The making of The Blues Brothers - How "The Blues Brothers" movie got made. Spoiler: it involved lots of cocaine.
99 life hacks - There are some good ones in here. I'm proud to say there are a few I was already using as well.
The other day we took Hana on a tour of the Kewpie Mayonnaise factory in Kurihashi, which is not too far from my house although it is also the middle of nowhere. The tour is geared towards little kids, so it opens with a stupid animation of some kids battling and evil bad-nutrition villain with mayonnaise-covered vegetables. Then you get to walk around the hallways of the factory and look down at the machines running through some windows. You get to see everything that goes into the production of the sickly sweet goo the Japanese call mayonnaise. The machines are pretty cool; they've got one that they invented for cracking eggs and separating the whites from the yolks. The whole production is mechanized; there are some people on the floor but it doesn't look like they have that much to do. Unfortunately the tour runs in reverse order, so you see the finished boxes of mayonnaise bottles being loaded into the trucks, then the bottles being put into boxes, then the finished mayo being bottled, then the bottles being made, then the mayo being mixed, then the eggs being cracked. They're really proud of their egg-cracking machine and spend a good bit of time on it, but overall there's not enough time looking at the machines and nothing at all hands-on about the tour. At the end, they lead you into this room with a big pile of lettuce in it, and give you free reign to sample any of their many salad dressings, all of which are available for purchase on your way out. They also have a big grassy knoll out in front of the factory, which I think was Hana-chan's favorite part.
Wow, I drank way too much on Friday night. It was a proper binge. I met this guy who's a friend of a friend's husband, and he's into guitar too so we went to this bar near my house that is patronized almost exclusively by musicians and other people who are into music. THe guy who runs the place is also really into music, and lets whoever comes in put their latest tracks. We got there at like 6:00 and started drinking and talking to all the people there, including this one old guy who was convinced that all jazz musicians are secretly Jews, even guys like Miles Davis, and that that somehow matters. We couldn't even figure out half of what the guy was saying. We started out drinking normal draft beer but soon moved on to Belgian Trappist, and before we knew it, it was 1:30 and we had been drinking for over 7 hours. I think I went home soon after that, but I really don't know. All I know is that the whole next day was a complete loss, I was so hung over. I got up to pee a few times but mostly just hung around in the vicinity of my bed the whole day. There was no barfing or anything like that, but a whole Saturday was wasted. Being a teacher in Japan, or even just an adult male really, means drinking several nights a week, but I very rarely feel more than a little bit groggy the next day. I blame the Belgians.
Japanese Defence - a brief summary of different perspectives on the military in Japan.
Close the Washington Monument - Admit it. The terrorists won.
Yesterday we took Hana to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. She loves all of their movies, and watches one of the DVDs at least twice a day. Recently she's been really into "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" so she was really happy when we got there and she could see the giant robot from the movie looking down on us from the roof. She couldn't wait to get up there and tried push her way past everyone in the line. By the time we got up there, she was in a panic. She was screaming and crying and running around and not happy at all. Eventually we stopped trying to calm her down and left her alone, and she went and took a huge dump on the statue's foot. After that, she felt fine and everyone had a nice time.
for me to poop on!
John Boehner - What a dick.
What happened to Allen Iverson? - He's living and playing basketball in Istanbul.
The Battle of Towton - Forensic insights into medieval warfare in England
Is the American Dream over? - from Spiegel in Germany, actual reporting on the state of the economy and the nation of the type no longer possible in the United States.
America in Decline - Why Germans think we're insane.
Hey, It's Christmas. That means another delicious cake for Hana. Here it is:
By the way, for anyone who wants to get me Christmas presents, here is my Amazon Japan Wishlist.
Hey it was thanksgiving! I had no idea. I should have done something special I guess, but I did nothing. I didn't even eat turkey. It was just a normal boring day at school.
So we took te 1st graders to the museum of modern art in Kita Urawa the other day for a one day art excursion. We do it every year and it's always a lot of fun, and this year was no exception. But the kids actually enjoyed themselves looking at the art rather than breaking stuff, so it was good. Iwas impressed that they all ignored the big obvious Picasso right in the front and went straight tone of Monet's haystack paintings instead. They were having a special exhibition of Andrew Wyeth stuff; no Helgas but a lot of Olsen farm stuff, including about 20 studies for Christina's World. I thought it would be as boring as hell, especially for the kids, but it was actually a good show. I came away with a newfound appreciation for the darker, morebrooding aspects of Wyeth's work. And the kids liked the way it was both messy and near at the same time. Egg tempera looks really difficult, especially since I can't even watercolor.
Shadow scholar - an article by one of those guys who makes a living writing papers for other people. I would do this too, but it seems like too much work.
In addition to my junior high school classes, I also teach some high school 3rd grade writing classes, mostly as preparation for the university entrance exams. "Writing" is a somewhat deceptive term though; it's really just translating from Japanese to English. Anyway, iwas teaching this class yesterday when one of the kids' phone rang. This guy in the back looks in his bag and then stands up and makes what is called in japan the "guts pose." It's basically the pose at the top of the stairs in Rocky. Anyway, the whole class breaks out into thunderous applause which lasts for like 2 solid minutes. The other teacher who was with was like, "what the heck's going on?" but I kinda had an idea. Turns out he had just become the first kid from his class to be accepted into university. I expected him to get up, chuck his textbooks in the trash, and just walk out if class, but it turns out it was just his second choice school. So I had him answer #3 on the board. He got it completely wrong.