Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Merry KFC: KFChristmas in Japan


Merry KFChristmas!

It's Christmas in Japan. In Japan, Christmas is not a holiday. So get to work!

In Japan, we don't really celebrate Christmas like you do in the west. People here just use Christmas as another excuse to shop, drink and eat chicken.

In Japan, less than 1% of the entire population is Christian, so Christmas is not really a religious holiday here. 

The Japanese, for the most part aren't very religious, actually. Oh, they have religion and religious ceremonies; they just don't seem to follow any particular religion... I can't exactly say what religion the Japanese are. Most Japanese can't even tell you what religion they are; they will claim they are Buddhists, but they have marriages at Christian churches or Shinto shrines. 

Approximately 80 percent of Japanese people get married in a Shinto or Christian ceremony. About 90 percent hold Buddhist services for a funeral ceremony. For them, Shintoism plays the role of governing the joyous side of life and Buddhism resides over past life of the family. Christianity is fun and they become Christians (sort of) for one day at Christmas just long enough to buy presents and eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Which, eating KFC at Christmas is, as we all know, an integral part of Christian Doctrine concerning Christmas.

Well, at least in Japan it is.

That's right. In Japan, eating KFC at Christmas is an ages-old tradition (OK, well, the "ages old" part isn't exactly true...) But the eating KFC part at Christmas in Japan certainly is. Don't believe me? Well, maybe you'll believe the Smithsonian:

Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan—only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken” (the next best thing to turkey—a meat you can’t find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974. 

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for ¥2,920 yen ($10)—pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about ¥3,336 yen ($40). And the people come in droves. 

Many order their boxes of ”finger lickin’” holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines—some as long as two hours. 

Today, in 2018, it's not true that you can't buy turkey in Japan anymore. You can; you just need to live in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka; near foreigners where they have an international supermarket. 

There, you can find turkeys.... I mean turkeys as in "birds," not flaky people.

But, from my experience, most Japanese don't really like the smell or taste of turkey. At least, not in the 20 or more times I've invited them over to my house for roasted turkey.... And I think I do know how to roast one the correct way: I was taught by a former chef from a famous French Restaurant in New Orleans on how to roast a turkey....

Anyway, in Japan, people do two things at Christmas; one is they eat chicken. And the other one is they go out to dinner with their boyfriend or girlfriend; staying home to eat with family is unheard of. 

At my house, we always eat at home and have a family party and invite a few friends over; usually folks who are away from home and have no family to spend time with. 


This year's Thanksgiving Turkey, er, I mean Chicken.

Since turkey is expensive, a pain in the ass to prepare, and I have to drive an hour back and forth just to get one; we stopped with the turkey last year and started to eat chicken at my house too.

It seems though, in Japan, for everybody else, chicken is and always will be an integral part of the Christmas dinner scene. 

For these 30+ years I've lived in Japan, KFC has dominated. But, recently I have been noticing other companies are starting to make an effort at getting into the Japanese Christmas Chicken pie. On the train the other day, I saw some disgusting looking Christmas chicken being peddled by Family Mart, a major convenience store chain.

If you thought KFC was bad, then you haven't lived until you've brutalized your taste buds with convenience store fried chicken. Yeech!


Seriously. Look at that chicken. It looks like that "Shake N Bake" crap I hated as a kid.  
And just what kind of bizarre "culinary" concoction are those two rectangular objects laying on the plate at the left of the black bucket?... Fried plastics? 

But, the good news is that, in Japan, finally, whole roasted chicken made by mom (or dad) at home have finally started to become popular. I went to the big "OK Store" yesterday (kind of like a Ralph's grocery store in the USA) and saw rows of whole chickens for roasting. I asked the clerk about it as I had never seen them in any year previously (usually, on any given day, they only have one whole chicken for sale), and he told me that they had them until today, December 25th. How nice!


Whole chicken in a rack at OK Store

Finally people can have a Christmas dinner at home... That is, if they have an oven. Which many Japanese homes do not; definitely old apartments don't.

It's weird that the KFC colonel is responsible for single handedly getting the Japanese to eat chicken at Christmas... That's great, I suppose. It's even better that this tradition has indirectly lead to the Japanese people starting to stay home on Christmas to have dinner with the family.

Thanks KFC.... For the Christmas chicken in Japan tradition...

Merry Christmas to everyone else!

May all your dreams come true in 2019! God bless!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Aerosmith and Me. A True Story.


I just realized that today is April 1st, so you guys will think this is a joke, and won't believe this is a true story (people who know me well, will know it is). But, I swear to god, strike me dead, that this is absolutely 1000% a true story. 

About twenty years or so ago (maybe a little more), I used to appear on a TV show (on Music-On-TV) with still-to-this-day famous VJ in Japan, George Williams. 

George interviewed artists as himself, of course, but I participated in the interviews as "the Masked DJ." 

I kept my Masked DJ true identity a secret and wore a pro wrestling full-head mask to conceal my identity. The Masked DJ's schtick was that his super-powers helped him to rid the world of crap music.

There was, and still is, a lot of that.

On that show, we often interviewed some the most famous bands and artists who came to Japan. George would ask the normal questions and I would ask stuff from out in Left Field. (Not like regular Japanese TV shows where they ask incredibly stupid questions like, "What is your favorite color?" or "Can you eat with chopsticks?")


No. Of course, there are no photos with the Masked DJ. Even if there were, you wouldn't recognize him. He wore a mask. This photo is fake but this recollection is not.


One day, the entire gang from Aerosmith were on the show. We got to do the interview on nationally broadcast TV.

George was asking the Aerosmith guys about their new album and tour. I was asking Steven Tyler all sorts of stuff; like if he was getting longer nose hairs as he was getting older (I could relate).

The interview went great. Towards the end of the interview, the Masked DJ asked the question that everyone in the nationally broadcast TV show in Japan was eagerly anticipating. 

The Masked DJ said to Aerosmith: "Wow! I'm your biggest fan in Japan. I go way back with you guys. All the way back to high school! I have all your records too! But there is one question I have that I'd like to ask since you aren't wearing your makeup..."

The boys from the band furrowed their brows and listened patiently and the Masked DJ said, "...So, the question I'd like to ask is, er, which one of you guys was the cat? And which one of you guys had the star on your eye?... And which one had the bouffant and super long tongue? And..."

As the Masked DJ was asking the questions, he could see Steven Tyler's face turning red, his cheeks beginning to quiver, his eyes starting to bulge out, and what looked like steam coming out from his ears and nostrils...

Just as Tyler was about to explode, Joe Perry and the other guys burst out laughing and laughing. Joe Perry was howling and said, "I was the one with the star on my eye!" and other members started joining in, "I was the cat! I was the cat!" 

Soon, even Steven Tyler calmed down and realized it was a big rock n roll joke and started singing.

I am now proud to say that I believe that am the first (and only?) person in rock n roll history who got Aerosmith to sing the Kiss song, "I wanna rock n roll all night, and party every day!" on nationally broadcast television. 

Judging by Steven Tyler's initial reaction, I am sure I will be the last too. 

Later on, when the show was over, walking out of the dressing room, sans wrestling mask, the Masked DJ (in real-life then mild-mannered Mike Rogers) overheard Joe Perry insisting to their manager, "Now THAT'S the kind of interview we wanna do in Japan!"

I have no doubt in my mind that if you ask the Aerosmith guys today if they remember singing "Rock n Roll All Nite" on Japanese TV with the Masked DJ, they would absolutely. No doubt about it.

I remember and will never forget either. It's not everyday Aerosmith sings Kiss songs on national TV!

-------------
Thanks to Lisa Mychols for reminding me about this. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Social Media Sux! Let's Help Them Get it Right!


I really am getting irritated at Facebook! They started placing ads on my wall.

I don't want to see any ads! This ad is an ad for a smartphone application.


What's the ad for? It's an ad for an app that helps you make money! Wow! Make money with an app? I'm in!

So, what to do? I always click: "Hide ad."



Then they ask me some question. Don't ignore them! Help their algorithm get it right! 


Mark something! I'm in a hurry and do not want to help them "THAT" much... 


My faves are marking the first 3 or 4. Choose the one(s) you like! 

Viola! A job worth doing is a job worth doing right!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Grandfather Dies. Father Dies. Son Dies. Grandson Dies: This is True Prosperity



An ancient Zen Buddhist story goes like this:
A very wealthy family in China bought a large farm and built a beautiful palace upon it. They wished for good luck, health, and fortune, so they decided to ask a famous Zen priest to write a scroll for them to hang in their den. The priest accepted the job and went back to his temple to pray for enlightenment.
After a few days, the priest returned with the finished scroll and the entire family gathered around in great anticipation to see the words that the priest wrote for them. The priest said a short prayer and opened the scroll and hung it on the wall.
The scroll said:

Grandfather dies. 
Father dies. 
Son dies. 
Grandson dies.

The entire family was furious at the priest. They shouted and demanded that he go back to the temple and rewrite the scroll for them.
As the priest was rolling up the scroll, he sighed and said: “I will rewrite the order of names on the scroll in anyway you wish. But I think there can be no other sequence. If all die in this order, I think that is true prosperity.”
My own mother died in a freak car accident in 1994. Of course, I was crushed. I was in Japan and she was in America.

After the car accident, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I understand that she floated in and out of consciousness before she died. Since I was so far away, I had no way of seeing her, holding her hand, and saying: “I love you mom. Thank you for everything.” But at least I can be thankful that my father was there to do so when she went away. Many people who die are not fortunate enough to have a loved one with them, to hold their hand, to whisper in their ear: “I love you. We all love you…. Please rest. You may go now.” And with words like these, my mother “let go” and passed away. I will always regret that I couldn’t be there with my mother in her time of need. I thank God that my father could be.
There are too many people in this world who die alone. Could there be a more woeful way to die, than when loved ones cannot be there by your side to say their last, “Good-bye”?
After my mother died, though, I was angry. I was angry at the world and I was angry at God. For months after my mother’s death I had recurring nightmares and the most bizarre dreams. Many of the dreams involved times when I was a boy. I would be playing in a playground and I would see my mother on the other side of a fence. I would cry out, “Mom! You’re back!” And I would begin to sob uncontrollably. My mother would grow angry at me and she’d start to leave. I’d cry out again, “Mom! Come back!” As she walked away, she would turn around, look at me, and always say the same thing: “I cannot come to visit you, if you are going to cry every time I see you.” And with that, she’d disappear into a field of tall grass.
I would always promise not to cry the next time. But I couldn’t keep my promise. I think I saw this same dream just about every night for at least six months.
Then one night, I had the most bizarre dream of all. My mother, as usual, walked away because I was crying, I was on my knees. I had my head in hands to try to hold back the tears. And then suddenly, I found myself in a huge chamber. It was like a colossal courtroom. I looked up and there was an old man sitting in a chair, looking quite frustrated and irate at me. He was massive in size. He was huge, at least 40 or 50 feet high and he was sitting down! He was brushing his beard and looking at me as if he was considering what to do.
I knew exactly who he was, yet I was not afraid of him; I was furious.
I shouted: “It’s not fair! It’s not fair that my mother died in an accident. My mother was still young and healthy. She should still be alive you bastard!” The old man just stared at me. I continued to shout at him. And I began to cry.
Then he calmly said: “So you think it is unfair that your mother has died?”
“Of course it’s unfair!”
The old man sighed and said, “Very well then, I shall allow you to be reborn and I will give you a different mother, and that mother will still be alive today. Would you find this acceptable?”
“A different mother!?” I said. “No… No, thank you.”
I suddenly awoke from my dream. I was in tears.
I pondered this strange dream for many weeks after that. Then it dawned on me: Instead of being angry that my mother died in an accident. I should be thankful for all of the wonderful times we spent together, all the hugs and bedtime stories. All the laughs and the great dinners. All the special times that my mother made me feel special, and all the other times she cheered me up when others did not. I should thank God for all the wonderful memories I received from being the son of this loving woman. She was always there for me when I needed her. And now, whenever I see her in my dreams, I do not cry. In fact the dream I often have with her now is one where I am on her side of the fence and we are sitting in the field and having a picnic and smiling together.
I haven’t seen my mother in a while, but I look forward to the next time I do.
I told this story to a priest who has become my friend. He asked me to show him a photograph of my mother. I did. He said: “Your mother was a very beautiful woman. Always keep this image of her in your heart. You are most fortunate that it is you, and not her, who has but memories and a snapshot.”
“How profound!” I thought. And I have always kept his words of wisdom in my heart. I share these words with my friends whose parents have passed away.
If only I could have been lucky enough to be there to hold my mother’s hand and be able to say, “I love you” when she passed away. How thankful I would be; thankful for that moment that I could be there. But I wasn’t.
But she was there to share and be a big part of my life.
I wouldn’t trade those photos or memories for anything in the world.


Would you?
My mother and father sometime in the very early 1950s.