GUSA Election 2014: An Investigative Report

With election day having arrived, many candidates, all of them with their decrepit secret agendas and cocaine addictions, look to this last 24-hour stretch as the final test to keeping quiet their more devious and darker attempts. However, while some of these candidates may have eluded the long arm of the law and the shining eyes of justice, one couldn’t quite escape the quick jab of THE PEOPLE’S ELBOW. Many sacrifices were made along the way to bring you this information, and as a reporter who, so shaken by this journalist experience that I must now retire after my first publishing, I urge you to not let these sacrifices go in vain.

Beloved by Georgetown students one and all, regarded as always putting campus first, a savior of Sunday nights, Chicken Madness looks perfect on paper. Years of service to Georgetown, a great history of direct interaction with the student constituency, being directly attributed the creation of multiple jobs, CM seems to be the perfect choice for the write in vote. But as our mothers have told us many times, “If something is too good to be true, then it probably is. Unless of course it’s a kind-hearted individual offering you candy for free no strings attached, then that’s fine, but on the whole the rule applies.”

So what’s the big looming secret? Let’s see if you can guess from some clandestine pictures taken of Chicken Madness behind closed doors.

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A tasty dining option at first glance, to the naked eye nothing seems amiss, however, upon taking a closer look…

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Many of you might not recognize the strange symbol’s meaning, but for those of you who do understand, I don’t need to explain to you the gravity and danger of this situation. But for the ignorant around us who remain with the wool pulled over their eyes, I will:

 

Chicken Madness, delicious dining option, caloric king, harbinger of hotness, is a member of The Knights Templar, a secret organization affiliated closely with the Freemasons.  Yes, you heard correctly, Chicken Madness is a member of a secret society, and in case that buzz word didn’t catch your attention, hopefully this font will:

 

CHICKEN MADNESS IS A MEMBER OF A SECRET SOCIETY

 

This may come as a shock to many people within the Georgetown community only just now learning of this treacherous breach in the genuine relationship Chicken Madness supporters and campaign managers purported Madness had with the people. What happens behind closed doors? Why would Chicken Madness feel that it needs to keep things secret from us? What does The Knights Templar  do, and does it even still exist? 

While initially The People’s Elbow staff were immediately kept at bay, after we leaked the images to some Wisey’s higher ups, they were more than willing to talk. However, damage control proved to be ineffective for these shifty specters, as they proved to have absolutely no planned response to the questions we asked. Maybe they expected The People’s Elbow to “play nice” in an interview, but the one thing they forgot is that while a pair of arms can be used for an embrace, a mouth can be used for a reassuring smile, an ear can listen to the back-pedalling, shoddy attempts at silencing the truth, the elbow is good for one thing and one thing only: crushing tyranny and corruption with a pointed joint.

Upon arriving to the interview, Chicken Madness demonstrated a warm and approachable temperament and temperature, however as things got underway, things quickly cooled. Chicken Madness remained silent throughout the interview, with staffers rushing in to answer our questions to cover for Madness, citing such reasons as “Sandwiches are incapable of communication let alone thought” and “If you’re going to stand here interrogating our food, at least buy something,” and other excuses of the like. When we pointblank asked Madness why he had kept his affiliation with The Knights Templar so secretive and quiet, an aide taking on the guise of a scholarly youth swept in and ushered Madness aside. Coincidental timing on an order, or an elaborate ruse to save Madness from making any off-point statements? We can only provide the facts, you the reader must decide for yourself.

However, one thing we can promise is that Chicken Madness is inarguably and irrefutably a member of the secret organization The Knights Templar, and no doubt is in no dearth of other skeletons in the closet of corruption. The People’s Elbow has just started chipping away at the woodwork, and we won’t stop until our bloodied elbow breaks through the nontransparent door of back-room politics.

So this voting season, consider Toasted Marshmallow Shake as a choice for the write-in candidate. Hailing from the Good Stuff Eatery precinct, Toasted Marshmallow is new in town, and hasn’t marinated long enough in the corruption of the capitol to be ruined just quite yet. Make the right choice, choose a candidate who is forward with everything, from political platform to calories and nutritional values. Choose taste we can believe in.

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Also the Wisey’s staff are Scientologists who publicly worship the dread god Xenu.

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Ben Saunders is a Junior studying International Economics in the SFS, who has a dangerous lack of pressing things to do, but enough things that he should really be getting to yet lacks the influence of the time crush. 

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七夕祭り

So I know I’ve been a bit behind schedule, but that’s just because of all the awesome things that have been going on that I get to write about now! 

In Japan, they have this lil’ old festival known as 七夕祭り (tanabata matsuri), which is celebrated in Hakodate (my neck of the woods) in a very similar sense to Halloween, the only noticeable difference being the songs and that the varied costumes of youths in America are replaced by Kimono’s and Yuugata’s (all about that in Japan). There are other, perhaps more culturally distinguished customs of 七夕祭り such as decorating the Tanabata tree or tying slips of paper with your wishes written on them to said festive tree, but tradition pales in comparison to the exciting prospect of receiving candy for merely reciting a 5 line song. 

たけにたんざく

七夕祭り

おおいにいわおう

ろうそく一本

ちょうだいな

Although it was only 6PM, the first of the troops of young stylishly dressed children were at our door, and of course the first thing they drop as they come into MY house is 外国人. But what are you going to do about some kids. They sang their song, were stupefied by my ability to convey in relatively grammatically correct Japanese that they could only take 2 from one bowl, and 1 from the other, and then were back out on the street telling all of their friends about the fushigi foreigner’s residence. 

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After providing moderate entertainment for the children of Nanaehama, my host parents suggested that I go over to our neighbor’s to participate in Tanabata, and given that the oldest kids who participate are around 10 years old (maybe 13 tops if they can pull off looking REALLY adorable), I knew something was up. Although Katsumi took a video of my first Tanabata outing, the file formatting was not agreeing with my mac or any other computer in the house for that matter, so it is still trapped on the old school camcorder used to record my awkward ringing of the doorbell, making nervous jokes (thankfully EVERYONE laughs at jokes in Japan except that clerk at the コンビニ when I dropped my 研究するために), and finally my singing of the Tanabata song. While it’s normal for houses to give out small candies the same as American houses for Halloween, after I finish my song, Kouji tells me to wait a sec, goes into the kitchen, and comes out with a huge box of シュークリーム(these really awesome cream puffs). On the day of my run in with the cops, after I came back shaken to the BBQ, Kouji’s mother had asked me what I liked and I instantly responded with シュークリーム(cause their 最高), and here she was gifting me a box of maybe 5 of them, which was insane since I’d had one conversation with the woman.

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The picture formatting is a little funky, but you get the idea. I’ve got a ton more to write, but unfortunately, it’s presently Bedtime for Bonzo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zHN4vCfwh4 

 

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野外劇:外国人の出演者

So this Saturday I participated in a yagaigeki (big outdoor show) celebrating Hakodate’s heritage and history. Although I had brought up my concerns with my Otoosan about the fact that within this show’s contents were Commodore Perry’s forcing open of the ports and WW2, he said I didn’t need to worry about it being awkward, and although after being tricked by Okaasan with regard to the Kimono pageant, I decided to go ahead and take Otoosan up on his suggestion.

That morning, despite being a little under the weather, I decided to go for a nice long 12 miler into the countryside. Being the super deep self-reflective guy that I am, and as any runner will tell you, sometimes when you need to clear up your head, a long run alone with one’s thoughts and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (if you haven’t checked them out yet, I recently discovered “Fragment’s of Time” and “Doing it Right”) is 最高. As I eventually found myself in an entirely different city without my passport and really no way of recalling my host family’s address, realizing another run-in with my good 警察官 buddies might mean deportation, I headed back for home, but not before snapping some super artsy pics.

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So I come back, feeling like a boss when the map my Okaasan asks me to show her my route on doesn’t cover the area I ran to. Of course after which I promptly began to pass out during お昼ご飯 then pseudo napped for like 3 hours, leading Okaasan to worry over me like an absolute baby, so not so boss as initially thought. Anyways, after being roused by a few squawking “BEN CHAN” ‘s, I blearily made my way downstairs and out the door to the Yagaigeki!

Arriving to the prep tent, I’m met with a few mildly interested looks, a few more when I say that I’m there to participate. After sizing up my stature and appearance, the organizer determines that I would make a fine Ainu native! Although for some reason I did feel that I might be better suited for the part of one of the Westerners being played by Japanese, I made no complaint and made my way to the prep tent with Natsumi and her two friends (if I had been alone, I may have never made it to the stage).

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As I was standing in the dressing tent while a pair of おばあさん’s tried to locate a kimono long enough for my preposterously tall height, I noticed two other white people, a very rare phenomenon in my experience, who were, you guessed it, playing the parts of Commodore Perry and Westerner 2, but more on that later. Questioning my casting as a native Japanese islander, the little old lady dressing me in the kimono (I actually had to squat so she could get to my shoulders) assured me that it was entirely normal for foreigners to play Ainu. My fears assuaged, we made our way to the practice circle for the Ainu, but low and behold, it was already finished! The leader told us not to worry, and that she’d run us through what we were doing when we were by the stage.

So that’s how I soon found myself in a circle of 4 people, listening to this kindly old おばあさん run through instructions in a language that for the large part I really didn’t understand, after which a couple people had the nerve to ask me about parts of the instructions. Like I’d understand bub. It was an 8 part dance, done to express the life of the Ainu (sprinkling grains of rice in the field, taking our personal belongings and moving as our lands were taken, clapping, just normal Ainu stuff), and to my credit I doubt anyone noticed anything amiss with my actions. We formed into a great big circle, starting our dance after shouting ようこそ!(welcome!) to the samurai, who after 6 minutes of dancing were chasing us off stage with their Katanas. Reminded me a lot of America’s own Native American story.

Afterwards, we took off our outer Kimono and the stylish bandana that was apparently in during the Ainu days and ran back out on stage to watch as our Christian leader was put to death for heresy, and after a few やめて!’s and だめよ!’s, we headed backstage once again. Taking off the second layer Kimono, we were down to our final Kimonos for our part as Han era villagers. The costume also included donning a bit of headgear (I swear they MADE me put the thing on, I fully respect Asian heritage).

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This was perhaps the funniest scene of the night, if I told you to read this article and you were all like, “Um no, Saundawg I got mad respect for yo Japanese speaking self, but this piece is just a bit too long.”

START READING HERE

So we go out and just sort of amble around the stage as Han-era villagers are wont to do, greeting each other 5 or 6 times before out of nowhere come the foreigners! Stepping down from the top of the stage where some ships with American, English, and Russian flags had been erected, was none other than the foreigner from earlier with the other white guy in tow along with 4 or 5 Japanese dressed in Western garb. I soon learned that the foreigner in the lead was in fact Commodore Perry, and he proceeded to give a speech to the people of Hakodate, in perhaps THE most broken Japanese I had ever heard in my life.

KOH NEE CHEE WAW HAW KOH DAY TEY, WAH TAW SHI WA KAH MAH DAWR PEY RE I. I was literally dying. Also, since it was really low level Japanese, I actually understood what he was saying! After this rousing speech, they came down to the front and spoke with what I can only assume was our prefecture’s governor, then returned up the stairs shaking hands with all of us Han villagers. The not-Perry white guy passed my way and we shook hands while exchanging a silent look conveying a message quite essentially consisting of: “This is Fushigz as fuck dawg,” or something to that extent.

After we finished the scene and returned back stage, this guy found me and asked as to what a 白人 such as myself was doing in Hakodate, and after explaining I was an exchange student studying at HIF, I was surprised to hear that he knew of the program by its english name. Almost as surprised as when I found out this Netherlander was none other than 新保さん’s husband!! :O :O :O :O :O :O I was thrown for quite a loop.

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(Lookin’ like a damn goober)

So as they were enacting out a WWII scene on the stage, here we two foreigners were backstage talking rapidly in English (am I right?). While I was being told the story of how he (I never did get his name) and Shinpo san ended up meeting, a curious group of Japanese women dressed in lavish Kimono’s asked as to what my colleague was doing dressed up as a Japanese villager now? He then proceeded to explain to them that after serving under Perry, he came to hate America and decided to high-tail it to Japan and start a new life, and as every joke a foreigner makes is a success with Japanese women, this was no exception.

We headed out once more, and I quickly realized that I did not belong in this group, as they were performing a traditional Japanese dance that I had literally never learned before in my life, but as we were organized in a circle formation I simply followed a guy who really looked like he knew what he was doing. Returning afterwards, I found myself separated from both my 白人 friend and Natsumi and her two friends! I soon noticed that the man behind me was jokingly asking if I was a native Japanese, and appearing aghast at his discovery I protested that I had lived in Hakodate my whole life. He told me he was Chinese, but for those who have heard of my unfortunate experiences with such things, I literally had no idea whether or not he was joking, but from his English pronunciation he seemed to be Chinese (China kicks Japan’s ASS at English education it seems).

Went out for the finale, killed it, enjoyed our complimentary beverage for our toil and sweat, changed back into my real person clothes, bashfully accepted the praise of the people amazed at a foreigner’s ability to speak Japanese, bounced into the car, headed out for some victory ramen, I gotta say, today was a good day.

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チョッコとの戦争

I probably should do my homework now, but fresh from the fire of battle, I am moved to write. There is a dog in this house, a teeny, tiny dwarf of a dog, but do not let his looks deceive you. (He’s the one on the right)

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I rarely would use belligerently violent to describe an animal no less one of this small stature, but no other word comes to mind when describing this menace, known to the world simply as, Choko. Oh he may seem adorable in that his name means Chocolate, a harmless sweet one indulges in from time to time, and Okaasan might make him seem even cuter calling him Choko Pan (chocolate bread) from time to time, but believe me when I say this thing is a MENACE.

I noticed it pretty early on, that Choko walks around as if he owns the place, and by his mercy and generosity the Uda family is allowed to reside in the same house. For dinner, pedestrian dog food will not suffice, as he has become accustomed to a meal of rice, chicken, fish, beef twice a day made with great care by Okaasan. He circles the table hungrily at dinner, and while initially he will allow himself to be moved most likely out of laziness, he will attack without hesitation as I have learned.

In the first instance, I tried to move Choko off with my hand (bad idea man), and immediately he snapped his head around and chewed at the meat of my hand. My hand injured and Okaasan flipping the fuck out, I could not pursue the vermin at that time. But upon that day, I swore that this evil doer would see justice, that he would learn that he was not the Alpha male in this residence, that HUMANS were his masters.

So just now, I was moving him away from the table with my foot, when he without warning went into vicious growly mode and began attempting to gnaw my foot off. Moving to throw him off with my arm (I foolishly thought I would be fast enough this time), he immediately gave up the assault on my right foot to sink his teeth into my forearm, although I was able to get off a fairly smart kick. So now he sits beneath the piano stool, haughtily content in the fact that he has one, and here I sit typing through the stinging pain of my torn arm, but I swear to you Choko, I will have JUSTICE.

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着物のショウ

So unfortunately I’ve fallen way behind in my posting, but this takes priority over tomorrow’s IS prep/reading comprehension/dictation worksheet/one other thing I can’t recall. 

So a couple weekends ago, on the suggestion of my host mother, I participated in a Kimono pageant. At the time my host mother had recommended it, she had told me that while I would most likely be the first foreigner to ever participate in the Kimono pageant, she reassured me that it was very common for men to participate, since in my mind I had always thought the Kimono to be a more female oriented garment. So upon arriving, I find myself to be not only the only foreigner, but also the only male. The definition of hazukashii. 

So I make my way back through the makeshift dressing room (they put up a divider), while the woman leading me back there makes sure to let everyone know that THERE’S A MALE COMING THROUGH as we proceed to the back of the dressing area. So I get dressed by this lady, she ties my belt and gets me all prettied up, and as I’m waiting to be sent on to the stage (a concept I am dreading fairly strongly at this point), I notice the three small Japanese girls who have apparently been staring at me for some time. One steps forward and timidly introduces herself, and as I’m amped to have anyone to talk to, I do my best to have a child-level Japanese conversation, which was perhaps more difficult for me than it should of been.

I’m not entirely sure what I did, but the kids started getting really excited and giggly, and seemed to be having a good time as we played various games of Jankenpo (rock paper scissors) and what I can only assume to be hide-and-seek (they told me to cover my eyes and then ran off). I was hard to keep a stern face with these adorable kids giggling at me and my broken Japanese, and I was soon playing along as they ran screaming through the plaza completely unaware of the shamisin performance occurring simultaneously. At one point they somehow made a game of trying to slap me in the ass (suppose I have a knack for putting myself in potentially criminal situations), and I figured that it was time to end the fun and get ready to go on.

As I walked up to the stage with my host sister (she was nice enough to go through all this with me), another Japanese woman, and the 3 little girls, I heard the gasps I had been expecting, and then the applause that I really hadn’t. Making my best “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing here, but it’s a bit too late to back out now” face, I walked around the stage with my group a few times before descending and passing through the audience. Despite it being a pretty 不思議 experience, the audience members I passed gave me nothing but mad props as I embarrassedly thanked them.

After the show, a woman from the crowd asked if I’d take a picture with her kid who, after initially fleeing in terror from most likely the first foreigner she had ever seen up close, finally stayed still for a picture. According to Okaasan I was sugoks かっこいい, but I have my doubts. Regardless, I got cultured, and brought the diversity, and in my books that’s a good day.ImageImage

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A 残念な日 at the 交番

So we’ve just gotten back from a class overnight trip to Oonuma, an entire story in and of itself that I won’t go into here, and I’m still a bit tired, so when Natsumi asks if I want to go eat some strawberries with her and her friend (it’s super legit), I had to decline. Later on in the day we had a BBQ, and while we’re all setting out the various fish, meat, and veggies, I inquire as to whether or not the Uda family has ever perchance tried roasting marshmallows. Immediately taken by my suggestion, the family decided we absolutely had to have marshmallows, so Natsumi headed out to the 魚町(kinda like a biggish convenience store), but before she left, racked by the guilt of bailing on her earlier, I decided to accompany her. This ended up being quite an unfortunate (for me) decision.

So we get to the first 魚町 and there were absolutely zero marshmallows to be found, but far from disheartened, we departed for a second one, where we fared no better. Still yet undeterred, we departed for a 3rd one, and I, in my tired, semi-conscious state, failed to realize that my seatbelt was not done, and not 30 seconds later we were greeted by a Japanese police officer’s flag waving us down. For those of you who know me fairly well, you probably know that in stressful situations, I’m wont to make a certain sound, most closely written as “nghnnnnnnnnn!”Just that for approximately 5 minutes straight as a sat in the car while Natsumi was in the police station, taking my stress levels to max.

After a few minutes of holding a makeshift fetal position in the passenger seat, a police officer came over to my window, and asked to see my passport. But of course, as I’d intended only to buy marshmallows, I had taken nothing but my rental cellphone with me. After conveying this to the police officer, with an exasperated sigh he ushered me into the police station. 

Now I’ve never so much as received a speeding ticket from a police officer, my only experience running into the law being through indirect parking tickets, and on top of this, I still wasn’t terribly comfortable with the language. Soon the questioning started, and to my credit, it seems that I answered all questions asked with relatively coherent Japanese as the officer was able to take down my information. The whole time my information was being jotted down, the phone was ringing repeatedly, and while I was unable to understand the phone conversations in their entirety, I did catch an アメリカ人(American) and 外国人(foreigner), so for all I knew I could have the whole god damn consulate coming down to the police station at that moment. As I waited judgement in my seat across from the police officer, I took the opportunity to apologize profusely to Natsumi, but of course being inhumanly kind (the Uda family has joked that they are from outer space), Natsumi just told me to stop worrying and that everything would be fine.

I was so stressed, that even the officers started telling me to relax, and even went as far as to engage me in conversation, asking how long I’d studied Japanese for, what the most surprising thing was about Japan, what my favorite food was. I took the opportunity to tell them that I really did want to continue studying Japanese (so please don’t deport me!), and they laughed at a couple of my insanely nervous jokes, which did make me feel better. Eventually the boss cop came out, who despite his stern warrior-like expression, simply told me to be more careful in the future, and the reason that they pulled us over was really for my protection. We ended up driving over to the house with a police officer tailing our car, and after showing him my passport and driver’s license, he completed his journal entry, told me to be more careful in the future which I promised I would do, and went on his way.

Perhaps the most surprising part is that there were absolutely no monetary penalties, just a small slap on the wrist. This was a far-cry away from what the HIF staff had said in their information letter, informing us that being found without our passport was grounds for immediate deportation. I returned to the BBQ shaken, marshmallowless, and awful embarrassed, but interestingly enough we hardly talked about my run in with the cops (The neighbor Kouji who had come to the BBQ with his mother actually came inside and encouraged me to come back out to the BBQ). All I can say is that ish was FAF (不思議 as fuck), and that short of surgically attaching my passport to myself, I will have it on me always and forever. Wear your seatbelts kids.

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ボンキュボン

So the fam laughs at most of my jokes, most of the time mostly out of courtesy and surprise at my ability to string together a full idea in Japanese, but the other night I pulled off perhaps the greatest Japanese joke in the entire 6 years I’ve been studying the language. To be fair, it was only about 3 words and the host dad set it up pretty well, but with those few words Katsumi was in tears and my host mom was laughing pretty hard for about a solid 2 minutes.

So I’m sitting at the dinner table after everyone’s finished (it seems I’m a slow eater by Japanese standards too), and the parents and I are watching baseball. I ask about the chant their doing, the dad runs off to grab some of his Fighters fan gear, we eventually get to talking about American cheerleaders who Katsumi apparently has much admiration for, and to profess this affirmation he gestures to his chest, waist, and posterior, saying “Bon,” “Kyu,” “Bon” respectively with each gesture. It’s difficult to explain without actually showing, and if I was tech savy enough/had the time I’d get to putting together a gif file, but essentially “Bon” effectively translates to “bodacious,” “Kyu” translating to a tight waist. 

So after dying for a little bit at this new revelation, I suggest that after I get back, it might be good on the first day of class to say my sensei’s looking quite “bon kyu bon” today, and Katsumi literally loses it at that point, like I’m talking struggling not to spit out his food, while the Okaasan who I assume is used to faking laughter at all my jokes, ACTUALLY has a reason to laugh now. We finally calmed down, but then my Okaasan, this super mild-mannered, quiet Japanese woman, went and said I’d never have to study again, and I absolutely lost it. I doubt my rhetoric in telling this story did it much justice, but if any of you Japanese students find that you’ve exhausted your limited vocabulary when spitting game with a foreign dame, Bon Kyu Bon!

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