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Strip 672, Volume 4, Page 134


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< Piro >

that's the machine i got the can of coffee from in Sendai...

"coffee trips"

Saturday - February 12, 2005

[Piro] - 19:12:00 - [link here]

It's funny how sometimes we will develop an indirect fondness for some things because they in some way remind us of other things. I'm sitting here drinking a fresh mug of Seattle's Best Morning Blend coffee and it's making me think of Tokyo.


Well, It kinda goes like this. I'm sure that most of you know by now that i drink unhealthy amounts of coffee. I'm not as bad as i used to be. I used to drink from 8 to 12 cups per day (I''m down to just a few now) but i do sometimes feel that there's not enough blood in my coffee stream. I think that caffeine has no effect on my anymore. Any cells that coffee used to effect have been killed off by now. These days I just drink coffee because i like it.

Now, there are no Seattle's Best coffee shops around here, just way too many Starbucks (like, 20 within a 5 mile radius) as well as the random Caribou Coffee as you move away from the A2 area (yes, there are many nice coffee shop alternatives here in the Ann Arbor area, but i think the locals would prefer we keep those little haunts a secret.) Another thing - i rarely drink coffee at Starbucks. I like my coffee black, not frothed and messed around with. Straight Starbucks coffee (any variety) is one of the bitterest substances on earth. To be fair, their hot chocolate (sans whip cream ickieness) is to die for - but chocolate is a whole 'nother rant. I tend to just make my own coffee and drink that. Believe it or not, you standard Eight O'Clock French Roast whole bean does everything i want coffee to do. Aside from that, i'm not really too picky.

I don't have a grinder at the office, so i have been stubbornly just getting pre-ground stuff. Once you get into the good stuff, Foldgers just wont cut it. I've tried a few things here and there, and most of them (including Starbucks Breakfast Blend, which is the only Starbucks coffee i can deal with) are ok, but nothing worth writing home about. Why not just buy a grinder and get the Eight O'clock stuff like i have at home? That's too easy, and i never go the easy route. When i spotted the Seattle's Best Morning Blend coffee in the local Krogers, i knew i was gonna be happy with it before i even bought it. Why is that?

It has something to do with the fact that sometimes our fondest memories of trips are the small things we do while there. While at AX Tokyo last year, i was hoping to find a place near the hotel where i could get online and check email, check up with some people, and most importantly talk to sarah. One really dumb thing about traveling these days is that you can travel half way around the world and see the exact same goddamn stores in Ikebukoro you see in Ann Arbor. Yes, there was a Starbucks, McDonalds (at which i was friggin recognized by someone who was there to meet a friend but had no idea there was an anime con going on. I really need to start wearing a bag over my head in public.) and a dozen others -- and, oddly enough, a Seattle's Best Coffee. What was so nice about the Seattle's Coffee was that at the time they had free wireless access, so i got myself some coffee, something muffiny, and sat down with my 12" powerbook and wirelessed myself back into the world.

A fond memory? Yes, it was. Why? Because it was one of the few times during my trip that i actually sat down and stopped to absorb a little of what was going on all around me. Years before, i remember stopping in a tiny tiny little Key Coffee shop somewhere in Yokohama and having a similar feeling of decompression. When i'm traveling, especially on a high-data filled trip like Japan is for me, i'm not really able to deeply absorb things until much later. It takes a lot to let a place seep into your soul, and sometimes doesn't get there till long after you leave. Times when i feel i can do that on a trip are usually important. That time in the Key Coffee in Yokohama, sitting quietly on a block of concrete staring out at the bay while listening to the water at the Suntory Museum in Osaka, quietly watching people walk by while my email downloaded in a Seatle's Best coffee in Sunshine Plaza...

So, ad dumb as it sounds, having a cup of this silly coffee brings back some of those fond memories. It also reminds me of the fact that i have yet to finish my recollections of that trip, over a year ago. That's not a bad thing, mind you - Megatokyo itself is really inspired by thoughts and feelings experienced on my first trip to Japan back in 1995 (ArchitectTour Japan 1995 a big part of that trip - sadly there is little on the net about it. I'll try scanning some slides someday related to it) In fact, there are still things i recall from that trip that help inspire me from time to time.

It's funny the things that you cling to that are important memories of your trip. I have a can of Nescafe Santa Marta X sitting on my computer that actually has some odd, assigned, importance connected to it. I purchased it at a train station in Sendai in an area that i'm using to model the station and area where the 'warmth' story will take place. It was a hot can at the when i clunked it out of the machine, and i carried it in my pocket for the rest of my trip and then in my bookbag for the plane ride all the way home. Dumb, huh?

Come to think of it, there's coffee in that can. What the hell is it with me and Coffee anyway?

Anyways, over the next few rants i think i'm gonna revisit the two parts of that trip that i haven't talked about yet - Megatokyo in Tokyo, and then my trip to Sendai. I think i have enough coffee to get me through.


Not to change gears too suddenly here, but i wanted to touch base on next week's Katsucon convention in Arlington, Virginia on Feb 18-20. The reason i'm gonna give you a bit of an information dump here is because there is a LOT of webcomic and american manga related stuff going on, so if you are a webcomic reader, make sure you keep these folks busy. Here's some of the people that will be there:

- Hawk and Ananth from Applegeeks (be sure to check out hawk's photoshop panel on friday from 5-7)
- Matt and Ian from Mac Hall
- Michael Terracciano from Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire
- Scott Ramsoomair from VG Cats (have i mentioned that VG Cats is awesome?)
- Jekka Cormier and Sarah "Nami" Hevey from Seraphic Blue (have i mentioned that Seraphic Blue is also awesome?)
- Katie Bair (Oasis Destiny, Karaoke Kate, and Ninja High School)
- Kara Dennison from Conscrew
- Rob Balder from Partially Clips
- Rich Burlew from Order of the Stick
- Christy (Nyanko) Lijewski from "Next Exit" (a Slave Labor Graphics title),
- RE:Play (from TokyoPop) and Doors (short story in RSoM from TokyoPop)

Oh, and that Dave Lister guy from Paradox Lost. Please throw things at him. And don't tell him i said to do that.

Here's the latest schedule, so make sure if you are going to check out all the panels and other things being put together by these fine folks. Unfortunately, *I* won't be there this year (like i said, i'm not doing many cons this year) but i'm sure these folks are a lot more fun than I am anyways. :P Have fun guys :)

< Dom >

Oop ack!

"Thoughts on..."

Friday - February 11, 2005

[Dom] - 12:30:00 - [link here]

Note to those who think I broke my Lenten promise: Look at the time and date on this rant. This is when I finished writing this rant, but it just didn't get posted until I got home at 1 AM Pacific time. Among my vices, lying about deadlines is not one of them (it's a very bad habit for writers, often a career-killing one, so I don't do that). Sorry it didn't get put up, but the permissions are funky on the RSS file and also, I wasn't around when Fred finally finished the comic. End note.

So I got this e-mail recently asking if my Monday rant link revealed any sort of pedophilic tendencies on my part. And at first, I just laughed it off as the usual "Anime = small children raped by tentacles" overreaction.

Then I clicked on my own link and scrolled down, and realized "oh, hey, I guess this does go a little further than I thought it did once you scroll further down than I did."

I'm not sure how that really slipped past me, though I guess that it's mostly because I only scrolled down a little past the purty picture and didn't really pay attention, so negligence is one factor.

Another question is, how de-sensitized am I to the whole nakedness thing? As I've mentioned many times before, I grew up Catholic and therefore very embarrassed about anything involving the human body. But ever since I passed through the "ooh, look, pornography!" stage and into the "let's study the visual culture of pornography, be it classical, modern, heterosexual or homosexual" stage of my education, I haven't really reacted to it nearly as violently.

One factor is that the Japanese art site I check every day shape-codes the art, with circles meaning "safe for work", triangles meaning "risque" and diamonds meaning "Bow chick-a-bow-wow". Some of the art listed as a circle could be considered risque by an American audience, but in general I agree with their ratings. The picture was rated a circle (and on its own merits, there's absolutely nothing offensive about it) and I liked it, so I poked around there and didn't see any "this site is for 18 or over" warnings like all Japanese erotic artists put on their pages, so assumed it was safe.

But a little more at the root of things is the aforementioned education. I studied a great deal of pornography and erotica in my Visual Culture seminar, and by necessity I became desensitized to the study material. After looking at pictures in terms of semiotics, they lost shock value, and I forget that other people still have that shock value.

So anyway, I apologize for anyone who was offended by the link, but I honestly didn't see much wrong with it on first inspection.

The upshot of all this is, next time I'll be more careful about which artists I link. Or I'll at least put warnings on things.


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