May 08


Whatever It Is, It Must Be Powerful

Okay, I’m standing in the checkout line with my basket, hoping that the nice, grandmotherly, Japanese cashier won’t notice that all I’m buying is hamburger, batteries and beer. In fact, I’m considering putting some other stuff in my basket, just to disguise the fact that all I’m buying is hamburger, batteries and beer. The point-of-purchase choices are: Biore sticky-tape things for getting rid of blackheads, duo-packs of mini-fuzzytails for dusting keyboards and tschochkes, and…Zeus.

Zeus? Like the chō-manly grand pooh-bah of the Olympian gods? And not just regular Zeus – Zeus THUNDER SPARK. With bolts of lightning to suggest the magnitude of pleasure this product will deliver. I sneak a look at the package for a hint as to what it is. Yikes, zero explanation in either English or Japanese. I hastily put it back. In America, this could mean only one thing: If You Don’t Know What This Product Is For, You Are Far Too Young (Or Unpopular) To Need It.

But today I took the plunge, since I had a basket brimming with virtuous veggies. And Zeus turned out to be…GUM. I unwrapped a piece, expecting a peak Olympian experience, but UGH! It was extra-extra-extra-extra-harsh menthol flavor! To make matters worse, I couldn’t spit it out immediately, because I had to figure out whether it belonged in the burnable or non-burnable trash!

Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with a pair of strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more