Sunday, June 25, 2006

Asian gore fest: part II

This week - an Asian sub genre action film you've never heard of called... Mission Impossible: III. Actually not going to go into too much detail about Tom's latest adventure, but it's fair to say it was wicked mission impossible film, exciting, explosive and better than Poseidon. For an action film 4.5 out of 5.

Now as far as actual Asian movies go, I saw the final part of Korean director's revenge trilogy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Great movie, 4.25 out of 5. It's about how a woman can be cold and intelligent when it comes to revenge, as opposed to his last two films, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance(3.45 out of 5) and Old Boy (4.25), which were about the uncontrollable rage of men. Well, that's my summary anyway. They're all violent and quite graphic and not for the squeamish. Enjoy!

Structured procrastination

My apartment's a mess tonight. Why is my apartment's bamboo floorling crunchy to walk on tonight? It's because it's less important and easier to write this blog complaining about it than to actually clean it. Make structured procrastination work for you, today!

PS yes I do take my shoes off before coming into the flat, and I do have to change to indoor shoes when I get to school and yes, at one of my schools, they even have another pair of slippers for when you go into the bathroom. Amazing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A bit more on sports day

You may have seen the video below and be wondering a bit about a Japanese sports day. Or maybe you don't give a damn. I don't care what you think, I'm going to tell you about it anyway. You remember sports day at school? 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, long jump, high jump, maybe even javalin and discus. Forget all that. Individal games are out, it's all about the group.

What team games, you ask? Football? Hockey? Not quite. Tyre grab, piggy back wrestling, pole climbing and millions of people skipping together, that's what it's all about.

Girls grabbing tyres

Boys skipping

Me and my "white tiger" team mates. I don't know what that thing I'm doing with my fingers is and if it means peace or whatever but I do it automatically now. Sorry.

If you want a funnier and possibly better review of a sports day in Japan, you can go to hell. Or have a look at Brad's blog in the links section on the right. Yes, he's an american and you don't know him but he's at a similar (maybe even lower) level school and he's a creative writing and literature degree person. That makes him slightly better qualified to write stories than this technology and business bachelor. Or don't check it, enough people already read it to massage his ego.


Obviously I was up to no good this weekend. Use your imagination. Here's a picture to summarise. Notice Mark and I are wearing exactly the same clothes as we were in the Tokyo photo below. Must be our favourite outfits!

Actually I wasn't even drunk this weekend and was home in bed by 2am. Another win for healthy Rich!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can you speak Japanese yet?

I was thinking, what should a foreigner living in Japan hope to achieve in two years? Obviously Japanese speaking ability is something one should come away with. How about reading?

Did you know there are 3 Alphabets in Japanese? More accurately the Japanese language is written with a combination of three different types of glyphs: Chinese characters (called kanji), and two syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet (called rōmaji) is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for things such as company names and advertising. Just think of Sony, it's called that here as well you know.

The Chinese kanji characters, pictured right saying "Japanese Language" are particularly difficult for me to learn. 1,945 is the number of kanji generally considered sufficient for everyday life, like reading a newspaper or a sign and so on. My students, who are 15-18 and have been learning kanji since their first year at elementary school, only know about 1000. So how am I supposed to do it! This is seriously disheartening, but I guess the way to look at it is even 200 kanji is better than none.

What else do you think I should be able to do? Bonsai tree grower? Karate kid? Sumo Champ? Some of these things come to mind when you think of Japan, but course they take years to master, and I'm no closer to being any of them than I was at home.

Travel around some of Asia? Learn snowboarding, scuba diving and surfing? Eat raw fish, octopus and all manor of sea creatures? Now that seems to be the way things are going..

There's more if you like this one..

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Pint of Milk

The fact that you are reading this means that you know I'm in Japan. World economic superpower, home to 127 million people, GDP of nearly $4 trillion, home to some of the most technologically advanced automotive companies in the world, and what do I have to say about this? It's all rubbish.

I'm going to look into buying a car with a 600cc engine. That's 32cc larger than a pint of milk. It would be the smallest engined car I have ever driven and also at least half the engine size of any car I have ever own. I am embarrassed. I had aspirations of driving Subaru Imprezas and cheap Nissan Skylines to work everyday, I thought the road would be race tracks (just like at home) and I thought my driving life would be the best here it has ever been. How wrong I was. The roads are filled with traffic lights and worse, traffic.

To date my 1992 Nissan Presea bought from the predecessor of my school and apartment has cost me over 550,000 Yen. What is that in pounds you ask? Well it's about £2250 but that doesn't sound as much. It has only been 10 months. Anyway it's costing too much and it's gonna have to go. In comes sensible Rich and and the pink of milk motor.

If everything goes according to plan, I'll be driving round in alittle beauty like this when a current ALT who has one, leaves Japan in July. A sensible way to save money? Certainly. Better for the environment? Undoubtedly. Permanently damaging to my pride? Only time will tell.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Highschool - Boys cheerleading on Sports Day

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Asian gore fest"

An idea that just came to me from writing an email was perhaps I could give you an insight into the east Asian film market with a bi-weekly (does that me twice a week or once every two weeks?) critique on the latest subversive underground Asian gore fests and so on.

Lets start with Poseidon. $150 million Hollywood "blockbuster". And let me be clear, I only went to see this because a) M I:3 isn't out here until the 25th of June, and b)X-men 3 isn't out here until September.

You've got Kurt Russell and a massive sinking ship. If you like massive sinking ships, watch Titanic. If you like massive sinking ships with lots of dead bodies an Kurt Russell watch this. Now I wouldn't say this was a good film, but was I entertained for 99 minutes? Yes. Was I on the edge of my seat a bit even though I don't like to admit it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Only if you have seen everything else on at the cinema and want a bit of mindless computer generated computer entertainment computer CGI computer.

Or if everything else on at your cinema is in Japanese with no subtitles and despite living in Japan for over 10 months you still can't understand a simple conversation.

People that will like this film:
Tom (pretty much going to find Tom in this section for every film I watch)
Crags - maybe

People that probably won't:


Friday, June 09, 2006

Tokyo and the Amazing Recon-Con

Well I've been fairly slack on keeping this thing up to date. I put that down to the fact that no one is reading it. Anyway I have been newly inspired to keep in touch after recent events in Tokyo.

The three days of at beginning of this week was a Recontracting Conference in Tokyo for Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme. Basically all the people who came over here last year that have decided to stay with this interesting lifestyle for at least another year. Roughly 600 people.

So with the board of education paying for our trip when ever we decided to go, I felt it was my duty to have a weekend partying in the Big Smoke. Saturday night was club night. A group of about 10 of us headed to one of the biggest clubs in Tokyo - Womb. Without a shadow of a doubt it's the largest womb I have ever been in. Good friends, good music and a good night. Here's a shot of Mark, Frankie and me at 5 am. Yes, it is light outside. And yes, the mohawk is back. We look pretty good after 8 hours of partying. Just goes to show what fun we were having.

Sunday was a day of rest, shopping and dinner at the Alcatraz ER - a themed jail/hospital restaurant with a side order of kink. The climax of dinner was a rather unexpected show in what otherwise would be described as a fun family restaurant. I don't want your imagination to run completely wild (I d0) but it did involve fully clothed members of the audience, nurse waitresses, "mental crime" criminals, several cap guns, a video camera and large green dildo. 10 hours later and and we're in a lecture about being a top JET. They didn't have any cap guns in that lecture at all.

With out trying to bore you the conference consists of a number of workshops designed at enhancing and making the most your second year. One interesting lecture was from a clinical pschologist. I really love these guys, they sound so serious! Anyway he told us to watch out for reverse culture shock. Apparently loads of people have no problem moving out here, because we're with a bunch of other people in the same boat. .

When we get back, no ones in the same boat with us any more! So to keep as many people in my boat as possilbe, or at least close to my boat, I'm going to talk to you more through the mediums of Internet and writing (writing? That's always been one of my strengths). This way you'll have some "frame of reference" when I get back home, and maybe you'll be able to ask something other than "So, how was Japan?!" That's the recommendation, lets see if it works!