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    From what shall I wear / To who I have kissed

    Gaijin Biker has tagged me with one of the blogosphere’s endless number of variations on the Cosmo quiz. Get ready to, like, totally learn more about the real me.


    I. Seven things to do before I die:

    Figure out how to rein in my class-clown/flirt impulse

    Visit Poland (ancestral homeland on my mother’s side of the family)

    Own a pick-up truck

    Go a week without wearing anything purple (a friend has bet me–handshake and all–that I will never be able to do this)

    Learn Korean

    Find a Soseki novel I enjoy

    Take the Japanese Proficiency Test

    II. Seven things I cannot do:

    Play any instrument really well, though I’ve taken lessons on several

    Follow the words to 「上を向いて歩こう」 (ue wo muite arukou: “I’ll Walk with My Head Up,” a.k.a. “Sukiyaki,” which Japanese people think all Americans can sing) after ten drinks at the karaoke box

    Drive in Japan

    Remember anyone’s birthday on time

    Sleep with a shirt on

    Function on too little sleep

    Inflict blog-meme-things on people

    III. Seven things that attract me to blogging:

    It gives me a vehicle for showing Atsushi my unfiltered, in-English, American personality without subjecting him to endless in-person rants.

    Translating news articles for an audience that includes others who are also proficient in Japanese forces me to make sure I’m understanding what I’m reading and not just doing that fluent-but-shallow skimming thing.

    Reader feedback restores my faith in humanity.

    The sicko search strings that bring some people here send my faith in humanity right back out the window, but they do tend to be good for a nervous chuckle.

    It’s led to several friendships I otherwise wouldn’t have, some of which have now extended off-line.

    I’m not nearly as naturally bold and unflappable as I like to present myself here. Knowing that whatever I write about my principles, my politics, and my sexuality is going to appear on a Google-able archived page with my full name there big as life has forced me to think harder about what I’m willing to commit myself to. I’m both more hesitant to jump to lazy conclusions and less hesitant to voice deeply held beliefs just to avoid ruffling feathers.

    Crap television is much less grating–indeed, downright enjoyable–when 75% of your brain is occupied with composing a post.

    IV. Seven things I say most often:








    V. Seven books that I love:



    A Benjamin Franklin Reader

    The Future and Its Enemies

    Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior

    Miss Pym Disposes

    Sexual Personae

    The Story of English

    VI. Seven movies that I watch over and over again [Note to straight folk: If you’re going to tag gay men with these things, you probably want to specify “feature films.” Just for future reference.–SRK]:

    2001: A Space Odyssey


    Auntie Mame

    Desperately Seeking Susan

    Double Indemnity

    The North Avenue Irregulars


    VII. Seven people to whom I pass the meme:

    See II, Item 7, above.

    3 Responses to “From what shall I wear / To who I have kissed”

    1. Zak says:

      I love the Shin-Kokin-Wakashu, too, at least when I had the classical Japanese chops to read it in the original. More sophisticated and elegant than the Kokin-Wakashu, but still raw and authentic enough to be touching, as opposed to most later haiku, which seems to have evolved into essentially vacuous word games for the most part.

      However, I was just thinking the other day that 2001 has got to be the most over-rated movie ever. I’m sorry, but it’s BOOORING, and although its infatuation with special effects might have been interesting at the time, it hasn’t aged well at all. All the movie seems to rely on is new-for-the-time special effects and a sort of ersatz mysteriousness that hints at depth but leads nowhere and is just…vacuous.

    2. Toby says:

      Some of the classical histories are interesting too (if you like wars and stuff) – the real problem is finding the time to read them. Zak is right that classical wanes (as does modern when you are not in the country).

      Re Soseki, I have read 心 and 猫 – I didn’t think Soseki was too bad at all (then again Henshall, my lecturer at university, was a huge fan of that period of Japanese literature so it probably figures).

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Hmm. I didn’t really labor much over my answers, and I tried to answer the questions as directly as possible.

      I was fortunate enough, during my abortive year in grad school, to take Donald Keene’s Shin-Kokinshu seminar; despite my best efforts to make my own stubborn judgments, I’m sure I was prejudiced by it. But yes, Zak, that’s the general feeling, and I really do think it’s true. The Manyoushu has that cool martial swagger to it; the Kokinshu is more technically accomplished but a little distant and candied; and the new poems in the Shin-Kokinshu, fortunately for us but unfortunately for the poets, were written in an era of natural and man-made disasters, so the feeling of life’s evanescence feels completely unforced.

      As for 2001, I don’t sit and watch it and go, “Ooooooh, it’s like, the bone is the first tool and then the cylindrical spaceship is like a way-ass bigger tool from much later, which is all kinds of deep, man!” The question didn’t ask which movies had most influenced your thinking or which you thought were timeless works of art; it asked what you watch most often, and while I think it’s pretentious as hell, I very frequently find myself reaching for 2001 to put in the DVD player while I’m doing stuff around the apartment. You can almost always look up at any point when it’s running and see something gorgeously shot on-screen.

      Toby, my grad school advisor was a Soseki specialist. Our relationship was rocky, so maybe that did something to my wiring. I’d rather read him than, like, Yoshimoto Banana, but he’s not a prose writer I really get into. And I like history–we read Caesar in Latin class and The Anglo-Saxon Chronical in Old English class and the Hojoki in 古文, so if I didn’t like wars and stuff I’d have been in big trouble–but I couldn’t think of a single volume that I reach for again and again as I do those two books of poetry.

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