Saturday, May 31, 2008

Japanese TV has managed to tick me off again.

Every Saturday night there is a popular TV program, called エンタの神様 (God of Entertainment). It's basically a variety show, with various comedian-type people doing five minutes or so of their current act.

Recently, one of the more popular recurring performers is a woman whose shtick is to do an over-the-top lip-sync of an American pop song. She usually chooses songs by black singers, I guess because it's easier for her to overact to them. This week it was Jennifer Hudson's "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going" from Dreamgirls.

My problem with it is that she pretty much does them in blackface.

Now it's not as bad as some other performances I've seen on Japanese TV -- her makeup is more extreme ganguro rather than true blackface -- but still, it's annoying.

Every time I see something like this, I ponder the prospects of having Mickey Rooney tour Japan, reprising his role as Mr. Yuniyoshi from Breakfast at Tiffany's...

Sorry...this week was...a bit more stressful than usual. Maybe I'm a little thin-skinned right now. Thank goodness for weekends.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You have not thought your cunning plan all the way through

So a few days ago, a flight attendant set fire to his airplane during a flight from Minneapolis to Regina, Saskatchewan. Why did he do it?

"Because he was mad at the airline for making him work that route."

This guy's little temper tantrum forced the plane to descend 30,000 feet in 8 minutes, to make an emergency landing in Fargo. Now, instead of being forced to work an undesirable flight, he's facing up to 20 years in a federal prison.

The question that runs through my mind is of course, "What the #%@& was this guy thinking?" I mean, what did he think was going to happen? Did he intend to just make a little smoke, or did he truly intend to force an emergency landing, or worse?

Anyway, if he hated the route enough to torch the plane (in flight, no less), it probably would've been easier for him to just quit. That way, he still would've been out of the job, but he wouldn't be facing jail time and what I'm assuming is a permanent placement on the FBI's no-fly list.

The fact that he's from Woodbury...well, to anyone from my hometown, that adds a certain level of "Ah, I see" to it.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Apropos of nothing #6: Bookstore memory

So one day in the distant past, I was working the back cashwrap at the big Barnes & Noble in town. (Yes, they call it a cashwrap. No, I don't know why.) Now at that time, the section of the store surrounding the back cashwrap was Religion. So, most of the books displayed around and behind the counter were books on various aspects of religion -- fiction, theology, and such.

Official store policy was that people working at the cashwraps were not allowed to read anything during the occasional downtime. However, because the store opened before most of the other stores in the mall, for the first few hours the back cashwrap was fairly dead. The managers tended to look the other way during these hours, so often we could grab a book or magazine from the displays and skim through them. The selection was limited to religion, however. (I credit this as the reason why I made it as far into the Left Behind series as I did, before the poor writing style and bad plotting threw me off. Man, did those guys need an editor...and maybe a ghost writer...)

One day, two guys came up to the back cashwrap to check out before venturing into the mall for other shopping. As I rang up their book, one of them noticed a display of the mass-market paperback edition of Billy Graham's autobiography, thought it looked interesting, and picked it up as well. I put their books in a bag, and one of them commented, "I bet you've never seen THOSE two books in a bag together before."

I looked.

Billy Graham's biography, and...the Homo Handbook, by Judy Carter.

We all laughed.

Since we were never all that busy at the back cash registers, we also got to call people and tell them their special orders were in. Saw lots of interesting titles that way...oddly, I can't seem to recall any of them right now. I guess they weren't all that interesting.

If when we called, a person was out, and they had no answering machine or voice mail, the general practice was that we'd try again in an hour or so. One shift I tried calling one woman three or four times. Now as it turns out this wasn't necessary, as somehow we had accidentally double-ordered her book and she already had picked up a copy. But when this woman got home and saw on her caller ID that B&N had called her four times, she immediately called the store and started complaining of harassment. "WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME SO MANY TIMES?!?" "Well, ma'am, I was unable to leave a message, so I thought--" "I'M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE! THIS IS HARASSMENT!"

Joe the manager took over at that point, taking a long time to calm this woman down. He apologized profusely, and swore that he'd reprimand me for doing my job calling so much. After he got off the phone, Joe turned to me, got in my face, and said, "...Good job trying to get in touch with the customer, Rob."

We all wondered why she had caller ID, but no answering machine. Well, whatever works, I guess.

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