October 28, 2005

Lunch lady syndrome

I don't know if this is old news in the U.S., but I was just watching Japanese TV and they were talking about a purse that uses blue tooth technology to tell you if you forgot your cell phone or keys when you left the room. Now if only I could find a purse to go with the latent-homosexual-tech-nerd within.
Today, I achieved some supremely fluent moments. Maybe it had something to do with studying the vocational and horative cogitations of verbs for about eight hours.
Odd discovery upon meeting a Japanese lunch-lady: While she was in many ways as hot as your typical Japanese girl, she had a lazy-eyelid and moustache like an American lunch-lady. I guess some stereotypes must be international, or occupation hazards. No Japanese sloppy joes for me though.
So I decided the best way for my seventh-graders to win the speech contest was for them to be as melodramatic (funny) as possible. We'll see if it works. But I won't mind if they don't; that would just mean more work for me :p
New chapter at das experiment.

collaboration between me and a fourth-grader on what sadness looked like.

This crotch-shot brought to you by the normal height of mirrors in this country.

October 25, 2005

Ton-Ten-Tons of Fun

Giving a Japanese woman a piggyback ride
We are old friends who just met.
As the the fireworks explode above the river
We watch together. Contentment.

Shiroi iyahon — white earphones. Used to refer to a person with an iPod. Usually, I am a Shiroi iyahon, riding the rails with my ipod to keep me company; but as I now have a car, and have not yet gotten a converter for it, I spent the long drive to Imari listening to the "dark" CD that Rachel gave me long ago. I like listening to that CD; it's like having a frank and honest conversation with her.
So I went to Imari to experience Ton-ten-ton, a festival I had heard about even before I came to Japan. The idea behind the festival is interesting, if somewhat obfuscated by time. The theory is, the farmers fight the fishermen, and whoever wins gets the better harvest luck. They fight by crashing two portable shrines together until one falls into the river. The first team to pull their shrine out wins.
Now, this is extremely dangerous. People get hurt and/or die every year, due to being crushed by these giant floats. Needless to say, I want to try!

Today, I have a random video link for you. It's a very weird and existential parody of the power rangers. It's somewhat brilliant, and also stars a member of Japanese pop band SMAP. I can't help but think Takeshi Miike had a hand in this one (just kidding).

Martial arts exhibition.

Beatle for sale. This sucker was huge (about 6 inches). Kids love 'em.

Gyros in Japan! You can bet I had two. So good.

Carrying a shrine.


The river where they end up.

October 22, 2005

Of Japanese fall, pumpkin soup, and maroon orange juice

Finally, I can say it truly feels like fall in Japan. I spent most of the day sleeping in with a satisfied smile on my face. But, I soon felt the urge to be domestic. I got down to cleaning, and eating as well.
In honor of the season, I chose to make pumpkin soup. Only a few barriers stood in my way: Japan lacks pumpkins, my stove has stopped working, and I've never cooked such a thing before. Far be it for me to stop doing something once I've decided though (us absentminded people are also single minded due to the fact that we forget our plans may not work). So I ended up cooking the following together in my hotpot (still grateful to Rachel for giving me that): A mystery gourd (you know, a squash-like thing), salt, butter, finely chopped onions, and a carrot, grated daikon-style. I added a little orange juice and pulp for taste, color, and texture too. It worked! I filled my tummy with happy.
As for that orange juice, the other day I went to a coworkers house to give them chocolate-covered pistachios to thank them for stuff. He invited me in, and gave me a giant bag of Tara oranges. Then his family served me diner. So ended up coming away owing him even more, which is ironic cause I went there to settle my karmic debts with the chocolates.
So we're talking about 40 oranges. I managed to juice about half of them tonight. Tara orange juice is suprisingly ruddy in color.

Older couple selling steamed somethings outside the supermarket.
Aforementioned Karmic-debt reduction chocolates.*
Refugees from the great kitsch expulsion. My predecessors left little statues and other "cute" things in my house, and I said, "No more! I'm a minimalist!" and turned them out on their ear. We'll see if the next typhoon takes them away.

*:A sentence never before uttered on Earth, I can confidentially say.

October 21, 2005

Canst thou make fire with chocolate?

I canst. I learnst how from this website how to make fire from chocolate and a coke can. Shweet. Link thanks to Vlad.

Today's discovery: 7th graders are really 6th graders in disguise. Get them alone, and they will ask for your autograph just like the gradeschool kids do. I used to think that kids were mocking me when they talked, but today I realized that it is just that their heavy accents match the mocking tone traditionaly employed by annoying Americans. Anyways, I finished off the day by showing the kids my amazing ability to immitate animals.
Japanese kids proudly waving their ironic trucker caps. ----->>

*Japan is one of the two capital countries of Asia.
* If a Japanese businessman leaves work early, his boss will make him kill himself.
* Every Japanese person owns a pair of rocket boots.
* All Japanese are ninja.
* Some Japanese are actually schoolgirls with highly regimented classes, impossibly difficult tests they must pass, and frequent problems with tentacle beasts. This would not be a feasible way to live if these schoolgirls were not secretly also ninjas.
* All Japanese carry swords and kimono with them.
--Via the Japan Chakuwiki (a wiki in which people create the world).

October 20, 2005

Zen moment today: Sitting amidst the students at lunch, and the only sound is of little mouths slurping up champon noodles.
Lesson of today: Tell a hyper student to relax, and they will say, "RELAX! relax! relaxrelaxrelaxRELAXrelaxrelax..." ad infinitim ad nauseum ad a slap up the back of the head.

October 18, 2005

Home is odd

"Creyton, how are you?"
"I'm good, how 'bout you?"
"Oh, I am dissapointment because my baseball team lost."
So Kyu-shu's shining hope, the hawks, lost last night. A teacher was lamenting this to me. Then I got home and saw the news about it. How do the Japanese handle a sports defeat? Suprisingly, with lots and lots of crying. Not just the fans, but the players as well.
Lots of people talk about the famous SAGA song. Saga (my prefecture) is regarded as a rather backwater place. Well, it's pretty but boring at times. You can read about the famous SAGA song, as written by a native nihonjin, here.

(Saga's symbol is to the right over there)
And speaking of things that remind me of my area, The taste of Tea (Cha no achi) is one of the best foreign movies to come along since Amelie. By the same guy that made Shark Skin Man Peach Hip Girl but somehow even better.
By all means, get your hands on this film. I know there's a torrent out there somewhere...
This movie, though situated elsewhere in Japan, looks a lot like where I live.

Media: Visit the movie site and enjoy the song...

I have a version of the famous music video from the movie archived here (not the highest quality image, but still amusing).



In regards to the last post, I bring you the previews for Cha no Achi. Enjoy them all, and be confused by the giant girl.
btw, if you want a good wallpaper of the giant girl watching herself, I suggest this page.

BTW I forgot to mention the director was responsible for the animated section of Kill Bill volume one. Says he got all his agressive urges out there, so he was in the proper mood for this lighthearted comedy.

October 17, 2005

Another life

Do you rembember?
You, with your poems
And I, clacking away at the type-writer
We both smoked cigarette after cigarette
And filled the air with a swirling haze

You loved me then,
But I, in my pride,
Spurned you
And have been regretting it ever since

October 16, 2005

My weekend was more Japanesey than yours

Many pics, and hilarious heartbreaks within.

So you remember when I mentioned my plan to call a girl? I mailed her keitai (cell) and told her I would be around Saga if she wanted to follow through with our plan to go dancing together. Let me transliterate her response message: "Oh, yeah, I was really drunk that night. Our date is impossible due to me having a boyfriend that I really like (that approximates love in Japanese), so we won't be meeting."
Rather than being too sad, I found this hilarious. Also, I must say I knew there had to be something besides a cultural misunderstanding happening during the moments when she went weird. Here's to hoping I encounter more sane/less drunk girls from now on.
Friday found us at a place where the tables double as grills, and ingredient after ingredient was put on. Pork, chicken, onomomiyake, yakisoba... all good stuff. The cook was an old grandma-chan that has been cooking there since WWII.
I finally found an example of hand humor that the Japanese get! Mr. Hand! They about laughed to death at that, and my hardo gay jokes.

Jump to last night, where I am dining with a doctor from my town that speaks very good English. He invited two cute nurses along; too bad they were both taken, but at least they are easy on the eyes. It served to remind me of a weird phenomenon in Japan; people go out without their spouses. In America it just wouldn't fly. But here, the wife will give her husband money to go clubbing without her. I for one don't like the confusion this causes when you are out with a pretty girl and find out a couple hours later she is married with a kid. Oh well, just something I have to get used to.

And today, for random reasons, I found myself dressed in a kimono. It seems that just like business suits, I look pretty darn good in these. Guess I clean-up well.
After dressing, I walked around down stars as a representative gaijin and talked to people. Many of the women proclaimed, "Kakoi!" (so handsome!). Gotta love Japan.

Shortly before I accidentally decapitated someone. Sorry 'bout that.

Remember the cute little German girl? Here she is playing a traditional Japanese instrument. People thought that she was my kid, cause we both had blond hair and kimonos.

I thought the under-kimono was even cooler than what I wore on top!

McDonald's of Japan: Home of the ketchupless burger.

Ethnic pizza has raw shrimp on it. Pizza in Japan is just a let-down in general.

An example I drew on the board to describe Wyoming to an elementary class.

October 14, 2005

DeVotchka; your uplifting band for the day

If you've seen this preview, then you've no doubt been moved by this song (mp3 link) by DeVotchka, which is apparently is a Kestral band that originated in Denver. The song doesn't appear in the movie though, so I went looking for it.
sinecure \SY-nih-kyur; SIN-ih-\, noun:
1. An office or position that requires or involves little or no
responsibility, work, or active service.
2. A position in the JET program.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if He-man was Fabulous, and voiced by Hedgewig and the angry inch? This video gets funny after the initial horror.

October 11, 2005

Hardo Gay Desu!

For more info, see this article.

I have been to the mountain, and brought back leather and pelvic thrusts in the form of videos for all to see thanks to the wisdom of Saga city and the veracity of my cell-phone. Look upon this hard gay work all ye mighty, and despair. Be you harder than Hardo Gay? I think not. Stick around to the end of the post to hear about the rest of my weekend (there is a little romance there!).

Hard Gay balloon-animal (balloon-human?)

I'm the only foreigner in the crowd. Shortly after this, I was offered a beer, and everyone started to talk to me at once.

The much-coveted tickets to the event, which, I ironically, only cost 500 yen.
So the next night, I went to Takeo, to a hip-hop/reggae bar, and was pretty much the only white guy there, but I still look better dancing than 8/10 Japanese people, so there's that. I caught the eye of a girl that was super goofy/cute/hot and was soon talking and dancing with her. At times she showered me with complements*, and at others she ignored me. I don't know if she was drunk, or indecisive, or just culturally different, but I have no idea what was going on during the times when she would turn cold. Suffice to say, living in my small town, I haven't met many Nihonjin girls yet, but she told me she wants to go techno-dancing, so I'll call her up tonight, and work my way through a bound-to-be interesting conversation.

*:Among her compliments were "sexushi dancu!" and "You are nice guy!" (which I hope is not the kiss of death that it is in American womanese).
Thanks to the generosity of O, I had a place to stay for the weekend, and I devoured the original novel that Howl's Moving Castle was based on, getting through 200 pages before I regretfully had to give it up to go (btw, I recommend the novel over the anime, which was beautiful but arbitrarily changed).
Then Fukuoka. It was my first time to the bustling metropolis, and I formed one opinion about it: Too many foreigners. How can I meet girls if I'm not special? Oh well, I still had fun.
This weekend, I had two girls spill their guts to me. I'm wondering if it wasn't my monotone, hypnotic way of speaking* that brought this on. Not that I mind; my taciturn nature is well-suited to being the armchair psychologist.

*:According to one Sara, who told me about a year ago. I later confirmed it with other people. I hate my own voice, but most people feel that way about their vocal chords.

October 8, 2005

A Convenient lesson

The Kings of Convenience helped me teach today. I had the kids fill in the blanks on the lyrics to the song I chose, a live version of "I'd rather dance with you" As I ended up listening to the song six times in one day, I've gotten in a rather mirthful mood; though I am sick and have no one to dance with. Hope I can rectify that. The students and teacher really enjoyed it. So let your hips do the talking...
Saw Hardo Gay live last night; pics and video will be posted once I get back to my own computer. Ciao!

October 6, 2005

Post Nasal Drag

So as you can see from this photo of my sexy skull, I obviously have sinusitis (the sickness that is fun to say!). Every winter for the past three years, I have been getting sick with the exact same symptoms, but, being a poor college student, I couldn't afford to do anything about it. Now that I am a millionare, I can get genki. Yay.

This is the machine that shoves steam up your nostrils. It's part of the therapy over here.

I really should have taken some days off, but I don't want to be thought of as a lazy American. But sick or not, I will see Hard Gay live at Saga University this saturday. And then I will go to Fukuoka with Das Germans.
I made a vampire game for the students to play today (prompting the JTE to say that I am a very good ALT, and that she thinks I work hard, which as I understand it is about the best complement a Japanese person can give!). It's a mystery game in which someone is the vampire. I can't help but think that it is my roleplaying background that led to this.
That and a random email from Linus about a roleplaying quiz reminded me of the dark side of the pastime. Nerds. Yeah, I hear it's cool to be a nerd these days, but trust me, if you really think that you haven't seen a real nerd.
The horror stories I could tell you--and I'm just a casual gamer--would be enough to make you never want to associate with anyone that the past-time.
That being said, I really want to roleplay again. Just something that's not available in Japan.

October 5, 2005

October 4, 2005

Who's a Mr. Sleepy Head?

You are!This teacher sits in the desk opposite of me. He's spent the last two days sleeping and snoring loudly. He even seems to snore when he is awake. I couldn't resist taking a picture, I found it so funny.

October 3, 2005

I spent the weekend among the other JETs. We went rafting. Unfortunately, the rapids were about a level one. But we still had fun, and I got some tanning on one arm.
The next day, we ended up in Arita for Oktoberfest (see bottom 4 pics in this post). It was the most un-German Oktoberfest ever, but it was still cool, and the section of town was just like walking to Germany, with an Austrian-style castle and everything. I was surprised. There a foosball tournament, and some gaijins won.
I was sorely reminded that in Japan, as opposed to America, I am not 10 ninjas. I am always being watched. In America, I was undetectable, and enjoyed anonymity 'cause it complimented my taciturn nature. However, I still have the ability to spook students by walking up behind them without them knowing. Yay, half-vampire powers(big in-joke)!
I introduced the others to the church of Mr. Knuckles. Me:"Mr. Knuckles is the only one who can call me crazy."
Taresha: "Who's Mr. Knuckles?"
Me: *holds up hand sideways* "I'm Mr. Knuckles!" Then I proceeded to build a whole mythology around him being the prophet of my church cause I'm funny like that.

That got me on a rant about the Japanese not understanding hand-humor; and I showed off my umpire joke, which got Will laughing so hard he cried.
I got surprised when I saw how much Japanese Will has learned in two months (beer is his teacher). I must stay ahead of the newbs!!
As I started to fall asleep on someone's couch, they told me that talking to me made them wish they had a room mate. I took it as a complement.

Amazing little German girl that speaks perfect Japanese and plays traditional instruments.

Star wars parody/caricature

Suited up and ready for the special Olympics.

Always wait till an hour after watching the ring to go swimming, or your face will be all blurred.

"Ball lane" in Saga city.

Taiko drums made from German ceramics.

October 2, 2005

Now you're really giving everything
And you're really getting all you gave
Now you're really living what
This life is all about

Well i just saw the sun rise over the hill
Never used to give me much of a thrill
But hey man now you're really living

Do you know what it's like to care too much
'bout someone that you're never gonna get to touch
Hey man now you're really living

Have you ever sat down in the fresh cut grass
And thought about the moment and when it will pass
Hey man now you're really living

Now you're really giving everything
And you're really getting all you gave
Now you're really living what
This life is all about

Now what would you say if i told you that
Everyone thinks you're a crazy old cat
Hey man now you're really living

Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor
And cry your guts out 'til you got no more
Hey man now you're really living
-- Hey Man (Now Your Really Living) by the Eels

More on my weekend when I recover some