August 27, 2010

Open Letter to PR Professionals Dear PR Professionals, Every so often you send me an inane email promoting your site, product, hotel, gizmo, whatever. For the most part, I don't mind. I enjoy reading your emails. Hey, anything is better than spam, right? And once in a blue moon, you actually tell me about something worthwhile - like books. I like books. But lately, it seems that some of you are suffering from a very common disease - laziness. Or maybe it's inability to read English? Either way, it annoys me and shows just how PR-unprofessional you are. Today's case study: An idiotic email from a not very bright lady (named Luciana Salaün, btw) in Argentina. Why is it idiotic? The email is about boutique hotels, and more specifically - about whatever overpriced tourist trap she is promoting at this moment. If Luciana (that is, if she can actually read and comprehend English) had taken one look at my blog's title, she would have known to take her boutique bs somewhere else. But no... In the best tradition of moronic PR "professionals" she valiantly trudges forward with her canned email of "pillow menu, 180 thread count linens, womens and mens robes and sleepers in all rooms and endless details that create an unique experience in the city." Missing apostrophes and all... Luciana, my dear, if I ever make it to Argentina, sure as hell I won't be spending my money at any boutique hotels, because: a. I won't be able to afford it anyway (over 100 bucks per night vs Couchsurfing? - duh!), and b. In general, I dislike pompous pricks who own those types of places, and c. Those hotels hardly ever live up to their hype. And at the hotel you're promoting, pets are not allowed. Now, Luciana, I may not travel to Argentina with my pets, but given a choice, I try to support pet friendly businesses wherever I am - you would have realized that if you had taken 10 seconds to look at my blog instead of just harvesting my email address. So as far as I'm concerned, you can shove your Conde Nast Traveller hotlist where the sun don't shine (under those exquisite sheets of yours). I don't read Conde Nast, but maybe I should - just so I can avoid the places they recommend. Well, Luciana, that about covers it. Hopefully, next time, before you send out a press release, you will actually check who you're sending it to. So, dear PR professionals, please don't bother to email me about hotels, cruises, exclusive trips, and other once-in-a-lifetime cliches. Because unless you are offering me a free stay (plus airfare), I'm not interested. So, bugger off. Now, let's see how long it will be before I get another one of those PR emails... I'm guessing around Friday. At noon.
Monjayaki vs Okonomiyaki It’s always interesting to learn just what kind of google searches bring people to our blog. Sometimes it’s the bizarre stuff, like “monkeys use onsen in winter what do they do when they get out” or “tengu fetish”. Sorry, I don’t know what they do when they get out, presumably use a towel to dry themselves and then retire under the blankets with a heating pad. That’s what I would do, and I’m of comparable intelligence to a Japanese monkey. And "Tengu fetish"? Please, if that’s you who googled that, stop reading now and try to channel your sexual urges into something more socially acceptable, like good old-fashioned bondage. Though on the other hand, that unnaturally long nose does create some interesting possibilities… hmmm. Yet for the most part what brings lost web surfers here is the usual and the mundane. “Japanese schoolgirls”. “Fundoshi”. “Japanese food.” Sorry, can’t do much about the first two today, but what about Japanese food? As it happens, you're in luck - that can be arranged. Hinokuruma is listed in the Lonely Planet guides, how about that? While running some errands in Nikko last Thursday, we stopped by at Hinokuruma (a restaurant run by our friend Shinako) and had okonomiyaki for lunch. Mine was pork kimchee, Dr Trouble’s – just pork. His porky okonomi before cooking. And here they are on a hot plate. Yum! Dr Trouble tried to talk me into ordering monjayaki, but I’m not that dumb. Fortunately, a lovely couple from Tochigi city (hi guys!!!) came to my rescue. They were kind enough to let me film them, too. Thanks! Yes, it looks vile. Now, I’m known to consume things that look disgusting but even I have my standards. Or as my friend, who served me my very first monja years ago in Tokyo said – “everything can be made palatable with a proper application of bacon or beer.” How true! And since I don’t like beer, I normally stick to bacon. So would I eat a pork-free monja, like this one here? Not a chance in hell. “What if it was made by a handsome guy wearing nothing but a fundoshi?” I hear you say. Oh, shut up! Or watch these two videos and tell me - which one would YOU rather have for lunch? Making monjayaki: And making okonomiyaki:

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