akujunkan: (funneh)
...it's good to know we aren't that different after all. Take a look at these two videos, for instance. The similarities between their respective messages are startling.


The West

Seriously. What an awesome opportunity for comparison.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
...and land in another dimension, where it will be eaten by dogs.

Family Guy takes on Silver Ring Thing, and it is a true thing of beauty.

FWIW, I was also subjected to an abstinence only mis-information program while I was in high school. One that, incidentally, violates the separation of church and state.

If there's one thing I despise, it's someone forcing their fucked-up, pseudo-Christianity down my throat.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
For the Japanese-enabled among you: THIS is the most めっちゃ面白えっ! thing I have seen in like ever. Plus, there's 象p0rn.

(You can thank [livejournal.com profile] amasugiru for the link.)

That will be all.
akujunkan: (kisama)
Click ::here:: to wet yourself.

Seriously, this sort of thing is what makes me think there may yet be hope for America.

That will be all.

ETA: Now fortified with wettage producing link!
akujunkan: (Default)
...and yet so far from ever learning English. In one picture. )

That will be all.
akujunkan: (kisama)
I recently discovered this gem while trawling the NHK textbook section of my local bookstore. Never before have I seen any which so completely embodies the English Language Teacher in Japan-- nay, the entirety of the Foreigner in Japan experience. Please keep in mind that this is an actual English textbook. )

I Tagteamed Ded From Funneh and Ironeh.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
And more with the food. [livejournal.com profile] firesign10 asked about coffee pudding and Pocari Sweat.

Here's a picture of a typical Japanese coffee pudding:

And here's some pocari sweat:

It's basically a gatorade-ish sports drink that claims to mimic the chemical composition of fluids within the human body (if I'm reading the copy correctly). It's also a pretty good barometer for judging the length of any given gaijin's exposure to Japan. People who have never been here are just confused. New arrivals or those whose stay has not exceeded six months think it's the funniest inappropriate name since Dick Trickle became a race car driver. It's a non-issue to people who've been here for a period of six months to one year, and anyone who's stayed over one year is addicted to the stuff, because it's the closest thing to bottled water one can buy cold from a combini or vending machine.

And speaking of being gaijin, man, was yesterday weird. )

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
...I do not think it means what I think it means.

The kanji for 'desk' in Japanese is most likely a verb of some sort in Chinese, and one that has to do with cars and airplanes to boot. And ah, China. Home of some very simplified kanji. It's interesting to try and decipher them as I flit about town - the kanji for 'east' and 'car' have become the same thing. It also appears to my jaundiced Japanese-reading eye that Chinese is entirely a language of concepts and little else. For instance, 'Caution, Wet Floor' becomes 'Small Heart Ground Slip' which has a certain charm to it, but is certainly odd looking to someone accustomed to grammatical markers. I'd like to buy some okurigana, please.

It's also taxing my non-Joyou kanji reading ability to the max, because kanji are the only clues available as to whether that menu item I'm pointing at is intestines or boneless chicken breast. As one might imagine, my gaffs lead to hilarity.

Case in point: our drinks come out at dinner tonight. Andy and I have ordered the 'Asian Hebal Beverage' (which turned out to be sugarcane juice), while Melissa ordered orange fanta. Our drinks were cold. Hers was not. Watch as I attempt to procure some ice for Melissa:

Me: //writes the kanji for 'ice' on the chopstick wrapper and shows it to the waitress//

Waitress: "Huh?"

Me: (echoed by Greek chorus of my friends) "Ice!"


Me: "Ice! Ice!"

The waitress looks over my shoulder. Melissa nods encouragingly, and points to her glass of orange fanta with a brilliant smile on her face.

All: "Ice!"

Waitress: "Yong?"

It is at this point that I realise that I have, in fact, written the kanji for 'eternity,' instead of the kanji for 'ice.' No wonder our poor waitress is confused. (If you're wonder why I realised this, it's because 'yong an li' is a stop on the Beijing Metro - that would be 'ei an ri' or 'Eternal Safe Village' in Japanese). It's amazing how that one little stroke will getcha.

I managed to order some very good food, but it also happened to be very, very spicy hot. I thus dredged up the kanji for 'coconut' (learned from a BL novel I'm currently reading) in order to order some coconut milk to help neutralise the spiciness. Melissa, unfortunately, cannot handle spice well, so my mission was now to get a menu to order new food.

I tried the Japanese compound for menu, with the full expectation that it would be nonsensical to our waitress, which it was. Much pointing, miming and grunting ensued before we were able to get the menu. It then occurred to me that of the three dishes I'd ordered, all were hot, right down to the vegetables, which had come loaded with black pepper. For all I knew, the regional cuisine we were eating was all very spicy.

So the time comes to pull out my kanji skills again. They can't wait to see what I'll come up with next. My game plan is to write 'bu' which means 'not,' and spicy. Unfortunately, the kanji for 'spicy,' 'bitter,' and 'happy' all differ from one another by a single measily stroke, and I'm not sure I remember which is which. I waffle back and forth a few times, not wanting to accidentally tell our poor waitress that I'm 'not happy' with the menu, but luckily get it right.

And thus dinner was completed - three main dishes, one fanta, two 'Asian Hebal Beverages' and three coconut milks - which cost us all of ten dollars in total.

And yeah, China: I've seen the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, Mutian'yu (which is a bit of the Great Wall) Ritan park, and several night markets. Unfortunately, the first three sucked, because they were all shrouded in green tarpaulin, thus destroying any opportunity to actually see them, and all the water was drained from the Palace garden, which sort of defeats the purpose there as well. My guess is that they're all undergoing renovations before the Olympics.

But the Great Wall rocked and rocked and rocked, and I've been to several sweet Buddhist temples as well. More on this later when I've got more time online.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
Let's talk about soft-men day. Soft-men literally means 'soft noodle,'
which only adds another dimension of funny to the original
just-begging-to-be-made English pun. Now, I am one of that rare breed of ALT who
actually thinks Japanese school lunches taste better and have a
consistently higher quality than their western counterparts. Still, Japanese
school lunch does have its share of foul dishes, and while soft-men is
far from the most disgusting (that honor being reserved for Squid Body
day), it disappoints precisely because it manages to be so inoffensively

Soft-men are vaguely sticky, eighteen inch-long cold noodles the width
of a power cord, the tacky consistency of the glue that clogs the tip
of the Elmer's bottle, and the flavor of raw bread dough. They come in
a clear bag that's roughly the size of snack pack of potato chips. One
is meant to take them out of the bag and dump them into a bowl of soup
and then eat them. The 'soup' in question is usually spaghetti meat
sauce (I kid you not), but curry and even broccoli cream soups have also
been known to make an appearance on soft-men day.

So anyway, dump the noodles onto the soup/curry/spaghetti sauce and eat
them, right? Couldn't be simpler. Well, it isn't that simple. For
starters, the soup (sauce/curry/whatever it happens to be) is ladled to
the very lip of the bowl, so by adding the noodles, one must magically
fill the bowl to twice its capacity without making a mess. Furthermore,
the soup/sauce/curry is thick to begin with, and since it's served an
hour before lunch begins, it's had about forty minutes to develop an
impenetrable cold soup skin which prevents the noodles from settling.

And ah, the noodles. As I've previously mentioned, they're eighteen
inches long, sticky, and vacuum-crammed into a tiny little plastic pouch.
Thus, they leave the bag in a badly tangled block. The soup bowls are
of course round, and as one only has chopsticks with which to
manipulate the noodles (and keep in mind that it's rude to let the
noodles touch anything but the interior of the bowl, it's rude to string them
out high above the bowl, it's rude to use your fingers or chopsticks
held with two hands to manipulate your food, it's rude to make a
splattery mess while dishing noodles into the bow, it's rude to...), this is
easier said than done.

Usually what happens is that one just gives up halfway and upends the
tangled cold sticky noodle block over the top of the bowl, then picks
desolately at it until a few random pieces come loose. As there's no way
to mix the cold, sticky, tangled noodles into the cold, leathery,
thickened soup/sauce/curry, one usually eats a large block of cold, sticky
raw bread dough noodles and then, if one doesn't tire of the whole
business, gets to eat the cold and leathery but mildly flavorful
soup/sauce/curry underneath. Due to the fact that in order not to hold up the
line, one must quickly separate any uneaten food by type when returning
one's meal tray to the serving cart, thus necessitating that one separate
the half-submerged cold, tangled, sticky vacuum-block of noodles from
the cold, gooey was-once- soup/sauce/curry mess in the bowl, there is a
fair amount of motivation to actually eat everything.

Of course eating it poses another problem - have you ever tried
eating a tangled block of eighteen inch long, cold, sticky,
tacky-old-glue bread dough noodles partially submerged in a cold, leathery soup
with a pair of chopsticks? It's not that easy to do without making the
sort mess two-year-olds drool of. Further complicating things is the
fact that school lunch is eaten at one's desk in the staff room, which
means that there are all manner of unmarked tests and essays lying about
just begging to be fouled by cold, sticky, leathery soup drops, and fate is usually only too happy to oblige them.

Of course, I'm incredibly stubborn about eating every last slurp on
soft-men day, because by Jove, I'm paying $6.00 to eat this crap. And
anyway, teachers are obligated to eat everything that appears on their
school lunch trays in order to set a good example for the students. That
said, I noticed a bunch of teachers getting up and slinking toward the
common table in the staff room. Curious as to what might be taking
place over there, I strolled over to have a look for myself. And to my
surprise and delight, what were these teachers doing if not discretely
depositing their bags of cold, vacuum-packed, tangled-block glue noodles
on the counter next to the tea heaters. Busted!

Course, I can't really talk, since I always make it a point to ensure that some lucky teacher gets an extra helping on Squid Body day.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (kisama)
So I left work 15 minutes early today, not caring who saw. Let's see if it gets brought up tomorrow. Of course (of course, of course) it starts snowing the moment I set foot outside of the school building. I steam back to my apartment, drop my laptop off in the genkan, and mount my trusty mountain bike for what will undoubtably be the most harrowing experience of my life. (Lots of Japanese people ride their granny bikes through blizzards to work or school. I have a mountain bike and I could never work up the courage to attempt it.) Now would be a good point to mention that I've been hit three times during the middle of the day in summer by crazy Japanese drivers who haven't yet grasped the meaning of 'both' in 'look both ways before making a left turn on red.' Also, my brakes no longer work.

But I had to get this bill paid or the chances are I'd be forced to take vacation time to do it (as well as looking like an ass to the electric company employees). So I get on my bike, pedal twice, and let inertia and ice-slicked sidewalks do the rest, careful not to go too fast lest I be killed by an idiot. I'm doing the whole Flintstones breaking with the feet deal, and man is it lame.

And yes, I was almost hit by two dumbass drivers screaming up to intersections to make lefts on red and not paying attention to that pesky little pedestrian signal that says they have no business being in a crosswalk at that moment. I swear, one of these days I'm going to start bashing in windows with my fist.

But I make it to the electric company in one piece. I go inside. BAM. Unlike the rest of Japan, where insulation and central heating are unknown, the electric company does not mess around with keeping warm. Thirty seconds and I'm sweating like a pig in my wool coat, sweater, and army-issue thermals.

And now onto the shenanigans, because you can't deal with bureaucracy in Japan without shenanigans. It so happens that the person whom I was meant to speak with has decided to absent himself from the office, and no one else knows exactly what it was he wanted to talk to me about. I sit around, sweat rolling down my back, face, and chest, and wait for someone to get a clue.

Finally, a woman with whom I'd spoken on the phone earlier is located. I explain to her about the bank transfer, and she has enough presence of mind to assure me she'll handle it, thus ensure that I won't receive a phone call next week asking me to retransfer the funds they've overpaid to me back to their account.

Anyway, she hands me the money they owe me, and I hand it right back to her to pay my two outstanding months' worth of bills. As it turns out, I am not give 800, but rather 43 yen back. That isn't even enough to buy a stamp.

I ask the woman if there's any way my bills can just be deducted from my bank account (as some of my other ones are), instead of relying on the current system, which is obviously flawed. She replied that they've already set that up for me.

However, I will still continue to get monthly bills in the mail. I was told to tear them up as I receive them, to make sure that I don't actually pay another bill twice.

Oh dear gods, I could not make this stuff up if I tried.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
Japanese students wear their phys ed uniforms under their regular school uniforms. There are no showers or dressing rooms in the school building, so after phys ed is over, the regular uniform gets put back on over the sweaty phys ed clothing, which is of course on a sweaty body. Then the students march back into rooms where the kerosene heaters are going full blast to continue the rest of their lessons. The smell can get a little...festive, to say the least.

Of course, one can combat this problem with air fresheners. There were some new air fresheners in the classrooms today. You've seen them before, on college campuses and clunker automobiles across the States.

Yup, Yoshi Middle School's air fresheners of choice are the ever-popular marijuana leaf.

Discuss amongst yourselves..

That will be all.
akujunkan: (kisama)
Just try learning English. Or even teaching it.

I play hockey/golf/football.
I do karate/tae kwon do/aikido.
I ski/swim/snowboard.

"Why?" comes the cry of my agonised students.

"Because that's just how English works," comes my agonised response.

I had a whole bunch of really, really nifty ideas for lj entries asault me right during the Great LJ Failure of '05, which, cruel fate, occurred on my Saturday morning. It's amazing how much one gets done when one's favorite source of entertainment is suddenly yanked out from beneath them. OTOH, my house is a total pit now, because once LJ got back online, I haven't done much else with my hour of free time each evening.

And now, Let's Enjoying the Japanese Life Together productions brings you The Modem Saga )

That will be all.


akujunkan: (Default)

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