HORSE’S MOUTH: My Inflated Ego and the ‘Dancing Squid’

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published April 15, 2014)

One of the benefits of being a newspaperman is that it provides the opportunity to meet many people, from high government office-holders to just plain, ordinary folks.

I know over the years that I’ve been a columnist for several vernacular newspapers, and I am fortunate to not only meet various people but to become friends with many of them.

Take the consuls general assigned to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles. With the exception of two of them, I had the opportunity to meet all of them from one time or another; however, I guess I’ve never had a photo taken with any of them.

That streak ended a couple of weeks ago, when Consul General Niimi attended the Santa Anita Reunion, at which I was honored.

Because I was the honoree,the consul general had a photographer take a picture of us together.

After the photo was sent to me, I realized that it was the first time I’ve had one taken with a consul general.

Maybe I should have taken my baseball cap off, so the shot would look a little more official.

I met Consul General Niimi at another event about a month ago at which time I learned that he spoke English quite well, and he told me he was a regular reader of my column.

Needless to say, that kind of inflated my ego.

At any rate, one of these days I’d like to interview Niimi to find out how he came to be assigned to the Los Angeles Consulate.

It’s something I’ve always been curious about. That is, how the Japanese government assigns personnel to U.S. consulate offices.

Since Mr. Niimi speaks fluent English, I might put the question to him.

Also, just what is the duty of a consul general, since they have consulate offices scattered throughout the U.S.?

niimi-yoshinaga

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Time for a letter from a reader, Roger Eaton, who wrote:

“I am a volunteer with the Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial Alliance and I maintain the group’s registry for all the veterans of the 100th Battalion, the 442nd RCT and the MIS of the Pacific Theater, and have been reading your column for as long as you have been with The Rafu Shimpo.

“I am putting around the registry and I thought I would look you up and lo and behold, we do not have you in our database. Now, this is the most complete and accurate database of its kind, believe me. This is the one used by the Congressional Gold Medal Committee to give out these CGM awards, but you’re not in it.

“You are, however, in a file called ‘Soldiers and the Camps,’ compiled by a professor at Brown University, that contains over 31,000 names of JAs who served during and just after World War II. So I know your serial number and that you were born in California in 1925, but for our records, I would like to have your date of birth, and I would like to know what language school and what class of that school, Snelling 45-09 or whatever it is.”

Well, Roger, this is the first time I’ve been asked about my military background, but I prefer not to discuss it since it is now history.

All I can say about my military background is that I did not go to language school while I was in the service.

It is assumed that since I was a Nisei, I was sent to a language school. I was not.

And that is that.

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Boy, I was stunned when I went to my Shell station at the corner of Normandie and 190th Street. A gallon of gas was listed at $4.25.

About two weeks ago, it was $3.53, or about 70 cents cheaper, and it’s the highest I’ve seen for a gallon of gas.

What is even more amazing is that price for the same gas on the Island of Maui is one cent cheaper than at my station, and the refinery for my gas station is about a mile and a half away in Torrance.

How can that be?

Gas for the station on the Island of Maui is shipped via tankers from the Mainland and is a penny cheaper than my station, where the gas is hauled to the pump via tanker trucks traveling only a little more than a mile.

Sure doesn’t make much sense to me.

At any rate, at $4.25 a gallon, it’s the highest gas has ever been.

One thing it means is that I’ll have to cut back on my driving.

Well, at least I don’t go to Vegas these days. To fill up if I were driving to Vegas would mean I’d have to spend at least 50 bucks.

The price in Vegas is about a buck cheaper than in Gardena, another thing that puzzles me.

They have to truck in the gas from the Los Angeles area to Vegas and it’s still cheaper than the gas being trucked a mile or so.

Things sure don’t add up.

Another thing that doesn’t add up is that the media never touches on the cost of fuel and it’s up-and-down markup.

Doesn’t anyone ever complain about why gas prices keep jumping up and down?

Oh well, I guess that’s life.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: Mr. Y: Forgive me for saying this, but for the last several weeks you have written about the cost of gas. I think you should be gassed up by now. Hint, hint.)

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Oh yeah, before I forget to mention it, the new Ferris wheel opened on the Strip in Vegas.

It’s described as the world’s largest Ferris wheel, so I guess it might draw some JAs to visit it.

No, I don’t think they will ride it. The reason is simple.

During the daylight hours, the cost of one seat on the wheel is $24. After 6 p.m., the price goes up to $42.

Well, maybe being in Vegas, the above figures are not that high. A roll at the crap table might cost that much.

At any rate, if I get back to Vegas, I’ll drive by to see something described as “the world’s largest.”

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It’s a new dish called “Odori-don.”

I guess the translation of “odori” is “dance,” although I don’t get the connection. Something to eat called “dance”?

At any rate, it’s just been introduced in Japan, and if it goes over well, it will probably be presented in the U.S.

Would any Nisei try the dish?

It gets its name because it has a dead squid on top that “dances”? when soy sauce is poured on it, it comes “back to life” and dances on your plate.

Diners in Japan are already enjoying it. The restaurant that created the dish named it “Odori-don.”

The high salt content in the soy sauce reacts with ions in the cells of the squid’s tentacles, creating slight voltage and making the squid move.

To prepare the dish, chefs in Hakodate first remove the head of the squid before serving the body with the tentacles intact, over a bowl of sushi rice. Seasoned soy sauce is then poured over it. As the squid is served so fresh, when the sauce is added, it sends signals across the nerve cell membranes, making it “come back to life.”

The body is then removed and prepared by the chef to be served as a side dish.

The meal, which is proving popular with diners, costs around $200 per person. The dish is such a success that the restaurant has patented the name of the creation.

Now, the other restaurants in the area have begun making their own versions of the Hakodate dish, under a different name.

I wonder when it will be introduced in the U.S. and whether Americans will dish out a couple of hundred bucks for it.

Oh well, we’ll see.

Remember when sushi was introduced to Americans and how popular it became with Americans?

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Wanna laugh?

Try this one: Two robins were sitting in a tree.

“I’m really hungry,” said the first one.

“Me, too,” said the second. “Let’s fly down and find some lunch.”

They flew to the ground and found a nice plot of open ground that was full of worms. They ate and ate and ate, until they could not eat any more.

“I’m so full I don’t think I can fly back up to the tree,” said the first one.

“Me, neither. Let’s just lie here and bask in the warm sun,” said the second.

“OK,” said the first.

So, they plopped down, reveling in the sun.

No sooner had they had fallen asleep than a big, fat tomcat sneaked from behind and gobbled them up.

As he sat there washing his face after this meal, he thought to himself, “I really love baskin’ robins.”

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As I got to this point in my column, the wife stuck her head in the area I call “my office” and said, “Are you finished with your column?”

I said, “No.”

“Well, she replied, It’s dinnertime. Let’s go get some Japanese food.”

When she made the last comment, I realized that Gardena doesn’t have a lot of Japanese eateries. At least, not like it used to, say, 25 years ago.

Yeah, they still have what they label as “Japanese” restaurants, but they aren’t like the ones we used to have.

Today, there are more Korean eateries than Japanese ones. Of course, most of the Korean places serve “Japanese-style” dishes, but it’s not like a real Japanese place.

Marukai Supermarket does have a few concessions serving Japanese food, but it’s not like sitting down in a restaurant.

Oh well.

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As I was getting prepared to begin the last page of today’s column, I received an email from The Las Vegas Review Journal that I thought the readers might like to read:

“You noticed it as soon as you moved here.

“From the morons who cut suddenly across four lanes without signaling their last-second exit to the co-worker so inept that you were convinced he spent his childhood eating lead paint, it seemed that locals were just, you know, well, dumb.

“That hunch? It’s not just you.

“Las Vegas has displaced Fresno as America’s dumbest city, based on education level and intellectual vitality, according to a study from news and opinion website The Daily Breeze.

The Daily Breeze didn’t respond to a request for comment, but the site’s findings are important because ‘regions with intellectual vigor are more likely to bounce back’ from economic travails, The Daily Breeze’s editors said in their Tuesday report. ‘Those without risk a stupor.’

“Seriously, though: The analysis pierces straight to the heart of an age-old knock on Las Vegas. Some local observers have long lamented that the city won’t lure diverse, high-tech businesses as long as it claims a bad rap for its citizens’ low educational attainment.

“Others counter that Las Vegas is its own kind of town, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial hotbed where The Daily Breeze‘s benchmarks don’t apply the way they might play out in other areas.

“‘We’re a unique market. A significant share of our employee base is in service industries and many of those employees are earning fairly decent wages and have been able to succeed and set up roots here,’ said local business and government consultant Brian Gordon, a pretty smart guy whose first name also happens to spell “Brain.”

“The site analyzed the nation’s 55 metropolitan areas with 1 million or more residents.

“Considering Las Vegas entices upwards of 40 million people a year from smart markets such as Boston, San Francisco and Denver, to drop major dollars on elusive jackpots, just how dumb can the city really be?”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

 

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