Sunday, November 22, 2009

ANNUALEX 2009 with the U.S. Navy & Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 17, 2009) U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships transit in formation behind the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181) as aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 fly overhead during Annual Exercise ANNUALEX (21 G). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John M. Hageman/Released)
Source

I believe the submarine in the picture is the USS Connecticut (SSN 22) because of another photo posted here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recognize this Duck?

Do you recognize the duck on this microphone? We were interviewed at the "New Moon" premiere last night and I would love to know which station or television show it belongs to! We didn't get a chance to ask and this microphone is the only lead.

If you or someone you know can help please leave a comment below. You don't need an account with Blogger, just select "Anonymous." Another option is to scroll down on the right and fill out the "Contact Katie" form.

For you email subscribers you'll need to click here to be brought to the blog's website, then follow the instructions above.

Arigato gozaimasu!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Saw "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" Tonight!

It was an advanced screening in Japan...and I had a ticket from the fan meeting two weeks ago. Click here to see pictures and read about the fan meeting along with how I got a ticket. The ticket I bought for ¥10,000 included the fan meeting and the advanced screening of the movie at Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater in Tokyo tonight, the 17th at 7 pm JST.

It opens in the U.S. on Friday the 20th, in Japan on the 28th and comes to the base theater on the 28th too. I'm exhausted and am going to bed but wanted to post a few pictures first...details will come tomorrow. If you want to know more right now
you can click here to see Twilight Singapore's site. They have a little blurb about it and I emailed them from my cell phone while we were waiting to get in. It's long passed my bedtime, oyasuminasai!











How to Make Sydney's Bubble Bath Costume

I've gotten a lot of comments in the Happy Halloween from Tokyo blog entry, messages on Facebook & emails and nearly 25 people have written me via the "Contact Katie" form on the right side of the page asking how I made the girls' costumes...so tonight I'm going to post the step-by-step instructions on the bubble bath costume.

The girls took pictures of our progress, so I'll include those to help give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Soon I will post the instructions for the spaghetti and meatballs costume. Last year I wrote the instructions for Keanna's
bucket of popcorn costume and Sydney's movie ticket costume.

It's simple, I promise, just a little time consuming! Gambatte (try your best/good luck) if you make this next year!

Here are the supplies you'll need, and what they cost me.

  • clean styrofoam cooler from the fish market- $0
  • bag of pillow stuffing (300 grams) - $5
  • bag of 200 cotton balls - $2
  • shower cap - $1
  • back brush (or any accessory for that matter) - $4
  • rubber ducks - $0
  • rubber ducky sponge - $1
  • bath tub letters/numbers for outside of the tub - $0
  • slippers, slippahs or flip flops - $0
  • hot glue gun with a lot of glue - $3
  • white scrap material or a white pillow case - $0
  • for a grand total of $16
First step is to cut the bottom out of the cooler. I used an old steak knife and it worked fine. Next are the straps that'll hold the cooler up. I cut the pillow case on the lengthwise seams (so I had one large rectangle and made two 2" wide straps). Use the hot glue gun to glue the straps on the inside front, and criss-cross them and glue them on the back. Have your child hold the cooler around his/her waist so you know the right length. Glue cotton balls on the straps to hide them. I used 200 on the straps and shower cap. Well, 199 because I burned myself on one and got so ticked off that I threw it away!











I took the rest of the pillow case and hot glued it to cover the surface of the cooler. I glued about 1" below the top edge and went all the way around. The batting will rest on this. In retrospect I wish I glued the pillow case around the edges before putting the cotton balls on the straps. It wasn't a big deal, but probably would have been easier. Once the entire surface is covered cut a round hole for Peter to fit through. I made it big enough for her head, then cut slits on the four sides of the circle. I found that the best way to put the costume on is to hold it over her head and put iton like a shirt; it's easier than having her step into it.












I started putting hot glue down on the pillow case and piling the batting on top of it until it covered the whole surface. The batting will come loose, so I put glue in random areas to help keep it together. Let some "over flow" over the side and put hot glue down to keep it in place.











Find some bath toys, rubber ducks, etc. and hot glue them to the top. We have two bigger ones and one tiny one, so I put the smallest one on the cotton balls on the shoulder strap and the two larger ones in the batting. I found a rubber ducky sponge at the ¥100 store (like the dollar store in the U.S.), hot glued his feet and butt and stuck him in the back making it look like he was standing up. We have these animals with letters inside (a giraffe with a "G" inside) so I took the letters and used those and hot glued them to the outside of the tub. If you can't find letters or numbers for the bath, look for magnets, that's what I used when I made Keanna's a few years ago (see last paragraph).











In my opinion the accessories make the whole thing come together, so when I was buying the cotton balls I looked and found the shower cap and back brush. Anything you have will work, but the cost of both was so low that I bought them, and I have a brand new back brush now! My neighbor, Sarah, gave Sydney a small bottle of bubbles to blow, and you can see [in the first picture at the top] that she's holding them but forgot to open them up. Sarah thought having bubbles floating up around her would be cute and it hadn't occurred to me. Thanks Sarah!

For
the costume contest at the New Sanno in Tokyo on the 25th Sydney wore a pair of shorts, a bathing suit top and slippers, but on Halloween she wore jeans and a white sweater with sneakers.

I actually made this costume for Keanna in 2006 while we were in Hawaii, so she went out with the bathing suit on and slippahs (Hawaii's way of saying "flip flops"). I did a better job this time around and felt like it came together a lot easier.

Here's Keanna in the costume the first time I attempted it. I didn't do the pillow case lining then, but I got a piece of felt instead and attached it on the left and right sides letting it kind of drape around her. The way I did it with Sydney's was much better and certainly more sturdy, and it was actually easier with the larger cooler too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Arigatou Gozaimasu

Thanks to all those who peak in once in a while, to my loyal readers who have been here since my first post and those who joined in along the way!

Pass the Chopsticks is getting more visits than ever before! There are 202 subscribers (email, feed fetcher, etc), 127 followers and I have a counter on the right margin and get the numbers emailed to me daily; here's what I got last night.



Visits

Total ............................ 31,110
Average per Day .............. 169
Average Visit Length .......... 2:17
This Week ...................... 1,181

Page Views
Total ............................ 51,259
Average per Day ............... 268
Average per Visit .............. 1.6

This Week ...................... 1,873


Sitemeter.com explains the difference between a page visit and page view.
When you are browsing a site, every time you follow a link to a new web page, it is treated as a single page view. Site Meter defines a visit as a series of page views by one person with no more than 30 minutes in between page views. If you click on a link to another site, and then come back to your site within 30 minutes, you are still on the same visit and Site Meter won't increment the counter. But Site Meter will increment the number of page views recorded for your current visit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Buu Buu, Not Oink Oink!

In Japan pigs don't say "Oink," they say "Buu!" It sounds like "boo" and then "u" which rhymes with to. The Hiragana says "Buu" on each foot.

I emailed my friend Mayumi and asked her about it and here's what she had to say:
Those letters are Hiragana. 『ぶ』 ( Bu ) and 『う』 ( U ). 『ぶう』 is the "sound" we would say
if we wanted to put a word explaining about pigs. Your other three toes have a pig on each, so, I guess they put the word.

I bought these toe socks in the Shibuya Ward of Tokyo and they've become a big hit with the girls.
Every time I wear them they don't stop with the "This Little Piggy" nursery rhyme.

This little piggy went to the market,

This little piggy stayed home.

This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.

My friend Laurel teaches English to Japanese kids at a school nearby. She said they play this out once a week and the kids get excited yelling "Buta!" Buta is the Japanese word for pig, and that's how they ask her to do it. Instead of a piggy buying roast beef, in her version it buys pizza. At the end she'll chase them around during the "Wee! Wee! Wee!" part and they climb under the tables trying to hide from her!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor of Veterans Day, Honor Our Veterans

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.


It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

- Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day
World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The actual fighting between the Allies and Germany, however, had ended seven months earlier with the armistice, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. Armistice Day, as November 11 became known, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

In 1968, new legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Burger King Japan & Windows 7's Whopper of a Marketing Campaign

Windows 7 Whopper with 7 burger patties available for 7 days for a cost of ¥777.

Microso
ft celebrated the release of Windows 7 here in Japan with a Burger King promotion for the Windows 7 Whopper. It was supposed to be during the week of October 22-28th, but it was extended until Friday, November 6th.

Measuring 5.1" (13 cm) in diameter, the Amerikanbanzu ("American sized buns" in English) Windows 7 Whopper has seven ¼ lb (113 grams) beef patties totaling 1 ¾ pounds.

Keanna didn’t have school on Thursday but Sydney did, so she and I went for a walk off base to the newly opened Burger King in Yokosuka. There was no way I was going to pass this up after seeing it on their website. Yes it’s just a whopper, but it’s another unique thing that Japan has to offer.

Bob and I talked about it and I told him I wanted to at least get a picture of it, so after we got it [to go] Keanna wanted to send him a picture. I took a picture of her holding it with my cell phone and emailed it to him with the subject "Hungry?" He wrote back immediately (this surface ship thing is still amazing to me, if he were on a submarine I'd hear back from him in a month or two, and I wouldn't have been able to send him a picture in the first place) with the response, “Have friends to help eat it?”

We headed back to Sydney’s school, picked her up, headed home and dug in. Did we manage to eat it? Less than a third between the three of us.

In the spirit of it all this will post on the 7th at 0707 JST.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Part Two - I Was at the Fan Meeting with Robert Pattinson & Chris Weitz in Japan Last Night

To read part one of my recap click here and to see the 71 pictures I took click here. Five videos are posted below.

They had a translator for Rob and Chris and the audience too. I would say, from what I saw, at least 95% of the 550-600 member audience was Japanese. Understandably so, don’t get me wrong, but I was surpri
sed there weren’t that many foreigners there. Like I said in my last post, we tried to get tickets when they first went on sale, so when they became available again I don’t think the word got out.

Chris introduced himself and said hi and promised to keep it short. Rob asked, “Genki?” and that means “How are you?” A lot of girls in the audience responded with “Genki desu,” which means “I’m good.”

They immediately moved into the question & answer period but only had time for two questions. A little disappointing, but this was scheduled for an hour. The first question was about their favorite thing to film in “New Moon.” Rob’s answer was “Anything with the Volvo in it,” and Chris’ answer was “Anything with Rob in it.” –See video #2-

The second question, asked in English (very impressive!) was “Would you lie to protect someone you love?” Rob said he would and compared it to his character. He put more thought into this answer so that was refreshing. After that they said they ran out of time for questions and immediately moved on to the drawing for the Los Angeles premiere on November 16th.

Rob and Chris each selected three tickets which were seat numbers. -See video #3-

Rob and Chris were directed to the balcony portion of the stage…if you want to call it that, where each girl had 15 seconds to plead their case of why they deserved the trip. I took a lot of snapshots at this point and didn't get it on video. A few of them cried, a few laughed, and with all the emotions from the finalists the audience got just as emotional. The translator for the audience explained each girl’s answer and then Rob and Chris were told to choose the winner based on their reasons.

Chris said it isn’t fair and he couldn’t decide, so they pulled out “The Red String Machine.” This was totally planned as you’ll see in the video. The six girls had one end and Rob and Chris had one. They all had to pull to see who was holding their string. The one with Rob won the trip to Los Angeles (and could choose a guest) and a “Twilight” necklace that Rob put on her. The one with Chris’ string won a “special prize from the director.” Chris jokingly fessed up that the trip to L.A. would be much better. She won a Bella and Edward Barbie Doll along with a red robe that was worn on set. Once they brought the robe out it was obvious that it was from the scenes in Italy. –See video #4-

The other four girls didn't walk away empty handed. They each got a hug from Rob and Chris and one of the red robes that were worn in Volterra, Italy on St. Marcus Day. The girl hugging Rob in this picture is the one I refer to later on...she let me try it on!

They showed us three clips from the movie, but all were ones I had seen online before. Staff walked around making sure no one was recording anything. As soon as the clips started the room got quiet and we could hear everything. I remember watching something on TV where they showed a clip and the audience just kept screaming. Everyone sat in their seats too and didn't stand. We were asked to do that in the beginning, but I wasn't sure if everyone would actually follow the directions.

Rob and Chris said goodbye and thank you and Chris asked that we go see the film so he could get another job. That got a laugh from the crowd and after the translation and applause and waving they left the stage. -See video #5-

About a minute later they popped out of a balcony on the left side of the room, but I was sitting too close to it and couldn’t see them.

On our way out we were given a gift bag with four 5"x7” promotional pictures (nothing that hasn’t already been online or in magazines) and a “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” poster; we joked that it’s our swag. We went out into the lobby and chatted for a few minutes, took some pictures and I was pinching myself making sure I still wasn't dreaming. One of the girls that won a robe was letting people try it on, so I asked her, “Daijoubu desu ka?” “Is it okay?” She didn’t mind one bit, so I put it on and Mel snapped a picture. This was the neatest thing as far as I was concerned, and I emailed the picture to my husband, Bob, who asked if I dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween. He knew darn well I didn't, don't worry.

We had a great time, met two women from Sydney, Australia who won a trip here from a radio contest and got to meet Azlina and Nurul from Twilighters Malaysia too. The day flew by for me…from when I left my house to when I got back was a difference of 12 ½ hours, but it was worth it. I’ve never done anything like this before and probably won’t ever again. Unless of course Bob gets stationed in Japan again and we’re here for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn!”

To see all 71 pictures I took click here. You do not have to log in or create one, just hit "View Album" under the picture.

On November 17th at 7 pm (that’s Nov 17 at 5 am EST) I’ll be in the Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater in Tokyo watching “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” The ticket we bought for ¥10,000 included the fan meeting AND the showing next Tuesday. So we’ll be second in the world to see it…only behind the Los Angeles premiere on the 16th which will be early morning on the 17th for us here in Japan. Be sure to check back for a recap of how it goes!










Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Was at the Fan Meeting with Robert Pattinson & Chris Weitz in Japan Last Night

Part two can be found here.

For Christmas last year my friend, Shari in Virginia sent me Twilight. She talked about the series all the time, and she finally managed to suck me in. I read Twilight in a few days and was immediately on the hunt for the next three books. The NEX (Navy Exchange, the store on base) didn’t have them, so I ordered them from Amazon.com. The books couldn’t get here fast enough, so my friend, Melissa, let me borrow New Moon, E
clipse and Breaking Dawn. The day before finishing Breaking Dawn the three books arrived from Amazon.com. Within 11 days I had read the four books and then proceeded to Midnight Sun.

By this time “Twiligh
t” was out all over the United States, but it wasn’t opening in Japan until April 4th and the base didn’t end up showing it until January.

So Shari, thank you for sucking me in. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you!

After seeing the movie I got caught up in the madness. I wouldn’t say it was obsessive, but I’d look at fan sites every couple of days. One of my favorites was Twilight Singapore, and we got in touch with each other after I had found a “Twilight” magazine. I scanned the pages and emailed them to Shari and TS ended up posting them on their site. From that point on we emailed back and forth. They came up to Tokyo for the “Twilight” premiere in February, and the ironic thing is that Bob, Keanna, Sydney and I were on vacation in Singapore!

Skip ahead to mid October and I find out from Twilighter’s Square that “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” press tour was coming to Tokyo. I did the Google Translate thing to find out as much info as I could in English, and emailed my friend Mayumi to see if she would mind translating for me. PIA (the Japanese version of Ticketmaster) was selling them online, over the phone and at their store locations beginning at 10 am on the 18th. They had 400 tickets available, first come, first serve. I searched online and found a PIA location in Yokohama, about 35 mins north of where we live. Three days before they went on sale I went up to make sure I could find the place, try to ask questions and see exactly what I had to do. The woman looked on her computer for a few minutes then made a phone call. She told me “no information,” then something else in Japanese, and I understood enough to know that she was telling me to come back on Saturday to see if there was any more information. She gave me a number to call, but it was always busy. Not sure what I would have done anyway because it said “Japanese only” on the card.

Sunday morning came around, I hired a babysitter and my friend, Laurel, and I headed back up to Yokohama at 7 am. Our goal was to buy four tickets; two for ourselves and two other Navy wives/”Twilight” fan friends, Dacia and Mel. Doors opened at 10, so when I got there and saw no one in line at the door to the mall (PIA’s inside) we were very excited. Our hearts were pounding because the time was getting closer and not too many people lined up behind us. We thought we actually had a chance! Long story short, we run up the escalator, down the hall and manage to be one of the first ones in line. It’s our turn and as we’re walking up to the counter, not even three minutes after 10 am, the woman behind the counter says “Twilight-o? Gomen nasai,” and then she bowed. That was it, they were sold out that quickly because she said “I’m sorry.” The tickets for ¥10,000 (about $110 USD) are for the fan meeting on the 3rd and the "Twilight Saga: New Moon" premiere on November 17th here in Tokyo. It doesn't officially open until the 28th, and it will be the morning of the 17th in the U.S., so we will be seeing it first! Laurel and I were disappointed, but we knew our chances were slim because we couldn’t order them online or over the phone since both were Japanese only.

I posted on TS that I had a failed attempt at a ticket and was so disappointed! But last Friday Maria from TS emailed me saying they got a lead that more tickets were available. I checked out the website, called Mel and Laurel (Dacia was on vacation) and told them the news. My heart was racing and all I wanted to do was figure out how to buy a ticket! Sydney and I walked Keanna to school and my phone was ringing as we walked through the door. It was Laurel telling me she figured it out and had a confirmation number. I screamed so loud I'm surprised my neighbors weren't woken up! I ordered my ticket, Mel ordered hers and Laurel ordered one for Dacia. This was it, we were going! Now all we needed to do was find child care!

Everything worked out and we left our house at 9 am yesterday. We arrived at Shinagawa station at 9:50 and figured out where we had to go…Shinagawa Inner City Hall. We had tickets but not assigned seats, and we knew they were being assigned at 1 pm, first come, first serve. They had a line already started but we were put in a different line since we had what was considered “Foreigner Tickets.” Well lucky us because we were first in that line! After posting on TS about getting a ticket someone else had commented that they were also going…well it’s a small world because they were behind us in line! We ended up meeting Azlina and Nurul from Twilighters Malaysia. We all chatted and took pictures together. Laurel is from Washington State and went to visit there over the summer. She was able to make it to Forks, WA and was showing Azlina and Nurul pictures. We waited for a few hours and brought our iPods to help pass the time.

At 1 pm exactly we were called to the table to get our pass and seating assignment. The seats for foreigners had already been set aside, so we weren’t sure where they were going to be. We could see a map with sections A, B & C and 10 rows making up each section. So B9, my row, was the 19th row. None of the good seats were in our batch of passes and understandably so, the PIA tickets were purchased first and they had the right to the better seats. I was happy just to be there, believe me! None of us would be there if it weren’t for Twilight Singapore and for that we were, and still are very appreciative!!!

After we got our passes we wanted to grab a bite to eat. There’s an Outback Steakhouse right across from where we were, but FYI they’re not open for lunch. We ended up cutting through Shinagawa station and walking up a hill to another one…on the way we went by a TGI Fridays. We drank, ate, laughed, drank some more and talked for nearly three hours…we had plenty of time because the doors didn’t open until 6 pm. From there we walked back the way we came and stopped for coffee at a Starbucks inside Shinagawa Station.

Finally 5 pm came around and we headed back to Shinagawa Inner City Hall. People were lined up but there was no rush to get in…we just wanted to get inside to warm up! We met back up with Azlina and Nurul and chatted some more. While Laurel was in Forks this summer she bought some goodies and brought them with her yesterday. She ended up giving Azlina and Nurul a keychain from Forks and they were so appreciative! I promised Twilight Singapore that I’d email them from my phone and send pictures when I could, and they posted updates on their site; click here, here and here to see them.

As we walked through the doors we were handed a balloon, and straight ahead was the Volvo, the XC60. It wasn’t the same one from the movie because if you notice the steering wheel is on the right. We made our way into the hall, found our seats and waited about 20 minutes until Rob and Chris came out. Here's a video I took of their entrance.

I will post the second half tomorrow along with about 65 more pictures and four more videos!
*Update: part two can be seen here.

*I was just informed that RobsessedPattinson has my five videos posted from YouTube here.*

video

Robert Pattinson & Chris Weitz in Tokyo Promoting "Twilight Saga: New Moon"

And I got a ticket and was able to go! A recap, videos and lots of pictures will be posted later today, but in the mean time here are two pictures from last night. We had such a good time and I have Twilight Singapore to thank! I'll get into details later, but they gave me a second chance at a ticket and I truly appreciate it.