Noilly Prattle: October 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Let me bore you with this story...(3)

Coming Home - Part 3

ready for surgery...
     Many days passed until, finally, one day I was moved into a big enclosed space with all kinds of machines and noise and sentients running around doing one thing or another on many other damaged automobiles. A couple of the sentients (they were humans) began to look me over, opened my hood and said: “The engine looks good, not damaged at all. None of the windows are broken, but the left passenger door and the left front fender are crumpled and have to be replaced. The front passenger seat is bent and torn—has to be replaced. Left side airbags have to be replaced. The rest of the interior is OK. The chassis is not bent—big plus. The biggest problem is that the left front drive wheel and brake mechanism are ruined, and the driveshaft is bent--both will have to be replaced and retooled. OK, that's it. Let's get this baby ready for surgery!” The last thing I remember was my battery being disconnected and then nothingness.

       There was the sound of music. I had heard that music before. It was a Mozart Violin Sonata. It was one of the pieces of music on my USB. I thought: “I'm conscious again. I've been reconnected and started--the USB has come back on automatically.” There was a man in the driver's seat. He was talking to another man outside about me. He said: “Looks good, she started right up.” (He called me “she”. Maybe I'm beautiful again!) “Good, take her out for a test on the highway. Bring her up to 120kph and check for smooth acceleration and any shaking and pulling in the left front drive wheel,” said the other man. Off we went.

test drive
       We drove slowly out of the Takanaka Auto parking lot. It was like learning to move again. I was a little shaky at first, but as we drove out of the lot and down the street I had the urge to go faster and sense the wind flowing around me and through my vents. I didn't notice any changes in my drive wheel, it turned smoothly and steadily as my speed increased. Out on the highway the driver accelerated smoothly and steadily up to 120kph and held me there for several minutes until he was satisfied that everything was running smoothly and then he drove me back to Takanaka Auto. Mechanically I was like new. I sensed that my body had been restored to its original condition, but my brain had to be reset. Takanaka wasn't equipped to work on my computer, so I was sent to the Mazda dealership in Kushiro for the reset. Now I was ready to be sent back home 1500 kilometers away. I felt ready to drive all the way back by myself. I'm pretty smart, but, unfortunately, I'm not a self-drive automobile.

up up and away...
       Takanaka put me on a piggy back truck and I was given a ride to the port in Kushiro. The piggy back pulled up to a big boat, but this one was different from the ferry boat I had driven onto before. It didn't have any openings to drive through. This one was called a “cargo ship”. Before I knew what was happening I found myself being hoisted high into the air. “What a strange new sensation,” I thought. Then I was lowered onto the deck and tied down with cables attached to the steel rings under the front and back of my chassis, like the one that towed me to Takanaka Auto after the collision. So I had my first sea voyage in the open air. The sun was shining, the sea birds were flying all around as we pulled away from the pier and sailed out of the harbor. I felt the ship pitching and rolling gently on the swells. It took several days with the ship making ports of call, loading and unloading cargo, until we reached the big port of Osaka. I was uncabled and again hoisted high into the air and put down on another piggy back truck and driven to Tamashima port near my home in Okayama. It was a weekend and I couldn't go home until Monday.

oops, overshot the mark....
c'mon down...
       Finally, the big day. I'm going home. The piggy back truck driver arrived and I heard him call someone on his cell. He spoke to someone and said that he expected to arrive around 10 o'clock that morning and would “you” be home at that time? That “you” must be my parents who were waiting for me. I'm not a sentient, of course, but I think I felt something like “excitement” to be going home and the comfort of my own garage. As the piggy back drove closer to my home, I began to recognize places I had been to before, and then we were on “my street”. I saw Aya coming out of the house and Jude was standing on the deck above my garage—with a camera as usual. Oh no, the truck drove right past the house! Aya ran down the street to tell the driver that he had gone past the house. “No, no,” said the driver, “I need some space to back your car off the truck.”

       And so, he backed me off the truck and up to the driveway to my garage and I was back home again. “Wow,” said Aya, “she looks like new!” “Yeah, she sure does,” said Jude, “let's take her out for a test spin and see if she runs OK.” 

       They did, and I DID!

The end

Monday, October 19, 2015

Let me bore you with this story... (2)

Coming Home - Part 2

     We left Niseko the next day and headed east to meet Jude and Aya's son, Brin, who was flying in from Tokyo to spend a few days on the Shiretoko Peninsula in Eastern Hokkaido. It was a gray, cloudy day threatening rain. When we arrived at Kushiro airport Jude and Aya got a mobile call from Brin saying that his flight was delayed in Tokyo for a “mechanical issue”. After a short time, while they were discussing what to do, he called again and said that they were now getting ready to take off from Haneda Airport and would arrive a couple hours late. Jude and Aya decided to kill some time by going into Kushiro for some sightseeing and programmed me for the trip.

       We were driving along smoothly on a perfectly straight road. The pattern of the streets was unfamiliar for people from the southern parts of Japan with their narrow twisting roads. The wide streets were laid out in a grid pattern with many crossroads. As we were going through an intersection Jude suddenly exclaimed: “Oh shit!” Just then I felt a white blur smash into my left front wheel with a loud crunching and banging-thudding sound. I was pushed a short distance and then I couldn't move any more. I filled up with smoke but my engine kept on running and the music played on. Jude said: “Oh, SHIT!. We are FUCKed!” Then to Aya, who was whimpering and crying: “Get out of the car, now!” Aya was able to open the crushed passenger door and got out into the street. Jude suddenly realized I was still running and turned me off and got out of the car himself.

       The rest is a blur of sounds and images: Jude asking Aya if she was alright and noticing blood on her torn jacket sleeve, trying to get her to calm down. The driver of the other automobile pointing to the stop sign that Jude had just run. The front end of his car was crumpled, a piece of it in the street. Sirens, a firetruck, an ambulance, several police cars, a policeman opening my hood. I sensed that I was badly damaged; my left front fender and left passenger door crushed, left front wheel bent, my left front seat torn and several airbags dangling from the ceiling on the passenger side. I was broken, unable to move. 

        The gray, rain threatening afternoon dragged on with mobile phone calls, medical attention for Aya, endless questions for Jude and measurements by the police. Eventually an ambulance took Aya to a hospital and Jude was left in the street awaiting whatever was coming next. What came next was a truck. The truck driver approached Jude standing on the curb and said he was going to tow me away. Jude, looking shell shocked and confused mumbled: “What?” The man seemed to understand Jude's condition and clarified: “I'm a wrecker service from Takanaka Auto associated with Xanadudu.” Jude responded: “Oh, OK, whatever!” Just then another policeman came up to Jude, introduced himself as "Natsu", and said he was going to drive him to the hospital where Aya had been taken.

       I was, alone, abandoned, at the mercy of the “wrecker”. It had started raining. An ugly looking beast backed up to my front end and lowered a huge iron hook. The wrecker driver found a large iron ring under my engine and inserted the hook into it and lifted my front up off the ground with my grill pointed at the sky. I was then pulled, in that humiliating position, through the rain slick streets of Kushiro until we reached what looked like an automobile graveyard where I was unceremoniously dumped with the other wrecks. It was the end of my short life and it was my own  fault. I had been in the habit of announcing: “There's a stop sign ahead,” as part of my GPS program. But I had failed to announce the stop signs on that long straight stretch of road in Kushiro and Jude had run one. We had probably run several of them before the fatal intersection came down on our heads. Night came down. It was dark.

       A gray rain-soaked dawn, other derelicts like tombstones in the stygian light. Strange new sentients coming to look at me. Humans. “It's a shame,” said one, “only 3,683 kilometers, practically brand new!” “Not as bad as it looks, I've seen worse. Look around you!” said another. “I wonder if the owner plans to junk it?” said a third. “They are coming this morning. I'm going to recommend that it be repaired. It's not that bad and it is a brand new car. It's worth fixing,” said the second, “and it is fully insured.”

       My parents are coming. They haven't abandoned me. I hope they agree to have me repaired so I can go back home! A taxi pulled into Takanaka Auto's parking lot and three sentients got out: Jude, Aya and a younger human who looked a little like both of them.”This must be their son, Brin,” I thought. All three came and looked at me a little sadly, I thought. Brin, who was seeing me for the first time, said: “Ouch! That looks pretty bad. Do you think it can be repaired?” “Well, to him I guess I'm just an 'it' ,“ I thought, “he hasn't had time to get to know me. Hmph, I am a young lady!” Just then Mr. Takanaka approached and invited all three of them into his office for, he said, some tea and a chat.

       A little while later a very unattractive blue Nissan K-car drove into the parking lot--puny, tinny and no power. Soon Mr. Takanaka and Aya, Jude and Brin came out of the office all smiles and good fellowship. Then I heard the good news. I was going to be repaired but it would take some time, maybe a month or more. I would require several new parts that had to come from the Mazda factory and many of my reparable parts needed to be worked on. Once repaired I would be shipped back home. Then I heard the bad news. That gaudy blue K-car was a rent-a-tart that Jude and Aya and Brin would drive away to continue OUR journey and leave ME behind to the tender mercies of Takanaka Auto, while they went off in THAT roller skate to have a good time without me. Humph! The Nissan was pulled up right in front of me. Ugh! Jude and Aya transferred their remaining luggage to that cheap tart. Jude dropped a bottle of gin and broke it on the hard surface of the parking lot in the process. “Serves him right,” I thought unkindly. Once everything was moved, they drove off and left me alone, again. There I sat, abandoned and broken, in the Takanaka Auto junkyard, for an endless wait for parts to arrive. And the rain kept on falling.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Let me bore you with this story...

Coming Home 

I'm going home today.

Where did this bad dream begin?
     Where did this bad dream all begin? 

       It was dark. Somewhere, somehow I was aware of sentient thoughts discussing a nebulous concept. The male said: “The one we rented on our last trip was great on mileage.” “Yes, it was, and I like the design, too,” said the female. “Me, too, he said, “why don't we go to the showroom and have a look?”

       Shortly thereafter I began to develop according to the specifications the sentients had decided on: a beautiful coat of lustrous metallic Navy blue enamel, aluminum wheels, white and black leather seats with a red stripe, GPS navigation and USB sound system, automatic windshield wipers and headlights, idling stop—the works. That nebulous concept I had become aware of coalesced into an automobile and I first saw the light of day when I was delivered to the showroom where my sentients came and drove me away for the first time.

       The male sat behind my steering wheel and I could sense that he wasn't used to me and rather overly cautiously, I thought, crept out of the lot into the traffic. He was obviously unfamiliar with my GPS navigation system and turned the wrong way at the first intersection. But I patiently advised him to turn around and start again. He said: “She sure is calm and collected, doesn't get frustrated or sarcastic when you make a mistake!” That was the first time I was referred to as “she”. It was because I spoke to my sentients with a female voice. And so, they drove me to my new home and parked me in my own garage and admired how nice I looked in it. My motor purred like a four-legged sentient called a “kitten” they said.

       As they struggled with the new technology, I learned that my sentients were called “humans”. In a fit of frustration the man said: “What the fuck! I thought I was buying a new car, not a whole new computer!” The woman said: “I don't understand this manual at all!” “Well, I can't even read it, it's in Japanese!” he said. “I can read the words, but the technical stuff doesn't mean anything to me. It might as well be in Greek!” she retorted. I learned, little by little, that their names were Aya and Jude, and that they certainly weren't always as calm and serene as I am.

       Aya and Jude came often to try and figure out my navigation system. They would sit in my front seats, she with the manual and he trying to figure out what she was talking about while fiddling with the buttons and dials. “There are different ways to program it,” she would say pouring over the manual. “You can input addresses, telephone numbers, geographical coordinates; you can even talk to it.” Talking to me is a little tricky, though, since my program requires the use of a few basic code words. At first, they mostly entered telephone numbers on my numerical touch pad. Little by little they struggled until finally they felt reasonably confident that they could use me for a long trip. So, the day came when we drove off for the far north of Japan, the big island of Hokkaido.

parked in the Japan alps
junk food stop
       It took seven days, averaging around 300 kilometers a day, to drive the length of the main island of Honshu, stopping for the night at nice hot spring inns alternating with budget hotels. Jude and Aya stopped here and there to visit shrines and temples during the day while I rested in the parking lot and waited for them to get back on the road. Jude had said the road trip was to try me out and break in my new engine and other moving parts. Sometimes they would chat and reminisce while driving along the highway at what felt like exhilarating speeds of 100/kph and sometimes more. They were talking about me one day. “The way the GPS speaks so politely and patiently with a woman's voice, we should give her a name”. Jude said: “Let's call her 'Demio' after the car model. No, that's a man's name, how about 'Demia'?” Aya said: “How about just plain “Demi”? Jude said: “Yeah, like the actress Demi Moore. OK, Demi she is!” Another time, they were talking about their “son” growing up and learning to walk and run and ride a bicycle. I thought to myself, “Why, that's what I'm doing, too, learning to run and growing up...with my parents.”

ferry boat
       One morning we came to a place where the road ended and I couldn't go any further. Jude drove me to a big parking area near “water” and left me in a line with many other automobiles like me. Later, Aya and Jude came back and put a piece of paper on my dashboard in front of the windshield. Then they sat down, opened my windows for “fresh air”, and waited. Soon, the other automobiles began to move and when it was my turn I followed them towards a huge opening in the side of a very big white object floating on the water called a “ferry boat” . Jude drove me into the opening and parked me with the other automobiles, turned me off and left me there. It was dark. Some time later another opening, light flooding in again. Aya and Jude came, got in and we drove through the opening in the side of the ferry into the light and onto the road again. It was my first “boat ride”.

nothing serious
cleaning up
       Jude and Aya stayed in a place called Niseko for a week. One day, after taking a “day trip”, they decided to stop for “ice cream”. As they were pulling into the parking lot, I heard a loud “bang” under my chassis. They heard it too because Jude swore: “What the hell was that?” We stopped and they got out and looked at me and around the area. Jude said: “Aha, look at this loose grate over the drainage ditch across the entrance. It must have bounced up and hit the bottom when we ran over it, but I don't see any obvious damage.” Aya said: “Well, we should call Xanadudu anyway and have the car checked, just in case.” So, we drove to a local garage associated with the insurance company the next day and the friendly mechanic found some scratches under my left side rocker panel and under the front cowl. “Nothing serious,” he said. I was pretty grimy from two weeks on the road so Jude and Aya took me to a car wash and cleaned me up and left me looking all shiny and new.

To be continued...

Monday, October 12, 2015

Arte Ocupa in Okayama

Photo by Suisse-Marocain
the Fuyori school
interior stairway of  the Fuyori school
     Okayama Prefecture sponsors an “Art Bridge” project designed to try and revitalize a depopulating countryside. This year they invited and sponsored artists from Japan and abroad to come and set up an artists-in-residence program in a very rural mountain town in central Okayama Prefecture for about a month. They chose an old school building in Fuyori, Okayama, no longer in use, as an atelier (studio/workshop) where the artists were free to work on their own projects.

59 rue de Rivoli, Paris
       “Arte Ocupa” is a movement, as far as I can tell, that encourages the use of “squats” where artists can live and work free of rent. Squats are abandoned buildings that would otherwise become dilapidated and decay from disuse if they were not razed or occupied. We visited one such squat last summer while in Paris on rue de Rivoli in the Marais area not far from the Place de la Bastille on the recommendation of a friend who had squatted there some ten years ago and is now living in Okayama.

"For Me, squatting is a different way of living! - not a big deal!"
banner hanging on the outside of the school
       Some of the artists associated with the Arte Ocupa movement from Paris and other countries were invited to join the Art Bridge project here in Okayama. We visited the old school last weekend. Quite a variety of work was on display from painting to sculpture, some of it a bit iconoclastic. Here, in no special order, are a few photos of my impressions. 

portraits of some of the artists in residence  

painted red jacket by Suisse Marocain - modeled by me
the sculptor from Brazil

corrugated cardboard sculpture 

wood sculpture on marble base -
same Brazilian artist

Winter in Japan - by Suisse Marocain

large banner by Radek

computer animated projection  - I call it "Reading"

reminds me of the old Edo Period area of Kurashiki City where I used to live
silk screen 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Green Hair

      I spotted his bit of shrubbery while walking around the neighborhood recently. I can't decide if this is a half finished hedge trimming job or the result of someone with a great sense of humor.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


     These two figures appeared back-lighted in my window --one a Wayang puppet, the other a Praying Mantis looking so creepy as to suggest a Halloween image . . .