28 February 2007

The soundtrack of our lives

It keeps rolling out. Really, go now. And here. Listen to "shook".

I am coasting into the end of the school year at the large, private high school where I work. It's been a trying couple of days for me as a "teacher", starting with being given a bunch of free beer tickets for teaching a children's class for two years, and punctuated by coming to work to find the official staff picture that had included everyone (and I mean everyone), but me. Nothing like that to help you feel good about yourself.

Anyway, check out this. Fibe-mini is the best fiber drink in the world. The flash starts with the line, "Things I want to come out of my body." Oh man. It still hasn't worked though.

27 February 2007

Not an ass

Everyone knows how I feel about the presidential race and who the obvious right choice is. But after some consideration, I thought I might give voice to a conservative that I don't think is an ass. My stomaching of Huckabee started way back last year when he was on The Daily Show and talked about not being fat and poverty, two things I feel pretty strongly about

Doctoral fever is in the air. After some encouraging news on the MA front, I think I might be gunning for the PhD in the next couple of years. Also, I am planning on renewing my call for Bob Kurtz to become a doctor, so I can sing "Doctor Robert" to him.

26 February 2007

Lots alearn'

After discovering Birmingham has a great online library, I just got done reading a book (suggested to me by one of you), From Alphabet to Email by Naomi Baron. This book is like a diving board to the pool that is my dissertation. Everything I need is there, I think. Pages and pages of bibliography. It's like gold. Among the many things I've learned today:
The works of an auctor (as opposed to just a writer of, say, lectures, sermons, or even fables or lyric poems) carried auctoritas, or authority. Authority came from the fact that the work possessed two vital qualities: intrinsic worth and authenticity. (Baron, 2001: 51)
Now, how that applies to all the slack-jaws out there blogging is soon to be determined.

Really, just fascinating stuff about punctuation and grammar and spelling. Things that I would like to say to the teachers at my school if it were not to be met with a very obviously feigned interest and some crap about how they don't really have a choice in what or how they teach. If we are all puppets and there is no puppet-master, we can just lie here until someone does something with us.

Four winds

is a collocation that I know the meaning of, but I don't know why I know the meaning of it. That is to say, I don't know where I've heard it before and I couldn't properly use it in a sentence. Now, it is seemingly everywhere. My mother, for instance, says to me, "I guess I am sending all my children to the four winds" or something like that. I was getting ready for her to say she was going to Cassadega to commune with the dead.

24 February 2007

Doing time

[Doing times]'s a music video that reminds me of when things were simpler, in a much more complicated way. It also kicks off a series of posts I want to write about when "things were simpler, in a much more complicated way". Maybe this sort of revisiting of the past can be traced to the now three-month-away birth of my daughter, whom I dreamt of last night, again. In this dream, as in most of my dreams, I was holding her and she was holding onto me very tightly. There was an earthquake and I grabbed her and we (Yoko and I) ran out into the street. After the earthquake stopped, I noticed she was shrinking and starting to look more like a small dragon, until she fit in my palm. She wasn't breathing, and I put her in a shoe box where she usually slept and covered her with a small blanket. I asked Yoko if it was normal for them to stop breathing, and Yoko said, "She stopped breathing?" just as the baby took a breath. And then I woke up.

23 February 2007

Billy Collins

I know it's fashionable to hate Billy Collins, so I hate him, too, but this is fulfills one of my self-imposed blog category requirements for this month.

There will be only one unexcused absence

This here is my very first syllabus for English Conversation I, taught at a small junior college. I am looking forward to the class like nothing else and I am hoping it will provide me with a chance to begin my long, lonely climb up the ladder. Basically, in my mind, people should have to work to fail elective language classes. So if you show up, don't sleep, and turn in homework half the time, well, there you are.

After a week of sunny weather, the weather is total pants now.

22 February 2007

Things get pissy

Looks like we're going see a little bit of this. Although I'm all for any sort of Obama/ Christ comparison (I mean, in that I'm trying to start it), I don't think Obama should have to pay for the sins of others. Unless it's a one time shot for all of us.

On Bended Knee

One of my favorite teachers at school (who is one of the few Japanese fathers who talk about there kids warmly) gave me a CD of ballads. I'm not quite sure why, but how can you turn down a mix tape with The Bee Gees and Toto on it? It also has like three tracks from Boyz II Men.


Yoko knitted me a hat, which is great awesome, but it reminded me of this time when DK and I were in Fukuoka and we had these two sisters in one of our classes — I think the term DK coined was "The Hondas Chan" — and they were nothing but trouble for my desire to be whatever it was that I was trying to be. They knit us scarves for Christmas and I think these pictures are priceless, especially because I was trying to grow as mustache.

21 February 2007


This is why English teaching can be hard sometime:
I handed out surveys at my new class to get a feel for where people are at and also give them the impression that I was listening to them. Not that I don't listen to my students--because I do. I just think sometimes teachers know more about what students need than students. Anyway, same class, two people want completely different things. What do you do? Do you talk naturally or not?

This makes me think, what would Obama do? Well, he would talk naturally and slow at the same time. Such a high standard.

I'm also writing my first syllabus for the college class. Dude, to fail my class you are going to have to be not only a dunce, but a non-attending dunce. You turn something in? You're set! Then there's another paper that I am writing for "The Language Teacher" about Helter Skelter English. I think it's going to be a winner.

Lastly, Yoko and I slow danced to Norah Jones in the booze store.

20 February 2007

A beautiful day, getting away

Something happened in Niigata this year, and now there is no winter. I mean, there was a winter last year. It was a miserable winter. But now. Now, there is no winter.

I found out that in Japan when you have a baby, the government pays you like $100 a month.

Which reminds me that I had a dream about the baby last night, that it was crying and I went to pick her up. This is much better than other dreams I've had in which the child speaks very good English and criticizes me. It also had a full head of very black hair.

18 February 2007

A kind of truth

It's rare that I take a good picture on my phone, much less one that feels like it has something to say. This one, taken from a parking lot on the top of a grocery store, feels like it has something to say. This one tells us a lot about Niigata City as it is, at least in my mind.
This other one, taken on the other side of Niigata, tells a much different story, on a much clearer day. I love the feeling of coming over a hill and seeing the Sea of Japan like this. It reminds me of the time Neal and I went out to this beach during a typhoon to "see what might happen". It was really disappointing and we ended up going to a curry restaurant instead.

Speaking of Neal, his girlfriend gave him some wicked Mongolian music and he in turn gave it to me. Mongolian pop is a lot like every other kind of world pop I have heard, only in Mongolian.

16 February 2007

These words and these potties.

Today, I went into one of my classes where I teach these twin second graders and they were drawing pictures of hermaphrodites on the blackboard.

A Japanese toilet is just a flushing hole in the ground. A brilliant country otherwise. And you know that sometimes they even got these great Western toilets that wash you, dry you, and treat you kindly. You can imagine what these buttons do!

But the holes in the ground. I hate you holes in the ground.

15 February 2007

Does something useful

I saw Obama on 60 Minutes. Awesome. I love how straightforward he was. Much better than on Face the Nation. He made a good point about why he calls himself black and not white. If you look at Obama, you assume he's a black man, so he is treated as a black man. His ancestors weren't slaves, but as he said, taxi drivers don't have any question about his race. He talks about smoking. He talks about blow. He and his wife talk about fighting. It's either the greatest, most elaborate political hoax in years, or he's the real deal.

A Picture of Dorian Gray

I know I was poo-pooing Oscar Wilde earlier this week. I think the words I used were "speed bump". Well, apparently I was terribly, terribly wrong. Man, oh man. What a freaking great back half (and I mean that in the least possible gay way, and by "gay" I mean homosexual). I was actually a little bit frightened reading it.

1850ish-1940ish The pinnacle of world literature, if you ask me.

I tried to find a picture of Dorian Gray, but there were just a lot of very unfortunate pictures of some very unfortunate people. This one is nice — a German artist I guess. I can't read German. Anyway, I totally dig Gray's face in this one. It's like, "Whatcha talkin' bout, Willis?"

14 February 2007

If control is the issue

As I said last week, I am back on the diet and exercise pony, trying to drop a pesky 3 or 4 kilo that I have picked up this last year. It's not a lot of weight, and probably won't take a really long time, but doing it again has got me having some of the same thoughts I had last year when I dropped between 8 and 9 kilo and went from being fat to being healthy.

If you listen to enough people talk, you'd think losing weight is really, really hard and only the most skilled people can do it. Well, it's not true. The truth is losing weight is really easy, it's controlling what you eat that's hard. When you start counting up your calories for a day and try to hit a reasonable goal — for me right now, it's between 1,900 and 2,000, it's ridiculous how much less food that is than you would eat on a normal day. On a normal day if I didn't pay attention to what I ate, I would probably put away between 2,500 and 2,600 calories, without even thinking about it. Overeating is really, really easy.

So getting a handle on that is hard, I think, but really rewarding because you start to be less controlled by what you want and when you want it and you start to control your desires a little bit. You don't eat a cookie because you choose not to. It's empowering. And then you start losing weight and your pants get a little bigger and you start feeling better. It's a great little cycle.

I encourage you to give it a shot.

13 February 2007

Hide all the diamonds and cocaine

I’m only halfway through my longest day this week.

I got the bug to run last night and I thought getting up this morning at 6:50 was the best way to satisfy myself. So I did. I have been running 8 or 9 km a day this week, instead of my usual 4 or 5. It feels good. After three, everything is the same.

I’m also reading Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray. It’s not bad, but a little bit too much after having read The Alchemist. Next is a Nastume Soseki novel which I am looking forward to the most. Dorian Gray is sort of a road bump.

I also did a little bit of volunteer work at an elementary school that I used to work at. It was weird being back and I quickly remembered why I had quit. I love kids, but that’s really a lie. Some kid made fun of my accent and I LAID into him (kindly, but strongly) in Japanese. It was a really fine moment. Maybe he’ll even remember it. I feel much better sitting here, at high school, with my cup of tea and Internet access. And my desk. My desk is great.

11 February 2007

Tofu shake: A joke

I was all up on the tofu shake a couple of days ago, but I think I was wrong. The tofu shake is a joke. You know they make protein shake mix that has all the benefits of drinking tofu without all the estrogen and, uh, tofu? Well, it was news to me. Now, I'm on the diet shake kick. Much easier. Much better tasting. More expensive.

That's not to say that I have turned my back on my good friend tofu. Not by a long shot. Tofu in ramen? Magnificent. Tofu and egg omelette? Well, you can't even taste the tofu.

And I've lost 1 kilo already.

Last night, I finally saw, Walk the Line. Now, let me just say, I was a Johnny Cash fan way before this movie, like by at least 6 months. But I enjoyed it. I mean, if you like watching someone pretending to be Johnny Cash. I also finally realized what the word "biopic" meant.

Now, only a few short months until American VI. And maybe a new Radiohead record? Eh, Radioheads?

09 February 2007

Who let the haters in?

Asashoryu got accused of buying off sumo bouts in the November tournament last year. Of all the things Asashoryu might need, needing to buy-off opponents is not one. Just because he's cocky and arrogant doesn't mean that he's not the best sumo wrestler of the modern era. Which he is, by the way. If only he was Japanese, then we wouldn't be having these problems.

08 February 2007

Tofu kills me

The tofu bug has hit me. It's like meat, but without fat. You eat it and you feel incredibly full. Especially if you eat a lot of it. I have eaten a lot of tofu today: breakfast and lunch. Dinner is looking promising too.

I passed my Japanese proficiency exam. Not by any, you know, amazing margin. But I passed.

Finally, this is how I have spent most of my life since coming to Japan. From April, this will almost completely disappear. I'm only a little sad to see it go, but still a little sad.

07 February 2007

Oo-Ee-Oo: Killer Tofu

I'm back on the horse, trying to drop these pesky six to eight pounds I have put on in the last year. Not a lot of weight to lose, really, but it does mean some changes for the dude and the re-emergence of my popular tofu shake. Here's how you make it, roughly:
  1. Throw some tofu into a blender. Like 100 grams or 300 grams, it doesn't really matter
  2. Throw some other stuff into the blender. Bananas, yogurt, juice, milk. Beer. Kinda depends on how sweet you want it.
  3. Throw some ice in too. You know, eyeball it.
  4. Blend.
Now, isn't that a delicious, low calorie snack you've just made? Doesn't taste quite right? Well, you seem to have screwed up the ratios. Try it again. Practice makes perfect.

I had a moment of pure honesty last night, unfettered by what I wanted to be true or what I didn't want to be true. Just, how it was. It was great. More of that to come, I hope.

05 February 2007

Bungalow Bill

Yoko's new Canon Ixy is everything I could ever desire. Plus, I mean, Nakata pimps it.

02 February 2007

A nice night

Yoko is now a Master of Science in the field of Occupational Therapy. Kudos, I say. To celebrate, we went to a restaurant that Yoko likes.
I swear this place had like 15 menus. I mean, I counted. There were 15. We also sat on the same side of the booth.

I am also going to be a stay-at-home dad for about one month next year. That is just about the best thing I have ever heard.

New Website/ Blog

I've been working hard at putting up my new blog/ website set for launch sometime next week. I am even thinking of buying a URL for it. Google is awesome as you can now post calendars, worksheets and documents for free. YouTube with the videos. Will they read? I don't know. I just want to be able to put it on my card so that people can check it out when I'm applying for jobs and be like, Man dog, that is wicked hot. Here, work for us.

I also did some work on my MySpace page, although I fundamentally reject MySpace. I also updated my workspace at school so it won't be a disaster anymore.

Lastly, winter finally came to Niigata and I couldn't be an more upset about it. Today, on the bridge, everyone forgot how to drive and felt that the best way to deal with the snow was to just stop. We can't go on. I was more than a little unhappy about it.

01 February 2007

As promised

I am going to be posting more. I am at work now, 5th period, waiting for my 6th period class. Usually this means that I have wasted most of my day already and am trying to waste another hour. But not today. Over lunch at the greatest family restaurant ever, I finished my readings for Introduction to Translation Studies, outlined my paper for Introduction to Translation Studies, thought a little bit more about my dissertation topic, and drank 2 cappuccinos, 1 iced coffee, and two half glasses of coke.

I am also getting ready to launch a new blog for my students which will hopefully include worksheets, homework assignments, video, and EFL links galore. Anyone want to suggest a good wordpress scheme to use where you can see on the side of the page as opposed to the bottom? Anyone want to suggest a good name for it?

Will Smith was on TV here last week with Japanese super-pop group SMAP. As they do with foreign celebrities, SMAP challenged Will Smith to a game of nine ball pool, which Smith totally cleaned up on. Then, he was given the throne to sit in and the members of SMAP were supposed to tell him sad stories from their childhood to win his favor.