Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UFC 84: Why I LIked Bikini Kill Review

I went 8 for 11. I was wrong about Wandy, he channeled the old beast. I was right for most of the undercard though. All in all a pretty good card.

Serious Business

I should be writing about many serious and interesting things. Instead I am going to post youtube videos.


Bear + Trampoline=Happy

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Missed This

From a few days ago.

Love the fact that it goes right down the center of the goal.

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day.

As I Was Busy

I forgot to post things for both Mother's Day and my mother's birthday. Here you is:

How much does Elvis's drummer rule rocking the double bass '70s kit.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In The Ceiling

Just now a rat caught itself in a trap between the kitchen ceiling and my floor. I was downstairs and it sounded like a toddler riding a tricycle, pushing off with both feet, around upstairs.

UFC 84: Why I Liked Bikini Kill

The time has come. I skipped a rundown of the last UFC because it really wasn't worth any of our time, but the planets have aligned again allowing BJ Penn to descend to earth and fight for all of our benefit. If you want to watch a promo, apparently directed by Michael Mann's pet chimpanzee, go here. It is actually pretty ok. I enjoy the Machida scetion as well.

Let's start with the undercard:

Salaverry vs. Palhares: Salaverry, who possesses the best tattoo in all of MMA, is one of my favorite fighters. I don't know, however, how much he is in to it anymore. That is the common line on him. Palhares is a submission wizard. I want Salaverry to pull it out but I will not be surprised to see Palhares get a quick sub. I will call Salaverry by decision.

Wellisch vs. Carwin: Carwin looks the part. Wellisch plays the part. I think this could be a very boring fight. I will call Carwin by G-n-P TKO in the 1st in hopes that the heavyweight division will get more interesting. Reality will probably have Wellisch laying on top of him for 15 minutes.

Clementi vs. Etim: Slidell's on Clementi is own a very unexpected roll. It continues with a TKO in the 2nd.

Tan vs. Kim: I don't care. Kim by armbar.

Koppenhaver vs. Yoshida: This isn't beating up drunks in front of the gym. Yoshida by dirty boxing TKO in the 3rd.

Sokoudju vs. Nakamura: Pride revival. To judoka go at it wearing shorts. Nakamura is a tough mother (shut your mouth.) Sokoudju might be a fluke. Who knows? Sokoudju is the bigger guy and I will give him the advantage. Sokoudju TKO in the 2nd.

Silva vs. Mendes: Silva has every advantage in this fight. Silva by TKO in the 2nd.

To the Main Card

Ortiz vs. Machida: I actually like both of these fighters a lot. I think everyone is kind of pulling for Ortiz to win so we can see what he does to piss off Dana White afterwards. This is his last fight for the UFC and you know he is motivated. On the other hand, Machida is one of my favorite fighters to watch. His style is completely unique. He uses karate as his base and has a very solid ground game. He is also undefeated. Tito could get the takedowns and punish Machida from the guard, but Machida's game is to stay away and only land decisive strikes. It will be hard for Tito to a hold of him. I am going with Machida by decision.

Gouveia vs. Reljic: Gouveia by TKO in the 2nd. No question.

Silva vs. Jardine: Is it okay to like someone who was so obviously on steroids? I do love Silva. He is a different fighter now though. A good fighter, but a different one. He is small for the division. He is better in a ring. Jardine isn't one of my favorite fighters but I admire his awkwardness. It is very hard to fight him. With the reach advantage I am calling Jardine by decision. His leg kicks are dinosaur like and his defense is solid. One caveat; What is Silva pulls the jiu-jitsu black belt out of his back pocket? Hmmmm....

Penn vs. Sherk: You know my opinion on BJ Penn. He lives above other fighters. Penn was out-striking GSP in his loss. Penn was not out-wrestled by Matt Hughes until he separated his ribs. Sean Sherk's striking is technical but not powerful. Sean Sherk's conditioning is not in question. He is a great MMA wrestler, but so is BJ Penn. Sherk is hard to submit, but are we forgetting that Joe Stevenson is too, but he was. Most people are saying it will come down to who wins the 3rd round and takes the decision. I see BJ beating up Sherk, taking the back and choking out Sherk in the 2nd. Call me crazy. Call BJ crazy when he licks up Sherk's blood.

This is a really good card, and I am looking forward to it. If you have never watched BJ Penn fight, please do. It will probably be more interesting then you think.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It Might Be Impossible... describe how bad work was yesterday. The 3rd years returned from their trip. Everything went to shit. The class that I had the heartfelt talk with last week wouldn't listen in class. They did a little but they kept looking at pictures instead. Tomo, one of my favorite students ignored me and later forgot my name and decided that she hated me. Another class was so bad that I left telling them to come and get me when they felt like having class. They did after 25 mintues but it was the same thing. Other students were in the hall playing cards and kicking doors. The yakuza son was at school, without a uniform, trying to call people out of my class. I just stood there and watched the clock for the last 5 minutes and left. I had to drag one of the 1st years upstairs by his collar for telling another teacher she should die. There was some altercation during luch that I am not clear on. Later the 2nd year girl/non-humans stormed the 1st floor. Inoue blocked the door to a classroom but they barged in anyway. I went upstairs for help. Apparently they think the 1st years are telling on them and came for revenge. During this, Takahashi, the giant fat girl who always tells me to die, threw a slow punch at my head and said, "Die American." I was doing something else at the time so it didn't strike me as odd until I thought about it and figured I should have popped her one. There was spit everywhere on the floors. The rotten kids were just sitting in the stairwell. There was some large altercation that involved stealing bicycles. I am not sure what happened. One asshole was standing in fornt of the school taking everyone's shoes and flinging them outside. I am fairly fet up with the 3rd year teachers. What these kids need is an ass kicking. I feel kind of bad about thinking that but they have such a disconnect from reality. Their game is weak anyway. I went straight to the gym with no dinner and wrassled for 3 hours just to get it out of my system. No I have a big bruise around my eye.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Neighborhood Kinda Rules

Matsuri065, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Despite the roaches. More matsuri footage.


I slept for 10 hours last night and I still feel worn out. Mikuni. Like when Rome was just a whisper. Mikuni. Lowenstein. Mikuni. Where are you Mikuni? Hankyu. Hankyu.


The 3rd years are away on their school trip so I have been basking in the interim peacefulness and the knowledge that I probably won't have to fight anyone for the next few days. Or was I!?!?!?!?!?

The school has definitely quieter. Monday it came to light that the rotten 2nd year girls from last weeks bullying story have turned on the 1st and 2nd years on the volleyball team, which they are also a part of, and told them that they must do everything they say. They have the help of giant 2nd year girl Marutani, who might be my size. Inoue called a special meeting for after school on Monday. As the 3rd years are gone I resumed my post at the front of the school saying "See you" and making sure nobody devolves and starts eating their own feces. The meeting ran long and the 1st years who were waiting for their friends grew restless. I tried to keep them occupied and slightly quiet. We had fun. I let them punch me a lot and tried to remember all of their first names. I found out who was dating who. The meeting ran on and on. At some point Inoue Sensei emerged angry. I missed it but was told that instead of participating, the bad girls were playing cards. Of course they wouldn't listen to the word "stop." Inoue Sensei left them there. I watched the 1st years, who were growing tired as the meeting had exceeded and hour at this point. Inoue Sensei went back in the room. Soon after banging and yelling drowned out any conversation, this was mixed in with forced hysterical laughter. "He just wants us to be scared, but I'm not scared." They are well practiced phsychotics, these 2nd year 'girls.' The vice principal came downstairs and I told him that everything was okay. The girls bange dout of the classroom laughing. They turned on me and the 1st years. The vice-principal was new to the situation with different priorities so he didn't really grasp what was going on. He was trying to get the girls to wait while I was trying to get them to leave. One realized she had forgotten her umbrella and went back in after it. When she came out she bashed it against a column, laughing until it fell apart. Marutani, the tall one, began asking the 1st years why they were there. I told her it had nothing to do with her and that she should leave. She assured me it had nothing to do with me, that I wasn't even Japanese, plus I am disgusting and should die. The 1st years were great and ignored her. I told her she wasn't even a human and to get out of my face. It was all very funny to them. I said that I understood that they were laughing but they were really lonely and sad and that it is too bad that they can't admit that and deal with it. Of course that was funny as well as being impossible to understand, according to them.

They wouldn't leave. The rest of the volleyball team did and the girls went back for more, "Why don't you quit Inoue. We hope you are murdered." Miyaji, a 1st year boy who gets in trouble for all of the stuff I would have also gotten in trouble for (climbing on top of the home center/crashing shopping carts) came up and gave me a hug. I love the 1st years.

The rest of the 2nd year teachers came down to see what was going on. Ozaki had Marutani talk to Inoue. She lied the whole time of course. I got pissed and went home. I ran into Eda, the All-Japan Amateur Shooto champion at sanjo and we went to the gym to get it out of my system.

These kids really have mental troubles beyond or capacity to deal with them.


I don't read Daily Kos nearly as frequaently as I used to. There are various reasons for that. The good thing about Daily Kos is that, when it comes to good statistical observations, there is a lot of usable information to be found.

Today Kos himself had a very good point about the media narrative of Oregon vs. The narrative of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The main point is that Oregon is mostly white and has a lower per capita income than Ohio. But Obama is dominating there. So, if he loses Ohio he has a problem with working class white. If he wins Oregon he.....?

For some reason the media latches onto Ohio and Pennsylvania as the gritty heart of real America the same way they latch onto Brett Favre as a great quarterback. Brett Favre is a great quarteback, but not the only great quarterback. Apply that to the above mentioned states.

Monday, May 19, 2008

In Living Color

Matsuri052, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

I take color too. Sometimes.

Slightly Cosmopolitan

Is how I feel as The New Yorker put out a list of the top 100 essential jazz recordings. I was prepared to be bewildered, but, to my surprise, I found that the majority of them were recordings that I listen to quite frequently. Check me out. Of course my list would read: Mingus, Mingus, Migus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Mingus Mingus. But that's just me.

The Family Across the Street

Matsuri069, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

They have a very nice Machiya. The procession stopped to bless their house. I actually got a little choked up because the girl was wearing her junior high uniform because it was an important ceremony and my kids won't even wear theirs to school.

Young Kings

Matsuri074, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

I don't know the story, but I am sure that there is one.


Matsuri082, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Here's the thing about living in Kyoto; Sometimes you are eating lunch and there is a horse in your parking lot. You will hear a slow drum beat and wonder whether it is construction or something falling over and then you will discern a rythm. Strange humming, like a wounded bandsaw murdering a bird that was already dying from something else, will join in faintly. There will be more people in the street, but only slightly at first. They will mainly be headed in the same direction. You will sense that you are missing something. Someone will run out of a house, look around the corner and dart back in saying "It's coming!" The matsuri will be upon you. Young men in robes with cell phones and sneakers will stop to drink juice boxes and there will be a horse in your parking lot.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Scenes from My School Assembly

Actually this is one of the most watched videos in the history of Youtube. If you have never seen it before watch all the way through. The people speaking on it, with the exception of the Afrikaans guide, seem appallingly dumb however.

Today: Speecherific

That brings us to today. Unless you read this blog from bottom to top like a normal person in which time exists from end to beginning much like the univers after its inevitable collapse according to Stephen Hawking.

I had 3-4 first thing this morning with Hamanaka and Inoue. I knew if Inoue was there we could kind of control the class. I told them I wanted to talk to them for about 5 minutes and that I wanted to hear their opinion.

Basically I told them about the 2nd years bullying the girl with autism. I asked if any of them thought it was ok. Of course no one said anything. Sakakibara who had spent the first bit of class talking about how much he hated me said, "It has nothing to do with us." I told him that that was a valid opinion too but that I felt differently. I asked if he could explain his opinion to us. "Why are you here? Why don't you go away?" I told him that that wasn't really an explanation of an opinion but I would be happy to listen if he could expand on it.

I told them that, in my opinion, that even though they were 3rd years and what I saw was 2nd years that I thought it was their fault. I told them that it was every 3rd year's fault. I told them that they were supposed to be the leaders of the school, but that they were failing. That there were no leaders. There were people who were trying but no one was leading. Most of my talk hinged on the words 認める-mitomeru, which means to "accept, permit or allow", and する-suru, which means "to do." I told them that I found it very hard to see what the difference was between these two things. I talked about the assembly yesterday morning where they acted ridiculous. I told them that they were embarassing. I tried to explain that even if it wasn't their fault, they were there and they ignored it and that is the same thing. I tried to get across that when you are joking around with your friends and not listening to what teachers say that 1st years and 2nd years see that. That then when someone tries to stop them from bullying an autistic girl they say the exact same thing. At this point Sakakibara got up and left.

I told them about when I was a freshman in high school and Jeremy ran to get me and said that a senior was beating up his girlfriend and that we had to go help. About how when we got there and the guy was a huge football player I said, "It isn't our problem." But that that just meant that I was weak and scared. I told them that they will regret being weak and scared one day and that it was their job to stop bad things when they had the chance. They listened better than they usually do but they didn't talk much.

Inoue Sensei had me repeat the story to two of the 1st year classes and they listened well and actually talked a little. Inoue spoke to them when I was done and told them about how a lot of pro-boxers and pro-fighters were people who had been bullied when they were younger. That it takes a strong person to see what is weak in themselves and work to change that. That people who can't see their own weakness will have a hard time being good at sports or anything else (The 1st years really like baseball and other sports.) I think they listened.

I told the story to the 2nd years. The girl who was part of the bullying wasn't there. They were actually receptive and talked a little. They didn't know I could speak Japanese so that was funny because I was saying things like ”尊重できへんか?”  But they were a very noisy class. We'll see. Yesterday just made the school smell like a rotten fish for me. A big rotten fish with juice running out of its eyeball.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beset by Gang. Result: Stretched Sweater

It's not even noon yet and I think that the best I can do is an abbreviated recap of today's events.

This morning we had an assembly. The 3rd year student's conduct was so reprehensible that I don't even no where to start. They refuse to listen to anyone. Outside of Inoue Sensei, who made all of the 1st years sit seiza and meditate on their own conduct afterwards, I can't say that I see other teacher's really doing much. I tried but apparently the new retalitation is to make fun of my Japanese and pretend that they can't understand. Without backup it is kind of hard to do anything. I confiscated the captain of the tennis team, who I like's, shoes after he was joking around and throwing them. I told him if he got his other two friends together and apoligized to the vice-principal who was speaking, I would give them back. He was an asshole, but he tried. Nakamura, from the bike incident, refused and acted like he was going to hit me.

I went to 3-3, not for my usual class but as an ALT. As the class ended a bunch of boys gathered in the hall and began kicking and punching the door and the running away. This is their new favorite trick for classes that I am in. I opened the door and said stop. "Why are you saying it was me!?! What is your problem." I told them that I wasn't accusing anyone but that we were still having class. They also began throwing stuff out the windows. I asked them to stop and they set in on me. I walked back into class. Okada, probably, punched the door and then ducked in the next room. I went back out. Okada emerged. "Dai stop. Himeda stop." They looked indignent. "Okada stop." He exploded. "Why are you saying my name!?! Who the fuck are you. Get out of my face." The strange thing was that the boys gathered like a weird gang. I hung back as Hamanka Sensei came back and asked what was going on. Okada proceeded to insult me with the help of his crew. I wasn't going to get involved until he kept referring to me as "Aitsu" and "Omae." In Japanese these are very disrespectful thing to call someone. "Who is 'omae?'" I asked. He freaked out on me and got in my face. Here is where I may be a little at fault, but I did it on purpose. I will also say that Hamanaka Sensei is a woman and I think that bears a lot on our different approaches to the situation that I will go into later and why she thinks I was wrong. Okada tried to grab me. His whole crew was cheering him on. "That's funny, I said. "You are talking tough now but last time all you could do was cry and say 'It hurts! It hurts!" Like a little baby

(this is where I left off writing yesterday as I got interrupted)

After I said that, and I was deliberately being insulting, Okada exploded and grabbed me and started shouting how he was going to kill me. Needless to say, everyone was out in the hall. Same as last time I grabbed him in the basic judo clinch and slammed him into the nearest corner. He kept yelling and grabbing my shirt. Hamanaka Sensei then tried to get between us telling us to stop. I felt then, and I feel more so now, that this just makes things worse. I understand that you think you are breaking up a fight by stepping in the middle of it, but from my position, it just made everything worse. If I have Okada pinned in a corner, he can't do anything but yell and then cry. I have control of the situation. If someone is in the middle there is distance enough for me to be punched and Okada can move around holding onto my shirt, spinning me around. I can't do anything to control it. So I put my hand sin the air and said, "It's all you now Okada. It's just you. And I looked as bored as I actually was. I wish I could get across from them how far it is from scary for me to be in a fight. I don't say that brazenly. But it would be like if your hobby was running marathons and someone said, "I dare you to do a 5k!" Right? It isn't really a big deal.

So this went on for a bit, to the enjoyment of the 3rd year boys. Finally, Nakamura, grabbed Okada's arm and pulled him off. Okada went on to destroy a locker that brooms are kept in by punching and kicking it. Kumura, a complete dumbass with a dyed blonde mullet and whose sole claim to fame is that his grandad is Yakuza was cheering him on and banging on the locker. I pulled him off and he laughed. I backed off as I felt I was only making Okada crazier. Himeda said "See, he's running away." I asked what he was talking about and he responded with the Himeda mantra, "Why are you talking to me?" I Okada screamed and yelled and was finally led downstairs. I went down another way and told the vice-principal that he should probably go check things out. I went up behind him but accidentally ran into Okada coming down the stairs with Nakamura. He started screaming again.

Hamanaka came back to the office and told me I was wrong for bringing up last week. I can understand her point, but I completely disagree with it. Okada has been setting this up as a trap because he is embarassed about losing to me. If he can set it up where he can yell and scream and someone can come break it up then he can tell all his friends how bad he is. If I throw him in a corner and let him freak out until he cries, then at least him and his friends are scared of me. Which they need to be.

Later, the old PE teacher got him to settle down enough for us to talk. Okada said very quietly that he wouldn't try to fight me anymore. I told him that the reason I was on him all of the time is that the other kids look to him as a leader. They are weak and his personality is very strong. If he does something bad, everyone follows so I have to jump on him first. It has nothing to do with not liking him. I told him that I understood being embarassed and that I don't like it when he is rude with me. That is a way of being embarassed too. I told him that I understood that it was scary when an adult grabs you and tosses you around but that I have to to stop him from throwing any punches which would require us to call the police. I told him that I wanted him to come and have a fun class, but that if he didn't want to, I understood. I told him that he didn't have to like English, but that some people wanted to study and he shouldn't get in their way.

He said that he understood but I don't know. I shook his bandaged hand and told him I would try harder if he would. He turned and ran out the door.

On my way home, two 2nd year girls had an autistic girl trapped and wouldn't let her leave. They were throwing torn up paper at her and saying, "You are so gross. Are you laughing or smiling?" I asked what they were doing. "Why do you care? Who are you? Go away!" I asked if they were friends with this girl, why they were talking to her. "Sure! We're friends." I don't really know the 2nd years so I went to get another teacher. When we came back, they had run off. The autistic girl said that they had been spitting on her and wouldn't let her leave.

I'll talk about today later.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Theremin Rockout

Here is another video of that weird party from a while back. I am rocking the bass while a strange man plays the Theremin. If you haven't seen me in a while, no, I am not going bald. I had just shaved my head and it was shiny. Don't be alarmed.

At it Again.

Got into it with Okada again today. Saw it coming a mile away. Hamanaka, the usual teacher was gone to a meeting so it was just Toda and me. Yes. You heard correct. Most classes at this school have to have multiple teachers. Toda is 22 and just left college. He is okay but kind of quiet. I told him that if I went off, it was mostly not real. It would mostly be for effect. It took the normal 3-4 minutes just to get everyone's seats in rows and get them in the class. Okada rolls in late and wanders around. I tell him to sit down and he says, "Shut up." And walks out of class. If he just left, that might have been okay, but he was just kind of going about what he started and washing stuff out in the sink in front of the class. I went out and asked what he was doing. "Washing this." I told him that it was time for class, but that if he wasn't interested he could sit in the hall and be quiet or stay in class if he didn't get in the way. "Fuck you! You talk too much. Shut up." As usual he said all this while trying to go about what he was doing. I stopped him with my hand to the outside of his shoulder, still holding my notebook. He freaked out again. "Are we going to do this again?" I asked. "Don't you remember how it went last time?" I actually don't remember what he said from this point on because it doesn't matter. Just think up a string of profanity. He tried to shake me off and clawed up my arms so I took him and pushed him up in a corner and told him again that we were teachers and he can't act this way to teachers. At this point another teacher, the really tiny lady who dresses well but I always forget her name, had come out. "Why are you standing on my foot!?!" Okada yelled. Which was funny because I was standing on his foot as it is my reaction. I use it in judo and jiu-jitsu a lot to trap my opponents leg and I guess I was doing it in this situation to prevent a knee, but I didn't think about it. Okada pitched a fit and kicked a door and yelled and screamed off down the hall.
He came back later and quietly packed his bag and left.


Here is an example of a paragraph from a Japanese English textbook. Does it seem odd to you?

"This is my robot. His name is Robo-Cook. He can cook very well. Now he is making sushi for me. I can enjoy delicious food every day. He can speak Japanese and English very well, too. He teaches English to me. I want such a robot. Thank you."
This is from One World English Course 1; pg 86.
Here it is again with the places that I think are odd written in bold.
"This is my robot. His name is Robo-Cook. He can cook very well. Now he is making sushi for me. I can enjoy delicious food every day. He can speak Japanese and English very well, too. He teaches English to me. I want such a robot. Thank you."
If you have lived or worked in Japan, or with Japanese people these sentences will probably seem familiar to you. Firstly, they sound more like Japanese than English. Second, because they are mistakes that are extremely common in Japanese text books. You would think that publishers would have picked up on these by now. I have a feeling that lots of people who work on these books know that there are mistakes but that there is some man at a desk near the window who insists that this is correct and no one can say anything about it.
In English, how often do we use "enjoy" as a verb? Not often right? If so, it is usually in the past tense. Or we say it to clarify something. For example, "It's not that I don't enjoy fishing, I just don't want to go fishing for our anniversary." Or something like that. In Japanese textbooks you will see; "In Okinawa we can enjoy many water sports." Do you use that formation naturally? I do not.
"He teaches English to me." Just sounds strange. Wouldn't you say, "He teaches me English."? I think I would.
"I want such a robot." The "such a"formation is very common in Japanese textbooks. I suppose it is usefull and easy to teach. But then again, I thin that "I want a robot like that." Is also easy. Which would you use? Do you ever say, "Where can I get such an automobile?" Maybe if you are being ironic. Also, don't they already possess the robot? If so, what are they talking about? I might have missed some set-up to the feature, but the tenses don't really make much sense to me.
All of these we will have to teach to the kids because they are in the textbook. Then Japan will wonder why they are behind in English education.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Do you ever come across something randomly that you hadn't thought about in years and then you see it and wonder how you hadn't thought about it? I came across this today while reading up on rissoto. I think I remember eating it a lot. Didn't we? How did I forget? Was it years of vegetarianism?

Worst Song Eva! ? !

I was riding my bike home from Sanjo after work on Friday when I was overtaken by strange flute music. It was at the intersection of Kiyamachi and Sanjo where there is often live music but there is also a cafe which plays loud recorded live music that sounds a lot like actual live music. I am not sure which I heard. It was a catchy, odd tune, which seemed to spark something in my memory. "I know that song." I thought. "I know that song from 'Time After Four.'" The most compelling bad radio show I know. "Time After Four", I believe, originates out of Joy FM in Miyazaki and involves and older man, completely lacking any kind of dynamism, playing really terrible old songs. This is the program that introduced me to both "Ras-Ras-Rasputin" and "Speedy Gonzales." I just couldn't place what song this fluting belonged to. I just kept hearing the phrase "subtle whoring" over and over again. Then, it came to me. That terrible song was in fact this:

Possibly the worst song I have ever heard. Just think, that poor lady has to sing it over and over again for her whole life.


Two articles on Japanese education: Here and Here.

One thing I have noted in Japan is that, from the pre-school level on, parents and teachers would rather grab children's hand and pull them through the education process and shove them out the other end. It is one reason that the bad kids at my school seldom respond to anything that isn't over the top. They don't have to deal with making choices and having consequences. The only big consequence is the test to get into high school and a good number of people just opt out of that system. People used to laugh at me when I said that one of my favorite parts about teaching at pre-school was when I made kids cry. I sounded terrible. But telling a kid that they can't come to class if they can't act nice is an important step for them. The crying about it and pitching a fit is a way for them to work it out with themselves. When another adult just picks them up and puts them back in class and constatnly moves them around, they aren't making any choices for themselves. That produces students like Kimura, the moron, who walks into the office, yells at the teachers, kicks thing, and when I tell her to stop all she can say is , "Stop talking. I hate you." I think kids have to try and fail on their own repeatedly at many things, whether it be walking or taking tests. They have to figure out what works for them and what doesn't. If you just pull them along, all they do is sit around and wait for someone to do something for them or yell at them until they do it. Of course, so much pressure is put on teachers in Japan to meet the demands of the result based system that letting a child fail to teach them a lesson is unthinkable. The anecdote about the teachers helping kids over obstacles during a race so that they could keep to the schedule is a metaphor for so much.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I feel that in my current commentary I might give the impression that everything at my school is terrible. It isn't. There are a lot of kids that I really really like. And, as most who teach will understand, there is a lot that I like about the kids who cause a good deal of the trouble. Case in point. Sakamoto, who played a large indirect (as is his M.O.) part in the last two days shennanigins, started off class today sullen. We played a trivia quiz game. After about ten minutes in the corner by himself, he was the best player on the team. His listening skills are really exceptional for English. For the last question I challenged anybody to spell 'Mississippi.' After a few minutes messing around with it, Sakamoto actually got it right. That is a first. He is a con man and a jack-off, but he won't always be.

Kids I really like:

All of the 1st years. They could go bad, but now they are just stupid sometimes.

The entrie girl's softball team. Every day they wave to me a and yell my name. Tomo, the diminutive fist baseman with braces always yells "I love Wes." and gives me a hug. Nana plays outfield and is also the class president. She is smart and rad. Chihiro is the pitcher and looks like a pro softball player.

Most of the girl's basketball team. Especially the captian. She is one of a set of twins on the basketball team. The captain is Rena, the other one is Hazuki. They look as much like husky, middle-aged women as they do like each ther. I told Hazuki that I could tell them apart because Rena always looked serious and she always looked happy. That made her laugh. The way I really tell them apart is that Rena looks like she has a purpose and Hazuki looks a little lost.

Kaku, captain of the swim team. He is left-handed and shit at English. When you tell him he is shit at English, he will put a hand on your shoulder and apologize. He is a sweet kid.

Aoki. His mom teaches somewhere else. He likes to speak English and begins every sentence with "Oh!" As in, "Oh! Wesley. Can you play krate?" "No. Do you do karate?" "Oh! Yes." He got his black-belt.

Sayaka. She lived in America for a few years but she tries to hide that she can speak English. Her family is very rich and apparently she has a crush on me.

Kagawa. He is the class vice-president. He is big and lumbering and had grey hair until he shaved it off the other day. He always says "good morning." And smiles a lot.

Yoshiki. Have you ever taught a kid that you wanted to tell people how ridiculously beautiful they are but you worry that they think you mean sexually and that you will sound like a pervert, but some kids are just absurdly beautiful in a really abstract, classical way? Yoshiki is that. She also has a very strange voice and is awkward and confident in equal doses.

Yano. Is an asshole but I like him. He is the captian of the tennis team and is pretty much what that would be in America. Smarter than most kids. Talks a lot. Very sure of himself. Tan.

There are a lot more, but I wanted to mention some.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Still at It

I feel that I should clarify, given recent events, that I don't believe in violence against children. I don't even really believe in corporal punishment. But I really need to communicate that this school is over the edge. The rates of violence against teachers and suicides from bullying are growing and growing in Japan. At this school, right now, that is an ever present threat. If someone doesn't crack down on the bad kids hard, right now, the situation is only going to get worse.

It happened again today. I had visions of going to 3-4 today and talking about yesterday. Giving everyone a chance to discuss how they felt it was appropriate to act in school and class. Giving them a chance to discuss which rules they thought were uneccesary. I get to class. The bell has rung. A good number of kids are still outside. Sakakibara, who is in the class, is standing outside the door with Sakamoto from yesterday and Kuroda who thinks he's the balls. I said "Get to class." to Sakamoto and he blew me off, just like yesterday. I told Sakakibara that it was time for class, to which he responded, "Fuck you. Shut up!" The thing about the Japanese school uniform is that it makes a good handle. I tossed Sakakibara in the door and shut it behind me. He squared off to fight me. I said, "What do you want Sakakibara? What do you think you are going to do?" And turned my back on him to talk to the rest of the class. He couldn't really think of an answer but teared up and tried to act tough, which is natural. I think he came back after me, but Inoue Sensei caught him and took him outside.

Some other kids started yelling and someone kicked my door. They are really at the point where they have to stop. They are getting dangerous towards any teacher who says no to them. At some point Sakakibara tried to charge back in after me but I ignored him and the Kyoto Sensei got a hold of him. He joined class for the last 10 minutes.

Apparently he is pissed because his dad just got out of jail and his mom was on drugs and now they might leave here and move to Tokyo. That is rough. That is too much stress for a 15 year-old to deal with. It also doesn't give him a right to treat adults and other kids like garbage. My parents got divorced when I started junior high. All through elementary school we were under pressure over whether we would move to Arkansas or not, depending on the ups and downs of marriage. I never thought it meant that I could treat my teachers like shit. My neighbor killed her husband and got sent to jail and their kids still went to school and behaved. Kids at my junior high had their parents killed in the first Gulf War and plenty had parents in jail or on drugs. It doesn't mean you can say "Fuck you. Shut up." To a teacher. I don't enjoy being a hard-ass about it, but shying away from the problem doesn't help.

I should also point out that for a kid with those kinds of problems, a Japanese junior high school is a much more supportive environment than my junior high school. People care if you have problems and will go out of their way to help you. You don't even have to do school work.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Straight from the Front Lines

Less than an hour ago I was at it again. I'm unstoppable/incorrigible. I can't put up with the bullshit. I was returning from buying lunch at the 7-11 when I saw two useless graduates at the school gate and Sakamoto running out of the gate, across the street and to the vending machine. Arai Sensei told him to stop but he ignored her and she was busy. I asked what he was doing. After a few times being ignored, he finally said, "No, it's ok." I went back and checked with Arai Sensei and found that, no, in fact, it wasn't ok. It was against the rules. I went back and Sakamoto was buying multiple bottles and handing them through the fence. This also involved him running through traffic. Again, the rule is small, but it can't be okay for some people to run out the gate, ignoring a vice principal, dash across the street ignoring two teachers to hand drinks through the fence to students who laugh at and ignore the teachers who can't reach them.

Sakamoto took of running through traffic to avoid me and back through the gate. By the time I got back to the genkan he was handing out the drinks on the soccer field. Being ignored as a teacher pisses me off a lot. Not because of my own ego, but becaus it is symptamatic and sets a horrible precedent. If you let it go a little, it goes a lot. If a kid will ignore you about running through traffice, bad things can happen.

I turned towards the soccer field and took a step or two planning to tell Sakamoto not to ignore me and that they weren't allowed to buy drinks. Everyone began hiding the bottles. I went to the soccer field. At this point I was going to take the bottles and pour all of it out in front of them.

As I looked for the bottles they began to yell, "Fuck you bitch! What are you doing here? You can't look through our shit motherfucker!" That is the best equivalent I can render. I said, "Who do you think you are talking to?" Sakamoto, still ignoring me, drilled the soccer ball at me. To delve in the lexicon; He picked the wrong Caucasian to fuck with. I caught the ball and began to give them what for. At this point I was surrounded by about 10 angry junior high boys yelling at me. Okada came up from behind and swung down on the ball, knocking it lose and pushing me and yelling at me. I grabbed him by the jacket and swung him out from the group.

"What do you think you are doing? You don't act like that to a teacher." He exploded. I am not sure but I think he was going to through down.(I should point out that I wasn't yelling at him angrily. I was pulling him away so things wouldn't blow up and I was talking to him calmly.) I know he takes karate so I got him in the Muay Thai clinch. Not because I was angry at him but because the situation had to be controlled quickly. There were no other teachers around and everyone was yelling at me. I started moving him back towards where the other teachers were. He resisted. I set the clinch in a little tighter and he freaked out. He was screaming. At this point I had to keep a hold of him. I should point out that I like Okada but he is out of control. He leaves class, walks into other classes. Runs through club practices taking their stuff. He has no self control at all and treats other people like shit. He won't listen to teachers and plays the tough guy. I say that to explain what follows, otherwise I would sound kind of like an asshole. Okada tried to fight me, but realizing he couldn't he started crying and screaming, "It hurts! It hurts!" I can tell you for sure that nothing I was doing "hurt" in any real sense. That is the baby reaction in Japan to anything a child doesn't want to do and it often gets them out of it. "It hurts because you are a baby." I said. I could feel bad about this, but this group of boys is seriously like a dog pack and needs a new alpha quick. At what school is it okay to ignore and then kick balls at your teachers and then yell at them? Okada tried to fight again. I considered the options and went with the Osoto Gari. Very effective. He went down and I transitioned to Knee on the Belly. I tried to get someone to get another teacher but they wouldn't. Okada went to work on my AICL T-Shirt as I told him "Think about what you are doing." He freaked and cried. I know this sounds out of control, but these kids really need this. They are crazy and not connected to reality in the least.

Later I heard that both Okada and Sakamoto's parents believe whatever they say so I should be careful because they will make up whatever they feel like. I already heard their version of the story which is, "We just wanted the ball back but he doesn't speak Japanese so he didn't understand." Which is funny because I understood, "What the fuck are you doing motherfucker!" And all I said in return was "Speak politely."

Unmitigated craziness.


Junk Room010, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Maki, the nurse who lives downstairs, went to a wedding and had no one to take pictures of her kimono. I did the stone enteranceway.

Fan Club

Junk Room015, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

As described below.

But She Was the Cute One

Junk Room020, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

As described below.

Got Them Weird Party Blues

Junk Room033, originally uploaded by wwc photos.

Two weekends ago. Possibly not. Possibly some other time, I went to an odd party/ gathering at the Junk Room on Kitaoji. I went with Maki from downstairs and we ran into Caitlin and Meca on the way. Caitlin stashed her bag in a bush outside, which was probably the coolest thing that happened all night as her bag was colorful and so was the bush and this is still Japan so everything was there when I left later. The Junk Room is just a very narrow bar with an odd square room at the back that looks like your styleless great aunt's spare storage space. There were two pre-schoolers playing with Gundam toys and some assorted old people. There were also 4-5 early 20s guys who looked hip in that way that it seems really accesible to look hip now but says nothing about whether you are hip or not because your mom could have got your clothes at Target and you would still look like the roadie for The Strokes who is too cool to tune the bass. It turns out one of them was there to play the guitar and they were all from Kansai Gaidai. They had a troop of groupies, also from Gaidai, who had made signs with bears on them that read "Matthew". Matthew was preceeded by a woman draped in bannanas who said, "I am a bannana. Take a bannana." And contorted the length of the bar balancing bannanas. Matthew played the guitar and was good in the way that impressed people who don't play music and makes those of us that do sound like asses for not agreeing whole heartedly and saying things like, "He does what he does well." The bar was so narrow that although I was about 20 feet away from the stage I could only see what was happening on a small TV monitor. Afterwards the Gaidai troop left and one of the groupies invited me to go to a club in Osaka. I said no and she left in her denim hot pants and boots. It would have been awkward. At some point a man plugged in his electric guitar, left the effects looping and played with no other amplified sound. After 20 minutes he was crying. I actually enjoyed it. Then DJ Shabu SHabu perfromed. Shabu speaks perfect English having been the child of two Japanese doctors who lived in Minnesota. Now he is a doctor himself. His lap-top died 5 minutes in so he decided to loop anything he could and do an onomatapoeia beat box about the word "poop." He declared, "I will loop anything." Put that on his gravestone if you bury him. I drank beers and went home.

Last Name Rundown

I realized I haven't gone over some of the unusual last names since I switched schools. I don't know how much this interests people but it occupies a lot of my time. It is also good random kanji study.

市ノ瀬  いちのせ  Ichinose

丹羽  にわ Niwa

深作  ふくさく Fukusaku

みのる   Minoru (So rare it won't come up as kanji)

大志万  おおしま  Oshima

筏     いかだ   Ikada

柘植   つげ     Tsuge

New Category: Easy to read but rare.

江見  えみ    Emi

上品  うえしな Ueshina

Newer Category: Easy to read, but wait!

清野  せいの  Seino

That covers the first years. I am also curious about the explosion of the first name もえ (Moe). Pronounced "Mo Eh" Not "Mo."

Me and Michael

Times that I have been called "Michael" in the last two weeks: 5-plus. Credit to the head of the physical plant at Mikuni who laughed and said, "Just because you shave your head?" I agree with him, but I will ride the train as long as it lasts. Choo-choo.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Golden Week

Sorry. I planned to catch up on things during my 4 days off for Golden Week. Instead I hung out with friends and did a whole lot of nothing. I had a very odd week. I choked a kid at school an hour after writing the post that fighting would be inevitable. Actually he was trying to fight a 60 year old PE teacher and I let it take its course until it got out of hand and stepped in and through on the ole "rear nekkid" as Rampage Jackson would say. "Iketani, that's enough." And he quit. Oh, the kakutogi on parade.

From there it was on to the Mikuni kansogeiaki where all of the teachers who have moved on were honored. I failed to read the "kuki" and showed up in mildly dressy school teaching clothes when the event was held in the Osaka Hilton. Great call. A lot of teachers were transferred. I was surprised. Yamamoto sensei, the really friendly English teacher, quit and moved back to Shikoku to be a fisherman. I miss working with him. Even the cute office ladies got transferred and replaced by 18 year old otaku boys who look uncomfortable with the fact that they have bodies. I have no problem believing that they would pay for panties.

We all had to make speeches. I said that Mikuni was like The Nexus in Star Trek and that we were all fighting to get back there. That the new teachers should consider themselves lucky. That "Mikuni" was like a magic word that the rest of us uttered quietly as we dropped our heads to our desks in doubt over the future of this country. It was well received. I got drunk and tried to talk to everyone but it was over quickly and Suwa sensei, the old judo coach, was waving me into an elevator making the hand signals for "money" and "women."

A dangerous proposition. Suwa sensei is known for his frequenting all sorts of debauchery. For those who don't live in Japan I should tell you that showing up at work and laughing about the prostitution you indulged in while married is a completely acceptable and charming thing. Not for me, mind you. But things that would make you a parasite and a criminal in America are completely AOK in these parts. I had ducked Suwa's invitations for as long as I could. Mizojiri sensei, who has been transferred to Sri Lanka was also in the elevator. We were holding our giant bouquets and giggling nervously.

We set off at a brisk pace through Umeda. As we climbed the stairs crossing the intersection in forn of the Hankyu department store Suwa sensei says, "Let's go to the gay place." Say wha'? In for the penny in for the pound but I reserve the right to run for the door. Trust but verify I always say. I mean Ronald Reagan always says. Until he died.

"The gay place" Turned out to be "Jack and Betty's" Or something like that in Umeda. We came in in the middle of showtime. There was a small stage with an old man in drag singing enka and doing stand up comedy. The room was betwen big and small, empty and full and we set on couches around a table. A silver curtain swung shut and the old man disappeared. "Jupiter" The ubiquitous hit from a few years ago came on, the curtain raised, and 12 post-operative transexuals holding glowing globes stood on a smoky stage. They came forward as their names were called. Two were definitely men. about 5 were moderately attractive women. The rest were mother f'n hot. Show time ends and the dancers change costumes and come mingle with the audience. My first time at a hostess bar and it is a transexual one with a judo coach and future Sri Lanka math teacher.

The hottest chick, Rin, came to sit with us. She had a special pillow because she had just had her penis removed in Thailand a month ago. She was born in Kowloon but doesn't speak Chinese. Rin wandered off and we were joined by Kumi. She said that she was now officially a woman in her family registry and that everyone was ok about that. Suwa sensei stared at her big fake tits. Absurd. The whole thing was absurd.

Show time resumed. I can't do it justice. Part of it was a 5 mintue tribute to the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana featuring the Elton John song, while everyone pranced around in fancy English dresses. This segued into the Mario theme song where cheerleaders with fake penises ran through the audience. For some reason half the dancers had their teeth blacked out which was really nasty.

The lights went dark and a heavy metal fog descended. Everyone was wearing black feather boas. Somehow at the end, through the fog and lightning and heavy metal, they all got naked. Wow. Not a visible penis in the bunch. Rin looks good naked. I'll give him that.

I ended up in Umeda giving flowers form my bouquet to random girls. Ever since I have harbored a suspicion that every hot chick I see is a dude. I see David's commentary already: "What you had was called 'Tuesday.' It happens all over the world once a week. Get over it."
I didn't do it justice.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.