Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 127: Whale and Moonshine

Posted on June 2, 2011

drink up

A few years ago I interviewed a woman who was an adolescent in Japan during WWII. Hana's laughter and kind eyes belied her traumatic stories of a child's perspective in hell:

I learned from Hana that the Japanese obsession with eating whale is wrapped-up in her generation's nostalgia for the war years. As the war dragged on, the Japanese government realized that they did not have enough food to feed its people for the long haul.

The arrived upon solution was to use naval vessels to hunt whales en-mass and to ignite a propaganda campaign hailing whale meat as the healthiest food for the children of Japan. Almost everyday at lunch, whale was served in school cafeterias across the country. So began a deep longing for the last days of Japanese dignity.

During the war, sake was also in low supply. It was not uncommon for Japanese to drink grain alcohol or fuel and engine cleaner mixed with left-over rice-water. Even today you can still find mason-jar sake for sale all across Japan.

Hana recalled her school-days in Kyoto, early 1945. Up until this point, the children at her school were told that the war was going well and that Japan continued to gloriously prevail over the West. Suddenly, reports of failure and the imminent eradication of Japan drowned all hopes.

One day, all of her classmates were told to report to the schoolyard.

They were each handed a sharpened bamboo pole.

Classroom time was over.

Now they only drilled on how to kill Americans.

• • •

"Children might or might not be a blessing, but to create them and then fail them is surely damnation."

- Lois McMaster Bujold -


Palliativity 126: Etiquette and Protocol

Posted on May 26, 2011

{x} Away, You may be disturbing

A difficult question of communication etiquette came up in conversation with friends a couple years ago. We had read on Facebook that our friend's grandparent had just passed away. My friends and I wanted to send condolences but were not sure just by what conveyance to send such a message.

Should we call? No, that's too invasive.

Text? Too casual.

Chat when we see them online? No, they probably just want some space to browse without interruption.

Facebook wall post? Far too public.

Facebook message? Possibly…

Nobody wants to video-chat when they're mourning.

Maybe just email them… hmmmmmm—

I used to laugh about the preposterously complicated Victorian fan and flower language or the far too cerebral courting poems of ancient Japan. The truth is that human communication has changed very little over time.

Referencing classic texts and spinning out variations of traditional idioms loaded with silliness and social-commentary has been replaced with wiki-consciousness and memetic humor.

People are people.

Communication is a battlefield.


Palliativity 124: Swords and Peace

Posted on May 4, 2011


It was only last week that my partner and I were discussing why the swords that hang in our bedroom have the handles on the right. In times of war, Japanese swords are displayed so that the samurai could reach up with his right hand and draw the blade at any moment.

The swords, an amalgam of history and steel, have hung over my bed this way since 9/11.

Just a few days ago I asked myself, what would it take for me to reverse the swords? It was so easy to turn them the last time, ten years ago. I hesitate to flip them back; to fight entropy, chaos and human nature and reframe my world.

"Breaking news - Osama bin Laden is dead…"


Only days after Hiroshima, America celebrated victory over the Axis and cheered in the streets. Ticker tape poured from office windows like so many tweets. And yet the war of the atom was only beginning…

I've turned the swords now, on the day that would have been my Grandmother's 90th birthday.

I'd rather sleep under the symbol of peace, determined to make it last as long as it can.

It's not the death of one man.

It's believing in the future.

It's being brave enough to hope.



Posted on April 4, 2011

Still-Life, ©MMXI

It's taken me a while to really process the images and video flooding the web from the Tsunami—

I felt sick: my naturally juxtaposed imagination was confronted with the reality of such catastrophic power;

The earth itself opened and made a collage of Japan…

- Ω -

I thought I'd call on a few friends to help.

Neko Bus

Hot Wheels


Please donate and help rebuild.

Thank you—


Pluto-Kun, Our Reliable Friend

Posted on April 4, 2011

"In the early 1990s, Japan's Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC) -- a nuclear energy research organization which is now part of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) -- created a pro-nuclear PR cartoon entitled "Pluto-kun, Our Reliable Friend." The aim of the animated film, which features the company mascot Pluto-kun, is to dispel some of the fears surrounding plutonium." -Source

Chicago’s 16th annual Asian American Showcase!

Posted on March 29, 2011


The Gene Siskel Film Center and the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) present the 16th edition of Asian American Showcase, April 1 through 14. The festival encompasses comedies and dramas, probing documentaries, provocative shorts, and an array of special activities, all showcasing a wealth of talent on the Asian American scene.

For a full schedule, visit

I will be speaking on behalf of the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) this Friday (4/1) on continued efforts to aid a nation and its people, whose culture does not know how to ask for help.

Donating to the Red Cross via JASC ensures that 100% goes directly to the Tsunami relief fund. Click here to help rebuild the Land of the Rising Sun.

Thank you—