At work today, I made directional signs for a school-sanctioned viewing party for the series finale of Friends.

The official Friends website provides a Friends finale party guide, finale party invitations and a finale party t-shirt iron-on.

Two weeks ago, I remember seeing clips on the local news of people drinking and dancing at parties celebrating the finale of The Apprentice.

God, Americans are retarded.

Iraq is a mess, civil liberties are under attack, and we're throwing parties for television shows.

Edit: Not just any television shows — a fuckin' sitcom and a reality show starring Donald Trump.


I'm tired of being dicked over by people.

It's too early in the year for it to have happened so many times already.

$28 for movie tickets — GONE! — because a friend scheduled work after we had agreed on a screening date and time.

$200 for a plane ticket — GONE! — because a friend changed his mind on a whim after asking me to fly out to Chicago.

$100 — GONE! — because of an airline re-ticketing fee.

And now $100 for concert tickets — GONE! — because a friend couldn't get work off after saying he could.

While I can stand to lose a couple hundred dollars, I don't enjoy losing money I can't recoup, especially when it's the result of people whom I consider friends dicking me over.

See, tickets purchased online are not refundable.

No refunds.

Nothing can soften that fact.

Not "sorry." Not a sad smiley.

Call me old-fashioned, but I expect people to honor their commitments. If you have any hesitations, don't say "yes."

I don't like being forced to get rid of concert tickets at the last minute. I don't have time to have banks verify shit for eBay and PayPal. I don't want to do that. Why should I have to do that?


Fuck, I need a cigarette.

Anyone in Los Angeles want three tickets to see The Mars Volta at The Wiltern next Thursday?

I don't even care if I get any money for them at this point.


—Set in Las Vegas, "Father of the Pride" goes beyond the bright lights and glitz of the iconic "Siegfried & Roy" show to the off-stage antics and suburban life of the show's dysfunctional family of performing white lions.

DreamWorks invited me to attend a test screening of this "highly anticipated" CGI-animated comedy series, which premieres this fall on NBC.

—Featuring CGI versions of Siegfried & Roy, the series centers on the family life of Larry, a down-to-earth, hard working lion that somehow fell into a life of show business, and his relationships with his loving wife, taunting headlining father-in-law, teenage kids and wacky bunch of friends.

Wacky friends, eh?

Sorry, I'm a busy person.


I'm interviewing Daniel Myrick, the co-director of The Blair Witch Project Thursday night for a class called The Art of the Interview.

—The class is limited to 15 students and admission is by instructor permission only based on an essay application.

I submitted an essay application last June for the fall quarter Art of the Interview class.

—Previous guests have included: actors Al Pacino, Djimon Hounsou, Diane Keaton, Steve Martin and Elliott Gould; Playboy founder Hugh Hefner; Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis; novelist Jonathan Safran Foer.

When I was in the Metro Detroit? (I think that's what it's called) area last July, I received an e-mail from the professor:

—As of now you are on the Waiting List for the Fall Art of Interview class. There are some people I accepted last year, who were on the waiting list and I promised them they could join the class in the fall. I haven't heard back from one or two of them, so there may be openings….but they also may be on vacation and aren't responding to their e-mails. To be fair to them, I feel I must wait a while.

Still on the wait list, I attended the first Art of the Interview class of fall quarter. At one point while going through the syllabus, the professor began rummaging through a manila folder.

—Which one of you is Jonathan?
—I am, I replied.
—I want to read you all something Jonathan wrote on his application. "What do I expect from this class? Honestly? An easy A and to meet Al Pacino." If any of you (besides Mr. Yu here) expect an easy A from this class, then I suggest you find another class to enroll in. This is not an easy class. I don't give very many As. You'll be lucky to get an A-. I had a student once who thanked me for giving him a D.

The professor went on to mention that he was actually good friends with Al Pacino and that he wrote Pacino's Oscar speech.

At the end of class, the professor had one spot open and there were two students on the wait list (a girl and I) who had stuck around. The interview guests for fall quarter were Lisa Kudrow and a Guinean woman who wrote books about depression. I didn't care to interview either of them, so I feigned philanthropy and let the girl have the open spot with the stipulation that the professor guarantee me a spot in the spring quarter Art of the Interview class.

I strategically passed on the immediate opening in hopes that the interview guests for spring quarter would be tastier.

Cut to the first Art of the Interview class of spring quarter. At one point while going through the syllabus, the professor pulled out a manila folder from his bag.

—I want to read you all one of my favorite lines from an application for this class. Where are you, Jonathan?
—Jonathan was on the wait list for fall quarter. He wrote this on his application: "What do I expect from this class? Honestly? An easy A and to meet Al Pacino." If any of you expect an easy A from this class, then I suggest you find another class to enroll in. This is not an easy class. I don't give very many As. You'll be lucky to get an A-. I had a student once who thanked me for giving him a D.

—Is he going to read that line to every Art of the Interview class from now on? I thought.

—I didn't let Jonathan into the class because of what he wrote, but he stuck around fall quarter and his tenacity impressed me, so I let him in this quarter.

At Monday's class, the professor announced the second interview guest for spring quarter.

Lo and behold, it's Al Pacino.

Yes, on May 10, I get to interview Al fuckin' Pacino for class. Pacino in person.

Billy Bob Thornton was supposed to be the guest, but then Al agreed to do it again. I'd like to think that he agreed because of me.

Of course, this means I'll have to watch all 35 of Pacino's existing films within the next few weeks.

I've never been so eager in my life to do homework.

Dress up like Hitler and have nuns throw Jello at your balls!

Tuesday afternoon, I waited a little over three hours outside Tower Records on Sunset to meet the cast and crew of Freaks and Geeks.

When I arrived, there were already twelve people in line. One person flew down from Bellingham, WA for this event.

A few minutes later, a gray sports car entered the parking lot blaring hip hop music from within. Its license plate read —BLIIING. The driver of the car was an old (50+) white man. He exited the store with a copy of the Chappelle's Show DVD set.

The cast and crew arrived together in a school bus.

While I was rushed along the signing table by Tower personnel, I'll never forget the brief time I spent with a group of people whom I absolutely adore.

I met (in order of encounter):

Michael Beardsley ("Humphries")
Mike White (writer, also: writer/star of The School of Rock)
Steve Bannos ("Mr. Kowchevski")
Dave 'Gruber' Allen ("Mr. Rosso," also: The Naked Trucker)
Martin Starr ("Bill Haverchuck")
Seth Rogen ("Ken Miller," also: writer/star of Undeclared on Fox)
Judd Apatow (producer, also: creator of Undeclared on Fox)
Paul Feig (creator)
John Daley ("Sam Weir")
Sarah Hagan ("Millie Kentner")

At this point, I realized that sitting in the next seat over was none other than James fuckin' Franco. I didn't think he'd be there, being the movie star that he is, and I didn't see him come out of the school bus, but regardless, I think it was really cool of him to support the show like this.

James Franco ("Daniel Desario," also: Harry Osborn in Spider-Man)

I can now say that I have met the official actor of adamriff.com. Why James Franco? Because he was born and raised in the Bay Area (like Jon and Adam Riff™), attended Palo Alto High School (Adam Riff™'s alma mater), majored in English (Jon) at UCLA (Jon and Rory) and because he's just fuckin' badass. He played James Dean, for fuck's sake!

Anyway, back to the list:

Natasha Melnick ("Cindy Sanders")
Samm Levine ("Neal Schweiber")
Busy Philipps ("Kim Kelly")
Jason Segel ("Nick Andopolis")
Linda Cardellini ("Lindsay Weir," also: Velma in Scooby-Doo)
Tom Wilson ("Ben Fredricks," also: Biff Tannen in Back to the Future)

Here's a partial transcript of me Tuesday night:

You're my favorite screenwriter. Arrested Development shortchanged you on Sunday's episode. How are you unemployed? Dude, you're fuckin' HI-larious! Can you sign it as Gorthon? I saw you on campus when you were shooting Undeclared and I wanted to approach you but you looked intimidating. I fell in love with you after watching The Cable Guy and began following your work like you were L. Ron Hubbard. I love that line in your book that says —I think part of the problem is that in order to enjoy watching sports, one must enjoy playing sports. You've grown really tall. I can't wait for Spider-Man 2! You were so hot on the show! I met you at the opening day midnight screening of Episode II. You're very nice in real life. You look different in every photograph of you. You went to St. Francis, right? I think you're the greatest actress associated with my hometown.

More TV shows should hold events like this.


My stomach began aching a few minutes before we arrived at the rest stop.

Maybe I shouldn't have eaten at that restaurant where you deep fry your own food at your table, I thought.

The rest stop was gigantic. It had its own shopping center.

Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that chicken egg ice cream before lunch either.

I developed an ice cream fixation in Japan. Purple sweet potato, cherry blossom, wasabi — I tried all the foreign flavors I encountered. The chicken egg ice cream tasted like cake frosting. It was like eating a cone full of frosting.

Rory and I were on our way to the airport. The bus driver told everyone to be back on the bus in 15 minutes.

I hurried off to the men's room and found that all the stalls had traditional yellow-man toilets, which, if you don't know, are holes in the ground that flush.

Fuck it, I thought.

I dropped trou, squatted and began dispensing intestinal soft serve.

When you squat, your asshole is very close to your ankles. Fearful that my poop would get on my pants and shoes, I switched to a chair squat (pretending to sit down in a chair) and maintained the position by bracing the walls of the stall with my arms.

Nice to see that solicitations for blow jobs are prevalent in Japanese public restrooms as well.

A minute or two later, I needed to pee, so I starting peeing. I forgot that I wasn't using a Western toilet and peed all over the tile floor before frantically trying to redirect the stream with my right hand and then just clamping my dick to my taint with it pointed in the opposite direction, which resulted in me peeing on my hand, taint and scrotum before the pee trickled down into the concave porcelain receptacle underneath me.

Once my bladder pooped out, I checked my watch. Five minutes left. My stomach hurt, my thighs burned, my pee was everywhere, and the poop parade continued to march. I needed to wrap it up. I still had to clean up my acidic mess. I forced closure of my anus during the next reprieve in abdominal discomfort and reached for some toilet paper.

It's hard to wipe (front to back, at least) in a squatting position, especially with short arms. I couldn't do it chair squatting, nor regular squatting.

I stood up and manually spread my ass cheeks with my left hand, but my right hand didn't extend down far enough to wipe. Sure, I could wipe just standing up, but I run a clean ass. I require full exposure before I wipe. Nothing I tried managed to provide it, until I stood on one leg and lifted my other leg up in the air, like a dog peeing.

I faltered, however, when I went to wipe and slipped — on my own pee — and fell.

I landed on my upper right back/right side, pants around my ankles. Amidst all the pain, I smelled something.

No, I thought. No no no no no…I looked at my watch. One minute left.

I read somewhere that yellow-man toilets are more sanitary than Western toilets because there is no contact between ass and toilet.

Well, that's partly true.


Is it wrong that I'm 22 and I still laugh when I see a building called the International Seamen's Hall?

The Japanese seem to love using the contraction "let's," and most of the time, it's not paired with a verb.

I saw kiosks at a train station called Let's Kiosk.
I saw a brand of ramen called Let's Quiq.
I saw a commercial on television for a concert tour called the Let's! Power to the Music Tour.

My favorite sighting of the contraction was in a clothing store on a sweater that said —Let' Punk. No S after the apostrophe.

Let' laugh at Engrish!

At the airport, the immigration area had a sign that said —Fraudulent passports re-inforced.

In one of our hotel rooms, the window had a sticker that said —NOTICE: Do not open window to prevent a dewdrop or harmful insect entering.

I think video game console manufacturers should switch the L and R buttons on controllers in Japan.

In Asakusa, I found a store that sold toy guns that looked like actual handguns. I wanted to buy one, but feared Customs would confiscate it. The store also had latex Bob Sapp masks and a plastic sinking submarine play set that was rather inappropriate for children. Two seamen (haha) dejectedly watched a damaged submarine sink. The surface of the water was completely covered in black oil and the part of the submarine still above water was on fire.

I saw honeydew melons on sale at a supermarket for 8000 yen ($80 U.S.) apiece.

Everything in Japan is like a portion of food at a French restaurant — small and expensive.

I felt like Will Ferrell in Elf at (name withheld)'s house. The doorways of her house were just high enough for a 5'8" person to walk through comfortably. I'm 6'3."

Navigating the house even frustrated Jon, and he's, well, Asian.

I meant to see how big the Big Gulps at 7-Elevens in Japan were but I forgot.

Fun fact: Asahi Breweries designed their building in Asakusa to look like a giant beer glass.

At a convenience store, I saw a candy bar called Crunky and Men's Pocky (—for the type of person who enjoys the finer points in life). Some of you may have seen these products before at Asian food stores.

There were also snacks called Pocky G. and Crunky Biscuits, both of which I think would make great band names.

—Hey we're the Crunky Biscuits from Montreal. We'd like to thank Pocky G. for taking us out on the road with him.

My favorite snack name was Ghana (a chocolate bar). One wrapper read —Dark Chocolate Ghana.

Lotte should produce a line of white chocolate bars called America.

All the homeless people in Japan have the same-colored (blue) nylon tents. I think homeless people in America should color-code themselves too. In red. When I stab them.

The most kickass thing I saw in Japan, hands down, was a washer and dryer in one at the Panasonic Center in Odaiba. How cool is that? Kevin from work says that washer and dryers in one have existed in America for a while now, but I'd never seen or heard of one until last week.

—Have you ever noticed that all Asians don't actually look the same, but all retards do?
—Now, does that mean all retarded Asians look the same?


We were walking down a busy street in Yokohama when I heard "I Can" by Nas blaring from a store. I turned my head to see where exactly the music was coming from and as I was doing so, a black guy sitting on a bench nearby said something.

He looked like a typical young American black guy dressed in "urban" clothing.

I wasn't sure he was talking to me and I didn't catch what he said, but I thought I heard him speak Japanese.

Must be my imagination, I told myself.

Further down the same street, I heard hip hop music blaring from another store. I looked over and there was another black guy who looked like a typical American black guy standing beside a rack full of "urban" clothing on the sidewalk.

As we walked back up the street we came down, I wanted to get a closer look at the store that was playing the Nas song earlier. This time when we passed by, there were three or four black guys hanging around the bench near the store. I paused to read the store marquee (—American hip hop, casual and sports wears) and yet another black guy approached me and handed me a flyer for the store in question while saying something to me in Japanese.

It's weird seeing black guys who look like typical American black guys in Japan speaking fluent Japanese.

Do the Japanese import black guys from America to sell hip hop clothing in their country? If so, where would one apply for such a job?

Are there black people who wake up one morning and think —Can't rap. Can't play basketball. Might as well learn Japanese and go work in retail in Japan?


Rory and I made our way from Tokyo to Yokohama to see my son.

After we arrived at (name withheld)'s house, her parents took us all out to lunch at a restaurant in Chinatown.

During spring break last year, I flew into Seattle from Detroit and Mike and the Castle brothers picked up me up at the airport.

Once we got on the freeway, Mike asked —Hey, are you hungry?

I hadn't eaten all day, so I told him yes.

—Let's take him to Chinatown, said Chris.

I was a guest, so I didn't want to be rude, but during the ride over to Chinatown, I kept thinking —Oh, I get it. It's because I'm Chinese, right? Yes, let's take him to Chinatown! God forbid we park at Dick's and he suddenly tell us that he only eats Chinese food because of his ethnicity.

Later that week, we drove up to Vancouver and spent most of our time in (surprise, surprise) Chinatown. Again, I didn't say anything, but in my head I screamed —I didn't come all the way up here to go to fuckin' Chinatown, goddammit! I can do that at home!

We had a nice lunch in Chinatown. I hadn't eaten real Chinese food in a while. Panda Express is not Chinese food.

We spent the night at (name withheld)'s house.

The next day, when my son had a doctor's appointment, Rory and I went to the Electric City in Akihabara. Rory had never been to Japan before and he insisted that sometime during the trip we (or he, rather) visit the land of the electronic product shops that I had told him about.

Few electronic products interested us, however.

I bought a VHS copy of WWF Backlash 2000 for $60 (U.S.) at a wrestling store and Rory bought an action figure of Kevin McCallister from Home Alone and one of Leatherface from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I saw an action figure of The Bride (in the yellow Bruce Lee suit) from Kill Bill on display outside the action figure store. I wanted to buy it, but it wasn't for sale.

Walking back to the train station, we saw a hentai store and eagerly entered. Inside, a bunch of guys casually browsed through shelves full of digital hentai titles. I thought it was cool how no one was ashamed to be seen shopping for cartoon pornography.

In the center of the store was a computer demonstrating an interactive hentai title. The user could zoom in on the artwork for a closer look and finger cartoon images of women with a mouse cursor shaped like a pointing hand. If you fingered an image long enough, cum would splooge out of the recipient's vagina. Great minds at work in Japan.

On a sidenote, if a man drew a face of a woman on a tissue and then jizzed on it, would that constitute bukkake?

As we exited the hentai store, I saw a plasma screen on the sidewalk showing clips of hentai titles. No one walking by (and in Tokyo, there's always a deluge of people in the streets) was offended.

What's more, this hentai store was located right next to a video game store. There were little kids playing video games on the sidewalk only a few feet away from this plasma screen showing hentai. No one was offended.

On the other side of the video game store was ANOTHER hentai store with its own video screens on the sidewalk. No one was offended.

A situation like this would never work out in America.

When we got back to (name withheld)'s house in the afternoon, no one was home. I opened the gate and rang the doorbell a couple times, but no one answered, so we just sat in the driveway and waited for someone to return.

While we were waiting, two middle-aged men wearing suits walked by the house, saw a half-open gate and then walked around the front of the house looking for something.

I thought —How considerate of them. They must have seen the half-open gate and decided to check for any suspicious activity.

Then, the men approached us and one of them said something to me in Japanese.

—Huh? I replied
—Oh you don't speak Japanese!
—Yeah. Sorry.
—Where are you from?
—America! Ah-so… What is your opinion of Japan?

What kind of question is that?

—I HATE IT! We should have bombed even more cities during the war! We should have scourged the whole shire when we could and rid the world of you bright industrious hobbits! Remember Pearl Harbor!

—It's…uh…very fun.
—Ah. We are Jehovah's Witnesses. We are going around the neighborhood speaking to residents. Good day.

See, if I was white, they would have ignored me like they did Hornblower.

But I get it. It's because I'm Asian, and we all look the same, right?

I should have told those Jehovah's Witnesses to look me up if they ever came to America.

I'd take them to Chinatown.


Here are some things I saw on television in Japan:
Oliver Beene dubbed in Japanese
—footage of a snail pooping
—a commercial for what looked like orange juice that used the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song
—a commercial for McDonald's that used an oi punk song ("Oi oi oi / I'm lovin' it")

I was flipping through channels (all 12 of them, two of which were QVC) and came upon a newsmagazine exposé on men who steal women's underwear from laundromats.

Security camera footage of various men going through strangers' laundry was shown and in each case, the screen would freeze and zoom in and highlight a blurry, barely-visible blur in the thief's hands.

Then, someone interviewed a woman who had her panties stolen at a laundromat and her face was concealed by a giant red dot.

The woman said that she was afraid that the person who stole her panties would come after her and then pointed out to the camera all the places in her apartment where she thought said thief could get in…like the ceiling of her bedroom closet.

This is what passes for investigative reporting in Japan.


During breakfast at an airport hotel (french fries and fruit cocktail, because that's what Westerners eat for breakfast), I was reading a copy of the International Herald Tribune, and I saw this article on the front page:

—On Okinawa, U.S.-Influenced Diet Takes Toll

—"This was the most delicious food I had ever eaten," Kei Sunakawa, 51, said, his eyes bulging at the memory of eating at McDonald's for the first time.

—Sunikawa [sic] walked into a McDonald's in the Makiminato area on a recent afternoon. Standing pensively before the counter, his white polo shirt stretched over a belly that obstructed the view of his toes, he finally ordered a Big Mac, Fish McDippers and a medium oolong tea.

The day before we arrived, a six-year-old boy died after getting his head jammed in an automatic revolving door.

—Revolving Door Has Fatal Blind Spot

None of the revolving doors (automatic or manual) in Japan were operational during our stay.

People could still use regular automatic doors, but none of them open until you step right in front of the doors.

I walked into many panes of glass.


I'm a sucker for gimmick food and drink establishments.

When Jon and I spent 15 hours in New York City last summer, I wanted to visit the Korova Milk Bar (named and modeled after the milk bar in the movie A Clockwork Orange), but I didn't get the opportunity to. It was either the Milk Bar or Gigli and Jon won the toss.

I was looking at a map of Tokyo that I got from a hotel and I saw an ad for a restaurant called Ninja.

Get this: The place resembles a ninja fortress and ninjas seat you, serve you and entertain you with ninja tricks while you eat.

How cool is that?

The ad says that a Ninja branch will open in Manhattan this August.

Next time I'm on the east coast, I'm-a demand dinner at Ninja and drinks at the Milk Bar.


I have a confession to make.

I went to Japan for spring break with Rory.

I told people that I was going there to scout employment opportunities and for pleasure, and while that's all true, I wasn't entirely forthcoming.

I also went to Japan to see my son.

Yes, I have a child.

I spent the summer after graduating from high school in Japan. I met a girl, things happened, and she called me after I returned to the States with the news. She wanted to keep it. What was I going to do? Fly back and stop her? Even if I wanted to, I didn't have time or money at the time to do so.

Every month my parents wire her family some money and whenever I can, I travel across the sea to visit.

I'm not proud of being a young absentee father. I hope to get a job in Japan after graduation, perhaps teaching English.

Anyway, I don't really like to talk about my personal life.

Consider this an introduction to a weeklong series of updates on our spring break in Japan.