Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, May 31st

What was the name of Latka's "alter ego" on the TV show Taxi?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
"Is that your Final Answer?"

Monday, May 30, 2005

Trivia - Monday, May 30th

What was Regis Philbin's oft-repeated catch-phrase on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
Michael Jordan

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Kobe this week

I'm off to Kobe for three days this week, from Monday the 30th until Wed., June 1st.

All the JETs, like me, who are recontracting and staying in Japan a 2nd year are gathering in Kobe for a 3-day conference. Actually, they split us into two groups depending on where you live - all the JETs from southern Honshu, Kyuushu and Shikoku go to Kobe, while all the JETs lving in northern Honshu and Hokkaido go to Tokyo.

I haven't been to Kobe yet, so it should be a fun two nights of parties and reconecting with old friends I haven't seen in a while. I'm sure I'll have photos, so check back at the end of the week for updates and new pics.


Michele, Me & Ie-Chen at Miyajima

Michele, Me & Ie-Chen at Miyajima
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Two of my best friends from America came to Japan for three weeks recently. They traveled all over and managed to see more of Japan in 3 weeks than I have in the 10 months I've been living here. I met Michele and Ie-Chen in Hiroshima and we had a great time seeing the city and Miyajima Island, which is just off the coast of Hiroshima.

I'll blog more photos from the trip soon, but as always you can click on any photo and go to my online photo album at Flickr for all the photos.

Miyajima Island Otorii Gate

Miyajima Island Otorii Gate
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Close up shot of the famous floating gate - altho it was low tide when we visited, so it wasn't as picturesque as it is on the postcards.

Hiroshima Peace Park

Hiroshima Peace Park
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The memorial for the bombing of Hiroshima with an atomic bomb in August of 1945. You can see the Atomic Dome in the distance and the eternal flame that will stay lit until all nuclear weapons are demolished.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, May 28th & 29th

Which basketball star appeared with the Looney Tunes gang in the 1996 film Space Jam?

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
She was a substitute English teacher before becoming a mystery writer.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Trivia - Friday, May 27th

What was Jessica Fletcher's former profession on the TV series Murder, She Wrote?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Andy Serkis

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, May 26th

Which versatile actor's body movements and voice served as the basis for the character of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
A. Tom Selleck

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, May 25th

Which 1980s hunk played Monica's some-what-older boyfriend on Friends?

A. Tom Selleck
B. Don Johnson
C. Patrick Duffy
D. Ted Danson

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Sling Blade

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, May 24th

John Ritter won praise for his role as a gay dollar-store owner in which 1996 indie film?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
My So-Called Life

Monday, May 23, 2005

Trivia - Monday, May 23rd

Which critically acclaimed but short-lived TV series from 1994 served as a career springboard for Clare Danes and Jared Leto?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
Bob Hope

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, May 21st & 22nd

This American icon was the first civilian to be named an Honorary Veteran by Congress for his lifetime commitment to entertaining U.S. troops all over the world - but he was actually born in London. Who is he?

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker, Padme Amidala

Friday, May 20, 2005

Trivia - Friday, May 20th

Identify the following in the Star Wars films: the subtitle of 1999's prequel Episode I, the 9 year old boy who is to become Darth Vader, and the elected queen of Naboo who is to become his wife.

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
"Far From Over"

Star Wars Episode III

I'm sure I'd be in line for tickets right now if I was in the States today.

With the exception of Episode IV, which I didn't see until August of 1977, I've seen every other Star Wars movie on opening day.

I remember wanting so bad to see the first Star Wars when I was 7, but my parents were too busy to take me - we were getting ready to move the whole family from my boyhood home of Thousand Oaks, California to Dallas, TX.

I'll always remember the exact day we moved into our new house in Dallas - it was the same day that Elvis Presley died - August 16th, 1977. Later that month my parents finally took me and my older sister to see Star Wars (my brother was only 1 1/2 at the time). There was still a long line to get in, as movies played on way fewer screens back then and multi-plexes were still unusual. In fact, an usher came out and counted the people in line for the 8pm show and my family of four were the very last people to get in. It was so crowded that my sister and I had to sit apart from our parents. But any fears I had were soon replaced my the menace imposed by Darth Vader, and I was transported to another galaxy and into a fantastic world that I fell in love with.

You can read more about my favorite of the Star Wars films at a nifty new Shimane JET website that just launced by clicking Here or you can check out the site in general by going to www.shimanejets.org

This past week was also George Lucas' birthday, so Happy Birthday Mr. Lucas. Say what you will, but the man created THE modern mythology of our time. Got to meet him a few times - decent guy.

May The Force Be With You.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, May 19th

Sylvester Stallone's brother Frank scored a hit in 1983 with which song?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
He fell into a fire and burned his hands.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, May 18th

Why did Survivor: the Australian Outback contestant Michael Skupin have to leave the competition?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
False. They worked together on The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

At first I thought Tuesday's question was flawed, as I was sure that Renee and Matt had worked together in another Linklater film, Dazed and Confused. While Matt had a memorable role in that film, Renee was not in it - it was Joey Lauren Adams I was thinking of. She later went on to star in my favorite Kevin Smith movie, Chasing Amy. And the funny thing is I've watched interviews with Adams where she talks about how often she gets mistaken for Zellweger. Oh well - I can't be perfect ALL the time. :P

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Night out with the Lads - Saturday, May 14th

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 12
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The local gang from Izumo was joined by Shimane JET Dave Ashby for some fun out on the town - Izumo Stlye!

First we hit the local bowling emporium, which also has pool tables and ping pong and video games galore.

Had to figure out how big our feet are in centimeters to order our rental shoes - I'm about a 28. They came in nifty day-glo neon colors and had velcro instead of laces. Maybe I should get a pair to use as my indoor shoes at my Junior High.

The lanes in Izumo are cool and were pretty busy as it was Saturday night. Of course, almost all the young guys around us were smoking, which is a drag, but what can you do? We all noticed that as the lanes filled up and the place got busy, no one was asked to bowl right next to us - do they think Gaijin have cooties? :P

Lisa was off in Matsue, as she often is on the weekends, so if was just the lads this night. Had a good time and I even got to play some Bonnie Tyler, Huey Lewis, Paul Young, and Mr. Mister on the video jukebox.

at the lanes

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 11
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is Dave and Mark "The Don" DeFusco at the lanes.

Not sure why we started calling Mark "The Don" but it's stuck and it suits him in an odd way. Something to do with his Italian heritage, but you couldn't find a more British person if you tried.

Dave is from New Zealand, and is recontracting for another year like all of us. Dave is the source of jealousy among us since he has a "personal assistant" in his home town - a Japanese woman who speaks decent English at his beck and call. Lucky devil.

Bowling for Yen

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 7
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

You really have to see the unique bowling stlye of The Don to fully grasp the weirdness of it - but it was entertaining as hell.

In a particularly British colloquialism, The Don declared himself too "cack-handed" and hopeless. But the last time we had bowled he had done reasonably well with his distinctive style.

We bet 500 yen each on who would have the best score after the two games combined. Turns out it was me, besting Mark M. by only about 15 pins. And so far only Dave has paid up! :P

A Night on the Town - Izumo style!

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 6
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Locked out!

Dave lives in southern Shimane, and drove up to go climbing with Rusty. Japan, and Shimane in particular, is very safe, and even more so in Dave's small little rural hamlet. So he never locks his car - he leaves the key in a small cubby near the steering wheel. But The Don was last out of the car and locked it behind him as most people would.

Therefore, when we all had finished bowling, we came out to find Dave's car locked with the key inside. Curses!

Dustin pedaled off on his bike to get some food, and I had my scooter. The others were resigned to walking to a local bar before heading home, with the intent of calling a locksmith in the morning. But we found some wire and headed back to try and jimmie our way in. It was about midnight and the bowling alley was closing, so a few Japanese groups were heading out to their cars and noticed the frustrated gaijin struggling to get into the doors or windows. Lo and Behold, two of the guys came over with "slim jims" to try and help us unlock the doors. After about 5 minutes of trying, one of them was succesful and the car was open.
We offered to buy them drinks, but they politely declined - Dave gave them candy he had bought in Korea. So one expensive phone call to a locksmith was avoided. Thanx mysterious Japanese guys!

No. 1 Pub

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 5
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Love the "Engrish" on this sign.

So after bowling and pool, we headed over to a local bar in Izumo called No. 1

Mark "The Don" never made it, but the rest of us had fun and got to interact with some people our age. Stayed until about 2am, and then most of us staggered home, with the exception of Dustin, who was chatting up a lovely lady at the bar - those years of studying Japanese might have paid off. :)

Rawkin' the Mic

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 4
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

So this bar had screens all over the place and wireless microphones, so the gaijin table proceeded to set the place ablaze with our stirring renditions of Guns N Roses "Paradise City," Steve Miller's "The Joker," and David Bowie's "StarMan."
Here I think Dustin is singing "King for a Day" by Green Day, with able accompaniment from Mark.
No one else in the place ever sang, and it wasn't until Dustin showed up and informed us that each song cost 200 yen (about $2) that we figured out why. Oh well - we put on quite the show even if it was out of tune and often marred by too much tambourine.

Mr. Tambourine Man!

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 3
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Dave had a few beers and before you know it his inner hippie came out and he asked for a tambourine. Much to my chagrin, the bar had one, and Dave proceeded to play it FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT!

Ah well - he was happy...

Mark and friend

A Night on the Town - Izumo style! - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

As the night wore on, Dustin and Mark met a few of the locals, and since they both speak Japanese very well, were able to have conversations with them. Of course, the level of discourse when one has been imbibing might not be of the highest level, but they seem interested in what each other was saying.

Mark has stolen the tambourine away from Dave at this point, but still won't give it to me.

I actually had met this guy once before, and he also plays kendo - but I can't remember his name.

Me & Rusty at No. 1 Pub in Izumo

Me & Rusty at No. 1 Pub in Izumo
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Finally, here is Rusty and I enjoying a few libations. Of course, I was actually drinking "ko-ra" (cola), but I borrowed one of Dustin's alcohol drinks for effect. :)
Rusty was barely staying awake at this point, since he and Dave had been off that day climbing Mt. Daisen in Tottori-ken. But a fun time was had by all and it was a good night out with the lads.

Trivia - Tuesday, May 17th

True or False: Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey appeared together in Richard Linklater's seminal indie film Slacker.

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
C. Octopus's Garden - Bonus Answer: Richard Starkey

Monday, May 16, 2005

Trivia - Monday, May 16th

Ringo Starr sings lead vocal on which of these classic Beatles songs?

A. "A Day in the Life"
B. "I am the Walrus"
C. "Octopus's Garden"
D. "Blackbird"

Bonus Point: Can you tell me Ringo's real name?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
She finds a field of full of bee people just like her.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, May 14th & 15th

What happens to the lonely bee girl at the end of Blind Melon's "No Rain" video?

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):

Friday, May 13, 2005

Trivia - Friday, May 13th

Who sang the 1990s empowerment song "You Gotta Be"?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
D. A port at the base of the spinal cord

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, May 12th

In David Cronenberg's film eXistenZ, how are the virtual reality game players plugged in?

A. A socket on the back of the neck
B. Special sensory gloves
C. A helmet with blinders
D. A port at the base of the spinal cord

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
A Trip to the Moon

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, May 11th

The groundbreaking Smashing Pumpkins video "Tonight, Tonight" was a stylistic homage to which George Melies film from 1902?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Blue, White & Red, after the colors of the French flag

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, May 10th

Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy came out to great critical acclaim in the mid-1990s. What were the three films called?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Statler and Waldorf - bonus points if you can tell me which one was voiced by Jim Henson and which one was Frank Oz. BTW - the calendar I get these questions off of was wrong on this answer - it had their names as "Statler and Heckler."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Arigatoo Gozaimashita!

I love getting mail. Especially here in Japan, where my mailbox is a lonely place, I love getting small packages and letters from friends and family.

Back in the States, I got mail everyday. Sure, some of it was bills, and some of it was flyers or junk, but I used to get something addressd to me everyday. And I think one of the reasons I like Ebay and Amazon so much is how excited I get when I get packages in the mail.

So I'm gonna take a minute here to thank all the people that have sent me stuff since I came to Japan. My friend, Pat, sent me a great Monty Python postcard that still is on my bulletin board. My friend, Michele, sent me a great care package with Kraft Mac n Cheese and other goodies. My Uncle Terry sends me magazines and packages and food - Thanks Terry!

My sister is the defacto custodian of my affairs back in the States, and she forwards me my mail and helps send me other packages from my storage as I think of things I need, like winter clothes back in December or my Halloween costume back in October. Lynda - you're awesome - Thanks so much!

And of course my parents are always sending me things - cards and little gifts and articles that they cut out of the UK newspapers so I can put up pictures of Beckham on my classroom walls. They're always thinking about me, and for that and so much more I'm very grateful.

So if you want to engender this kind of unabashed affection, please feel free to send me stuff. I always appreciate it!

Just email me and I can send you my Japan address, and if for some reason you don't have my email, leave a comment here and I'll send it to you.

See you!

Trivia - Monday, May 9th

What were the names of the two old men who sat in the balcony on The Muppet Show?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
D. Atlanta

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Opt out of Yahoo's cookie info-collecting feature

I recently learned, from an article in the Daily Yomiuri, that Yahoo uses something called a "Web beacon" to log all my internet activity and that I had in fact given the company permission to do so.

When I created my account at Yahoo years ago, where I go by the screen name "JasonUCSD" in case you have Yahoo Messenger and you ever want to instant message me, I was asked to click a button that signified that I agreed to Yahoo's terms of service. Everyone clicks these all the time without reading the pages of legalese that follow.

Somwhere within their agreement it says that unless you specifically tell Yahoo not to, it'll track and record all your internet activity, not just that associated with their service. It does this by placing a small application on your hard drive that logs all the links you visit and then sends the data back to Yahoo.
What it does with this data is less clear, but I'm not to keen on the idea that a faceless company like Yahoo is collecting information about my private online activities. So I opted out of the internet browsing data-collection feature.

If you too would like to opt out of this intrusive feature, here's how you do it:

First, you'll need to log into your Yahoo account.
Next, put this URL into your browser's address window: http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/us/

This will take you to a web page where Yahoo pretty much spells out its policies. Scroll down to the section about cookies, and you'll see a reference to something called "Web beacons." Click on that link, and it will take you to the page that explains how these things work. Scroll down a few paragraphs, and you'll see the words Opt Out highlighted as a link. Click that link and it'll take you off their data-collection list. Note that you have to set the opt-out function on every computer from which you access Yahoo.

Since the above link includes the suffix "us" this may only work for American Yahoo accounts, but I'm sure if you have an account from Canada or the UK, you too should be able to opt out.

Now, I realize that nothing I do online is truly "private," but I would have liked to have known more about "web beacons" when I signed up for Yahoo. I'm not closing my account or anything, but it may make me scrutinize more closely the terms of agreement before I hit the "accept" button in the future.


Trivia - Sat & Sun, May 7th & 8th

Andy Griffith played a defense attorney on Matlock from 1986 to 1995. Where was this show set?

A. Denver
B. Washington D.C.
C. Houston
D. Atlanta

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
Frenchie Davis

Friday, May 06, 2005

Trivia - Friday, May 6th

Which contestant was booted from American Idol 2 after it was discovered that she'd appeared on a pornographic website?

God help me, I knew the answer to the above question. Maybe it's a good thing that I'll be in Japan for at least two years, and get a bit of a plaette cleansing in regards to American Pop Culture.

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Mini Cooper

Do Japanese women want Foreign husbands?

Here is a link to an interesting article and commentary from a guy that became briefly famous in Japan for battling in court the exclusionary policy of some hotels and spas in Japan that admit Japanese only to their establishments.

The article, which is not as interesting as the two pieces of commentary that follow it, is about the myth that Japanese women want to marry foreign men, specifically Americans and Europeans. After reading thru, you can see that out of all the marriages that took place in Japan in 2003, only 1.1% involved a Japanese woman marrying a foreign man.

Here's the link: http://www.debito.org/christianscimonitor120604.html

His website, if you go back to the home page, also contains some interesting stuff.


Thursday, May 05, 2005


I just watched a great movie called "Sideways."

This is just a test post to see if my blog is updating correctly, but I really did just watch that movie and I really, really liked it.


Trivia - Thursday, May 5th

What stylish, compact British car was prominently featured in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Linda Ronstadt

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, May 4th

Which singer helped Barney sing "The Plow King Song" on The Simpsons?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, May 3rd

What Alicia Silverstone hit from 1995 was loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Marilyn Monroe

Monday, May 02, 2005

It's all in my head

OK - I'll warn you up front that this post may ramble a bit - I'm in one of those moods.

And usually when I'm like this I watch a little wacky Japanese TV, have a Kit Kat and it fades - but this time I'm at my computer and blogging about it instead. Wise choice? Only time will tell...

Tomorrow thru Thursday are national holidays here in Japan, collectively known as Golden Week. Many JETs were able to get 10 days off in a row, just by taking two days of paid vacation. The programme allots most of us 20 days each contract year (July to July), but I used most of mine around Xmas and at Spring Break, so I worked today and will work again on Friday.
I'm also really poor right now, with barely enough to tide me over until payday on the 13th. (The 15th - normal payday - is a Sunday, so they bump it up to the preceeding Friday) It's no big secret that almost all JETs make about $2600 a month, give or take a little bit. Many JETs, and certainly all that I know, have few if any bills back home to worry about, thus leaving them with an inordinate amount of disposable income. Most travel or buy fun gadgets, or drink - ALOT - but some, like me, have to send a significant portion of our check home each month to take care of fiscal responsibilities that were in place before we ever set foot in Japan. I have credit card debt, school loans, storage costs, etc that I'm taking care of - and it impacts my ability to spend freely while I'm here. Am I a little jealous of my more free-spending colleagues? Yes. But it's no big deal - and truth be told I'm poor right now cuz my rent status changed on my apartment here and I had to pay double rent this month just this one time and I had to send some extra home to cover my recent trip home to San Diego - so I get to travel too. :)

Anyway - so the next three days will be fairly uneventful - some reading, some DVD watching, maybe some writing if I feel inspired - and hopefully my next piano lesson. I had my first lesson last Friday (which was also a national holiday). It went great! The woman who's agreed to teach me is named Yoko and she's really cool. She wants to continue working on her English, and in exchange she's taken on the daunting challenge of teaching me to play piano from scratch - meaning I've never played before and I can't read music. But by the end of our first lesson I was already plunking away at London Bridges with some confidence. She got me this cool beginner's book - designed for really young Japanese kids - which is perfect cuz it doesn't have hardly any Kanji, so I can read it - and the tunes are really simple - AND many of the songs are very famous Japanese songs - which is perfect because one of the main reasons I wanted to learn is so I can play songs for my Elementary kids to sing along with. While I want them to sing English songs, they'd be pretty impressed if I started knocking out some famous Japanese song as well - so it's all good. I'm grasping the concept of the notes and how they correspond to how you hit the keys and how often, but it remains to be seen if I have rhythm. I'll keep ya posted. :)

Today was an OK day at school - I only had two classes, and I skipped going to Kendo practice - wasn't in the mood. I did finish redecorating the Language Lab - kinda my own little classroom - which is used for the optional English class that should start in the next few weeks. And I must say it looks pretty cool. But then just today I found out that the 9th grade teachers at Taisha Chu decided that the 9th graders who choose to take more English by enrolling in the elective class have to be taught GRAMMAR at least half the time, so they'll be better prepared for their high school entrance exams. *SIGH* I understand that the teachers want the students adequately prepared for their tests - but my optional class hardly covers every kid in the 9th grade - so why punish them with a dictated course of grammar lessons, and instead let me make English fun and interesting and conversational, which is why I thought I was here in the first place. Hearing stuff like this today makes me doubtful that I'll decide to recontract for a third year. The bloom is assuredly off the rose by now, and I'm starting to see the faults in the system that so many JETs before me have complained about but until now I was mostly unaffected by.
First they took away my 8th grade optional class alltogether, without any explanation, and now they basically cut in half how often I get to design what happen in the 9th grade class. Another example of my frustration happened recently as well. The Daily Yomiuri, a major newspaper here that offers an English version, is sponsoring a translation contest that can be entered by Jr High students. The top prize is the equivalent of $500 in gift certificates and a trip to Tokyo - not bad for translating some English into Japanese or vice versa. So I made copies of the entry rules and the paragraphs to translate and then posted all the info on my English bulletin board outside the language lab. And I also went around to all four of my JTEs and gave them copies of the info and mentioned that maybe one or two of their students may want to enter. But I bet you dollars to donuts that none of them took the one minute in any of their classes to mention the contest or how to get more info about it. Maybe Moriyama sensei did, cuz she helped me write up a Japanese sign about the contest that I posted on my bulletin board next to the article, but I doubt it. The teachers here have one basic goal - teach the textbook and prepare the kids for their exams. Not unheard of, I know, but it can make for some boring and routine classes, and I want my kids to be excited about English. I'll continue to try and introduce fun and different approaches to the material and hope that they'll stray from the prescribed course from time to time.

Some days of course, it's tough to muster up the energy to be the smiling ambassador of EIGO that I usually am. Today was one of those days. Living here, isolated by the language barrier as I am, can be a very internal existence at times. I'm struggling to find a good analogy for it. I could say it's like being deaf, where I can see all the people around me talking but can't understand what they're saying - but that's not accurate. I am able to decipher much of what's said to me, even though I'm still only getting about every other word - I'm able to discern the meaning most of the time. I just can't respond with anything even approaching grammatically correct full sentences. It's frustrating as hell. And it's all on me - I realize that. I could spend all my time studying Japanese, and part of this problem would disappear, and I am studying a bit, but my progress is slow, despite the immersion.
So I end up inside my own head for most of the day - having little conversations with myself just to be able to speak English to someone, even if that person is myself. Hahahaha.
I end up thinking about all kinds of things with the time I have inside my own thoughts, and that can be good or bad. Too much self-reflection isn't necessarily a good thing. And it doesn't help that I live alone, and am the only non-Japanese person in my whole town. There are other JETs fairly close by, and I can always pick up the phone and call my sister or parents, but that doesn't cure the lonliness of my day-to-day existence at times.
See, I've always been a good talker - a fairly amiable guy who enjoys a good joke or good conversation. And here, I'm stripped of any social tools I had before - I can't really make jokes or witty comments, cuz nobody understands them, and I can't engage anybody I see on a daily basis in anything even remotely approaching a meaningful or insightful conversation - even my English teachers don't have the time or language skills necessary for that. Most of the staff at my Junior High merely tolerate my presence - if I'm there or not, makes little difference to them. And two of my English teachers I think would prefer if I wasn't there - leaving me two people at work who I can talk to. I'm sure there are some staff members who would like to chat if they could speak better English or I could speak better Japanese - but I'll perhaps never really know. That leaves my kids - the students - who are really great overall, but who, by and large, are unable to hold a conversation in English lasting more than 30 seconds. I guess if I had one expectation when I arrived, it would be that my students could speak some English - but for the most part they can't. They may be able to read and write a fair amount, but their ability to speak and converse is servely limited by their own innate shyness and a fear of failure. And hey, I relate to that more than they probably know - cuz learning Japanese is no easy task either.

So am I depressed or unhappy? Surprisingly, no. I actually enjoy living here, but I wish I could get out of my head more often, and interact with people a bit more. And I try - I attended a kendo tournament on Saturday from 7am until 4pm and other than chatting with the coach on the ride to and from the arena, I barely spoke to anyone the entire day. Maybe the kids have tired of trying to chat with me, as many of their questions are met with blank stares of misunderstanding on my part, but in truth the kendo members have never been a chatty bunch.

Anyway - it's 10pm now and ER is on TV - my one dose of English this whole day - so I'll be off.

Hope all is well with you.


Trivia - Monday, May 2nd

Which 1950s icon has a small role in the film All About Eve, which was released in 1950?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
Director James Cameron

Sunday, May 01, 2005

New Superman in costume

OK - whenever I have time on my hands like I did today, cuz it's Sunday and it's been raining all day and there's nothing on TV in English, I end up catching up on some of my online reading - mostly about movies and comics.

I came across a column at a site I like - used to be called PopCultureShock, now called BuzzScope - that is written by a guy named Sandy Collora. Sandy is a fan-film maker famous among comic nerds for a short film called "Dead End" he made featuring Batman battling the Joker, a Predator and an Alien. Great film!
You can check out Sandy's recent 3 minute fan film depicting Superman and Batman by Clicking Here or you can check out his website and the "Dead End" film by Clicking Here.

Anyway - Sandy is none too pleased with the look of the new Superman costume for next year's film. What - you didn't know that Bryan Singer, the talented director of The Usual Suspects and both X-Men films has jumped ship and decided to make the first new Superman film in many, many years? Well, he has and he cast an unknown actor named Brandon Routh to play Superman/Clark Kent, and the first picture of him in the red and blue costume has been released. I kinda like it, but I understand where Sandy is coming from.

You can see the picture only by Clicking Here.

Or you can read the article and see the pic by Clicking Here.

Reviews seem to indicate that the big-screen version of one of my all-time favorite novels, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a good time at the cinema. Can't wait until it opens here in Japan.
You can see the trailer for HHGTTG by Clicking Here.

And have you seen the newest trailer for Batman Begins???? It just makes me even more excited for the film, which I'm so looking forward to, I can't even tell you. AND, it's gonna open here in Japan only one week after it opens in the US. Cool!
That's probably due to the fact that Watanabe Ken, the charismatic Japanese actor who was a big part of the success of The Last Samurai here in Japan, plays a villian in the new Batman movie.
Check out the newest trailer Here.

Anyway, I'm off to surf more of the net - hope you're having a good weekend.