Returning from Osaka, Japan


Your fave blogger had a long day..the meet ended about 10 pm Sunday night, and after dinner in a Japanese coffee shop that was a misnomer, kind of a gourmet food shop, where fried rice becomes a dish with shitake mushrooms, something much too rich for a stomach that was slowly self destructing after nine days of track, interviews, late nights and wonderful memories...

Slept fitfully, in between watching twelve different Japanese tv channels. My favorite shows, all late night: a) Japanese fishing shows, guys who supply the local restaurants with fresh fish, b) Karaoke show, where this Japanese version of Groucho Marx stood up in front of four of the worst karaoke singers I have ever had the pleasure to watch! c) this infomercial where two yellow tennis balls with eye balls and a face, dance to the rhythms of music-seriously, I wanted to buy one, but when I called the operators standing by, no one understood my plaintive English!

Memory of Saturday night was James Dunaway and I having dinner in a auto service restaurant. For $6.50 I had a dinner with miso soup, spicy chicken, green tea, a salad. We ordered from a machine, and it was served at our table. Only place open near James' hotel. In the small restaurant were a mixture of Japanese punkers, girl mod wanna bees and a couple where the guy was cranking out emails (free wifi) and girl was watching the two American's. Well, it could have been Dunaway's singing, as he was singing something from the 50s to wake me up.

Back to Monday morning. Packed up quick enough. Made sure I grabbed the phone and all of the other accoutrements that were aquired over ten days in Japan. I had done some souvenir shopping and had those packed away. My home for the past ten days I would miss, the polite room staff, the charming, chirpy and polite front desk staff, who helped me with my constantly lost missing paper keys.

With my stomach somewhere lost over Osaka, I headed to the airport, for my two flights home. I tried all of my charm hoping for an upgrade. I was told, very kindly, but officially, that was not happening to this American journalist. But they would find me better seats.

First, my favorite shops-duty free. Grabbed some chocolate, some special candies from Osaka, and tried to purchase two bottles of Saki for home. But, since I a) was flying to America, b) and it was not a non-stop, I could not take the two bottle through Korean customs or they would confiscate them. Somehow, not thinking Al Quada are stuffing themselves into saki bottles, but that is just me.

My trip to Inchon was two hours, and relaxed on the half full flight. Moved up from row 24 to row 10, thanks to the nice staff. Got into Inchon no problem, went through security and customs (well done, fastest in any airport, anywhere) and then off to shopping for five hours, some writing and checking my stomach.

I was also starting to think about the top ten revelations from the Worlds ( my column tommorow), as well as what should I buy in duty free? Big difference in duty free in Europe and Asia. In Europe, people want deals on brands, in Asia, it seems, the opposite, brands are the key. There was Nike Golf, Bally's, mostly high end. Some wines that I was shocked to see in duty free ( very good French wines). I did my contribution to the global economy and headed to the lounge to write and see what I missed in North America the last week or so.

My flight to Chicago was I was trying to board, my ticket did not go through the magic machine that takes tickets, and it did not like mine--actually I had been given an upgrade, to first class, for thirteen hour flight.

No big stories here, except, it is the way to travel. We were in an Airbus, so there were fifteen rows in first class. The extra room with each seat allowed my stomach to mend, and I just soaked up water, read my Financial Times and drifted into never land.

Thirteen hours later, my purchase of half of duty free in Inchon, China got through customs in Chicago, and on to my three hour bus ride to Wisconsin Student Union.
No kidding! Are you ready to just puke? I was.

So, I get on the bus, go to the back, and try to sleep. Sitting behind me are two middle aged women who should have had their own episode of COPS. In three hours, I learnt a) that teenage kids one had with ex con should not drive with ex con more than twice a week if he is drunk, b) parole officers are not understanding when you go more than three states away and do not tell them, c) most kids have felony convictions. Fascinating. I wanted to do a screenplay, but no one would believe this stuff! And these conversations were all on cell phones, so loud that the bus driver suggested that all cell conversations be kept at a minimum. The women across from me, I do believe was doing her own 900 number return phone calls. I almost asked her if she did ad sales!

So, after three hours of this low brow soap opera, I get off the bus, and tooled down the highway with my son, Adam to lovely Fort Atkinson. My house was there, the grass was high, the trash was emptied and I had a 72 gallon fish aquarium in my living room!

So, as I try to pass out, I will watch the last two episodes of a) Californication-the most well written show on television-26 minutes of week of adult wit about a man who had it all, nearly lost it all and was desperately trying to find a way back, and then, b) Talk Soup, a review of talk show detrius from the past week.

Good night from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

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