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Saturday, May 19, 2012


The list of lists

They grace the Internet like snack foods at a cocktail party.

And I wonder . . . does anyone have the willpower to ignore a bowl of trail mix? Or a plate of cheese and crackers? I know I don't.

So it goes with Internet lists. They're tempting. They're addictive. And they're everywhere.

And yes, I understand. You're going to stop after only one scoop of chips with dip. Just one. But of course.

And so I can relate to the attraction of The 10 Smelliest Animals on Earth . . . The Five Body Parts We Really Don't Need . . . The 10 Sexiest Cartoon Characters Ever . . . and so on.

For such lists demand to be read, just like snack foods demand to be eaten. The titles reach from the screen, gently caress my cheeks and in a low, sultry voice, whisper . . . "Click me, you fool."

And so I do. Don't you?

And I have applied the winsome lure of list trivia in this column myself many times. But I have never done what I am about to do now.

Which is simply to present a list of lists . . .

Three things you can't have a Japanese party without: Alcohol; Speeches; A group photo.

Four Western foods you would never eat with chopsticks: Jello; Pudding, Baked beans; Applesauce.

And four more you just can't: Pizza; Tacos; Chicken wings; Corn on the cob.

Four popular "Japanese foods" that are sure to make you fart: Curry rice; Mabo-dofu; Niku-jaga; Asahi Dry.

Five types of people you don't want to sit next to on the train: Music lovers with leaky headsets; Squirmy children; Drunks; Yakuza; Drunk yakuza children with leaky headsets.

Five animated film titles which might also reflect Japan's train rush commuting experience: "Alice in Wonderland"; "The Jungle Book"; "Monster House"; "Spirited Away"; "A Bug's Life."

Five animated characters who would be amusing — and perhaps even competent enough — to have serve as Japanese prime ministers: Nobi Nobita; Ryotsu Kankichi; Sazae-san; Crayon Shin-chan; Mayor Adam West.

Five Japanese politicians who could have been cast to play Emperor Palpatine in "Star Wars": Yukio Hatoyama; Taro Aso; Yasuhiro Nakasone; Ichiro Ozawa.

Five film roles that might have been star vehicles for Hello Kitty: Cruella de Vil in "101 Dalmations"; Chucky in "Child's Play"; Catherine Tramell in "Basic Instinct"; Catwoman in "Batman"; Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger."

Five great films that might have been even better with an added ninja scene: "Ben Hur"; "Psycho"; "Jaws"; "Titanic"; "Singing in the Rain."

Six things not to put on your rice in that first meal with your future in-laws: Soy sauce; Ketchup; Mustard; Chocolate syrup; Honey; Whipped cream.

Seven job titles where Japanese should take extra care not to mix up R's and L's on their business cards: Raw Clerk; Picture Flamer; Dog Bleeder; Grass Dealer; Fright Attendant; Erection Supervisor; Quarity Control Manager.

Five quick ways to spice up sumo: Theme songs for wrestlers; Soccer-style victory slides; Swimsuit beauties for referees; Advertisements on backsides; Throw coins, not salt.

Six celebrity foreigners who might look "cool" with samurai-type "chon-mage" hairstyles: Jon Stewart; Bill O'Reilly, Wolf Blitzer; Bill Clinton, Prince William; Angela Jolie.

Top five ideas for replacing the ever-present "peace" sign in Japanese photos: Everyone . . . Biting knuckles; Flexing muscles; Sucking thumbs; Blowing kisses; Winking.

Four things I'd like hear from a guest on a Japanese cooking show: Got any A1 steak sauce?; Sorry. Just not hungry; Gosh, I hope it tastes better than it looks; Wait! I think it's moving!

Top four most common plots of Japanese TV dramas: 4. Cute kid gets cancer and dies, leaving everyone in tears but also impressed by the victim's positive attitude toward life; 3. Killer kills a bunch of people and then confesses on a seaside cliff, explaining his/her motivation in a monologue addressed to the crashing waves; 2. A group of high school rejects band together to form a sports club, learning important lessons about teamwork and somehow, someway also winning the national championship; 1. Eccentric detective foils clever crook who has made all by-the-book cops look like monkeys.

The one plot to Japanese TV dramas I would like to see: Ugly kid gets cancer but survives and grows up to be a serial killer because no one ever visited her in the hospital, not even her doctors. She specializes in slaying high school rejects but is cornered on a seaside cliff by an eccentric detective who is accidentally pushed into the waves by monkeys. Killer then becomes a cooking show host, serving whipped cream on rice and corn on the cob held with chopsticks.

The top five things to do when bored in Japan: 5. Ask people, "How do I get to Korea?"; 4. Ask "Do I smell like milk?"; 3. Ask "And so . . . how's my harmony?"; 2. Shovel down some snack food.

And Number One?

1. Make a list of silly lists. But of course.

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