Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mona Stiles is My Nemesis

I'm not the best English teacher in the world, but at least I'm not this woman:

Her name is Mona Stiles, and she's a theater instructor at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. And, for some reason, she has her own educational show on Japanese TV in which she teaches English as a second language. The show is called Terebi De Ryugaku, which means "What In God's Name Is That Woman Blathering About?"

Don't misunderstand my frustration; there are plenty of English instruction TV shows in which people from various walks of life pose as teachers, and I'm fine with that. But Ms. Stiles is, in particular, a pebble in my shoe by virtue of her awful teaching techniques. This woman talks throughout the entire lesson while her students stare at her, apparently bored and/or completely unaware of what she's talking about. And how could they possibly know what she's talking about? Half the time, I don't know what she's talking about. Consider this example:

Mona: Who knows what "tongue-in-cheek" means? That means something is kind of like, "er-er!" You know what "er-er" means?


In the same episode, Mona gives one of her students a special assignment: Walk up to a complete stranger in Central Park and tell them a joke of your own design. Now before you call me "harsh," witness this joke my kid brother made up when he was three years old:

Knock-knock. Who's there? Camera power. Camera power who? Camera power wower.

Truth be told, Mona Stiles is just the most recent in a series of horrible teachers to host Terebi De Ryugaku. If this theater teacher can have her own English show, then I want my own show called So You Want to Build a Harpsichord.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bush Begs, Plays Dead, Stays

Bush Begins 5-Day Push to Defend Iraq War

Read the article and then riddle me this, Batman: Should the president, under any circumstances, need to set aside a five-day span in which to defend himself against the criticism coming from the majority of the public?

Bush apparently isn't even trying to pretend to run the country anymore. The man has fallen below "lame duck" status, all the way down to "quadriplegic cheerleader." Five days?! That's a metric week!

Cheap shot perhaps, but look at the photo that was run with this article. Check out the evil mug on this guy. Kiss your daddy with that mouth?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Vasquez

Character: Private Vasquez
Actor: Jenette Goldstein
Film: Aliens (1986)
Badass Moment: Her last stand against the aliens in the ventilation ducts

Maybe one of the reasons Big Trouble in Little China didn't do so well in the box offices was because it was up against Aliens: the icky, slimy, acid-for-blood, face-hugging, mouth-within-a-mouth sequel directed by James "King of the World" Cameron. And maybe, just maybe, Big Trouble would have stood a better chance if its female lead was less of a mannequin and more of a Vasquez.

Jenette Goldstein explodes onto the silver screen in her first feature film appearance as Pvt. Vasquez, a space marine who (allegedly) has never been mistaken for a man. She does chin-ups wherever she can find the opportunity, puts up with endless trash talk from Bill Paxton, calls people pendejo and is, according to colleague Pvt. Drake, "just too bad." While I am 99% repulsed by military machismo in film characters, Vasquez gets the benefit of that leftover 1%. Sorry, Rambo...the bandana just looks better on her.

Pvt. Vasquez, you are just too badass. We salute you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Buy Somethin' Will Ya: The Revenge

A couple months ago I tried to sell some video game posters on eBay. Unfortunately, the winning bidder ditched on me without any response to my emails, which gave me a new, very negative view of the current state of "The World's Online Marketplace." So now, after a couple months of grumbing about stupid, crummy eBay, I'm listing those posters again, as well as one of the many sexy character figurines Girlfriend has been hassling me to get rid of. Tell your geeky friends!


New Name

From today, this journal will cease to be called J-Log and continue life as Chorus, Isolate, Confirm (or CIC, if you like). It turns out that J-Log, a name I whipped up without thinking much, has been and continues to be used by other bloggers, including at least a couple other expats in Japan. However, a quick Google search for the words "chorus isolate confirm" turned up zilch, so that's what I'm using. In case you cared to know, "Chorus, isolate, confirm" is a language teaching axiom (which, for all I know, is exclusively limited to my employer's training curriculum...and by using it as the title of my blog, I'm probably inviting some kind of lawsuit...WHAT A MEESA SAYING? Nobody sues anybody in Japan).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Thunder

Character: Thunder
Actor: Carter Wong
Film: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Badass Moment: Exhalation scene, pictured here.

The other day I put my Big Trouble DVD in the player for the first time in a couple years. If you're not familiar, Big Trouble in Little China is the result of thriller director John Carpenter's "me too!" reaction to the Hong Kong action genre. It's clumsy on plot, has way too much wry dialogue, and stars Kurt Russell as Jack Burton, the obnoxious and inept anti-hero.

Sounds like I don't like this movie much, right? Wrong, stupid! Because this movie has Thunder. Played to perfection by non-English speaker Carter Wong, Thunder is a kung-fu magician whose special-est of special moves involves getting really upset and puffing himself up like a blowfish on steroids. Furthermore, he emits one of the coolest movie sound effects I've ever heard (imagine an exhaling sound that would make Darth Vader pee his pants).

Thunder, you are a badass, and an inspiration to us all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I Still Don't Give a Good God Damn What You Did Last Summer

This week's Thursday Night TV Movie was I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, (working title: I Still Think the Moviegoing Public Will Pay Money to See Garbage Like This Because They Don't Know Any Better). I cannot count the number of times I said the word "ridiculous" out loud as I (inexplicably) watched the entire thing. The movie throws away one opportunity after another to save itself from demise. Most noteably, consider Jack Black, who lends his genius to this doomed film as a dreadlocked drug dealer. Every time Jack Black popped up, I was cheering, "Yeah! School of Rock, baby!" Then the movie's hook-handed antagonist killed him. Even worse, they passed up the chance to make some kind of joke about him being "hooked on drugs" or something. UNACCEPTABLE.

I don't know why I watched the movie at all. I've never even seen the first one, not that a little detail like that would have any effect on my appreciation for the second. Honestly, I can't think of a single reason.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Gokiburi


Girlfriend and I have had a rude awakening recently. We now find ourselves thrust into a demographic where we did not always belong: People with cockroach trouble.

My first two years of Tokyo life passed with but one cockroach sighting (in Ueno Park one cool autumn evening, as I was playing my guitar...the only living thing that stopped to listen was a cockroach). Wait, make that two; I saw one in a McDonald's in Shinjuku once.

About a month ago, Girlfriend and I were watching TV when she suddenly shrieked, "Gokiburi!" And all at once, my utopian illusions of cockroach-free living came crashing down around me like so many Triangle Shirt Factories. Fast forward to last night, when another six-legged friend showed up on top of Girlfriend's inkjet printer, and then again this evening, when a third appeared in almost the same place.

In each case, I dealt out swift justice in the form of a well-aimed shoe/magazine/health insurance documentation package. But there remains the troubling rule of thumb I have heard so many times whenever the conversation turns to pest control (and you'd be surprised how often that is): For every cockroach you see, there are thirty you don't. Second most often volunteered factoid is that "they can fly, you know."


Looks like tomorrow's schedule will include going to the drugstore to pick up some roach traps called Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi (which means "Here, Roachy, Roachy!").

By the way, today's my birthday! You owe me a beer.