Last updated 6/18/09

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Poor Gore

Essentially "If I had been elected in 2000, everything would be awesome right now."

Rules of Engagement

Just quickly: It would have made the game difficult, yes, but also more realistic.

The Tastes of Japan

Today I learned that children are exposed to this website (hi Kara and Brenna - say "hi" to your mom and dad for me)! In honor of that, I'll try to make this post relatively child-friendly.

So there are certain things that Japanese people are very proud of, and legitimately so - sushi, judo, the Japanese work ethic; then there are things that they are proud of and are blatantly made up - the fact that only Japanese people have appendices (even if it were true, why be proud of a useless organ?), for example. Until recently I thought the claim that Japanese people can taste more flavors than foreigners was utter malarchy. Today, after visiting a Baskin Robbins (which they call 31, incidentally), I reconsidered. Why? Because I can't even begin to imagine what kind of flavor "Ghost World" should have.

And Ben, E - here's a flavor just for you: "Dolce For Vampire."

I don't think Japan will ever stop presenting me with these small, amusing surprises.

So now on to the slightly PG part of the post: this was a very tiring, expensive, busy, and yet satisfying weekend. Friday was my first day of classes, and though it went pretty well, it was exhausting. So what did I do after work? I went to my first "enkai" (company party), with about a dozen other teachers, my predecessor, and the principal and vice-principal. The party served as both a welcome for me and a farewell to my predecessor. There was drinking, speech-giving (I awed the room with a half-decent "thank-you" speech in Japanese, despite my drunkeness; even busted out a Japanese expression roughly meaning "you only live once, so get the most out of it"), buddying around with the higher-ups, and more drinking. At one point expressed my concern to the principal that he shouldn't overwork himself. He amusedly asked me if I thought he was weak - I did some backpeddling and all was well, as he eventually said that it is indeed important to work but also take care of oneself. Phew. Additionally, the VP had a heart-to-heart of sorts with me -- said that he can usually tell about people and he sees that I'm a good guy who tries hard. He then said that he wants to help me out as much as he can and wants me to meet his wife sometime, and that if I ever have trouble in Japan or need anything, to let him know. He really is a top-drawer guy.
After the staff party, a couple teachers, the VP, my pred, and myself all went out to a small karaoke bar, where we sang and drank more. After that, I, one teacher, and my pred went to his house and hung out for a couple hours before crashing.
Then yesterday I went home, showered, took a short (but too long) nap, then went into Osaka to attend a Toastmasters' party. A friend of mine is a member, and invited me and whoever else I wanted to bring; so I invited some other ALTs and we went. It was very fun and I met a lot of interesting people, including a couple other ALTs who are Toastmasters members. After the party we all went to karaoke, where I sang my voice into destruction. Since I was so enthusiastic and uninhibited with my singing (read: drunk), people kept passing me the backup mic. Fun times. After that, I went with two other ALTs (Joe and Lauren) to Joe's town, where we went to a bar until 3:00 a.m. and drank, ate nachos, and listened to Counting Crows (the owner likes Americans and American music). We then crashed, woke up today around 11:00 or so, and got ramen.
As I said, busy. I've never really been so active and spontaneous all at once, but you only live once, right?

Friday, August 29, 2008


I want(ed) to keep things relatively light here, but I just can't resist this time:

From CNN -- Obama: I'm Ready to Beat John McCain

Ah, ok. Well then, now you're ready. You were just waiting until the right moment, which is apparently after you've filled a stadium with fanatics and supporters. Seems more like a concert or festival than a political convention.

Obama: "Change happens because the American people demand it -- because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time. America, this is one of those moments. I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming."

Remember any other leaders who talked about their countrymen "rising up" to affect a change? Good rhetoric.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I won't have time for another post for a couple days, as I have a busy schedule this weekend, but I just wanted to provide a quick warning, as something that Jeff said struck me.

Warning: Japan may cause alcoholism. Also not appropriate for small children.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm Ba-ack!

Disclaimer: This will be a long entry. You may want to get a snack or a cold beverage. And also, Blogger sucks at entry formatting.

I know, I have a lot to tell you. And yes, I should have called. I know it isn't hard to just pick up a phone, but -- no, baby, please -- just listen.

Let me start off by saying I think this is the best day I've had so far on this trip. Good day at work (excluding the whole "nearly choking on a cup of water" thing), finally got internet at home, managed to set up my modem despite the Japanese instructions, and then I had gyoza and beer for dinner. How sweet it is.

Now let me start by saying from here on in I will be presented with a challenge of sorts. In addition to my periodic random musings or news flashes, I have two main goals for my entries:
1. To inform you as to what's going on in my life. Some of you may only be reading this blog for a little insight into my world (how sweet of you!).
2. To entertain my readers with interesting stories and perhaps attract new readers. Unfortunately, this means that I won't be able to blog that I had a banana and orange juice for breakfast, because who really cares. Ergo, I will have to be selective about what I post. If you're interested in learning more about something I mention, or you want to know how long it took me to get to school today, you can leave a comment or email me.

I'm aware that I have a lot to catch you up on, and I'll do so now that I have time. For now, please relax and be comforted that I am once again among the denizens of the internet.

I'll try to make this concise and will probably fail, but let me tell you what's been going on since I got here. Of course you know I arrived in Tokyo last month. I apparently got bit to hell at E's house, because on the plane I was plagued, all over my body, by the bites of a hundred tiny
demons. And I think I had a mild fever, too. My immune system really fails whenever I come to this land. Anyway, I sucked it up and got through Tokyo orientation. Some minor stuff happened, but nothing really worth mentioning.

My first few days in Hyogo prefecture were kind of depressing. When I first got into my apartment and was left alone, I just walked around aimlessly for like 10 minutes, trying to figure out what to do with myself. Since then, things have picked up considerably. I still don't always know what to do with myself, but I now have the essentials of life: a bank account for my paycheck, a cellphone, internet at home, a foreigner ID card, and liquor on top of my fridge. And perhaps most importantly, I've been making friends (Awww...).

I'll be teaching at two schools: one of which is a normal, public, middle-upper level academic high school. The other is a special high school school for part-time students with special circumstances. I.E. they have rough family situations, were prior drop-outs, work full-time, etc. I start teaching on Friday, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least slightly nervous. I've been visiting some club activities at my base school (they meet over vacations, even summer), though, and have met and talked to a lot of students. I'm also friendly with a bunch of teachers at my base school, including the Judo coach, who is trying to convince me to join the club. Although the students at my visit school may be rough around the edges, I really like the staff-room setting. With the exception of a couple oddballs, all of the teachers seem really nice and approachable, and although I've only visited twice so far, I'm probably friendly with almost as many teachers there as at my base school. There's also another ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) at my visit school. That's his base. I'm not quite sure how to describe him - dry sense of humor, kind of sarcastic, pretty toned-down, nice enough but sometimes aloof. It'll be nice to work with another ALT every once in a while, though.

There are certain facts and experiences that I'd like to save and frame in their own topics, but let's see...what other mundane details can I give you about my life here?
Well, I live between Osaka and Kobe - two of Japan's major cities. Osaka takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get to, via bus and train. Kobe is a little farther and takes about an hour to an hour and a half. I've already discovered all the important places:

Expensive Mexican restaurant √
Catholic Church √
Recycle shop √
Grocery stores √
100 Yen shop √
Music store √
Uniqlo (see Japanese Old Navy equivalent) √
Liquor stores √
Convenience stores (1 per 3 square blocks) √√√
Creepy love hotel
Taco Bell

Well, maybe I don't have everything...but then, there don't seem to be any Taco Bells in Japan.

I'll end this post by saying my journey so far as been difficult, with challenges both forseen and un. However, I'm pretty certain that if I survive this I'll be all the better for it. I think in these 3 weeks of living on my own I've already gotten 10x better at cooking than I used to be.

This is me, reporting live from Japan.

Monday, August 25, 2008


So I'm sitting here drinking trying to figure out if "A Fistful of Dollars" is dubbed or just off sync, and I was wondering what other people like to drink. If you happen to know what the original language of this movie was that would be great too. Take this as a kind of informal poll to see if anyone actually reads this blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008



I want to ride my bicycle

So today I bought a bicycle. I went to the local bicycle refurbishing shop run by the mentally handicapped (I'm sure every town has one...right?) and picked up a pretty nice Specialized road bike. It's about 10-15 years old, but it still runs nice and I'm now able to ride my bike to school. Exciting right?
So why am I posting about this? Consider this a PSA asking you to watch out for all us jackasses riding bike's down the highway. I know it would be fun to watch bicyclists fly over the hood of your car just like in GTA, but I'm pretty sure you'd feel bad afterwards. At least I hope you would. I was almost killed by a soccer mom today. Thought she saw me, she didn't, and so I slammed on the breaks and almost shattered the goods. So when driving please be mindful of the goons on the bicycles. Might like to start a family of ninjas or something some day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cat Hair

I like cats. Don't get me wrong. I've had two very friendly cats. But I hate cat hair. I've just moved into my new place of residence and the landlady has a few cats. One cat, which shall be referred to from here on out as "Cat" (clever I know), has decided to take up residence in my room. Cat is nice, but already I have a sweatshirt covered in hair and I've been here a day. There soon may be a cat holocaust.

I've also discovered (re-discovered?) that most of the music I see on TV sucks. Bad. Take a video that they seem to be playing by some band called the Veronicas or something. Two creepy looking twins dancing around in some kind of club designed by hot topic singing. The song wouldn't be that bad if the lyrics weren't so horrendous. Who buys this garbage? What happened to the days of great music videos? Like....Flock of Seagulls. Ok maybe videos have never been good. "Well why do you keep watching, Gobbler?" you might ask. Because I am a masochist. And I am full of hate. Both of which are served well by watching crap on TV.

Here is the video in case you are interested

Music Recommendations

I buy lots of CD's. I know its probably a better Idea to just go online to itunes or whatever and just download them digitally, but I like hunting around looking for good CD's. Makes me feel like I've accomplished something (even though all I have really accomplished is wasting my money). So here are some brief reviews of CD's I've bought over the last few months.

1. Electric Wizard "Witchcult Today"

I had been wanted to see what Electric Wizard was like for a while, so when I saw this in the music store I figured I'd give it a try. Think Black Sabbath slowed down and tuned down a few steps and you get the Picture. Lyrics are what you would expect on an album named "Witchcult Today" (meaning ridiculous) but they fit with the mood the instruments create. Album starts out strong but by the end it becomes a little monotonous. Its called stoner music, so maybe it would sound better stoned. Too bad I will never find out.

2. Mogwai "Mr. Beast"

This was my first Mogwai CD, and I must say that its pretty good. A bit hard to describe. Most of the tracks are instrumental and range from full out hard-rock (Glasgow Mega-Snake) to atmospheric piano driven songs (my personal favorite "Friend of the Night"). There are few tracks here and there with vocals and most of these are pretty good. A bit like radiohead, albeit louder and less vocal driven (I'm not sure if the Radiohead comparison works here, but its the closest well-known band I can think of). The only song thats doesn't work for me is "I chose Horses" which consists of background music and the Vocalist from the Japanese Band "envy" talking. I'm not a fan of spoken word in music in such large doses and it just strikes me as boring. That track aside I highly I high recommend this one.

3. Cult of Luna "Eternal Kingdom"

Cult of Luna is one of my favorite bands. I have many fond memories of listening to Cult of Luna and their brand of atmospheric/post-rock/post-hardcore/experimental/*insert random genre* music while walking around town drunk thinking the world is going to end. You of course do not need to be paranoid nor drunk to enjoy Cult of Luna. Their latest "Eternal Kingdom" did not dissapoint. I drove all around town looking for this CD. Didn't find it either until I went out of town to visit a friend and found it at a CD store there. "Eternal Kingdom" is much darker and heavier than their previous (though still quite good) "Somewhere along the Highway." There is an evil owl-man creature on the front with glowing eyes; what would you expect? Gone are the clean vocals and banjo's. Just anguished screams, detuned guitars, electronic walls of sound, thundering bass and.....trumpets. The trumpets work though, trust me. Not a bad song on the album, even the several instrumental interlude tracks are worth listening to. Not sure how I feel about the ending to the song "Ghost Trail." Its one of my favorites on the album, but the ending just seems like it goes on for a bit to long and doesn't quite fit, but it is growing on me. Maybe they wanted it to just come out of nowhere. The title track is also good and worth looking up if you have time.

You can listen to most of these bands on youtube or itunes if any of my ramblings peaked your interest. I will try to put up some album reviews often. Though putting the stupid pictures in the post is kind of a pain. Anyway take a listen to some of the bands and let me know what you think. I'm also open to recommendations :)

The Gobbler

Blue Shoe in his previous post mentioned that there would be a new poster. That new poster is me. The Gobbler. Before you all ask, no that is not my real name and no it does not have any significance. I just think its a silly word. Like pumpkin, and sasaffras (is that how you spell that?). I will probably make many grammatical and punctuation mistakes unlike my fellow poster. I enjoy making these mistakes, so don't bother correcting me or I will come to your house and punch a kitten (or puppy depending on your preference) in front of you. Don't think I wont.

I will be discussing on here topics that I find interesting. Sometimes they will be overlap with those of The Shoe, and other times they wont. I am in America though so don't expect lots of funny pictures of Japanese Shenanigans. Though American shenanigans are fair game. I also enjoy candle-light dinners and walks on the beach.


I regret my lack of activity, but the fact remains that I am (at least for the moment) relatively uncomfortable blogging at work. I feel like I should be doing something either constructive or really boring. Maybe I'll get over it once my spirit is broken.

I will be getting my alien card on Friday, which means that I can then apply for internet at home (when I'll get it is another story, unfortunately). In the meanwhile, I've decided to add another author to the blog - a good friend of mine who will (hopefully) let you know what I'm up to from time to time in addition to contributing his own thoughts/news/fire and brimstone sermons.

Please check back from time to time, as things will pick up soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Here I Am

Well, I've arrived. This post will be quick, since I'm at "work" right now. I don't have home internet access yet and probably won't for another two or three weeks, so anything substantial will have to wait.

Things have been both exciting and drudging. I'll explain when I get the chance.
That's it for now, sorry. Basically just wanted to say "I'm alive."