Friday, May 21, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Ring of Fire (A day in Hakone)

My first week in Japan was spent in the heart of one of the largest, most modern cities on earth. On the way to Kyoto, I spent a day in a little mountain town called Hakone, which while modern enough, was still small enough to offer a completely different taste of life in Japan. I'm super glad I went, and if you should find yourself on vacation in Japan, you should go too. In theory, on a clear day it's possible to see Mount Fuji from the area around Hakone, but it was super cloudy the day I was there. So, instead I snapped this picture from the flight home at the end of my trip.

That pointy white cloud in the middle of that picture is actually the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji, and it's a pretty good symbol for the volcanic side of Japan, which is the focus of part two about my trip.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Being Tall (My week in Tokyo)

Sometimes you'll take some pictures, do some research, draw up an outline in your head, and then sit down to write your article only to find some other topic injected into your brain. Today is one of those times. I am not, in fact, tall. I'm 5'8". By American standards, this is somewhere around average. By Tokyo's JR Yamanote train standards, this makes me a freakish mutant.

The plan was to write my second pop culture article about anime, but here's what happened. I queued up Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society on my iPod. Also, it was around 50 degrees and rainy today in NJ. The strange chemistry of these two factors made me think about December of 2006, when I spent two weeks in Japan by myself, with even less than a rudimentary command of the language. My entire week in Tokyo it was around 50ish degrees and drizzly, with various anime soundtracks (especially Ghost in the Shell) on loop in my ears.

While I was there, I took some notes about the trip and I took a surprising number of pictures. Here are the results of my strange moment in forethought.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Baconator vs Double Down.

A couple of weeks ago, the Double Down was brand new on the scene and made a huge splash on the internet. Two pieces of fried chicken instead of bread? Amazing idea. Horrifying. But amazing. I desperately wanted to try one and write a story about the sure-to-be-life-changing experience. So, I convinced my friend Jackie to go to KFC with me and give it a shot. Some time while we ate, I started to wonder... Which culinary assault did I like better? Sure the Double Down was pretty awesome, but how does it measure up to the previous standard of awful-yet-awesomeness? The Baconator has been destroying lives for over a year now, six strips of bacon at a time. How does this upstart Chickenator compare to Wendy's Bacon-laden Juggernaut?

At great risk to my personal well being, I've gone into the world and consumed some of the most awful things corporate America has ever offered. I have done this in the name of science and awesomeness. I cannot in good conscience recommend that you follow in my footsteps, but I also can't realistically ask you to ignore bacon's siren call forever.