in California would sell different types of Japanese persimmons.) Then I learn decades later that a relative had a hand in importing persimmon root stocks into the Golden State! Incredible!

For the two years we lived in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, we ate native persimmons. The fruit is small, the nut is extremely large, and they cannot compare with the bright, orange fleshy Japanese persimmons. Apricots and persimmons--Vitamin A "foods of the gods!" (I have got to get off this religious theme!)

Posted by: Linda Loomis | August 30, 2005 10:47 AM | Report abuse

i am from japan, but i've lived in the states longer and love it here. with that said, i always tell friends that they must visit japan at least once in their life time - it is so very interesting when you have an island (islands, to be exact) full of one ethnicity thrive to the point where it is so advanced in their own quirky way. i have yet to see a toilet seat that is as advanced as the ones they have in tokyo (even in some public restrooms!) and i am sad to say i have lost the skills to maintain the freakishly clean environment everywhere (including not wearing shoes in the house) and the ability to survive in a sardine-packed train. i look forward to more of your stories joel!

Posted by: arabesque13 | August 30, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

phhhhphhhhhlttt! No, Shinto regards each New Year as exactly that, a New Year, where every transgresion, bad action, or just plain old mistake is wiped clean. The shrines and temples are left intact.

Come visit me in Kawagoe Joel; I'll give you a quick tour. And yeah, the semicolon rules.

Posted by: paulu | August 30, 2005 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Word of the day ...

Main Entry: spiffy
Pronunciation: 'spi-fE
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): spiff·i·er; -est
: fine looking : SMART
- spiff·i·ly /-f&-lE/ adverb
- spiff·i·ness /-fE-n&s/ noun

I think we can all agree that spiffy is, itself, a spiffy word. And those who use it may do so spiffily, while reveling in their spiffiness.

Semicolons? Not so spiffy.

Posted by: Bayou Self | August 30, 2005 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Actually, a number of shrines do rebuilt regularly, most commonly at 20 year intervals. The best known are the Grand Shrines of Ise.

Posted by: Norm | August 30, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Is spiffy a synonym for snazzy? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines snazzy as "conspicuously or flashily attractive." Discuss.

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"Most of Tokyo"??? I think Tokyo is a tad larger than DC. What sort of generalization could we make about DC that would be true?

Do their cabs still have the remote control rear doors? I was there on R&R in 67 and that was one of my memories.

Posted by: bharshaw | August 30, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't think spiffy and snazzy would be synonyms- snazzy connotes something with pizzazz, whilst spiffy alludes to something clean, fresh, as in Joel's usage.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Achenfan, I was going to mention the Green Tea Frappucino from Starbucks when I saw the green tea ice cream entry, but you beat me to it. Isn't it wonderful? I always get one when I go to Barnes and Noble and sip it while I sit in a comfy chair and read a book. That's heaven on earth.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 11:25 AM | Report abuse

yes, remote control rear doors for taxis. i've been hit by them a number of times 'cause i forget and approach the cab doors to open them...

Posted by: arabesque13 | August 30, 2005 11:26 AM | Report abuse

>>Do their cabs still have the remote control rear doors? I was there on R&R in 67 and that was one of my memories.


Posted by: Norm | August 30, 2005 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Spiffy is more stylish than snazzy. A dinner jacket is spiffy, a zoot suit is snazzy. There's also spifflicated, meaning dazed.

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Actually the words that have always fascinated me are the ones which are remnants, you know, one of a pair where only one has survived in usage. A good example would be "unscathed".
Always past tense, always negative. Nobody ever says "Boy, that semi just about scathed us!" "Drop that knife pardner or I'll scath you into next week." Or maybe "overwrought". Nobody is ever underwrought or just wrought. This word, incidentally, is a past tense of "work" and is where we get words like wright (wheelwright, shipwright, etc.).

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 30, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

SFBM: What hath kurosawaguy wrought?

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse

DC1974, that was a nice synopsis of Japanese culture. Not that I know, as I have never been, but those bits of perspective I really enjoy hearing.

I'm off till next week, so any postings by me are likely the 'loper. Unless I find myself with internet access, but that is unlikely, as I will be first visiting the peanut fields of Georgia, then off to the lakes of N. Indiana. Happy Labor Day!

Posted by: TA | August 30, 2005 11:34 AM | Report abuse


My word for you is: "ineffable"

Think about it.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse


What takes you to Georgia and Indiana? (I mean reason for going, not plane, train or automobile)

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 11:49 AM | Report abuse

And blorph to you.

Didya know that "sweetiefur" is a term used in the south to refer to a woman's fur in the public region. Why would you use that as a name on this blog?

Posted by: John4876 | August 30, 2005 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Happy vacation, TA. Have a safe trip.

Posted by: pj | August 30, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Enjoy your trip, TA.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 12:08 PM | Report abuse

bc, I am actually extremely effable. In fact, only this morning a driver on the Wilson Bridge said "Eff you buddy!" as he roared past me.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 30, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Japanese toilets with the spray wash are fantastic! I've never felt so clean. The bombs-away style squatters, not so much.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 30, 2005 12:21 PM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy, I was on the Wilson Bridge at about 8:40 this morning. Was that you?

Posted by: pj | August 30, 2005 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Old man Rothlessburger down the street had a Japanese plum tree in his yard that we kids just couldn't resist climbing and stealing the fruit. He'd catch us every time and scream out the window, "Get outta that tree you lil heathens fore I get my shotgun after you!" Oh lord, that made those plums even more tasty and impossible to resist. It wasn't until I grew up that I realized that he always waited until we'd picked a few and were in the first stages of making a clean getaway before he started yelling. Sweet old man. So awhile back when I noticed two little boys swiping a couple of roses from my bushes (and having some difficulty because of the thorns), probably to take home to their moms, I waited until they had the roses in hand before I yelled out the window, "Get outta those roses!" They tore away down the street with their roses, laughing to each other just like we did with our Japanese plums.

Posted by: Nani | August 30, 2005 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"Nonplussed" is another one. And I'm trying to recall a Seinfeld episode that touched on this topic, but it eludes me. Perhaps jw will be able to remember it.

Have a nice time; we'll miss you.

I haven't forgotten about the Rough Draft. The title was "Kale? Not for this Male." Subtitle: "Girlfood might be pretty, but it ain't beer-butt chicken"

Some sample quotes:
"Some female readers might be preparing at this very moment to mount my severed head on a spike, an action that, I should note, wouldn't be ladylike."

"When you sit down in front of a huge platter of manfood, everything dripping in fat, smothered in sauce, with a 'loaf' of onion rings on the side, you have to be committed to the cause."

More to come if I have time. (I actually did something this morning that could be described as "a scrap of work"! [exclamation point justified in this case])

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Kyoto is actually quite nice, with a LOT of old (500 yr+) temples/shrines...not at all "unapologetically levelling block after block." In many ways, it's the anti-Tokyo; a bit like contrasting DC to NYC, only to the nth degree. Suggest a visit if you've got the time & a bullet-train railpass.

Posted by: Suggestion | August 30, 2005 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me while I whip this out ...

(Pulls out Roget's Super Thesaurus which, curiously, says Roget's Super Thesaurus on the cover and the spine, but says Roget's Superthesaurus on the back cover. Oh well.)

Spiffy: spruce, dapper, smart, neat, trim, sharp, well-dress, natty. (Ant: disheveled, bedraggled, frumpy.)

Snazzy: stylish, sharp, flashy, smart, showy, snappy.

So I'd say snazzy is spiffy taken up a notch. And just as "spiffy" is, itself, a spiffy word, "snazzy" is, itself, a snazzy word.

Posted by: Bayou Self | August 30, 2005 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Suggestion: In the "Makioka Sisters", about 60 years ago, Kyoto was presented as the anti-Tokyo. NYC isn't be the anti-DC, it's more like DC's big sister. The real anti-DC is Richmond. Baltimore is DC's drunken cousin. :)

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Correction on Spiffy: Well-dressed.

Posted by: Bayou Self | August 30, 2005 12:44 PM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy, did you get a chance to see Joel's attempts to eff the Kit and Kaboodle on MSNBC last week?

Tom fan, thanks for the Rough Draft updates. Could there be something so sinister as a cunning plan to force the SAO-15 to actually buy/subscribe to print versions of the the WasPost, just to read RD?


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Spiffy comes from a spiff, a well-dressed man. Not to be confused with a spliff.

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Five or six days away form the blog and i find Joel in the Land of the rising sun.You´re big in Japan, Joel!
One thing that always make some confusion in my head is the feeling that Tokyo is a metropolis whitout a "human" touch, where every people theams standardized.Anyway, i don´t know how to explain this feeling.In constrast, the few japanese people i had the pleasure to know, where humble,inteligent and showed good human values(in small details, such as the respect for the owner of the house where they stayed, the carefully and patient way they had listened to my grandphater stories)...
By the way i had readen some weeks ago a book from a young female japanese writer very disturbing (about a "normal" urban teenager whit bizarre sexual fantasies). I can´t remember the name but i´ll post it here when i`ll come home.It´s a good picture of modern Japanese society

Posted by: suprassis | August 30, 2005 12:50 PM | Report abuse

More choice quotes from the latest Rough Draft:

"The 'mixed grill' is a shining example of manfood. And there's no reason, unless you're some kind of crazed, pine-cone-eating vegan, that dessert can't be a bratwurst."

"A man needs six to eight servings of chips a day, but, as a concession to a varied diet, makes sure to eat different kinds. If you have Fritos for breakfast, lunch and a midday snack, you switch at dinnertime to Ruffles."

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan: You should work Fritos into your dinner entrée, like the Frito Pie they serve at Hard Times. Pringles is your breakfast chip.

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 1:02 PM | Report abuse

thanks, Tom fan - you are providing a much needed service. Gold star for you today.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 1:05 PM | Report abuse

[Just so everyone knows, I'm not the chip-munching, onion-ring-loaf-inhaling, bratwurst-guzzling person described above. Those comments are all quotes from Joel's column. Except for the part about the scrap of work -- that was me.]

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

When I was in Greece, Souda Bay to be exact, there was a little restaurant run by an old lady and her husband. We called it "The Pork Chop House" although I'm pretty sure that wasn't its real name. It really wasn't even a restaurant, but a house where they had decided to cook for anyone who wanted to stop by. All the tables were outside. They served every sort of meat you can imagine, and you knew it was fresh from the block because every so often a truck drove away from the back lot loaded with carcasses. They had three different types of salad on the menu, but no matter what you ordered, you got a Greek salad. One menu item was called the "meat platter". It did no specify what sort of meat. When you got it, you were served a giant plate of lamb, pork, sausage, beef, and some types of meat I couldn't even identify. There were no starches or vegetables. It was the ultimate in man-food.

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 1:10 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry:
Split em-dash in my 1:08:07 post. (You'd think I'd have the sense to count the number of characters per line so I could avoid those.)

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

looked like an en-dash to me.

Posted by: omnibad | August 30, 2005 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Nice, jw. Sounds even better than Meat Lover's pizza at Pizza Hut. During Xmas holidays, my family prepares a 'Pork Lover's Breakfast' for all the guys; Canadian bacon, ham, several flavors and forms of sausage, bacon, scrapple...mmmm. On a jw-related note, I see Weingarten has been in contact with always journalist-friendly Michio Kaku...

No doubt it will be funnier than Woody Allen's take on quantum physics, which ran in either the New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly a few years back.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

True, omni -- because it was represented by only two hyphens rather than three, it looked like an en-dash. However, it served the purpose of an em-dash, by separating the two parts of the sentence. En-dashes tend to be used to separate words or pairs of words rather than phrases. For example, in the term "Post Civil War," one would put an en-dash between "Post" and "Civil."

And you thought discussions about semicolons were boring . . .

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Mogendorff,

Just read your "some spiffy" blog entry, and just added your blog to my favorites. Also, your hotel experience reminded for some reason of "Bride and Prejudice". Which I thought was a really cool movie. I think I'll watch it again.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, Tom fan, I too work in an editorial environment and forgot that two en-dashes make an em-dash. As Achenfan commanded yesterday, I will now step away from the Jim Beam. (that post, I forgot to say, did make me chuckle)

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 1:31 PM | Report abuse

And by the way, I'm not bored with discussions of punctuation ever (or grammar). Another must read (still haven't read "Eats, Shoots &Leaves (it is on my list)) is "The Elephants of Style" by Bill Walsh.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I have yet to read "Elephants," omnigood. I enjoyed Walsh's previous book, "Lapsing Into a Comma."

I don't suppose omnibad and omnigoof have much patience for these kinds of books.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Achenku (5-7-5)

Back porch is silent
West Nile mosquito buzzing
Awaiting old host

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Videlicet!

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Any other Achenkus?

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 1:52 PM | Report abuse

You can get a glance of the Imperial Palace if you get off at the Nijubashi station on the Chiyoda Line.

Posted by: LivedinJapan5yrs | August 30, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel is in Japan
Left Boodle Unattended
Mischief is certain

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I knew we could rely on CowTown (aka Cow San, aka DarkCow) to come up with an Achenku! Good work, Cow man!

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Achenaddicts Read
The Land of the Rising Sun
Is where Joel has gone

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that MOST Japanese DON'T live in Tokyo or its suburbs. They are in smaller cities and--yes--even rural areas.

It is significant that most of the land in Japan is mountainous and not very good for building cities, or anything, on. This Japan is there to be enjoyed and appreciated, but many Japanese would discourage you from making an excursion to rural areas for fear you would be bored with the scenery (that is unless it was a sight that every agreed was "famous' or worthy of note). By the same token many Americans would probably tried to dissuade a Japanese visitor from going to a small town in, say, southern Indiana or traveling out to look at random pastureland in Nebraska, even though those places may speak volumes about the country.

After nearly ten years of living in Japan in four stints over the past 27 years, I believed I have learned much more about the country (and seen much that is beautiful) by focusing (or do we want to spell that "focussing" on the unsung (and touristically unpromoted) parts of Japan.

Try to catch the traditional puppet theater ("Bunraku" or "ningyo joruri") for a unique stage experience. The national theaters in Osaka and Tokyo have shows and there are also several 200-to-350-year-old troupes (Imada, Kuroda, Tonda, Awaji, and others) that can be found in various smaller communities (and out in the sticks) from Tokushima (on the island of Shikoku SW of Osaka and Kobe) through Nagano in central Japan, west of Tokyo. (Find them by googling "bunraku.")

Posted by: KawaGuy | August 30, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Joel eating sushi
In a spiffy restaurant
Nice expense account

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"I'm so very sorry for coming to your country without learning how to say 'Hello' or 'Thank you' or any of the other phrases that are useful as social graces."

"Konnichiwa" ya "Arigatou gozaimasu" wo iezu ni, anata no kuni ni mairimashite, taihen shitsurei itashimashita. [Deep bow.] [bonus points if you replace "anata" with the name of the person you're talking to plus "-san"]

Or words to that effect. Perhaps someone else can pitch in with a translation of the clause about social graces.

Posted by: h3f | August 30, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

haiku addictive
achenku is even worse
please someone stop me

Posted by: WildCow | August 30, 2005 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I heart haiku-ing. Once I had this roommate, and we had opposite schedules so didnt run into each other a lot. For about a month, every note I left him was in haiku form.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Haiku should have an element of the seeasons suggested, whereas achenku should have an element of achen*, kit or kaboodle suggested.

Bravo LP and WildCow.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

And of course weingarku should have an element of poop suggested

Posted by: omnibad | August 30, 2005 2:42 PM | Report abuse

new boodle visitors
have great Japan adventures
now I want to go

Now see what you started, Videlicet?

Posted by: WildCow | August 30, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Jim Beam and Fritos
Frappuccinos and blogging
All is addictive

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Or should that be, All ARE addictive? (Somehow "is" makes it sound more profound. Not sure why . . .)

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Jim Beam? Blorph.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel meet Godzilla
Giant fight smash Tokyo
City not spiffy

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"All is addictive" is gramatically incorrect but more profound because it is more general. We can become addicted to any number of the things we encounter in our lives, not just the ones you mention.

Work the word 'haiku' into your haiku and you will make it completely self-referential.

Posted by: pj | August 30, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I really wish "international incident" had only seven syllables -- would love to be able to work that one into an Achenku.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse

canoodling nu_s
under her _un_
how MF runs

Posted by: john4876 | August 30, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse


Your response to "Jim Beam," almost had me spraying coffee out my nose. I don't know why "blorph" is so funny.

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"Blorph" is good clean fun
Not like what we hear from some
New handles abound

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

It's good to have your own words, nomesayn? It keeps folks on their toes.

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Jim Beam Manhattans
Make for a tasty Friday
But make LP blorph

There's just no stopping this. Is there a 12 step program for haiku?

Posted by: Out of Cow Experience | August 30, 2005 3:18 PM | Report abuse

To blorph is illegal
Except when
The pig is greased

Posted by: ThriceInJapan | August 30, 2005 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Is that six-three-four?
Methinks this interloper
is haiku impaired

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Tom fan, I noticed that too. A bit annoying, no?

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Jim Beam Makes me sick
Words cannot describe the Feel
I drink Tequila Instead

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Please, sir, count ur own, respectfully.
What is a interloper.

Posted by: ThriceInJapan | August 30, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, I also really like yours.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Take twelve steps forward
Put your hands on your hips and
Shake it all about

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps, omnigood. But also funny. Put on your omnigoof hat and you might see things differently.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Drop the "I drink" and you have five

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, whoops. Mea Culpa. Hard to haiku and work at the same time -

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I need to take twelve steps back. From the Jim Beam that is.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse

OK, here's the last installment of text from Joel's most recent Rough Draft -- the concluding two paragraphs of the piece (so if you actually plan to read the real thing and don't want to have your fun ruined, you might want to hold off).

"Recently, my brother discovered the joys of beer-butt chicken. It was one of those Road to Damascus life-changing events. The beer-butt chicken is exactly what it sounds like: You put a half-empty can of beer inside the chicken and prop it up on the grill. The beer evaporates as the chicken cooks, moistening the meat. It is possible that what my brother likes most about the recipe is the strong implication that the chef must first drink beer. Which means you might as well have a case of it.

"I know some readers might think I am promoting gluttony, and that if I eat this way I am going to turn into a repulsive, jiggling, corpulent repository of chicken fat, utterly poisoned by toxins, my body shot through with all the filth of the slaughterhouse. I'd like to argue that point, but I'm afraid I'm too full to talk any more and must go lie down."

[And I have to say, I think this was one of Joel's best columns ever -- Tf]

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Darn, another split em-dash. I really must use more semicolons and parentheses, so I can avoid em-dashes. (But I do like em-dashes.)

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Put an unopened can in there. You know it's done when KAPOW!!!

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know chickens could fly.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry about going over syllable count, particularly on the seven-syllable line. It is done in traditional haiku whne the poet feels it necessary and the technique is called "jiamari' in Japanese.

One of Basho's most famous haiku:

(5) kareeda ni (on a withered/bare branch/branches)
(9) karasu no tomarikeri (crows/a crow has alighted)
(5) aki no kure (the end of autumn)

Posted by: KawaGuy | August 30, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Joel dines on seafood
We are left to read about
His beer butt chicken

Posted by: HowNowCowTow | August 30, 2005 3:50 PM | Report abuse

In that case:

Joel is in Japan
International incident!
Shouldn't have brought Rove.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan

Excellent! Supurb!

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

And Basho also wrote another version of the crow-on-branch poem in the which the second line had a whole 10 syllables:

karasu no tomaritaru ya

Posted by: KawaGuy | August 30, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

That's great, Tom fan.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 4:09 PM | Report abuse

once there is a kit

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

once there is kit
achenaddicts will then pounce
on the kaboodle

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2005 4:18 PM | Report abuse

And, KawaGuy, keep'em coming. If I'm going to blog I should be learning something useful. Thanks.

Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 4:19 PM | Report abuse

that | was me tripping over the Jim Beam.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow, we went a whole two days with Joel out of the country before everyone COMPLETELY LOST THEIR MINDS! I think it's a new record. I'm afraid I may start laughing like an idiot at my desk.

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse


that my fellow boodlers is a hat trick

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The fifteen run free
The leader has been absent
Boodle becomes wild.

Posted by: jw | August 30, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse


What is the sound of one kaboodle clapping?

Posted by: Videlicet | August 30, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

That was a great Achenku, omnigood. Glad I now know whom to give the credit to. Or to whom to give the credit.

Too bad you have to trip over all those bottles omnigoof and omnibad leave lying around.

Lost our minds? This is possibly the sanest we've ever been; having to count all those syllables lends some much-needed structure to our thoughts.

Posted by: Tom fan | August 30, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

jw, I've been giggling like an idiot all day.

My coworkers ars beginning to suspect something's up....

Posted by: LP | August 30, 2005 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Does a Kit exist if there are no Kaboodlers to Observe it?

Posted by: Dreamer | August 30, 2005 4:28 PM | Report abuse

achenkoan answer:

the sound of a kit falling in the woods when no one is there to hear it.

Thanks Tom fan. I was sitting here reading all your greats thinking never me, then I was struck by the muse.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, are you trying to end the world as we know it?

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 4:30 PM | Report abuse

[Trying to think of a clever response, omnigoof, but I'm getting nothing . . .]

Posted by: Dreamer | August 30, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse

your post still has me scratching my head.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Kit and Kaboodle
Yin and Yang, Observed Observer
Ineffable we.


Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 4:40 PM | Report abuse

loved the kit today - i've always wanted to go to japan but the japanese language leaves me scratching my head and going, "huh?" i do love the characters tho and plan to get some tattooed on me somewhere... i'm definetly at some point going to japan and i'm going to climb mt. fuji... i had a japanese roommate my freshman year in college. she was fascinated by the black (african american) culture and started dressing like a gangster with baggy pants and sideways baseball hats. she taught us some japanese - mostly bad words that would prolly get me canned! she wasn't neat tho and not exactly spiffy (as in she was terribly terribly messy) and was never on time to school... i'm also fascinated by the vending machine thing in japan - apparently there's a vending machine at the top of mt. fuji - heh, i thought MY job sucked! blorph!

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 4:41 PM | Report abuse

and what the heck is up with gwen stafani and japanese girls? i don't get it...

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 4:43 PM | Report abuse

there's no kaboodle
when there isn't a new kit
achenbach come back

Not an answer but the best my muse could do for the moment.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

New super happy terrific Kit.



Posted by: bc | August 30, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

mo! You're back! We missed ya!

Re. messy Japanese and Korean room-mates, I'm wondering if maybe they were just taking a break from tidiness, because they figured they could get away with it here but not back home. Hmmmm. Could be the topic of an Achenthesis.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

One of my Korean roommates did the dishes once and used Palmolive. The entire kitchen was a big bubble bath. Maybe that's why it was pretty much the first/last time she did dishes.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to clarify -- she used Palmolive in the dishwasher.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 4:48 PM | Report abuse

good one bc.

Hi mo, where have you been. My parents, stationed in Japan in the late 50's, before I was born, once climbed mt Fuij. They said it was, once on the ice and snow, three steps forward, two steps back. I've also always wanted to go.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 4:48 PM | Report abuse

thank you achenfan and sara - you guys gave me a warm fuzzy wondering where i was at... i was home sick yesterday - pre-bday partying left me achenhung-over...
my father's wife is Korean - i don't think she's particularly tidy, either... tho i don't think of koreans the same as japanese - koreans seem louder and more crass (sorry if i'm insulting any koreans!)... i worked at a hotel in nyc during college and this one korean guy walked thu the lobby farting the whole way across - that picture has always stuck in my head!

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

i deliberately smalled cased mt and uppercased the F in Fuij, but ended up misspelling it. Blorph.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Sara, for some reason I find that so funny I just can't stop laughing! I keep picturing her standing there amid the bubbles, as though in some I Love Lucy episdode.

Tee hee . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 4:51 PM | Report abuse

mo, if you think Koreans and Japanese are different, that's a compliment. From what I understand they hate being mistaken for one another.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I keep posting as goof when I mean to post as good (said, as i am backing away from zadshugfa damn).

Posted by: omnigack | August 30, 2005 4:55 PM | Report abuse

i have a feeling most cultures that look the same hate being mistaken for the other - i hate it when ppl think i'm mexican - not that there's anything wrong with mexico or being mexican, it's just that it's not the only frickin hispanic country!

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I hear ya mo. I had a gf who once would tell everybody I was Italian even tho I was half British (and felt Welsh) and only a quarter Italian.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 4:59 PM | Report abuse

mo, your comment about the Korean guy in the hotel lobby reminds me of a Korean Airlines flight I took from Dulles to Seoul about a year and a half ago. I think it must be more socially acceptable to, er, break wind, in public in Korea, because that was one gassy ride. But the thing is, after a while you get used to it.

Blowing one's nose in public, however, is considered rude in Korea. I took this rule very seriously, retiring to the bathroom every time I needed to blow my nose -- which was a lot, because I was eating a lot of hot sauce on my bibimbap (sp?), and my nose was constantly running.

Oh, and I mean all this in the nicest way. I LOVED visiting Korea, so, "No offense!"

Posted by: Achenfan | August 30, 2005 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan, it was hilarious. Especially since she couldn't speak much English yet so when I said, "Se Hui, what happened?" (I was laughing at this point.) She just looked at me with the best "Boy, did I mess up" look that I have ever seen and said a really forlorn sounding, "Ohhhhhhh" over and over again.

And welcome back, mo. The 'boodle wasn't the same without you yesterday. Hope you're feeling better.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 5:03 PM | Report abuse


She probably said you were Italian because Italian's are "romantic" and therefore girls like to date them.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Sara.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 5:06 PM | Report abuse

bibimbap for some reason makes me think of Bill Murray in "stripes":

bibimbap? BimImBap? BIBIMBAP?

Posted by: omnigoof | August 30, 2005 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Our mo has returned
She has made her contrition
For way too much fun


Posted by: CowTown | August 30, 2005 5:11 PM | Report abuse

that's tooo funny achenfan! my father has lived in korea (seoul) for over 10 years so there must be something good about it... i hear korea is like nyc - either you love it or you hate it... me, i LOVE nyc so maybe i'll love korea - my father says one of his favorite places on earth is Pusan, Korea... i think if (nay, WHEN) i go to japan i'll maybe do a driveby of korea... at least to see my father...
omnigood - yeah, italian men are romantic - well, not the gombahs in nyc but in italy *swoon* oh, and LP - omnigood has long hair! *swoon again*

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 5:12 PM | Report abuse

ahhhh cowtown! my very own achenku! i'm touched!!! (generous uses of exlamation points!!)

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 5:13 PM | Report abuse

we obviously love this kit and kaboodle cause we haven't yet all flocked to the new kit.

Thanks mo. don't forget the goombahs in philly (I grew up in the suburbs and I am still revulsed by multiple gold chains). mo, you now have me *swooning*. Hugs and kisses.

And it looks like the new kit has an interloper posing as 'bad.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Goodnight everybody.

Posted by: Sara | August 30, 2005 5:27 PM | Report abuse

the new kit makes me sad so i'm staying here a bit longer - i didn't think that was you over there omnibad... multiple gold chains! HAH! even one is bad enuff!

Posted by: mo | August 30, 2005 5:32 PM | Report abuse

'night Sara.

I'll be signing off now too as I'm pissed (not in the British sense).

If omnigasm is one of the interlopers handles I suspect it was the 'bad poster.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

joel flies to japan
flutters down into Tokyo
the end of summer

Posted by: bostonreader | August 30, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

one last for mo. I have one I never wear. A gift. Give me silver or even platinum. 'night all.

Posted by: omnigood | August 30, 2005 5:35 PM | Report abuse

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