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Nothing says "I wish I was a secret agent" like a pair of dark aviators.

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Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
For the moment, believe it or not, I have returned. The one, the only, the MoDS.
Music to Wear Aviators To...
If a pair of mirrored aviators could play music, it would sound something like this...
Tales of Japan: Communication Across Language Barriers
Sunday. 7.15.07 8:39 pm
[At a Buddhist Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo]

*Old man approaches our group of Americans*

*We look at old man*

*Old man looks at us.*

*Old man speaks a sentence of Japanese*

*We don't speak Japanese*

*Old man looks at us puzzled.*

*We look at old man puzzled.*

*Old man points to nearby statue.*

*'Buddha' old man says.*

*We nod in fascination.*

*Old man pulls out cell phone.*

*Old man points to Buddha figurine attached by key-chain to cell phone.*

*'Buddha' old man says.*

*We nod in fascination*

*Old man points to Hello Kitty figurine attached by chain to cell phone.*

*'Meow' old man says*

*We all break out laughing.*

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An Afternoon in Okayama, Japan
Saturday. 7.14.07 1:46 am
I emerge from Okayama station on a late afternoon in the Japanese rainy season, accompanied by a couple of fellow Americans. We munch on some snacks purchased from the train station vendors, and talk loudly in English. Being an American in Okayama is a kind of celebrity status. As opposed to Tokyo, where foreigners just melt into the other crowds of tourists, Okayama is a much less popular destination for non-Japanese. Thus, we attract the usual covert stares, and... to be honest, probably make a point of talking a little louder just for the hell of it.

As we cross the open area in front of the station, we pass a few schoolgirls... crisply uniformed in their manditory skirt and white shirt school clothes... sitting on a bench and chatting. I barely notice them, but a few steps later one of my comrades breaks from our conversation regarding the curiously high popularity of Red Hot Chilly Peppers cell phone ringtones among the Japanese middle-aged, turns to me, and says 'I think that girl was just checking out your ass.'

'Really?' I ask in surprise.

'It definetely looked like it. She was staring after you when we walked past.'

So I turn around, and sure enough... the girl on the end of the bench is still staring at us. Suddenly filled with that classic American bravado that only really exists in the imaginations of Hollywood script-writers and the foreigners who watch their movies, I turn fully to her, grin, wave, and then turn around again without another look back. My friends chuckle, and we move on without another thought.

Half an hour later, I return to catch my train back to my host family's house. Before I know it, I'm passing by the same bench, this time with more highschoolers around it. Among the throng, I recognize the girls from before, just as they recognize me. A sudden burst of brave-in-an-nervous-sort-of-Japanese-accented-way 'Herro!' calls burst from the crowd, and I jump back in surprise. Suddenly, the American bravado rushes back, and before I know it, I'm grinning arrogantly again, feeling like a jewish Tom Cruise (he's very popular here).

'Herro, nihonjin!' I call back, in the same Japanese-accented style. Wondering what else to do, I finally decide to grace them all with a stereotypically cocky American salute, and then march off with stereotypical American pride to my train.

'I love Japan,' I think to myself, as I listen to the nervously excited giggles that I've left in my wake and observe the puzzled looks of those around me as I break out into a loudly-hummed rendition of 'Yankee Doodle'.

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I'm Off to the Orient
Sunday. 6.24.07 2:39 am

The day has finally come. I'm off to board an early morning flight to Los Angeles, and then Tokyo, and then move by train to Okayama. Who can tell what sorts of fascinating adventures await the ManOfDarkSunglasses on his mysterious journey? Stay tuned...

Thank you, that is all.

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The Perfect Book For Anyone Travelling to Japan
Wednesday. 6.13.07 10:31 pm
I was looking around on amazon.com today when I discovered the perfect bit of how-to reading for my upcoming trip to the mysterious east...

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My Official Position on Polo Shirts
Sunday. 6.10.07 5:41 pm
The following represents my official position regarding polo shirts:

Never before have I seen a line of t-shirts that so perfectly meshed with my natural sense of critical cynicism and wannabe-badass-nonconformist lifestyle. I wound up buying the first shirt (the one of the polo guy falling off of his horse) since it was just about the only one appropriate enough for me to wear in public.

I would have bought the entire series, but sadly the makers of the shirts (Threadpit.com) were being greedy and demanding that I furnish them with small quantities of currency in exchange for their wares, so I was forced to confine myself to only one fashion statement.

Now, back to my packing list for Japan...

Thank you, that is all.

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The ManOfDarkSunglasses is Going Abroad
Saturday. 6.2.07 3:21 pm
Out of the studious chaos of finals week, and the much-anticipated conclusion of the 2006-2007 school year, a plan has emerged. A plan for the summer. A plan for a journey. A plan so excellent, that mere words fail to express its true excellence. A plan best explained by the following diagram:

That's right, for approximately four weeks the ManOfDarkSunglasses will be living in Japan. A land whose language I do not know and whose customs are unfamiliar to me, which may pose some difficulties since much of my time will be spent living with a host family who may or may not speak English. Not to mention that I would be living among a people whom my mentor, Tom Clancy, has specifically warned me not to trust (see "Debt of Honor" in previous blog entry).

On the other hand, my beloved United States are getting a bit dull, and Japan does have an interestingly unique language and culture... It seems like all of my fellow youths are flocking to learn International Relations in China, help build villages in South America, or learn how to ooze an undeserved air of superiority from the veritable masters of arrogance, the French. But how many have taken an intensive language course in Japan?

Besides, Japan is home to the most awesome candy in the world. U.S. Customs can expect a tarriff-eriffic nightmare calculating how much I owe in import taxes after I return to the United States with a suit-case full of hi-chews.

More news to come, but for now...

Thank you, that is all.

[PS: For those of you who may not have noticed, the man in the above photo is none other than Fonzie.]

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