Thursday, April 27, 2006

One More Catch-up Post...For Now

...and then I will be all caught up! Woo hoo!

April 17 - April 26

Last week was slow(er than previous weeks). On the 18th, I headed out for some yakitori and beer with Judy. She was treating me to dinner as a reward for helping her order a new Macintosh from their Internet site. She wanted the educator's discount, and needed help reading all the Japanese to get the order put in.

Funny thing, though. Once we actually got in to the "educator's discount" section of their site, all we had to do was click on "YES" when we were asked if the person doing the ordering was indeed an educator.


And that was all there was to it. No proof necessary, no letter of recommendation or proof of employment, no documentation whatsoever. Click.

So basically, I got a free dinner for clicking the "YES" button.

You know, if I could pool my Japanese ability into getting free meals all the time, I would. Cuz hey, when it comes down to it, if I'm full, I'm happy.

Most of the rest of the week was work work work. And more work. Classes are starting to move along pretty well. So far so good, anyway. The second year students had to write letters to their host families in the U.S., so we helped them with that. Not that the families have been decided yet, or anything. Apparently, the coordinating organization needs those letters to help search for host families.

The third year students that I teach are pretty good. I'm teaching the students in the high level class how to write essays in English. I'm just doin' my part to try and make Wright and Brown proud.

(One of my English teachers in high school was James Brown. Get up! Get on up!)

The class with the lower level students is going along much better than I anticipated. They seem to be enjoying what we're doing, and they participate pretty well.

I guess the big adjustment is dealing with the new batch of students, and the sheer amount of classes I teach now. For the last three months of the previous school year, the third year students didn't come to school. This meant that I had fewer classes to teach. Now that I'm back up to a full schedule, I'm finding it a little difficult to adjust. The new kids seem like a pretty good group of students, so this year should be interesting.

I almost snapped again at work this week, though. The teachers in the English department brought up the issue of whether we will be doing an English Play again this year. The play hasn't even been over for a week yet and we're talking about this year's play? I had to lay down the law. "There is no play. For at least two weeks, there will be no discussion of this so-called play. It does not exist. There. Is. No. Play." Hey, I told you the dang thing made me neurotic.

Friday Seamus came over from Date and we watched a Japanese movie called "Party 7". Bizarre stuff. We also ordered some Pizza Hut pizza.

Friday night pizza is a Kidd family tradition. From when I was really little and eating pizza in Pocatello and then playing Pac Man while the folks talked with our pizza-making friends (what was the name of that pizza place?) to the Round Table Pizza Fridays in P-town to trips out to Village Pizza in Roslyn, I have eaten quite a lot of pizza. And I tend to have strong opinions about what makes a pizza a good pizza. Sometimes I suspect there is more pizza sauce than blood that flows in these veins. I've told the first years about my love for all things pizza, and how the Japanese pizza toppings of mayonnaise and corn are the equivalent of mortal sins in my Church of Pizza. So naturally, on Friday during my class with them, one student randomly asked,
"So are you eating pizza tonight or what?"
I was so proud. They get it.

Then, at last, came the weekend.

Seamus came out from Date again, and we hopped in my car and made tracks for Tomakomai.

And went to see "V For Vendetta".

Remember, remember, the 22nd of April...

No. That just doesn't work.

Wow. What an absolutely stunning film. I'd read the comic book it was based on and had been blown away by it, but the transition to film was absolutely impressive.

I'm sure this movie isn't everyone's cup of java, but I say it's worth a try. There are some incredible lines in the film.

V: A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.

V: People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

V: There are no coincidences, Deliah...only the illusion of coincidence.

Finch: The same thing is true of all governments...the most reliable records are tax records.

Creedy: Die! Die! Why won't you die?! ...Why won't you die?
V: Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

V: I, like God, do not play with dice and do not believe in coincidence.

Evey Hammond: My father was a writer. You would've liked him. He used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.

...and the most impressive deliverance of a monologue I've ever seen goes to Hugo Weaving ("V") for this alliteration-filled speech:
Voilà ! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

And he PULLS IT OFF! His was an exceptionally fine piece of acting, especially when you consider that he was wearing a mask for the entire film.

After the film ended, I went to the concession stand to buy a movie program. And then, I saw IT.

A Guy Fawkes mask.

On sale.

For nine hundred yen.

And now I am all set for Halloween.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November...

There we go.

After some shopping at Aeon, we cruised over to SBC for my raspberry mocha fix. And some other stuff happened, but we'll just wait and see how things develop before getting into too much depth with this. Let's just say that depending on how things go, I may be making many more trips out to Tomakomai for SBC coffee, and leave it at that.

Then it was over to a used everything shop (clothes, games, toys, CDs, DVDs, comics, etc) to make a purchase or two, and then west to ramen. On a trip with Seamus, you are guaranteed of two things: ramen and a hot spring. The ramen shop was called "Kiwame", and it wasrecommendedd to me by one of my students. It was quite tasty, although I'm not the biggest fan of soy sauce-based soup. The waiter who brought us our bowls had guns for muscles, forearms and biceps. If you can get those kind of guns by working at a ramen shop, sign me up!

West further still to Kojohama Hot Springs for a relaxing dip in the hot water. (See?) Aaaaahhhhh. My back had been spasming all day, so it was good to get in the water and loosen those muscles up. Besides, I was tired of the "You okay there, old man?" flak I was catching from Seamus.

Back home and over to Ippukutei for a couple of beers, and then it was game over. Seamus crashed at my place, because I had to head over to Date Sunday morning anyway.

Sunday morning.

Our four kyudo (Japanese archery) club members were participating in a tournament that day in Date. So up and out of bed early, then on over to the gymnasium to watch the action unfold. Since I was driving myself over, Hiroshi (No.1) said he'd hook me up with lunch. Sweet.

More than 200 people participated in the tournament. High school students and adults from all over the Iburi and Hidaka regions were there to show their stuff. The competitions were divided into team and individual. The teamcompetitionn consisted of a three-person team, each with four shots, followed by a break, followed by four more shots each. Eight shots per person for a total of 24 shots. The team with the highest number of target hits wins.

A major difference between archery and kyudo is the scoring. In archery, your score depends on where you hit your target. In kyudo, all you have to do is hit the target.

Our students didn't win, but they did really well for being in their first tournament, and they looked better than a lot of teams out there. Although in these kinds of tournaments, it's all about hitting the target, kyudo isn't just about that. It's about the way you do things, keeping everything at 90 degree angles, preserving the post-shot form...there's a very formal aspect to kyudo that we didn't really see a lot of at the tournament. But our students really had it down. They looked different from the rest of the groups out there.

After the tournament, the three advisors (me, Hiroshi (No. 1), and New Guy #1) and the kyudo coach went out for sushi. At 3 PM. Which was my first meal of the day. Oh boy was I glad when I started eating them slices of raw fish on rice.

Then I went home and SLEPT.

On Monday morning, my coworker Jack's wife had a baby. CONGRATULATIONS, JACK!

Tuesday, I shaved my head with my clippers. It turned out pretty well, especially for a first time attempt.

Wednesday (yesterday), I got a package from home - popcorn, a new tie, and the King Kong DVD. Yes! Then I picked up Jack and Katie, drove out to Date, picked up Seamus, and we all went out to Ippei for some yakitori goodness to celebrate Jack's newfound fatherhood.

And now, I am officially caught up!

(which is a good thing, because next week I take off on a road trip and will have a lot of catching up to do when I get back. Whew.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was Keystone Pizza, Larry & Deanna were the proprietors.

Friday, April 28, 2006 12:22:00 AM  

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