Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wa: Do not disturb

Sometimes, when I see a particularly wonderful sign, I make out with it.

For example, here is a sign that discourages litter in a truly Japanese manner.

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I like to make out with signs that use this much subtlety. It shows my subtle appreciation of their subtle subtlety.

This sign is a great example of the Japanese phenomenon of "wa." Wa means "harmony" (EDIT: The character for "WA" is "和". BIG thanks to Mr. or Ms. "Ouch!" for that!). Simply, keeping the "harmony" means that people go to great lengths not to rock the boat or cause any conflict that would disturb this "wa".

The "Wa" is not only a big part of Japanese signage, it is also a huge part of Japanese working culture. In practice, keeping this "harmony" means that when I have a problem with someone (eg, "Bob wears too much pink, and I can't work because he is too sexy")), I should definitely NOT tell Bob that I have this problem. Rather, I should go to Bob's superior officer, who will in turn go to their superior officer, who will then go to THEIR superior officer, who will then move up the chain of command until we contact God and/or the offending person's parents. That entity (ie. God and/or the person's parents) will then go back down through a different chain of command, until we manage to reach a DIFFERENT superior officer, who will contact the person with whom I have a problem. The officer will then inform the offending person of the problem in a round-about, non-specific manner (eg, "Bob, your shirt is very nice, but it is a bit too pink. *Some people* are having a problem with the amount of sexiness that you are bringing to the workplace.... can you please wear somewhat less pink?) This, of course, avoids any direct co-worker to co-worker complaints, and helps everyone theoretically work together because no one ever has a specific problem with anyone, and everyone will tell everyone else that they love their work. Random complaints from *Some people* will just appear every now and again.

This is all well and good, but it takes fucking forever to pass the complaint along. The problem may be a month or more old before anyone says shit. The problem may also be a very simple one to resolve (eg, "please speak more slowly"), which could be solved within a few seconds of hearing said complaint.

Here is a relatively short example with a very short "wa - train", as I have decided to call the chain of people who must ALL find out about the issue before you do. My school manager is a relatively astute young lady who is quite delightful. She realizes that western people tend to appreciate slightly more direct feedback:

Mg: "Brent Sensei, how do I say in English.... "Sensei, can you not get dressed out of your suit before the end of day???"

Me: "um..... That was pretty good."

Mg: "Really?"

Me: "Yes."

Mg: "Ok... um... can you tell (the other) Sensei?"

So, as you can see, my school manager has realized that we crazy foreigners appreciate direct feedback. Admittedly, she sometimes tries to give said direct feedback, but it often comes out slightly more blunt than the spirit in which it is intended. For example, this gem which my dear new co-worker received the other day...

"Sensei... lesson was a good job. But next time... please try more fun."


Serious wa disturbance.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Brent's Unofficial Tokyo Adventure Club

I don't quite know when it happened, but somewhere along the way I have become an urbanite. For a boy that loves to canoe, ski and avoid designer labels, I have somehow been transformed into a tried and true city boy.

I love living with easy access to "downtown" - its a wonderful, exciting and rather convienent thing. It also appeals to me on an environmental level. As counterintuitive as it seems that I would find my earth-bug in one of the most crowded, consumption oriented metropolises in the world. Of course, I think I've said this before. Oh well. It's still true.

In any case, I realized a little while ago that I have managed to plot out a wonderful day to explore Tokyo - especially for the new arrival (or a long time resident who has spent lots of their time NOT exploring Tokyo for whatever reason ... you know who you are).

Anyway, I love this particular adventure becuase it really has some great examples of what makes Tokyo such a fun place: juxtiposition.

Only in Tokyo will you have an old shrine nestled beside a glass office tower. Only here can you walk from the world's most crowded intersection, through a bunch of amateur musicians trying to make it in the big leagues (and by "big leagues", I mean a coffee shop or open mic night) and end up in a glorious shrine in the middle of a huge park. You can manage that entire walk in less than 30 minutes at a decent pace, or you can stretch it out for most of the day.

I've decided to try my hand at being johnny adventure guide, so stay tuned for some "stealable anecdotes."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sweet Japan Pictures #5: Gender Relations

The relationship between men and women has been a bit odd for the past few hundred years here in Japan - at least, so I hear. And while modern ideas of equality are slowly creeping into the system (again, so I hear), there are still a few moments of hilarity to be had.

The first one I would like to share with you is quite simple really. A simple request for courtesy that I found in a bar in that crazy land of dance - floor - humping, Roppongi.

If you read this sign VERY carefully, you can find a one letter typo that makes it totally perverted.

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For those of you who would prefer a more obvious type of "perverted", I am pleased to offer you these bedsheets. If I had the opportunity, I would totally buy these for every one of my male friends. For you ladies, I would be happy to track down a purple haired guy with a huge sword and a taste for "combos".


Anyway, here you go.

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1) The typo is in the word "farther". It should read "further". If you want me to explain further, comment or email me.

2) Yes, I stole the bedsheet picture from the intar-web. It's still funny.

3) That box of tissues is tasteful and classy.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sweet Japan Pics #4: Cheerful Racial Oopsie

One of the best parts about living in Japan is that the idea of "race" works differently here than it does in other places. Rather than fracturing into a huge number of subcultures linked to national identity (Korean-American, Chinese-Canadian, etc, etc), the number of foreigners is so small that they can't help but be basically lumped into a single group.

It's funny. I've searched for years for a more enjoyable identifying/insulting word that I can use with my real tight homies... and I finally found one in a different language. While "Cracker" is a pretty decent insult for whities, "Gaijin" (foreigner or "alien") is far superior. Coming from a country where I was in the basic minority, I finally have a rude-ish word that I can use knowingly with other people who are in the same situation. It's great. Still, I can definitly admit that my enjoyment of this "minority" status is pretty close to the computer techs listening to "damn it feels good to be a gangster" in Office Space.

/The polite version, by the way, is "Gaikokujin", which means "person from another country".

In any case, on the note of race.... I hae to say that racism is alive and kicking here in Japan. Despite the fact that most of the population is exceedingly nice, very friendly and super eager to help, a few assholes can certainly make you feel unwelcome every now and again.

Beyond the usual "moving away from you on the train" shenanigans, which I like to call "the Gaijin Bubble", I remember one incident in particular. I was in a mostly empty bar with a few friends, and we were asked by the staff to leave because the restaurant was "full". Interesting. While I was tempted to stay, and help solve the problem by joining one of the three tables that had people at them (and by extension, having at least a 33% chance of picking the table that complained about the foreigners), my friends convinced me that taking our unwanted yen elsewhere was a better solution.

So, anyway... a few bad seeds can certainly fuck things up.

And then, there is the other side of the coin. The fascination side of things, where people come up to you and just start speaking / dancing, etc, because you look "different". This, as I have said, is exceedingly fun at dance bars, where you can have a profound influence on the dance moves of the cheerful nihonjin kids who are so eager for new ways to get down.

And... of course, we have the random references to race that are meant to be positive, but end up being just clueless. Like this one:

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Ah, sweet Japan. Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sweet Japan Pics #3: Bery Cool Ride

More sweet pics, mostly courtesy of Geoff Sensei, who today bids the land of Japanigans sweet farewell.

During his time here, Geoff was heavily interested in science. He sought scientific discovery wherever possible, and aimed to break new and exciting ground, both linguisically and psycho-sexually. yeah.

He even looked for science in the bathroom. Like these people!

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Geoff, you will be missed.

Now, going back to the US will require a few lifestyle changes. You will no longer be able to benefit from what is probably the world's greatest public transportation network.

So... you need to get yourself a vehicle. You want something comfortable, stable and funky. You want something that can excite the ladies, yet fit in most city parking spots...

you want....

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a souped up, tricked out city-quadrunner with low-profile tires.

Hell, that's what everyone needs.

Ok... and finally, in honour of the fact that Geoff consumed infinitely more alcohol in my company than he did in the previous two years (I saw him enjoy 2 drinks during his time here in Japan, whereas he hadn't been drinking at all in the time leading up to his arrival.)

This fine establishmen is based on an important english rule: we like to give lists in threes. Like, "Sink, Sank, Sunk" or "Swim, Swam, Swum"

This place only has two words, but fear not... you (or anyone else who ventures there) can be the third word.

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Psycho-sexually: (adj) related to the brain AND related to sexuality. A Mind-fuck, if you will.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So right, and yet so wrong

One of the perks about being a teacher is that every now and again a student manages to say something that is innocently intended, yet far fouler and stranger than anyone could ever imagine.

Here is a relatively common and harmless example:

I love eating new restaurants.

By misplacing two simple letters ("at"), the student has managed to make their appetite a whole lot larger.

This is the type of thing I would always correct. Sometimes, things get dirtier...

I've previously posted "Sensei, you go in and you go out, but do you go down?" and "Sorry for coming on your shoe." Both are cruder mistakes than the previous example, yet both can be resolved in keeping with the innocence of their intent.

For my friends and my younger students, I usually point out the mistake and explain exactly why it is (a) wrong and (b) fucking hilarious.

For some students, though, the blow to their sensibilities would be too much. Thus, if I feel that if the remark would be understood innocently by most reasonable English speakers, then I don't bother revealing the foul depths to which my evil brain can dig.

The other day, a teacher in our area received a gloriously amazing example. Baring comedic examples such as this one, I make a point of not sharing names or work news on this blog. Thus, I won't even mention where this person goes to school or who their teacher is - it's better left unsaid - but suffice to say that this person won't ever find this blog.

Anyway, here is the homework, reproduced as it was submitted.

Big Cucumber
My friend gave us big vegetables. Big cucumbers bring my father's memory with me. My father raised cucumbers which was big size.

When he was healthy, he gave us big cucumbers. I thought I didn't like them. But now I miss them.

Where do I even start?

While this is perfectly legitimate, and as I said, 95% of English speakers would totally read this innocently, I ... did not.

Then again, I'm going to hold back. I'm pretty rude, so imagine what I would do with material like this.

Use your imaginations....

A note:

日本人ともだち (j-friends)... don't worry. I know English is difficult. I know that it often doesn't make sense. Don't get frustrated.... During my first Japanese lesson, about how to buy food in the supermarket, I wanted to say "おこめはどこですか?” ("Where is the rice?") but I asked "おかまはどこですか?”"Where are the gay people?" instead.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sweet Japan Pictures #2: disturbing

By the way, if you are ever going to be arrested while drunk in Japan, you can rest assured that there will be enough police officers to ensure that you are safely carried away to federal pound-you-in-the-ass-with-a-samurai-sword prison. And that whole court thing? Don't worry - Japan's highly efficient guilty-until-proven-innocent legal system ensures a healthy 99% conviction rate.

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There were a further 4 officers out of the picture - making for about 12 police, one supposed criminal, and one really oblivious guy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sweet Japan Pictures #1: educational

This week will feature a series of sweet Japanese companies failing to grasp the sheer awesome hilarity of their language.

Today's picture is brought to you by higher learning.

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We Will Hey Ya The Champions

I have had two opportunities to see Japanese baseball teams duke it out. Interestingly enough, "Watching Baseball" is yet another thing that the Japanese have managed to elevate to a highly perfected, united, and exceedingly well organized group-experience.

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Tokyo Dome

I'd like to briefly recap the improvements that the Japanese have made to the enjoyment of the game.

#1: Cheering

First, Japanese fans are about six times more excited about baseball than your average North American fans. To be honest, I have only seen baseball in a few cities (two?), so my sample size is not that large, but I think I can silence most critics of my generalization with one simple fact:

Each player has their own cheer.

That's right. While getting a "Go Jays Go!" cheer was pretty doable during the world series, or perhaps even a mostly 0n-key chant of a player's last name is ok.... the Japanese fans have managed to create distinct and difficult to follow cheers (including waving gestures and arm-pumping in unison). I couldn't understand what anyone was saying, but I could definitely make out individual sounds. Frankly, in a full stadium, that is pretty darn impressive.

At the Tokyo Giants game, for example, they also gave each person an orange cheering towel. Not the first 400 fans... not people who brought in 29 receipts from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every single fan who didn't come decked out in the opposing team's colours became the proud owner of a new Giants towel.

Each section of seats, in fact, had its own cheering guy (I would say Cheer-leader, but we'll get to that in a bit.) These guys are in charge of making sure that the whole stadium is perfectly in sync. They wear white gloves and take cues from each other to make sure.


I'm sure if Japanese Baseball Fans wanted to do "the wave", they could probably get it to crest, or perhaps get several of them going in opposite directions. Or maybe they could send a giant team logo around instead of just a bump. Crazy.

Oh yeah... and they have cheerleaders too. I thought I remembered them in Toronto, but an American friend informed me that cheerleaders are rare in American Baseball stadiums. (stadii?)

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#2: Convienence.

Much like most baseball stadiums, PET plastic bottles are banned, as they could theoretically be used as projectiles. But cans of beer are ok. Anyway... both stadiums I went to were kind enough to provide large plastic cups that you could pour your soft drinks into.

Oh, and you can bring your own beer and food into the stadium (much like the movie theatre, which is also brilliant).

But, you say.... why would anyone pay stadium beer prices when they can bring in their own beer???

Ah... my friends, the answer is simple.

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Girls with neon short shorts and kegs on their backs. Brilliant.

#3: Music

There was a fine improvement to the concept of stadium rock music as well. The improvement wasn't made in a manner than most people would think of. In fact, they decided to remix not two, but rather THREE songs into one riduculous sounding mish - mosh of songs from vastly different times.

We Will Rock You + Hey Ya + We Are The Champions.... together at last!

And thus, the title of this entry.

Friday, July 14, 2006

24 hour adventureness: the final chapter (this time)

So, the 24 hour adventureness went through a sick amount of karaoke with dear old geoffery.

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Karaoke is basically one of the most loved and most enjoyable drunken passions of this crazy nation, and with good cause. Like most things that the Japanese have gone about improving (for more examples, see cars, electronics and sex toys shaped like children's playthings), singing was given a serious retooling to make it more enjoyable for the average person. Its simple:

Take the songs that you love to sing in the shower, then remove the vocals.
Next, add a bunch of alcohol. Seriously ridiculous 1200 yen per hour for all you can drink amounts of alcohol.
After that, remove any non-friend distractions by confining the party to a small room full of your friends and ONLY your friends.
Last, be sure to replace any and all music videos with random cutscenes of Japanese folk in various famous cities around the world. Any one video may feature any or all of the following:
- Streetcars in San Fransisco
- A Ford Mustang
- The Canals of Venice
- Big Ben
- People in the Park
- More Streetcars
- Somebody getting a flower while wearing a white dress.

Seriously, even for singing something like "I like Big Butts" by Sir Mix A Lot will feature Streetcars in San Francisco.

Its great.

Anyway, Geoff Sensei rocks the house. His Guns 'n Roses is a full body 9.5 kcal burning extravaganza of awesomeness. Even sans-mullet, I still feel like he's channelling the sum of the entire world's knowledge of 80s cock rock.

Here are a few sweet shots of dear Geoffery.

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Welcome to the Jungle!

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We Got Fun and Games!

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See... even the camera couldn't handle the sheer awesomeness of that rendition.

Even the camera couldn't capture the sheer awesomeness of the performance without getting a little fuzzy...

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And yes, the video had Streetcars.

And now, the final party... birthday number 2 of the evening... Matt's Birthday!

Matt is a lovely chap who I amuse to no end by calling him Australian. Though he's actually from a somewhat well known subsection of Scotland generally known as "England". Anyway... he's a good guy.

Being inspired by a certain hat-filled adventure that may or may not have involved me wearing a sombrerro and a fake moustache, Matt opted to celebrate his big day at none other than the most gloriously cost-effective fun warehouse on earth: JJ Club 100.

JJ's, as it is affectionately known, is a massive fun complex I have described before: Video Games (set to free play mode, of course), Pool, Batting Cages, Floor Hockey, Soccer, Internet, Karaoke, and even a massive ball pit. It is also open 24 hours each day, and serves cold chu-hi (like a vodka cooler) for 200 yen and cold Heinikens for 300 yen. A nights's worth of gaming will set you back somewhere around 2000 yen. I am always completly bashed out of my head, being tired and often somewhat drunk when I leave, but the first number is either a 1 or a 2, and I am always surprised at how cheap those 6 or 7 hours of fun come.

And if you need more evidence, here is a picture of some of my peeps playing Super Mario Brothers on the original japanese Famicom. GLORIOUS.

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I have decided to tell the story of JJ's through the point of view of the Ball Pit.

It all started when some foreigners started jumping in the ball pit...

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That one was loud, but then more started jumping in....

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Including one who was EATING ICE CREAM.

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Suddenly, it was all too much...

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Dammit Jim, she just can't hold any longer!
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I'm meeeeelllllllllllllllltinnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggg.....


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ok... and then things got really out of hand...I mean... there were people in there!

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Well, I suppose its to be expected... putting a bunch of hyper foreigners together in a bouncy ball pit and fueling them with 200 yen drinks is an event that is guarenteed to end badly.

Epilogue: Fortunately, we were able to discover the problem.... when the number of kilograms running and jumping into the kids ball pit exceeds 800, you may accidentally detatch one of the fans that keeps the contraption inflated.

problem solved!

Welll... at the very least, no one peed in it!


In the end, Tomothy kept his ice cream safe and sound no matter what sort of plastic shenanigans were going on all around him. He is indeed, ice cream samurai.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Special Guest Interlude

First, a happy Japanese moment, brought to you by a foreign friend of mine. I realize that the humour of this comment is like saying "fuck" before you've taken english lessons, but if you crackers or blackers ever want to amuse some japanese folk, please feel free to install these kanji on anything you own.

Thanks Dave! You're hilarious. Lots of luck with this sales pitch!


中=ちゅう=In progress

What a great lesson. Even better? The "copy" function. Consider this geniousness released to the general public.

And yet, alas.....

A sad day is upon my Japanese life... sweet Geoff sensei is headed back to the lovely city of Vancouver for a career as a police officer in the next little while.

Unfortunately, Geoff is from Vancouver, USA, a small town near Portland which somehow needs a SWAT team in the local area, so he will be getting shot at a fair bit more often than people in "real" Vancouver. Right Mrs. Cross?

Don't worry. Between the earthquakes, tsunamis, North Korean missles, and death-by-overwork (かろおし or "karooshi", I think is the word.) He's probably better off with the bullets.

Ah... tasteless to the end.

In honour of this sad moment, I will post two lovely pics that Geoffery sent to me today.

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Well... I guess if they had to add another spice girl, this beats "Syphilis Spice".

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Jinro is a Korean alcohol. And yes, Let's.

I will be very sad to see Geoffery go, but I am very thankful for his friendship, shenanigans and general coolness. Geoff Sensei, you'll be sorely missed.

Tune back in soon for more about my 24 hour life.

24 hour partyness, continued!

... This post has gone on long enough that I have since RETURNED to the land of 24 hour party since beginning this post. We can add the latest shenanigans in point form on a future post.

... So... where were we...?

Ah... pottery pics!

"Goshiko" was kind enough to send some sweet pics of the pott-ing. Here they are, in all of their majesty...

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Mine is the grey cup-shaped blob.

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Here is a more central version, where my art gets to go all Barbara Streisand and totally grab the entire spotlight. Thanks for showing up, supporting pottery!

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Fortunately, someone spiked my green tea with "Rage-o-hol". That... or maybe I am expressing my primal creative instincts in an orgy of artistic fist-pumping.

Yeah, pretty sweet stuff.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Odelay! (incomplete) 24 hour randomness! Now with extra tangents!

A confession, before we begin. I have been a bit truant about this post. I put it off for a week for a reason that isn't apparent, to me or to others. Oh well. I just did. Deal with it.

And then I wrote it in fits and starts, adding bits and pieces. Its now been a good two and a half weeks since this day, so I am (in a moment of pique) posting it unfinished. I haven't tossed any seriously long reads up recently, so here is half of one. I'll update the rest of it tomorrow or the next day, but if you are reaing this passage, then I haven't updated it yet.

OK. Enough preamble. Here we go!

A while ago, I actually managed to get in 24 full hours of randomness in one 24 hour period. That's right folks, 24 hours of randomn shenanigans with not a moment's sleep! woohoo!

The 24 hours can be easily subdivided into three sections, corresponding to the three separate parties or party-like gatherings that I joined.

they are...

1) Pottery
2) Geoff's Birthday, with Karaoke!
3) Matt's Birthday, with big, plentiful balls!

Party #1: Pottery Party!

Through various random connections, I have managed to befriend a certain pottery instructor. She made me swear up and down that I wouldn't mention her by name on this blog, so I won't tell you her name. But it rhymes with Goshiko.

Anyway, here is a picture of the back of her head. Be sure to check out Jason, the top native English manager at (COMPANY NAME), who is looking extra sultry and/or stalker-like in the background.

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On an unrelated note, a really good way to get yourself posted here is to hang out with me and make me swear not to do something exactly like this.

Anyway, here's a great pic of most of the Pottery Crew - a group of foul minded (aka "like minded") teachers and friends - engaged in pottery.

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We met at the reasonable hour of 9 am. Unfortunately, the reasonable place we were reasonably meeting was a reasonably reasonable 70 minutes from my apartment by train. To maintain suitable levels of hygiene and odour, I have to wake up and shower, so that led to hauling out of bed at 7:30. You should be aware that I see 7:30 as a "bed time" about four or five times for every time that I greet it as a "waking up time"... so it was understandably difficult for me to haul my sorry ass out of my futon to greet the sun when it's so horribly close to the horizon.

Stupid horizon.

Anyway... I managed to do it, and met a good bunch of my cheerful coworkers, friends and soldiers of sketchnanity.

Language Aside

(J-readers: "Sketchnanity" is not a word. Sketchy means "questionable" and "nanity" is from "insanity". Sorry for mixing my adjectives. E-readers: Sorry for the language lesson. I'm a teacher now, so shut up and deal with it or I'll go on work-to-rule". J-readers: "Work-to-rule" is Bitchy Canadian Teacher English for "I'm not teaching any club activities right now. If you want them, give me some more money because life is hard and your children are brats".)

A N Y W A Y. Moving on from politics and grammar....

You, dear reader, may or may not know that I happen to have an occasional potty mouth, especially when it comes to telling stories. I have also had at least three questionable experiences in my life. If you aren't sure what those three things are, pick three posts at random from this blog. You will be shocked to discover that you have picked THREE sketchy things. The secret behind this magical blogging trickery is known only to me, and I will never speak of how it is done.

In any case, one of the things that happens to save me from being a total social outcast here in conservative, consensus seeking Japan is the fact that the average person doesn't speak English at a super high level. While I suspect that this level is higher than most people would ever admit - Japanese folk are notoriously shy and embarrassed about speaking English, even when they speak it quite fluently- the average person doesn't often catch what I say when I am speaking quickly and using a lot of rude words.

And I do use a lot of rude words. Why this is, well.... no one knows. But it can lead to funny situations with friends. For example, on the way to the pottery shop, a brief interlude on the the bus ride went down like this...

Brent: (dirty story, dirty story).

Nice Pottery Dude: (innocent comment)

Brent: Hey, I once saw a stripper smoke (innocent comment) while tearing the elastic out of my friends underwear with her teeth!*

Nice Senior Teacher: Why are you always so dirty?

Brent: I can't help it. You could say "I like cookes" and I would say "I once knew a hooker that liked cookes!" I just can't shut up.

Old Japanese Lady Sitting In The Seat In Front Of Me Who Certainly Doesn't Speak English: Hey, can I ask you a question? What are you guys doing in Japan??

Brent: (gripping thigh to pull foot out of mouth) Uh... we're teachers.

Old Japanese Lady Sitting In The Seat In Front Of Me Who Certainly *Does* Speak English: Cool! I'm a translator. Why are you in this part of town...?

Chastised and Sheepish Brent: Well, we're here to make some pottery...

*Actual dirty comments may not be exactly as described.

Still...we ended up having a delightful conversation about language. Turns out the lady speaks four languages (Japanese, English, French...and German?) and she even gave me her card. This suggests one of three things 1) She really needs work. 2) She's really forgiving/friendly/in need of foreign friends or 3) She's a smut factory upstairs and loved my jokes.

The pottery iteself was good fun. I had set out to make a "blob" or a "paperweight", but I changed my plan once I learned that improperly compressed clay EXPLODES in the kiln, due to the pressure of the air bubbles. So instead, I sculpted an Improvised Explosive Device.

/sorry. that was tasteless. but funny!
//Also, let's all give a big crackergaijin "Let's welcoming" to the good people at the NSA who have just joined us! Thanks for visiting this website!

Anyway, truth be told, the sculpting went off without a hitch. There were some crude jokes and a somewhat frazzled instructor (our poor "nameless friend"), who had to take care of a pack of foreigners doing their best to make a mockery of everything.

I actually ended up settling on a "lazy cup" for drinking tea while using the computer. I say "lazy cup" because I purposely made it much larger than the average tea cup, thereby saving my self the horrendous effort of getting up and going to the kettle in the kitchen for more hot water.

Despite the lateness of this post, in fact, the IED/mug/expression of my lazyness is still in the shop. It needs to be fired in the kiln a few times and then glazed as well. Fear not, I will certainly post a picture of my wonderful creative genius/pure stupidity as soon as it becomes available.

Party #2: Geoff Turns Eleventeen!

Geoff is a stand-up fellow. So stand-up, in fact, that we even let him choose where to have his birthday party. In a move no-one expected, (seriously), Geoff selected 六本木 or "Roppongi", which is a highly fashionable place with at least 4893 times more money than common sense, Roppongi is also a great place for people to promote vacation spots. The flavour of the day was....


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Yep, thats right. Someone had managed to import a bunch of "authentic" tribal dancers to go crazy Botswanna-style in the middle of one of the most expensive bits of real estate in the world. I suspect that after this performance, they ditched the tribal rags, grabbed some slick duds and hit the club scene. But that's just my theory.

My favourite thing about Japan, honestly, is the juxtopositions. Temple beside a skyscraper. Chick in a kimono talking on a cell phone while ordering McDonald's. Louis Vutton Backback with ratty black sweatpant-tights. Me in a culture full of respectful, reserved and consensus seeking conservatives.

Well, here's another one: African Tribesmen and women dancing in an artificial park with part of Roppongi Hills (a "city within the city") in the background. Where else in the world would you see this?

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Oh yeah, Roppongi Hills folk also really liked "Wild Wild West" the movie. Here is their honorary fan club "giant metal spider".

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FYI: as is evident by the lack of capital letters, this section of the post was composed by cellular telephone....

mnomnde jkldedeststdepqr a st a stghimde


geoff's party was great. geoff is the latest in a string of amazing people who have been cool enough to maintain a friendship with me despite not having a penchant for "da drinking."

i appreciate g's company, and i was happy to help him celebrate his... taste in lady friends AND his 28th year on this wacky planet we call "let's pollution"... or was that "earth"?

i can never tell.

anyway, geoff decided to make up for his lack of drinking by scheduling his party at what is arguably the drunkest place in tokyo, roppongi. thats right, that land of drinksanity and gaijin chasing whores.

(not whores in the literal sense, ie "girls who will have sex without a lot of coaxing", but whores in the true sense...the kind that want money. good old geoff.

he managed to find a place to order north american style pizza, and read a menu in english. brilliant. also, the name is brilliant, but only if you live in japan (or know a lot about it). the name of the place is "pizzakaya"

this also seems like a good place to make my first footnote for non japan-ites. so, everyone from canada or oregon, scroll to the footnote. 日本人 and gaijin, keep reading straight through. let's equal treatment!

some of you may have noted my abandonment of capital letters over the last section of the post. that's right, this section was brought to you by the letter n, as in 南武線 (nambu line), the letter k, as in ケータイ (ketai, or cell phones...though my katakana may be wrong...feel free to correct if you know better!) and the number 23, for the number of minutes i was jammed into the least possible physical space that a 94kg dude with a laptop can be jammed into on a friday night.

yee haw for japan!!

Coming soon:

Party #2 continues, with added Guns 'n Roses action!

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Party #3: Matt's Big Balls!

Here's another sneak peek picture!

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Check back soon! I'll post the rest by Friday!


Improvised Explosive Device: This is what the rebel/insurgent fighters in Iraq are using as weapons - basically a home-made bomb. A sizable portion of the American public doesn't take too kindly to these types of tasteless jokes.

the NSA: probably the largest US spy agency, larger and more secretive than the CIA or the FBI. They spy on people and gather information. Mentioning "Improvised Explosive Devices" or "IEDs" three or four times will probably get this site flagged somewhere on their searches and perhaps even get me fingerprinted at the border! whoopee!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

I spent it, as I spend all international holidays, in the local french bar. The bartender, Shin-chan, was kind enough to let Kaori and I bring in some Labbatt Blue from his dad's liquor shop next door. Of course, it was only fair that I gave him one.

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The best part of the whole experience was buying the imported Labbatt Blue. While Blue is a far cry from "good" Canadian beer, it does the trick. It is, I have to say, PRICED as if it's good Canadian Beer...

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Now all I need is a big steak, a barbeque, and friends whose ethnic identities list like the start of a really bad joke.

So, a Russian Jew, a Trinidadian, A Sweede, A Pollack, An Accadian, and Several Mixed-Up Mutts spend the weekend drinking at a Canadian turned Republican's house...