Now that I’ve been in Japan for two and a half months, one of the most common questions I’m being asked is, “So, do you speak any Japanese yet?” When L first heard my answer, she could do nothing but emit a horrified gasp. When I ran into one of my trainers, and he heard my answer, he was stunned and said, “And you say it with such pride.” That answer, my friends, is a very simple, “No.” I’ve been here two and a half months, and I have barely mastered “hai,” which is Japanese for “yes.” I have still barely understood how to say hello. It’s not “Konichiwa.” “Konichiwa” quite literally is “Good afternoon,” and there are different greetings for different parts of the day and whether it’s the first time you’ve seen that person that day and so on and such forth. So, when I head out into public, I find that I’m doing what most of the recent immigrants who couldn’t speak English at Extra Evil would do: just smile and nod.
Continue reading Language Barrier
I’m currently in the middle of a book called American Gods in which Neil Gaiman spins a tale of gods of the old world going to war against the gods of the new world and a poor guy caught in the middle of it all. One of the gods that our poor guy meets up with is a guy named Apple Johnny, which bears more than a striking resemblance to Johnny Appleseed. It eventually turns out that it is Johnny Appleseed. He’s a folk hero and, if I understand Gaiman’s mythology correctly, folk heroes are kind of like demigods. At the mention of “Apple Johnny,” I couldn’t help but think of a similar folk hero from my homeland of Canada. Of course, not a lot of people know about this person, but he is quite well known in my neck of the woods. So please, let me tell you about one of Canada’s forgotten folk heroes. Just sit back, and let me tell you about Markie Watermelonseed.
Continue reading The Saga of Markie Watermelonseed
Ah, Monday. How I used to dread that day. But, ever since I got my job in Japan, I find that my internal clock has just been shot to hell. My work week runs Tuesday through Saturday, so my weekend is Sunday and Monday. What most people call Monday is really Sunday to me. What most people call Sunday is really Saturday to me. I live a parallel universe, in which time is just slightly out of synch with the known universe.
Continue reading 6 Hours Lost on the Streets of Kumagaya or How I Found Toys R Us
So what is this obsession with size on the Internet? Every time I check my e-mail, I see that I’m flooded with all kinds of spam saying that my size can be increased by 4 inches. I just look and that and say, “But what am I going to do with 20 inches?” And then, because we live a society of equality, I keep scrolling through my inbox to see that, for just $14.95, I can increase to the next cup size. First, let me get a girlfriend. Then, I’ll let her ignore such spam. And then, as I keep going through the inbox, we get out of the smut and into something more legitimate. Faster bandwidth! Bigger server space! Bigger numbers in your bank account! Advertisers on the Internet seem to follow the motto of the Olympics: swifter, higher, stronger. And now, Chuck wants me to get in on the action. But, he’s doing it in a way to buck the trend.
Continue reading Size Does Matter