Laughing At vs. Laughing With?

Just wanna throw a question out to the universe, as this came up in one of my classes today and it really bothered me, and the class’ answer seemed unsatisfactory to me.  So I want to throw it out to you and know your thoughts.

So here’s the situation, imagine yourself in it.  You’re taking an Anthropology class.  The Professor is an experienced cultural anthropologist specializing in a particular people, a people that are not of the dominant culture, are often misrepresented and misunderstood.  It’s obvious that the professor is very passionate about understanding these people and teaching others about them.   This is not a specialized class, it is “Introduction to Anthropology,” and the professor is using her knowledge of these particular people to illustrate in detail the general concepts of anthropology.

Now, it’s the third week of classes.  Because of issues of seniority and availability of classes to teach, your professor, who was an adjunct faculty member, has to relinquish that class to another professor, a tenured one.  The first thing the new prof asks the class is, naturally, what have you gone over with your old professor?

And someone blurts out the name of the particular people the professor was really passionate about.  Immediately, nearly the entire class laughed.

I was like, ???.  It was absolutely true that we’d spend a lot of time talking about those particular people.  Which is why I didn’t understand why the class had laughed; it was a simple matter of fact.  It seemed like they were, on a subconscious level at least, partaking of the mainstream culture which says it’s okay to laugh at certain people (especially if there’s no one of those people around). If that was the case, how ironic to have that reaction in an anthropology class!

It was really bugging me, so at the end (which mind you, today was 2 hours earlier than usual, so why everyone was in a huff to leave was also irritating) I asked the class:

“Given that this is an anthropology class, this has been bugging me.  When Prof. B asked what Prof. K had been going over, and someone said “the such and such,” nearly the whole class laughed.  I’m not one myself, but I found it offensive and would like to know if you would have laughed if the people our former prof had been talking about were the _______ or the _______.”

Unfortunately, it seems a lot of people in class felt personally attacked, which was certainly not my intention; I was attacking the mentality (which is one ingrained by our own American culture and most of us are unaware of it).  But suddenly everyone’s raising their hands, getting more animated than usual.  Here are some of their responses:

“We weren’t laughing at the people, we were just laughing at the prof for being eccentric.  It’s like laughing with, not laughing at.”

“People make fun of me when I talk about ________.  People just think it’s comical when you’re really passionate about something.” 

“No, it’s just because somebody actually said what we were all thinking that we laughed.”

Now, to me, the last one seems reasonable, and may perhaps be the case.  If so, then I’m willing to admit I’m blowing things out of proportion.  But, even if that explains some students’ reaction, I doubt it explains all of their reactions, especially given their other answers to my question. In response to the first one, that the prof was an eccentric, I asked, “Why was she eccentric?” I think they thought she was eccentric because of the particular people she’s interested in, and would not have had that view had it been a different, more “usual” group of peole. I also don’t think it’s a case of “laughing with,” because the prof took her studies seriously and I’m sure she doesn’t think her studies are merely “funny” nor “eccentric” (which, keep in mind, is usually used to disparage someone). When another student said that she’s made fun of for her passion, I said, “But should people make fun of you for that?”  No one answered that question.

So, knowing only that much, what do you think? 

Now, let’s make it specific.  Let’s assume the professor’s specialty was in your culture and people.  Let’s also assume that your culture and people are not the dominant ones, and that you are often stereotyped and misunderstood.  Now, put yourself in that place: at the moment when the class laughs because the answer to the question was your own people, how do you feel?  

Reflect for a minute.

Now, let me tell you who the actual people in question were.  And again, I myself am not one, so it’s not that I felt personally offended so much as generally offended and, more than anything, disheartened that it seemed like these students are in a class about cultural understanding, nodding their heads, yet understanding and examining nothing, as if it has nothing to do with their lives. Our former professor’s specialty is the Roma people (more widely known as Gypsies).  The professor did spend a lot of time interweaving the general concepts of anthropology with specific examples from Roma culture and life, and I understand that because it’s probably an unusual field of inquiry for most people, that part of class really stood out in the students’ mind.  So when I posed my question, I asked, “Would you have laughed if the prof’s specialty had been Blacks or the Irish?”  The class was quick (a little too quick) to say that they would have also laughed in that circumstance.  But I seriously doubt it. 

What do you think, O World?  Am I being overly sensitive?  How would you feel if it had been your own people?

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Gackt’s Cats Used To Be So Innocent…

~Revisiting “Koakuma Heaven,” January 7, 2010~

Note: The original, older post & updates remain intact below this preface that’s written in blue. But, the interpretation written in blue is the latest understanding, whereas the original post includes lots of conjectures.

It’s been nearly a year since I put this translation up.  From the beginning, I understood that the song was being sung from the point of view of a woman, and got the impression that the woman was a prostitute.  Once Japanese fans who blog in English started weighing in, well, at least according to one (Mic at her blog Sugar & Spice & Everthin’ Nice), the song was indeed from the point of view of a “whore.” Later, it came to light that there was a magazine called “Koakuma Ageha,” which is targeted at girls and women who prefer a certain style (which, I gather, looks like what GACKT and the models on the cover of the “Koakuma Heaven” single are wearing).

Now, from the comments people have left on this blog, as well as discussions at other predominantly English-language fanblogs, I see that there is disagreement as to whether we should take the girl as a “prostitute.”  Some say the girl is just a hostess, a woman paid to chat and flirt with men, but no more.  Some say it’s not supposed to be all that sexual.

Okay, so the girl in the song is just a hostess.  But from my understanding, while hostesses are forbidden from outright prostituting themselves, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go on in a few cases.  So, which did GACKT intend?  I don’t know if he’s ever said outright, this song is about a hostess who does not sell sexual services. Frankly, I don’t think that matters all that much. Whether she’s a hostess or a prostitute, she’s selling her services (much the same way that anyone who is employed sells themselves).

As for the song not being sexual, I have to disagree on the basis of what GACKT wrote in English and the simpler Japanese alone.  “With wet lips up and down,” “the numbers I like are 6 and 9,” I mean, short of straight out saying “I’m singing about various sex acts,” the song is sexual.  And, it’s full of double-entendres.  Which pair of “lips” is he talking about?  Again, has GACKT ever said straight out which he intended?  I think he intended for it to be sexual, knowing full well multiple interpretations were possible from what he wrote.

Given more recent comments, I’ve made a few tweaks to the translation.  Overall, I’m 99.9% sure that I got the overarching concept of the song right, and that concept is: the song is sung by a woman who in one way or another is selling herself, and she’s talking about what she does. I’m 80% sure that she is trying hard to convince herself that what she does is okay, but that she doesn’t really think so.

Okay, below, in black, is the original post, and a tweaked translation, with an added note about why I translated 小股者 the way I did.

~~~

If you’re a Gackt fan, you probably know that for whatever reason, live performances of “U + K” from his album MARS feature a bunch of people dancing around in cat costumes on stage. Recently on Gackt’s official Japanese site you can see a clip of a cat dancing to a dance/house style song. For me it’s nigh impossible to understand the robotic voice, but recently the lyrics were posted under “Preparation for the LIVE.” You can see the lyrics on the official site here, but since the kanji are pretty hard to read (because it’s a picture, not text) I typed the lyrics below (increase the text size of your browser to see them more easily, should that be of interest to you).

You don’t even need to be able to read Japanese to see where this is going! (Though I did romanize and translate it below.) How different from the childlike innocence of “U + K”, where these dancing cats first appeared! “Dispar” was pretty perverted, but this is on a whole new level!

The “character” in this song, or the one “speaking,” is a woman. You can tell by the use of the sentence-final particle わ (wa) and the pronoun ウチ (uchi), which is predominantly used by women and children (and I should hope this isn’t a child talking!) But who is she? A girlfriend? A succubus? A hostess? I’m not entirely sure what her role is. And considering this is part of the Rebirth universe, what with its androids, I bet the action of the song is occurring online in some sort of cyber reality, explaining all the emoticons.

(Sorry the verses are all jammed together, I’m having trouble making them align correctly because of the text wrapping.)

小悪魔ヘヴン

巻き髪をかき上げて☆

濡れたリップで Up and Down ★

欲張りッしュに3回戦、4回戦、5回戦...

オシャベリわ 上級者な ѡ デス (*^◻^*)

愛情の欠落わ サイフの厚みで

ガマンしてま〜すゥ m( _ _ )m

恋をするのも 気楽ぢゃないんで

玩張ってま〜すゥ ハイッ(ー_ー#)

ナニが何でも玩張るウチらわ

いいオンナ...なんデス、ハイッ♪

ブチアゲな 曲に合わせ ☆

濡れたヒップを Upside Down ★

好きなナンバーわ6(*• д •)9

ハイッ、脳脳脳脳天気...なんデス \(^o^)/

サイコーな決めポーズで

「本命のカレシ!? wow、性してますゥ !!(^−^)!!」

(ホンだヨ)

イヤになるほどキライぢゃないんで

小股者デス、ハイッ(ー◻ー;)

ナニを何度も玩張るウチらわ

いいオンナ...なんデス、ハイッ♪

恋をするのも気楽ぢゃないんで

玩張ってま〜すゥ、ハイッ v(^-^)v

ナニが駄目でも玩張るウチらわ

いいオンナ...(デショ?)

濃い〜のするのも若くはないんで

玩張ッてま〜すゥ、ハイッ(ー◻ー;)!!

ナニが誰のでも玩張るウチらわ

いいオンナ...なんデス、ハイッ♪

koakuma hevun

makigami wo kakiagete

nureta rippu de Up and Down

yokuburisshu ni (three four five) sankaisen, yonkaisen, gokaisen… [see translation notes below]

OSHABERI wa joukyuusha DESU

aijou no ketsuraku wa SAIFU no atsumi de

GAMAN shitema~suU

koi suru mo kiraku ja nain da

ganbattema~suU HAI

NANI ga nan de mo ganbaru UCHI ra

ii ONNA…nan DESU, HAI

BUCHIAGEna kyoku ni awase

nureta hippu wo Upside Down

sukina nanbaa wa (six and nine) 69 [see translation notes below]

HAI, nou nou nou nou tenki…nan DESU

saiko na kime poozu de

“honmei no KARESHI!? wow, sagashitemasuU”

(HONTO da YO)

IYA ni naru hodo KIRAI ja nain de

komatasha DESU, HAI

NANI wo nan do mo ganbaru UCHIra wa

ii ONNA…nan DESU, HAI

koi wo suru no mo kiraku ja nain de

ganbattema~suU, HAI

NANI ga dame de mo ganbaru UCHIra wa

ii ONNA…(desho?)

koi~no suru no mo wakakunain de

ganbattema~suU, HAI

NANI ga dare no de mo ganbaru UCHIra wa

ii ONNA…nan DESU, HAI

___________________________________

I suppose emoticons are a natural progression for Gackt, who frequently uses odd kanji switches to make double entendres and once used the ♂ and ♀ symbols to correspond to the sung lyrics “angels” and “gods,” respectively. Alright, so here’s my translation of this song, with translation notes at the end marked with [ ]. But note: I am NOT a native Japanese speaker so I’m sure there’s lots of puns and such that I may not even be aware of.

Little Devil Heaven

Running my fingers through your curly hair

With wet lips Up and Down

Greedily, a third round, a fourth, a fifth… [1]

I’m a great conversationlist (*^◻^*)

Lack of affection can be ENDURED

According to the thickness of one’s WALLET m(_ _)m

It’s not easy even if one is in love

I will do my best, YES (-_-#) [2]

WE who do our best through ANYTHING

ARE good WOMEN… YES

In time to the surging melody

Turn the wet hips Upside Down

The numbers I like are 6 and (*• д •)9 [3]

YES, it IS c-c-c-c-carefree abandon [4]

In our set pose,

“A real BOYFRIEND!? I’m searching !!(^_^)!!” [5]

(HEY, it’s TRUE)

I don’t DISLIKE it to the point I find it LOATHSOME,

I AM a woman with a nice body, YES (-◻-;) [6]

WE who do our best time and again

ARE good WOMEN… YES

It’s not easy even if one is in love

I’ll do my best, YES v(^-^)v

Even if SOMETHING is bad, WE who do our best are

Good WOMEN…(RIGHT?)

Even if it’s a deep love, because I’m not young

I will do my best, YES (-◻-;)!!

Even if SOMETHING belongs to someone, WE who do our best

ARE good WOMEN…YES

_____________________________________________

Notes:

[1] He doesn’t actually sing the 回戦 “kaisen,” which is a counter for rounds (of a sports match or game). Instead, he actually says “three, four, five” in English.

[2] The kanji written here for “ganbaru,” to do one’s best, isn’t the usual one. As Gackt chose to write it, 玩張る rather than 頑張る, there is an implication of teasing or taunting.

[3] Gackt sings “six and nine,” not just “six nine” or “sixty nine.”

[4] This one’s a doozy. The word “noutenki,” meaning carefree abandon is usually written 能天気. But Gackt used 脳, which means “brain,” instead of 能, and what’s more, repeated it four times. So, is it carefree abandon in the realm of one’s mind, or…someone is giving/getting really good “brain.” (It’s the latter, in case you hadn’t noticed where this song is “going,” lol.)

[5] Gackt wrote “sagasu,” meaning “to look/search for”, with 性 , a kanji that can be pronounced as “saga”, but usually not in that word and not with that meaning. On its own, that kanji means “sex; gender; nature.”

[6] The phrase 「小股が切れ上がる」is used to refer to “a smart and slenderly shaped woman,” according to Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC.  That’s why I translated 小股者 as “I am a woman with a nice body.”  I understand the feeling of this line and the preceding line as, “I don’t really like my job, but I’ve got the looks for it so why not?”

UPDATE: According to Japanese blogger Mic, this song is about a whore, which is what I suspected given the line about the wallet. Now it really makes sense. See her post here (you have to enter a password though, as specified).

UPDATE (JUNE 5, 2009): Gackt performed this song on Music Station, so I could finally hear what he sung some parts as that were a bit strange and fixed them. See the performanceOr better yet (AKA UPDATE June 7), scroll down to see it in the comments.  Ntkufreak used this translation and romanization to do a subtitled vid! Thanks for that! (A little later)…and the vid’s been taken down.

Fighting the “It’s just–” Attitude, Part II

Lemonade for your Brain?

Regardless of where you live, and regardless of grade level, there is a hierarchy of schools.  Some are looked up to, others are looked down on, and others escape notice altogether. Some colleges are so highly regarded it verges on awe, others are ignored, and others are made fun of. But going to a school of note doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll come out any better than someone who went to a lesser known school, because whether or not you learn is largely up to you, especially at the high school and college level.

Last semester in one of my classes we had to write a 15-20 page research paper. An older gentleman was particularly concerned about being able to reach the minimum number of pages required and having good content, was asking the professor various “what if” questions, and then, as if to ease the man’s worries, another student said to him, “Don’t worry, it’s just Wayne State.”

?!?!

I turned and said to that person, “Hey, education is what you make of it.” He then snickered something that I didn’t catch.

Another incident that really bugged me was when recently everyone except myself and a handful of other students were “unable” to access some readings the professor had posted on our school’s Blackboard system.  When we clicked the link she provided, we all got a message from NetLibrary saying “You are not currently viewing any items.” But rather than do the (I think) obvious thing and clicking the “Search” tab, they just decided the system was being “dumb” because “nothing works at Wayne State.”  (Ignoring all the times they’ve used Wayne’s network to do everything from registering for classes, renewing library books, checking account balances, etc etc etc.)

To give some background, Wayne State is a public, 4-year university in Detroit, Michigan. As far as the domestic reputation of Michigan’s public universities goes, (speaking generally, as opposed to the reputation of specific colleges within a university) WSU is not high on the totem pole for various reasons, the most obvious being that it’s in the same state as the University of Michigan. But is that any excuse for allowing yourself to achieve less than what you’re capable of? If Wayne State is a school that is considered academically inferior, yet is the school you’ll be earning your diploma from, doesn’t it make a helluva lot more sense to strive for excellence to try to make your school be better regarded? After all, if people from U of M have the advantage of their school’s reputation working for them, why would you not try to do what you can to better your school for your own sake?  Perhaps it’s hard for some students to feel they’re connected to the university because it is, even after the addition of three dorms, still a predominantly commuter school.  But the entity that is the “university” is ranked according to the quality of its students.  It does not exist separate from them, the students are the university.

<Opposite over Adjacent (Math joke!)>: It’s especially vexing to me when some WSU students say stuff like that because they don’t realize that it is a great university.  Sure, we don’t have as much money, as many resources as some other schools.  People from other states don’t know us because our football team tends not to win too much (though at least they’re not as bad as the Lions!) and the sports we do excel at (fencing and women’s basketball) aren’t followed as closely.  But do they realize how well regarded we are internationally, to the extent we have the second highest number of international students in Michigan?  How well regarded the schools of Nursing, Law, and Social Work are?  That we have not one, but two buildings designed by Minoru Yamasaki (McGregor Memorial and the College of Education a.k.a. “The Wedding Cake”)? But I know there are other WSU lovers like me out there, I’ve met some and I live with some.  Marco? </tangent>

ANYWAY, this is about more than just Wayne State. It’s about any student, at any school, saying “It’s just–” to justify doing less than what they’re perfectly capable of. (Or conversely, riding on their school’s reputation.) It’s never “just” anything. It is what you make it. Will you make it crappy, or will you make it better?

The first line of this post is in reference to this tanka by poet Noriko Ibaragi (Translation by Nobuko Adachi and James Stanlaw):

The mind is getting very dry, but

Do not blame this on someone else.

You yourself have forgotten to give it water.

You should protect your own sensibilities

Yourself,

Stupid!

ぱさぱさに乾いてゆく心を

ひとのせいにはするな

みずから水やりを怠っておいて

自分の感受性くらい

自分で守れ

ばかものよ

I keep hearing on TV how people are saying that Barack Obama makes them want to be better.  I’m very happy to hear that, because some anti-Obamaists were saying things like “all of you who think Obama’s going to save you, well, he’s not!” and I thought to myself, they’re right, but for the wrong reason.  I’ve said it on this blog before: I personally don’t believe any politician will ever “save” us.  But I do believe that a great leader has the power to inspire us to action, and it seems like that’s the effect Obama is having.

Let’s be better and fight the “it’s just–” attitude wherever it rears its ugly head!

Fighting the “It’s just—” Attitude, Part I

Let’s say you’re in Downtown Detroit, perhaps on your way to the Auto Show at Cobo Hall, and you’ve just finished eating a candy bar. What do you do with the wrapper?

A. Keep it in your coat pocket until you can throw it away at home.

B. Keep it in your coat pocket until you find a garbage can somewhere.

C. Throw it on the street–it’s just Detroit, after all.

D. Eat it–it’s got chocolate on it!

I hope most people would pick ‘A’ or ‘B’. I assume ‘D’ isn’t a good idea, but I’m not a doctor. (ハハハ) It’s ‘C’ that bothers me. Litter bugs the crap out of me because it makes places look dreadful, yet is so easy to prevent. Litter Downtown really bugs me because there is at least one garbage can per block on Woodward and the other major streets that radiate out from Downtown. There are probably different reasons why people litter, but the “It’s just Detroit” attitude is, I think, one of the major ones. And it really, really irks me, because the people littering are the same ones who live and/or work here, or live nearby in the suburbs.

Here’s why I hate the “It’s just–” attitude: if something, someplace, or someone is looked down on, and you have the power to change things for the better, why not use that power, rather than say “It’s just–” and go along with a crappy situation? If you live in Detroit, how can you disrespect yourself like that? And if you live in the less famous suburbs, why are you willing to let outsiders look down on you simply because you can turn a blind eye to Detroit’s condition? You may say to yourself, “Not littering or picking up litter isn’t going to change the massive economic and social problems Detroit has.” But I’d say you’re wrong. Because when people see a dirty, litter choked area, they think, “these people don’t deserve to be helped.” When residents think that nobody cares, they feel powerless to change things, even when they do have power. Even abandoned lots don’t look nearly as bad when there’s no litter on them.

There’s a small park near my house, recently built, that I walk through as a shortcut. It has a community garden. It’s a really nice place, and the only park in this neighborhood (until about 10 years ago, this wasn’t a residential area). It made me angry when people graffitied the playscape with their idiotic “Pookie loves JJ” or “F*** Joe” nonsense. About two years ago gang signs appeared, and that made me even angrier. Thankfully, someone in the community must’ve had some QuikCrete or something, because the gang signs on the sidewalk were quickly covered over with it. But, I can understand the gangbanger’s ill-conceived desire to tag stuff. It’s not excusable, but it is understandable. The following, however, is not.

One day in 2006 as I walked through the park I noticed that the garden’s sitting area was particularly trashed. There were beer bottles everywhere, the boxes they had come in where there, plastic plates, cups, forks, knives and cups strewn about, specialty napkins, and a birthday cake box. Someone had had a birthday party in the park and left the mess there! Unbelievable! The park’s single garbage can was overflowing, and the people had brought a big garbage bag which was likewise overflowing, but more importantly, it was still there! They had come to enjoy the clean park, but had left a mess, preventing others from doing the same. I even found the receipt for the birthday cake! It was purchased at the supermarket a couple blocks from the park, so I think it’s likely that whoever left that mess lives in the neighborhood.

I’m not one to bitch without doing anything. I was so angry I went home and got a bunch of plastic bags. I tied them on my hands like gloves, went back to the park, and picked all that shit up. (I’m getting angry just thinking about it!) I didn’t like having to put all that mess in my house’s waste bin, but the thought of having my neighborhood park in such a disgraceful state was even more odious. My neighbors happened to drive by, and waved, but had a funny look on their faces. Perhaps they thought I was doing court-ordered community service. (Which is another thing that bugs me. Why do we use bettering the community as punishment? What kind of message does that send?) But I didn’t care. I had the power to change things for the better and I used it. I even taped a sign to a post to the effect of, “This is our park, it is our only park, it’s up to us to keep it clean.”

The part not covered by tape was torn off within two days. That ticked me off, but I would’ve done it again. I felt like I had made a ripple of positivity. And, maybe it was just a coincidence, but a month or two after that, permanent signs were installed that said pretty much the same thing my sign had said. I still pick up random pieces of trash. Even if it’s just one. If people see me, maybe they’ll be inspired to do the same, and even better, to stop littering.

It’s not “just Detroit.” It’s my city. It’s my home. It’s your city and your home, too. It’s your metro area, your region.

Who has the right to complain about the way things are that does nothing to change them?

If you were forced to lose your name…

Naming customs keep popping up on me. So I decided to explore the topic in a post.

Last semester in one of my history classes we read Lost Names by Richard E. Kim. It is a fictionalized account of a family during the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. The title refers to the laws passed by the colonial government in 1939 and 1940 that required Koreans to change their family names to Japanese ones. The scene in the book were the father character goes to have his name changed is very dramatic, funerary even, and afterward everyone in town goes to their ancestors’ graves and prays for forgiveness. In class a big deal was made of this. I, too, felt that it was an absolutely horrible thing to subjugate someone to the extent of taking away their identity. I think most of us here in the States would react that way if someone told us we had to suddenly change our name: How dare they!

Well, make that half of us.

During intersession I finally got the chance to read a book I’d taken out from the library titled I’m Married To Your Company! Everyday Voices of Japanese Women by Masako Itoh. It’s a collection of essays she had previously published in various Japanese women’s magazines. One essay was titled, “Women don’t need their own names, do they?” (p. 61) It was about how many Japanese women introduce themselves with their husband’s name, how they are often addressed by others as the wife or mother of some male, and sign their husband’s name at community events, even when the husband didn’t attend at all. One particularly striking anecdote was of a woman filling out an application for a library card who gets to the “Name” line and asks the author, “You mean my husband’s name?” At the end, Itoh asks herself, “I wonder what women are getting in return for giving up their names?”

In that history class, when we learned about the mandated loss of Korean names, I think we all felt it had been an injustice. But when half our population is similarly told to change their names by the dominant class, do we blink an eye? These days it’s okay with some men if the women they marry choose not to take their names, or choose to have a hyphenated name. But outside of women’s studies, the same people who feel repulsion at what happened to the Koreans think nothing of the fact that women are in general expected to have their husband’s name on them in some way.

I started thinking about this again because Monday the topic on a local morning radio show was “Is it okay for a man to take his wife’s last name upon marriage?” One of the disc jockeys had a very old-fashioned view, namely that a man who took his wife’s name was a “big pussy.” It’s attitudes like that that prove loud and clear that there is still a need for a feminist movement, because women are still not treated as equals of men. To me, being equal doesn’t mean that I can do everything a man can do. That’s a big part of it, it was the first part of it. But the fact that when men do things that are generally thought of as “female behaviors” (such as taking the name of one’s spouse) they are looked down upon proves that women are still looked down upon.

Later that same day, in another history class, the professor had us give a self-introduction which included “one unique thing.” A young man said that one unique thing about him was that he was the only person he knew with a hyphenated name. Yes, he said “person,” not “man.” I said, nope, I’ve got one of those too, and the prof was checking the class list. Now that I think of it, it’s particularly funny that he said that in that class, because the professor herself has a hyphenated name! (Although she tells us to call her by the second one.) At which point another classmate says, “but he’s a man.” Perhaps the young man had meant to say “man,” but he said “person.” Which leads me to believe that women taking on hyphenated names must still be highly unusual in some communities in the U.S.

Would it be so bad if both the man and the woman took on each other’s name? Or if, more easily, neither changed their name? I don’t have anything against a woman who changes her name to her husband’s name (if that’s what she really wanted). I am against the discrimination of men who take their wife’s name, because it implies that doing so is a degrading thing. And if it’s degrading, why are women still largely expected to do it?

Of Gyoza and the Gateway Project

Who can resist the urge to alliterate when gyoza is involved? ^_^

Ever since I was introduced to gyoza (Japanese-style Chinese dumplings) in 2004, I went on a search around the City of Detroit to find a restaurant that served them. Alas, back then there were no Japanese restaurants within city limits, so 20-30 minutes (on a good day) of being on the freeway stood between me and those succulent little pockets of soy-sauce dipped joy. The closest I could get were the dumplings served at Chinese restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, those are good too (especially the ones from Great Wall on Michigan Ave. near Trumbull) but they weren’t the delicately crisp sensation I longed for. Then back in December I heard one student remark to another that there was a Japanese & Korean restaurant on Woodward across from the Main Library and my heart jumped! Could it be? Could I finally have gyoza within walking distance?!

And indeed! There is now a Korean & Japanese (the order matters) restaurant on Woodward kitty-corner from the Main Library inside of the Park Shelton. It’s called Wasabi. I was a bit intimidated because it says it’s a “luxury” restaurant, but it has a laid-back atmosphere that’s classy without being classist. There’s a decent price range, so even frugal college students like me can go treat themselves every once in a while (but watch out for the ‘tea for two’…$4 is a bit much, thinks I). My middle brother loves their sushi. I really like their Tofu Yakisoba, however, it does seem to have what I assume is a Korean slant; it’s got a huge variety of vegetables in it unlike any yakisoba I’ve had at Japanese restaurants. Not that it bothers me. Delicious is as delicious does. And yes! They have gyoza! It’s still not quite what I expected. You could say Wasabi’s gyoza is the missing link between the dumplings at Chinese restaurants and the gyoza at Japanese restaurants. Makes sense, geographically speaking.

As for the second half of the title…I’m very happy to report that the Gateway Project is at 70% complete! I didn’t have my camera when I went by it, so I took the liberty of doodling on the photo I took at 60%:

Dramatization.  It's not really red.  ^_^

Dramatization. Bridge not actually red.

Ah, I love being a dork. ^_^ I can’t exactly tell what part of the bridge this is, I think it’s the base of the west parapet. I was so happy when I saw that something was spanning the width of the freeway. So exciting! When that bridge is complete, I’ll be able to walk straight down Bagley to my favorite bakery (La Gloria) and my favorite Mexican restaurant (Lupita’s…virtual shout out to the Travelers! Even if you don’t see this I’m sending you all positive cyber-chi!) without having to snake around on Vernor and the service drive. I can’t wait to see what artist will get to make a piece of public art for the bridge. *Giddy!*

OMG Tetris?! and Other Emacs Fun

If any Unix or Linux geniuses pop in they’re gonna call me a n00b and laugh at me, but oh well. I will take their humiliating laughter and announce to the world that after living with my OS X iMac for nearly two years I just now discovered that you can play a version of Tetris through the Terminal!

I don’t know how many of the average Mac users are familiar with the Terminal. Of my friends who also use Macs, none have really used it. I’ve only used the Terminal to circumvent Grab’s “I’m not gonna let you screencap a DVD” roadblock, and my brother used it to run some data recovery program. If you, Dear Reader, likewise have never used the Terminal, below is a brief explanation.

Terminal is a command line. Back in the day, people used to have to type in word commands to their computers. Then Xerox and Apple changed the world by developing an operating system that would let you just click on pictures (“icons”) to have the computer do stuff, and lo! every Tom, Dick, and Maria was able to use a computer. As this system was widely adopted, the command line faded from the memory of people like me, who use computers mainly for using the internet, playing music, and writing essays. (Oh, and coloring in silly fanart, ^_^.) But then Apple built its OS X on Unix, and since I was already a video game geek, I decided to take a dive into computer geekdom and learn a little bit about how to use the Terminal. If you’re inspired to get into this, I highly recommend you get David Pogue’s OS X: The Missing Manual. It is an awesome book that anyone looking to unlock all the power of their Mac should own. Get the one for your version of OS X today! *Sparkling smile*

It takes a while to get used to the simplicity of this version.  As you can see, I was not yet accustomed to it. ^_^;;Anyway, back to Tetris. My brother found this page on the Easter Egg Archive that explains how to play Tetris on the Terminal. To summarize, once you’ve opened the Terminal, type “emacs” then press “enter/return”, then simultaneously press “esc” and “x” (which will give you a command line at the bottom of the Terminal screen), then type “tetris”, hit “enter” and enjoy!

As you can see from the picture, the pieces don’t have individual squares drawn on so it takes some getting used to. I wasn’t doing particularly well on this try…

As you can read on the Easter Egg Archives page, there are other games you can play through Emacs in the Terminal. I know it’s really old, but I like the psychotherapist Eliza. To “play” this, do the same as for Tetris, just type “doctor” instead of “Tetris.” I thought my first conversation with her was funny, so here are some screencaps. If you just hit “enter” without typing anything she’ll ask another question, as is the case with the last two sentences of the first session I screencapped. Otherwise, every other sentence beginning with the very first one is the emacs psychiatrist “talking,” and the other sentences are what I typed in.
psychiatrist-pt-1

The last two sentences are both from the psychiatrist.

The last two sentences are both from the psychotherapist.

Now me being the huge geek that I am, I thought, “What if I did a little role playing here?” (Not that I actually fell down the stairs.) Inspired by my recent fanart, I decided to “talk” to Eliza as Sephiroth, seen in the second session screencapped below (both sessions take up two pictures each).
seph-psych-1
seph-psych-2
If I do say so myself: *L O Freakin’ L!*
How about you, O World? Have you had a really funny session with Eliza, the emacs psychotherapist?