Thursday, February 28, 2008

Last Day at Imaichi






























It's been a long time since the '90s, can you tell someone to eat a dick and give them the gas face at the same time? Do those two things Osaka Board of Education. Good thing I am losing my job two weeks before graduation, with no hope of getting it back for three months. Great for the teachers, great for the kids. These are my last classes. Mikuni is all tests tomorrow.

Your Tune for the Day



I don't know why, but I have always really liked this song.

Funny

This shit is actually really funny.
As well as this....and the rest of them too.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Kyoto Tower in the Snow Storm


tomoko snow storm026, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

kyoto eki snow storm

video
February 24th. Kyoto Eki.

10 Years


tomoko and hiroko003, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

A decade is a very short time. Friday afternoon my Alabama/Gaidai homegirl, Tomoko mailed me to say she was in Kansai. I caught up with her and other fabulous alum, Hiroko. We agreed that 10 years was nothin'. I got a chance to bust out one of my favorite Alabama stories: Hiroko and Ryoko drunk in front of the library and the end of exams, drinking out of a paper bag. It was great to see them again.

Jennifer, both asked about you and I am sending them your 連絡先。
Apparenlty Aki is married- to Atsushi- and teaching high school in Osaka, but no one can get a hold of her.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jesse Owens

Of all the photos I have seen of Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, I had never come across this one. Nuts. Photo credited to AP.
I answer that photo with this. What's up now Nazi?

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Enjoy the John Benjamin



While I am on the subject, here is Eugene Mirman taking the piss out of the Tom Cruise video, which, by the way was really odd....


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mother F'n France


photo:testemale


That is a crazy set. In France!!! Bonne Chance, Mes Amis.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Strangely Empty?


Is Castro stepping down huge news or, at this point, a strange letdown? I feel ambivalent. Will this finally give a chance for things to change? I hope so. The current stalemate is absurd.

I Want to Work With These Teachers

It is a relief to know that these kinds of teachers exist in ol' Nippon. When I first came to Japan, it had just been made legal(or just re-entered the program) to play Kimigayo and fly the Hinomaru. The first time I remember hearing Kimigayo was at Koshien when a junior high school girl sang it. It was beautiful. I think it is a great national anthem. Then again, it carries no baggage for me. I don't think anyone should have to sing it. It is, in the end, about emperor worship. I can listen to it the same way a Japanese kid can listen to rap and not feel lame for digging it. I have no investment in the meaning. I remember the principal killing himself over the issue. Maybe he just got tired of drinking ochya, reading the paper and taking naps. But I am belittling a principal who actually cared. As usual, Ishihara (Mayor, Asswipe) is at the center of this. He wonders, "...who made such a nonsense Constitution. I cannot find any historical reasonability in it." May I channel my inner Republican? Douglas Macarthur did, after we rolled your fucking country and there was no government left but the one we decided to give you. Why, in that environment, would anyone every think of making a provision that didn't allow for a Japanese military? I don't know? Ask Nanking. Ask South East Asia. Ask the Marines on Wake Island you ridiculous fuck-up. Maybe the world got tired of a government run amok, bent on racism and world domination. It tends to wear one's patience thin on matters of that country's military. What a brilliant luminary you have for a mayor Tokyo. Another point for Kansai. (The MacArthur Constitution also gave women the right to vote,ended the nobility, made the emperor a symbol and instituted massive land reforms, if that bothers you too.)
The pressure being put on these teachers is absurd and has nothing to do with their jobs. But, like in most societies, it is easier to stick everything on the teachers since they have to deal with everything else all day and take the low money with a smile and maybe a chair with their name on the back of it.

(edit: if Naimisha Mehta should search her name on the internet; your comment is dumb to the extreme.)

The Greatest Song Ever Written

Since I am not hanging with Watt right now.

I am a Fucking Moron/ Put MY DOnkey in that ShaDe

I had planned my week around going to the Mike Watt show in Kyoto tonight and Osaka tomorrow night. Funny thing about that...I just got home from work(in Osaka) and ate some pasta and checked the site to make sure that the doors opened at 6:30. They do. In Osaka. They did in Kyoto....last night. It is not my month kids. Bob...I am sorry. I will be home in a month and we can hit up the boomstick and spiel together and pretend like none of this ever happened. Briefly considered running back to Osaka tonight but that is impossible. If I had deep pockets I would Shinkansen to Nagoya tomorrow. The Kyoto show would have been a perfect, tiny venue, small town gig and I could have met the Watt and he would have talked about how wrong everyone is to doubt my talent. And then everything would have worked out. This ain't no picnic.


Put my Donkey in the Shade.

One of my new favorite, unintentionally funny translations. From an interview with Rickson Gracie, originally in Portuguese.

Translation by:
MMA Europe website (from Portuguese)


Are you ready for your last fight?
I am very optimistic that it’ll happen this year... perhaps it will really be the last fight. In my heart, I have nothing to prove to anyone. I confess that the biggest motivation is to bring a comfort for my children, until today I do not have conditions.

No? Don’t you have a considerable bank account?
People cannot think thus. The conquests of the past don’t matter. If you have the chance to kill an enormous buffalo... I feel a hunter, a supplier for my family. I could not refuse a possibility of these.

Then it will be a lot of cash…
It will... I will put my “donkey in the shade”

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friday

Before I was shocked by my job rejection on Friday, I was having a very interesting day. I meant to talk about it. For starters I went to get my new work visa. I had applied for a one year visa and it had taken forever. I applied in November. I went in and they handed me a brand spanking new 3 year work visa. Bad ass. If you have a job.

I went downtown and tried to park my bike at Loft. I often park there because they actually have a parking lot and because I like to go to Loft. Here is my actual conversation with the attendant:

Welcome!

Hello, my bike doesn't have a stand so I am going to move this bike over a little and set my bike against this cone.

Actually, bikes without stands are not allowed here.

Really?

Yes, you will cause damage.

To what?

To the cone.

To the traffic cone?

Yes.

It is plastic. How do I damage it?

It will mess it up.

It's plastic. Are you serious?

Yes. You can't park here.

Whatever.

Hmmmm...

Hmmmmmmm....

Salmon Panic

Salmon Panic anyone?

Redbelt

The trailer for Redbelt is out. You never know with Mamet. He has written some of my favorite films ever. On the other hand, sometimes you want to tell him, "Look, shut the fuck up okay. I get that you are David fucking Mamet and that your talent is so precious that we have to send it up in the fucking space shuttle after you fucking slip your fucking mortal coil. So tell Ricky Jay to do some fucking card tricks,take that hat off your head and stop talking to me about the fucking merits of macho Zionism." Or something to that effect.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Your Tune for the Day

One of my favorite songs ever. Unfortunate radio edit is still unintentionally funny. (Wait, I just noticed this isn't the radio edit. I really can't say enough good things about this song. It was a real-time response to the trend of gangster rap. The Ghetto Boys were out there talking about how much life on the hustle actually sucked and would wear you down. It always amused me how Bushwick Bill seemed to miss the point slightly. Then again, his mind would go on to play many tricks on him.)

The Round Mound

I have always loved Charles Barkley. He is the starting 4 on my all time basketball team. You should love him too.

A Seperate Case

Everyone in the military is a hero and there is no reason for our bases to be pulled out of Japan.
I worry that someone I don't know will read these and think that I am virulently anti-military. I am not. If you grow up around the military you see the people in it for what they are, people. It is silly to say that all of them are bad or good or heroic or low. If the service people at bases in Japan can't control themselves then they shouldn't be here. If the base commanders can't get a handle on these things, then they should be out. Would we tolerate this in an American city?

Amy Chavez is the New Arash Markazi

I keep harping on this but, this woman gets paid to write for a major international newspaper.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shock II

The bitch machine won' let me continue writing unless it is in italics. I was very excited about working as a real teacher in a private high school. I have no idea why I didn't get the job. The same way I have no idea how I didn't get into to FSU. I don't know. I am fucked I suppose. It is easy to say, "Go home." But to what? Again, it is hard to apply for a grad school that I can't pay for in late February. I was so sure about this job and I am just as sure that it went to so boring turds who got their master's from an internet school, or in Canada. I have schools begging me to stay and a board of ed. who want let them keep me and this firm who hires teachers won't give me a job. I think they should have to explain why. I would be less offended. Good thing we are crashing into a recession in America. Things are looking bright.

Shock!

The Wednesday before last I went for a job interview to teach at a private high school or junior high. I was fairly sure I nailed the interview as the people doing it said that my demo lesson was great and they seemed honestly impressed. They were supposed to mail me last Friday and tell me about the job. Instead they mailed and said to wait for this week. Today I got home to find : Very happy about that.

Dear Wesley Cheek.
Thank you very much for your inquiry about full time teaching positions at school.
Unfortunately, we have a limited number of teaching positions and we are not able to find the
possibilities to make use of your services.

I'm so sorry for telling that late.
Thank you very much for your time and I hope your further success in future.


Sincerely,
Ayukawa






Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Does Candy Crowley Have a Job?

Again, people on TV are 900 times stupider than me(and you too, of course), who is losing his job again. Candy Crowley is at it again. Four years ago she made me nuts by saying that John Kerry had a disconnect with Americans because he drank green tea. He drank green tea because he had prostate cancer and his doctor told him to. The same reason Giuliani did. The same reason Joe Torre drank green tea during Yankee games. The same reasons tons of people with cancer drink green tea. This shit passes for reality and it makes me nuts.

Japanese Education


Mikuni Marathon Taikai163, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

A few things about the Japanese education system that I have been meaning to mention.

I have been playing this game(that I mentioned before) with almost every class: I have words written on the back of cards. They are 1,2,3,5 and 10 points. The kids make two teams. They come up one by one and pick a card and then have to make a sentence out of the word. I made the game for 1st years but I have used with with 2nd and 3rd years as well. If it were up to me I would play this game once a month because it really exposes the flaws in kid's games, linguistically speaking. For example, so many 2nd year kids said, "I like dog." When I said, "You are forgetting something." They would say, "I like a dog? I like two dog?" They should know this a few months into their 1st year. Why the teachers aren't checking this, I don't know.

In any case, every class has had a lot of fun playing this game. My nemesis, 2-4, even enjoyed it. The nemesis within my nemesis, Okada, even got it together to make a sentence. But, one class, 2-3, whose homeroom teacher is the English teacher had the oddest reaction. I actually never saw it coming. They were crap at it, the mood turned really sour and they got offended and acted persecuted. I don't like to stereotype teenagers, as I hated those stereotypes when I was a teenager. I would like to think of actual reasons for it. They were being absurd. "Why are you making us do this? We can't do this! We don't know English. Why? Why? How can you do this to us?" It was seriously like that for 50 minutes. That English teacher is very odd to work with. What an odd reaction. His explanation was, "Well, their English level is low." And? The game was made for 1st years.

Which brings me to:
It has taken me a while to pin this down, but I finally did. Junior high school students in Japan can fail every test they take within a year and still advance a grade with no repercussions. I was in class when 1st year's English tests were handed back. Some did well. Some kids had 0s and 14s and were laughing about it. I remember junior high. I would have been cringing had I done so bad. Not only out of pride, but for fear of what would happen. For fear of being a 7th grader again. I asked the teacher after class, "What happens if they don't get better?" "Nothing. What happens in America?" "They don't advance." "Really? I can't believe it?" He seemed hurt for the children. This says a lot about why the kids act like they do and react like they do. They have nothing to lose at all. There is a lot I like about Japanese schools. There is a lot I don't believe. There are some things that I just sit back and watch.

Watt

Mike Watt is playing Kyoto next week. I think I might explode. I don't turn fannish much but this could be it.

Free Okinawa

Another American Marine rapes another Okinawan schoolgirl. How much more do they have to lay on Okinawa? The situation is ridiculous. A sort of uncomfortable thing about going to America is all of the Americans who have lived in Japan as part of the military and want to talk to me about it. I don't think it ever occurs to them that this is how they are viewed. Why does Okinawa have to bear the burden? Are these Marines heroes? Do we have to pretend that they are?
video
Snow on Sanjo Ohashi.

Mikuni Marathon Taikai: Casualties Mount


Mikuni Marathon Taikai134, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

The day was not without its accidents.

Mikuni Marathon Taikai


Mikuni Marathon Taikai140, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

This river is so dirty it defies your ability to comprehend the terms "dirty" and "river." This river challenges the whole Chomsky notions about the internal structure of a universal knowledge of what the term "river" means that can defy its chemical recomposition. Kanzaki Gawa by the way.

Mikuni Marathon


Mikuni Marathon Taikai019, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Friday was the marathon taikai at Mikuni. In Japan, a "marathon" is any middle distance race. The boys ran 4k and the girls 3k. Some people fell down. The 3rd years didn't run as Saturday is the test to get into private high schools in Osaka. I am also waiting to hear from a private high school in Osaka, which would be a rad job because they are rich and I would have a full-time teacher's contract.

I like this picture.


Mikuni Marathon Taikai003, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

I have been meaning to take this shot for a while. This is a laundromat I pass on the way to Mikuni. By the way, the Japanese reads, "Smoking is like Sunday for your heart."

In Kyoto, it Snowed.


DSCF6153, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Sorry I haven't posted since Tuesday. My cold/flu resurged and took my brain and joints and bones. Both Natsuki and Ed found their way to Kansai (not together) so I have been indisposed. It snowed a lot on Saturday. It was rather lovely. I have found that taking pictures in the snow is hard because your camera will tend to focus on the bits of snow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Two Predictions

While I can't sleep and the night-time cold medicine waits to sink in, two predictions:

Attorney General- John Edwards
Vice President- Jim Webb

With McCain as the nominee, a scary nominee, the Democrats will have to turn to Webb. That's okay, I dig him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Supa Tuesday

I have been meaning to make serious political post for the last 2 weeks but have bee losing to the devil cold (mildly resurgent). You lucky suckers in the right time zone can watch live coverage on theyoungturks.com. They have doing exceptional live coverage of all the primaries, for free, online. Check it out. Si se puede!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Frickin Lasers

Susan B. has apparently had corrective laser surgery on her eyes. By which I mean that she now has lasers instead of eyes!! I can't picture Susan with good vision and I will rather miss her glasses. She joins the ranks of Ed, Tomo and Greg Maddux.

Get Behind Me, Oh Devil Cold

I awoke this morning to the sound of everything in my apartment running as I had passed out before realizing that I was going to bed for real. Outside the weather is slush. If it were snow I would grab my camera and run to every photogenic temple, but alas dear friends, it is not. The good news is I seem to be winning the battle against this dread virus. I actually feel 72% ok. Here is a question: Why do people who write like this keep scoring columns for the Japan Times. Not that she is wrong, or ignorant. But I would have to say that Ms. Chavez has consistently proven to be a less than talented writer. Am I overzealous?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Okinawa

This cold/flu has laid me low and I have been missing posts like a crew of landsmen miss stays.
Wednesday I was teaching at Shin-Ikuno, the school that is largely Zainichi Korean. The second years are taking their school trip to Okinawa this year. Before they go on their trip they had a man come in to speak to them about Okinawa. One of the office ladies gave me a newspaper article on him and asked me to come. I was happy to be included, I was also happy that she assumed I could read the newspaper article. I could, for the most part. Apparently Mr. Oshiro was an elementary school student during the American invasion of Okinawa. He was injured in the fighting and a famous photograph was taken of him looking hopeless and covered in blood.

I snuck in late to the speech. Oshiro-san speaks through one of those electronic voice-boxes that replace your vocal chords. There has to be a technical name for those. He was very hard to understand as everything was a monotone. I think that has parents and many of his friends were killed in the battle. I am not sure but it seemed that he was saying that he was hiding with his friends because the Japanese soldiers were telling them to attack the Americans with bamboo poles and they didn't want to. I believe his friend died in this process but I am not sure how. He told the kids that they were lucky today and that they should be happy to have parents and brothers and sisters. The kids took it like teenagers. One row of boys were tearing up pieces of paper and putting them in each other's hair. Or turning around and staring at me. I haven't been at that school long enough to do anything. If it was Mikuni I would have dragged them outside already.

One of the amazing things about living in Japan is you get to hear the people who are still alive form that era tell their stories. In America we get that to some extent, but I don't think we realize how devastating the war was here. Like the one student I had who told me, laughing, that they would try and get fish to eat but the Americans would shoot anybody they saw at the river. And my other student who told me that the first dead bodies he saw were his classmates when the Americans bombed his elementary school. Fuzoku-sho in Miyazaki, if you were wondering.

As I was walking back to the office I ran into Oshiro-san. I was hoping to sneak by, but he shook my hand and said in English, "Thank you. Thank you. Okinawa. America. We're friends. Do you understand." I said to him in Japanese, "Thank you for your speech." And he said, "Thank you for listening." That is all pretty simple and generic but I feel pretty good about my job when I get to do stuff like that as a normal part of my day.

Oh No He Di'n!

UFC 81- Quetzalcoatl

This Saturday the UFC brings us a heavyweight showdown/possible freak-show. Pro-wrestling and emergent MMA merge. Which will be validated? Here are my picks.

Marquardt vs. Horn- Two consummate pros. I think this is Horn's 900th fight. I don't see Marquardt getting submitted. Therefor, Marquardt by decision.

Emerson vs. Nakamura-
I will never pull for Rob Emerson. Nakamura by decision.

Eastman vs. Martin
- Martin is explosive. Eastman takes a lot of punishment. Martin by KO in the 2nd.

Heath vs. Drwal-
I don't really care. Heath by sub in the 2nd.

Griffin vs. Tibau-
Exciting fighters, exciting fight. Griffin swears he is going for the KO. He gets it in the 2nd.

Silvia vs. Nogueira-
I am not alone in my dislike for Silvia. He is a hard guy to beat however. Nog can take a beating like no other with his catcher's mitt face. Nog's boxing is very good. His submissions are the best. I predict him hanging in with Tim and capitalizing on a mistake in the 4th. Although I would like to see him go for a rolling kneebar.

Mir vs. Lesnar-
Here it is. What we don't know about Lesnar is huge. Sure, he was a great college wrestler. He spent the next decade being a pro-wrestler. I think that must have taken a lot out of his body He is big and strong. So is Frank Mir. How much of his strength is applicable? We don't know. The sub game is tricky and takes years to master. Mir is excellent at it. Lesnar is a big question mark. I have Mir by sub in the 1st. If it goes past that I don't know that Mir has the gas tank. I think Lesnar's short range punches good be brutal and take their toll.

There you have it. Tank it to the water cooler. Fax it in Arash Markazi.

Oh, Super Bowl. I haven't seen football in 2 years. Patriots 18 Giants 7

Interesting Surf Article

Good ideas for magazine articles are few and far between. This is one.

Friday, February 1, 2008

How Many Different Ways Can I Feel Old and Out of Touch?



Apparently my old home boys Action Patrol had a reunion show last month. Like they used to say on the old UFCs, "Pain Hurts." You remember that Star Trek movie where Malcolm Macdowell was doing everything he could to get shot back into the Nexus? Yeah. That. Pretty much. They are covering an Avail song if you didn't notice. I believe that is Tim who jumps up on stage. I rather miss that life.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.