Saturday, July 30, 2005

Trivia - Saturday & Sunday, July 30th & 31st

Which extremely successful animation studio started out as the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm, Ltd. but was established as an independent company in 1986?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Lawrence of Arabia

Friday, July 29, 2005

Utani & me - farewell enkai

Utani & me - farewell enkai
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Yesterday marked my one year anniversary since I came to Japan. My supervisor for my whole first year was a great guy named Utani-san. He got a new job last week with another division of the Government office in Izumo City, so he packed up his desk on Wednesday and that night we had a farewell party for him.

It's not like I'll never see him again - Izumo City now technically is in charge of Taisha too, since the two cities merged last April, but I will miss having him as my supervisor. He only spoke a little English, but he tried really hard and was an immense help this time last year when I was fresh off the plane from Tokyo.
And he's a cool guy - young and energetic and always trying to be helpful. He got married at IzumoTaisha shrine last October, but he still likes to go out and have a drink and sing karaoke.

He now works in an office I'll go to occasionally when I'm over in Izumo, so I'll see him from time to time. He wanted me to make tacos for him and his wife, so hopefully I'll still get a chance to do that.

My new supervisor is a very nice woman named Hirosawa-san, but she speaks even less English than Utani-san, so I'm guessing most of our conversations will be in Japanese.

The farewell party was a small gathering of about 8 people from just the Taisha office all crammed into a very small, 10x5 room where we sat on the floor and drank and ate for about 3 hours. My biggest problem with these small spaces parties is that almost everyone at the party smoked, so by the end of the night the cigarette smoke was really getting to me.
For the nijikai - 2nd party or after party - we all trundled off to a local bar that has karaoke. After having spent 3 hours barely speaking (since no one at the party really speaks English) I wasn't too enthusiastic about spending even more time with the same group as they continued to drink. But karaoke has a strange way of breaking down barriers and it wasn't long before I was singing Simon & Garfunkel duets in English with my BoE boss and changing the words of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" to "Utani be good" and serenading the bar owner with my throaty rendition of Sinatra's "New York, New York."

So we said our goodbyes to Utani san, but no one was too sad as we all know we'll still see him.

As for being here a year already - it's a cliche, but the time has gone by really fast. Not ALL of the time, but most of it. I am looking forward to another year, cuz this time I'll know what to expect 70% of the time when they tell me this event or that event is coming up.

Worked out with the kendo team today for the first time in about a month - so I know I'm gonna be sore tomorrow. But I have to get up early tomorrow even tho it's Saturday to attend a practice kendo match between my JH and two other Izumo JHs. After that we're gonna have a BBQ lunch - so that should be fun as long as it doesn't rain, which it has been doing all day today. Makes it a little less hot, but also makes it really humid. Lukcily my BoE, where I'm typing this, has Air Con, so I'll be relatively comfortable at work for the month of August before I return to my schools in September.

"I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps..."

Trivia - Friday, July 29th

Which classic 1962 film, although it clocks in at 216 minutes, has no women in speaking roles?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
The Upper East Side, in the 70s

Thursday, July 28, 2005

studying Kanji

So I've decided to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) in December of this year. The test has 4 levels of difficulty with level 4 being the easiest and level 1 requiring near fluency to pass.

I'm going to take the level 3 test, because I want to push myself a little to study this year and really improve my Japanese.

One of the hardest parts of learning Japanese is getting used to reading the kanji - the pictograms that represent whole words or parts of words and make up the bulk of written Japanese. If you are new to the Japanese language and want to know more about what a kanji is, Click Here.

So I found this website that lists all the JLPT kanji I'll need for the level 3 test and even has a random test function so I can quiz myself.

Here is the link:

It's a really good little site and I'm sure will be very helpful in the coming months as I study.

Curiously, altho they require knowledge of 80 basic kanji for the level 4 test, the level 3 test (which requires you to know 165 kanji) is not cumulative, as you'll only be tested on the 165 required for level 3. Luckily I know the 80 basic kanji from level 4 already, from my Japanese language courses at college, so I can simply concentrate on level 3.

Click Here for a direct link to the level 3 kanji.

If you're reading this and you have taken the JLPT before or have advice/tips about studying kanji, please leave me a comment - I'd love to hear what you know.

Here is a link to info on the JLPT.
And here is a LINK to specific info for this year's test, including the application process and deadline.

OK - I'm off to study. :)


Trivia - Thursday, July 28th

Where in New York City does Carrie live on Sex in the City?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
The Queensborough-59th Street Bridge

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, July 27th

Which oft-overlooked New York City landmark was promiently featured in the climax of 2002's Spider-Man?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Dave Eggers

Taki Beach - group shot

Taki Beach
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Last Sunday, the 24th, four of us from Izumo set out by train to the town of Taki, which has a really nice beach. Taki is easy to spot as you drive along the Shimane coast because of the distinctive windmills that dominate the local skyline.

Here is Satoko, Rusty, and Mark fresh from a swim. We arrived around 2pm, but had to leave at 4pm so we could get home in time to see the final bouts in the Nagoya sumo tournament (Our Boy, Asashoryu, won again!).

It was a fun day, and the beach is really nice. It's only about 20 minutes away by train, which costs about $6 for a roundtrip ticket.

This was the first Sunday after the start of summer vacation for school kids across Japan, so it was crowded with families and young people, but not near as crowded as the beaches can get back home in San Diego, California.

I got a little sun and relaxed a bit, so it was a good day and I'm sure we'll all go again soon.

Taki Beach - Rusty floating

Taki Beach
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is Rusty floating in the calm and very warm waters of the Japan Sea, off the coast of Shimane ken.

There are no waves to speak of at this beach, so most of the Japanese bathers had inflatable rafts or inner tubes to lazily float around on.

While I enjoy the waves at the beaches in San Diego, the water here was so warm you could go right in without hesitation. And there was a nice breeze blowing all afternoon that kept it from getting too hot.

Taki Beach - "The Don"

Taki Beach
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is our friend, and fellow Izumo ALT, Mark "The Don" DeFusco in a particularly Zen moment. Mark managed to make it all the way out to the concrete pylons in the background with Rusty, despite not being the world's best swimmer. It didn't hurt that he could touch bottom almost the whole way out there.

Taki Beach - me & the boys

Taki Beach
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Finally, here is one of me and a group of young Japanese guys that kind of adopted our little group and hung out with us that afternoon. I think they were initially attracted by the music I was playing on the portable CD player I brought along.

(Digression: I don't think Japanese people play their own music out loud in public places too much, as I was the only person on the beach with music playing that I saw. And I have to stop calling my portable CD player a "Boom Box" or "Jam Box" - i get snickers of derision from the younglings I hang out with every time I do)

We chatted a little, and at one point they decided to bury their friend in the sand and provide him with anatomically correct sand genetalia - slightly amusing in a frat boy sort of way. I was taking pics of the ocean, when the guy with the orange hair asked me to take a picture, so I snapped one of his group - but he meant for us to take one together - so they got behind me and I extended my arm and snapped this pic. Don't think they'll ever see it, but maybe he sensed that I would show it to other people and therefore spread this image of his visage far and wide.
I did give him my business card with my email and told him he could email me and I would send him the pic - to which he replied "Fuck You." He meant to say "Thank You", but got confused - he was peppering his little bit of English all afternoon with Fuck and Shit, I guess trying to impress me with his command of American slang.

I'm wearing my back-up sunglasses here and my Spider-Man movie hat, which fell in the water and got soaked. And my Superman t-shirt - i was a walking advertisement for American comics. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, July 26th

Which author's 2000 memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, dealt with his struggle to raise his younger brother following the sudden death of their parents?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
False: The original drummer was Pete Best.

The above answer to Monday's question begets an interesting bit of Beatles trivia - Ringo Starr is both the oldest and youngest Beatle. He is the oldest in age, but he joined the group last, thus being the most junior member.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Taisha Sho - "What do you want?"

Lunch time and classes at Taisha Sho - 3
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

My digital camera has one annoying feature - it takes about a second after you hit the button for the camera to actually take the picture. I always seem to miss the precise moment I want to capture. But here is one example of getting it just right... This young boy at Taisha Elementary turned to look and his glasses were perfect - a future CPA perhaps??

I'll post a few random pics of my kids here just for fun - I'll miss seeing them everyday now that it is summer vacation.

Izumo Concert with Taisha JH band kids

Izumo Concert with Taisha JH band kids - 21
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

L to R: Sayako, Masako, Yuki, Marina, Chikako

My Band Girls ROCK!

Lunch at Taisha Sho

Lunch time and classes at Taisha Sho - 16
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

getting ready to serve kyushoku (school lunch)

Hanging out at Taisha Sho

Lunch time and classes at Taisha Sho - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

during recess

I wear my sunglasses at night...

Izumo Concert with Taisha JH band kids - 17
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

L to R: Hiroko, Masako, Aika

My sunglasses, being worn by Hiroko in this pic, were always a source of endless amusement for my students. Alas, I recently lost this pair and am now wearing an inferior back-up pair that are not nearly as cool.

Not sure why they all like to take turns trying on my sunglasses - it's not like all their parents don't have pairs, cuz they all do, but I'm happy to have them passed 'round - got some funny pics out of it.

Must spend some time soon and go shopping for a new pair. I used to have a great pair of Stussy sunglasses that fir my rather large head perfectly, but those too have gone away. This pair pictured were only about $10, but they worked great. We'll see what I can find here in Japan.

Taisha JH Volleyball team 2005-2006

Taisha JH Volleyball team 2005-2006
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here's a pic of my JH's girls' volleyball team. I think they have basically an A team, that is mostly 9th graders and then a B team with 7th and 8th graders. I have yet to watch them play in a regular match, but I've watched them practice and they seem pretty good. Altho they lack height, they have lots of spunk and try real hard.

I was hoping to organize a match between some members of the faculty, myself included, and the girls A team, but I have yet to convince anyway with decision making powers on the merits of the whole thing. I just think it would be fun for the students to see their teachers get schooled by some of their fellow students, and I enjoy playing volleyball. So I'll keep you updated and let you know if I can get this off the ground.

Vending Machine on Nishinoshima

Nishinoshima Sports Festival - 11
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I've been planning on doing a little photo essay on all the vending machines in my town - we have machines that sell everything from beverages, to condoms, to cigarettes, to film, to batteries, to beer. So here is a pic of one to whet your appetite.

Hopefully I'll have time to walk around and snap pics of all the different ones - the sheer number of vending machines and the variety boggles the mind. Altho the interesting thing is almost none of them sell food - no chips or candy or gum or twinkies. Very sad when you've got the munchies and you're in a hurry. But I think they lack food because the other ubiquitous feature in any and all Japanese towns is the convenience store, called a "conbini" here. Like 7-11 or Circle K back home, the local Lawsons or Popular is host to all your snacking needs - if you want Japanese snacks. :)
And most of them are open 24 hours, so one is never far from a box of pocky or an onigiri (rice ball) or a tea beverage of some sort.

Anyway, this particular vending machine pictured above was spotted on the island of Nishinoshima by my friend, Nigel, and myself. We marvelled at the sheer size of the beer on offer, and the fact that you could buy a whole bottle of what looks like whiskey or bourbon right out of a vending machine. Almost all vending machines accept 1000 yen notes, the smallest paper currency they have in Japan. 1000 yen is about $10, so at first it seems odd to be sticking what amounts to a $10 bill into a vending machine, but you soon get used to it.
And I do it so often now - maybe that's why I never have any money! :)


Trivia - Monday, July 25th

True or False: Ringo Starr was the original drummer for The Beatles.

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
C. 25 years

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Trivia - Saturday & Sunday, July 23rd & 24th

How long does a musician or band have to wait after the release of their first record before being eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

A. Ten years
B. Fifteen years
C. Twenty-five years
D. Thirty years

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Ben Stein's

Friday, July 22, 2005

Trivia - Friday, July 22nd

Complete the name of this Comedy Central game show: Win _______ _________'s Money.

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

Thursday, July 21, 2005

6th graders

Yokan Sho - roku nen sei - 14
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Many of my 6th grade classes are on that edge of being a bit cynical about learning - meaning that the kids are already starting to feel the pressure to succeed and are not as interested in having fun. But with the right motivation I can still get them to be silly and have a good time learning English. After all, they'll soon be in Jr High, and the world of fun songs and silly games will be only a memory.

One exception to the above are the 6th graders at Yokan Elementary - they are a really fun group and I always have a good time teaching their class.

Mostly cuz the kids in the class are really cool! Here are two of my favorites - the boy on the left is the class clown, but a sweet kid and the girl on the right is a bit shy with English, but not shy at all when it comes to everything else.

Peace & Miffy!


Yokan Sho - roku nen sei - 4
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

UNO is a great game to play with my Japanese students. A few of them have played it before, as it is available here in Japan, but most have not. Like just about anyone, Japanese kids like to play cards, so I get to play (which is a favorite thing to do) and teach them Colors & Numbers while we play. They can put down any card, but IU have them say out loud - "Red Three" or "Blue Seven" as they place the card on the pile. So we chat a little, play, and they rub my furry arms - a favorite pastime of theirs.

Yokan Sho - roku nen sei - playing UNO

Yokan Sho - roku nen sei - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I was SO HOT this day that I sweated right thru three shirts. I started the day in a solid color blue pocket t-shirt, and found out quickly that solid colors show sweat patches way more than white shirts do. So I switched to another solid shirt after I thought I'd level off heat wise, but then I had to sing "7-Steps" with one class, and that's a killer song - lots of moving around, so the sweat came a pourin'. I had this T-Shirt in my bag for kendo practice later in the day and had to put it on - I almost never wear plain T-shirts to school, as I try to look a tiny bit professional. Anyway, the colorful paper lei I was given at lunch completed the outfit and I stayed that way for the rest of the day. :)

student taken pic

Yokan Sho - roku nen sei - 15
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I like to give my camera to my students and have them take pictures of anything they want. (I have to thank my friend, Mel, for this tip - I got it reading her blog)

I often get some of my best photos that way. So I was hanging out with some of my 6th graders at Yokan Sho and I gave one of the girls my camera. Since she couldn't pose with the peace sign in the photo, she did the next best thing - extended her own hand and took a picture of the peace sign. Ya gotta love it!

Trivia - Thursday, July 21st

In which city does the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off primarily take place?

A. Chicago
B. Pittsburgh
C. Detroit
D. Toronto

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
It's the only time two actors have been honored for portraying the same person. (De Niro played the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather II, while Brando played him as the older Don Corleone in the original Godfather)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, July 20th

What is significant about Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando both winning Academy Awards for their work in the Godfather trilogy?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
D. Maine

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, July 19th

Stephen King has a penchant for setting his novels in his home state of:

A. New Hampshire
B. Connecticut
C. New Jersey
D. Maine

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
C. Julianne Moore

Monday, July 18, 2005

Trivia - Monday, July 18th

Which actress caused a stir for embarking on a lengthy tirade while naked from the waist down in the 1993 Robert Altman film Short Cuts

A. Glenn Close
B. Jennifer Jason Leigh
C. Julianne Moore
D. Susan Sarandon

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Robert Hughes

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, July 16th & 17th

In 1980, which world-famous art critic starred in a BBC documentary based on his influential book The Shock of the New?

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
The Pepsi execs blanched at the commercial she filmed for the soda because it used parts of her controversial "Like a Prayer" video, which included cross-burning and interracial romance.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Trivia - Friday, July 15th

Why was Madonna's Pepsi commercial pulled off the air in 1989?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):

self-pity rant

I mostly post positive accounts of my life here, including accounts of how much fun I have teaching and all the fun stuff I do when I’m not working.

But all is not always so rosy. JETs often complain about being underused, and while it seems spurious to complain about being paid for doing nothing, it does become frustrating. Maybe you have to experience it to fully understand. But sitting at my desk for an entire day and not being asked to help in any way even though there are multiple English classes happening throughout the day is an annoyance perhaps unique to the job of an ALT. And it is annoying. It makes you wonder if you’re not doing your job well enough to be asked to help out. Ultimately it usually means that the Japanese teachers of English that you work with have been too busy to figure out a way to include you in their lesson plan. That’s being kind - some of it has to do with laziness or reluctance or lack of imagination on their part - but I don’t want to imply that these reasons inform every decision to exclude me from their lessons. They have a lesson to teach and sometimes they use me to teach it and sometimes they don’t - some teachers use me often, meaning maybe once or twice a week when I’m not at Elementary school, and other teachers rarely or never use me. It’s a puzzle to me at times as to why, but I’ve been unable to figure out a suitable way to breach the subject without sounding indignant or accusatory.

So I arrived at work today at 8am and was expected to amuse myself until lunch time at 12:40. So I read, checked e-mail, wrote some blog entries, and even napped a little to pass the time. I don’t have any lessons to plan or papers to grade, so I really am on my own as for what I do to fill the time.

Staying for a 2nd year seemed like such an easy decision, but lately at work I’ve been thinking that perhaps I made the wrong choice. All JETs go through bouts of work-related depression like this, so I know it’ll pass. I seriously think that if I eventually decide to recontract for a third year I would have to make a change and maybe go teach at a high school just to vary my routine and keep myself interested and challenged. The sad thing is that Jr. High could be plenty interesting and challenging, but it comes down to the willingness of the Japanese teachers you’re hired to assist to let you actually assist. My current group are all very nice, but seem perplexed by what to do with me at times and my initiative to create lesson plans and English related activities are sometimes met with indifference and patronizing remarks.

I even sometimes wonder if they would miss me at all if there was no ALT at the school. Earlier this week my alarm clock failed (the battery died) and I slept right through my normal wake-up time of 6:30am. It wasn’t until one of my elementary schools called my house at 10am wondering why I had missed the 9:40 class I was supposed to teach at their school that I woke up. Needless to say I apologized a zillion times - jumped in a quick shower and rushed off to make the next class at 10:40. Later in the day I wondered why NO ONE from my Jr. High had called to see where I was or if I was OK. I have never not showed up before without calling first, yet no one from my JH seemed concerned about my empty desk and my whereabouts that morning. *sigh*

Home hasn’t been that great either lately. The loneliness of living here is starting to get to me a bit. I’ve made an effort to get out and attend some JET-related activities, but lack of general companionship is starting to make me more and more insular and hermit-like. A JET friend even joked with me the other day about it - She doesn’t have a computer at her house, and I remarked that I would shrivel up and die without my laptop and internet connection, and she said she had made friends instead. *ouch* But there is some truth to the remark. Many JETs are social gadflies with many Japanese and Western friends and are constantly out and about and involved in many activities. I am not one of those JETs. I have a small circle of JET friends who I see occasionally and no Japanese friends. And the girlfriend possibilities seem remote. I’ve resigned myself to another year of no intimate relationships, as I’ve come to accept that certain factors, like my age and my physical appearance, limit my options on the dating front. While I’m not sure the situation would be noticeably different if I were in the U.S. right now, being in Japan certainly doesn’t help in this area, so I may just have to ride out my time here solo.

My frustration with my inability to speak Japanese is ongoing and increasing, and I hope to rectify the situation a bit this summer by attending a language school for studying Japanese. At two recent events involving high school age students, I witnessed the ease with which JETs who can speak Japanese were able to converse and make a connection with the students. I am very jealous of this easy rapport that comes with being able to speak Japanese. Since I can only speak English with the kids, they most likely see trying to talk with me as “work” and are worried about making mistakes, so most simply choose not to try. Of course it’s not my job to be their “friend” but to teach them English - still, being able to talk with them and better understand their lives would make me a more effective teacher. So I will spend some time this summer really studying Japanese in an effort to bridge the gap.

Anyway, enough of this self-pity rant - it’s the weekend and today was payday, so hopefully I can go out and have some fun this weekend and chase away these blues.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, July 14th

Elton John actually wrote two songs for Princess Diana. What was the other song besides "Candle in the Wind 1997"?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Days of Thunder

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, July 13th

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman met while filming which 1990 Tony Scott film?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
St. Elmo's Fire

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, July 12th

In which Brat Pack movie did Demi Moore star as a yuppie with a cocaine addiction?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
The San Diego Chicken attacked a Barney look-alike at a baseball game in 1996.

Drawing of me and Sara

Drawing of me and Sara
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I got a nice email from my predecessor, Sara, the other day, wherein she mentioned that she reads this blog from time to time to remember her time in Taisha.

So I'm posting a pic of this cool little drawing one of my 3rd graders at Araki Elementary school did of me and Sara.

On the sides it says our names (Sara-san & Jason-san) in Katakana and in the middle it says "Moto kite kudasai" in Hiragana, which means "Please come again." Sometimes I have the best job in the world. :)

farewell party for Dustin

BBQ party for Dustin out in Tojo - 7
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Dustin, Danielle, and various others including Terry, the host of the party

Terry is a Japanese man who spent many years in the States and speaks really good English. He now lives in a small, rural part of Hiroshima-ken, near the Shimane border, and owns a restaurant named "Oregon Trail." I have yet to go there, but everyone says the food is excellent, with many Western dishes offered.

Dustin is finishing his 5th year as a JET and moving to another part of Japan (Hokkaido) in late July.

It took us about 2 hours to get out to Terry's house, but it was worth the trip.

BBQ party for Dustin out in Tojo - 2

BBQ party for Dustin out in Tojo - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

left to right: Trev, Chris (ALT from Tojo), Chris (Ilona's boyfriend from the UK), Ilona and Emily

You can also see Danielle in the background with Christian, Ilona's baby son.

Ate way too much, but the food was really good. Even tho the weather was rainy all day - a good time was had by all.

Taisha JH Kendo - summer BBQ party

Taisha JH Kendo - summer BBQ party
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Many of the boys on the kendo team at a BBQ party we had last weekend for the team. In this pic, you can see the rock/paper/scissors held aloft as they had a group "janken" contest to see who would get the door prizes, which were bottles of the local grape juice I think. (The party was at the winery that is right near my apartment)

I'll post more kendo party pics soon - I let the boys walk around with my camera and snap pics and I got some really funny ones.

Kendo tournament at Taisha Chu - the girls

Kendo tournament at Taisha Chu - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here are the girls on our kendo team at the recent tourney held at my JH. They're all wearing their new white competition uniforms - they practice in blue uniforms similar to what the boys wear. The armor and sword are the same.

Yukiko, in the middle, is holding a certificate for an award they won that day. My kendo girls kick ass!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Taisha JH Kendo - summer BBQ party - the ladies

Taisha JH Kendo - summer BBQ party - the ladies
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

the girls of our JH kendo team - all are 7th graders except Yukiko on the far left, who is an 8th grader.

C.H.E.S.S. - July 2005 - the skit

C.H.E.S.S. - July 2005 - the skit
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Last week I attended a 3-day camp for Shimane High school students called CHESS. (Camp for High School English Students of Shimane)

It was a great time, and much of it was spent preparing a skit based on this year's theme, which was SPACE. My group was assigned the planet Saturn, so we learned some Saturn facts that we had to "teach" the other groups, and prepared a skit with props and a song. It was really fun and the students got into it, despite being exhausted from all the English they had to speak.

I'll be posting more CHESS pics, but here is a sample.

C.H.E.S.S. - The Happy Saturn Group

C.H.E.S.S. - The Happy Saturn Group
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

l to r: me, Fumi, Yoko, Kaori, Lisa, Shizuka, Mika, Shoko (JTE), Keita, Trev, and Tasuku

C.H.E.S.S. - July 2005 - group shot

C.H.E.S.S. - July 2005 - group shot
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Another group shot of our Saturn group minus Keita, who often wandered off unannounced.

C.H.E.S.S. - Saturn group leaders

C.H.E.S.S. - Saturn group leaders
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Lisa, Trevor and me - the intrepid group leaders of "Happy Saturn"

Trivia - Monday, July 11th

Why did Barney the Dinosaur sue the San Diego Chicken?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
Steve Austin

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, July 9th & 10th

What was the name of the title character in The Six Million Dollar Man?

I was so INTO the SMDM when I was a kid - it was my favorite show! I even had a SMDM lunchbox, the old metal kind with a thermos, that I took to elementary school everyday.

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
Mandy Patinkin

Friday, July 08, 2005

Trivia - Friday, July 8th

Which actor-singer portrays the inimitable Inigo Montoya in the beloved classic The Princess Bride?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
He shows them The Big Book of British Smiles.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, July 7th

How does the dentist on The Simpsons scare children into brushing?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Dana Carvey and Billy Crystal

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, July 6th

In the 1984 cult classic This is Spinal Tap, which two comedians appeared as mimes?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Randy Newman

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, July 5th

In 2002, this songwriter finally won an Oscar for "If I Didn't Have You" from the film Monsters, Inc. (after 15 previous nominations).

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
D. Roger Ebert

Monday, July 04, 2005

Trivia - Monday, July 4th

Which well-known film critic cowrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in 1970?

A. Janet Maslin
B. Pauline Kael
C. Leonard Maltin
D. Roger Ebert

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
"Sledgehammer" - still a great video to watch

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Busy, busy, busy

I've been so busy at work lately, and it's been spilling over into my off hours as well. And this week is another full week. I'm off to elementary schools on Monday and Friday, and in between I'm off to another town in Shimane called Gotsu to attend a 3-day workshop for High School students that want to improve their English. The event is called CHESS, and I'm in a group with two of my fellow ALTs and friends, Trevor and Lisa. We'll have 8 high school students in our group - I hope we all have a fun time. I know it'll be a treat for me just to speak English with some young people, as the students I interact with on a daily basis have very limited English abilities. I'm sure I'll have plenty of pictures when I get back, so check back at the end of the week for updates and new pics.

I'll turn 36 while I'm at CHESS - so old but I feel so young whenever I get to spend time with all the students, so it's a perfect place to have my birthday.

Hope you have a good week!


Trivia - Sat & Sun, July 2nd & 3rd

Which groundbreaking Peter Gabriel 1986 video featured stop-motion animation and a dancing headless chicken?

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
Over the Top

Friday, July 01, 2005

Trivia - Friday, July 1st

Sylvester Stallone starred in which 1987 film about the glamorous world of professional arm-wrestling?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Christopher Walken

Izumo Concert with Taisha JH band kids

Izumo Concert with Taisha JH band kids - 4
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

My kids really are an awesome bunch!

On the bus trip back to school after we had watched a brass band concert, I passed my camera around and let the kids take some pics.

This is one of them.