Friday, December 21, 2007

The Damnation of Mario

I spend three days a week teaching English conversation and composition to mixed-level classes at a private college in Setagaya. I'm not kidding when I say "mixed-level," either; the huge proficiency overlaps that exist between designated levels often make me wonder how the students have ended up enrolled in the classes they're in. As such, the most proficient students are capable of some really clever humor, while the low-level students are mostly only capable of making lame excuses to explain why they're forty minutes late for class.

One day, during a group writing exercise focusing on "if" clauses, some of my first-year students came up with the scenario below. I supplied only the phrase "If Mario eats a mushroom," and the students did the rest, taking turns completing each other's sentences. Things didn't turn out well for Mario, it turns out:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome to the Stage of History

There's a lot of buzz about Wii Fit these days (and the damn thing is sold out everywhere I go, which is making Christmas shopping for Girlfriend extra-tough). Apparently, the thing is really sensitive. When you stand on the Wii Fit pad and lean to one side, the Wii is capable of telling you that you're leaning to the side. Except....don't you already sort of know you're leaning to the side? Anyway.

Today, a slightly less "healthy" Wii product was released: Namco Bandai's Soulcalibur Legends, a hack-and-slash adventure title based on the Soulcalibur fighting game franchise. After playing it for about thirty minutes, I have the following observations:

  • The monsters in the game are a product of a force which the English-speaking narrator calls "the Evil Seed"...but the Japanese subtitles insist on calling it "Evil Sperm."
  • When you shake the Wii remote and nunchuck wildly to defeat enemies, the remote emits a series of swishing sounds that make me feel like Bruce Lee on crack.
  • The camera is about as easy to control as Bruce Lee on crack.
  • Ivy is pretty hot for a woman with white hair.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Energy Proposal

A while ago I ran across a comment on someone else's blog (I'd post the link if I could remember where I saw it) to the effect of, "Texas should secede from the US and become its own sovereign nation." While talk of Texan secession is usually a warning sign that a lot of hot air about Davy Crockett is about to follow, I suddenly found myself reassessing my views. In light of recent high petroleum prices and talk of an impending fuel crisis, the United States of America might find that allowing Texas to secede from the Union could work in the favor of the remaining forty-nine states.

At present, Texas is the top consumer of oil in the country, with nearly double the consumption of the next thirstiest state, California (source). Amazingly, the needs of Texas alone constitute almost 17% of the current national total consumption of oil, so secession alone would alleviate a considerable amount of US dependence on the black gold.

I know what you're saying. "But Jesse, that black gold is Texas tea! Wouldn't we also be allowing the majority of our domestic oil reserves to walk away, never to return?" Of course not. As you have most certainly noticed, American oil dependence has dictated the actions of our nation's military for some years now. Faced with the supply crisis brought on by Texan secession, the remaining United States (which I propose to name itself USMT: United States Minus Texas) would, in turn, invade Texas to seize control of its oil. Texas's fledgling military, consisting entirely of obese old men in recliners yelling, "REMEMBER THE ALAMO!" would be powerless to stop this invasion (which, by the way, I'm certain would be endorsed by the United Nations). As a result of the invasion, the USMT would be entitled to the benefits of Texas's oil wealth, while remaining completely free of the burden associated with supporting the now war-torn former state's disproportionate energy addiction.

Added bonus: With the recently defeated Texas's economy in ruins, the USMT would be in a position to start outsourcing dirt-cheap labor across the USMT-Texas border. Texas's newly installed puppet dictator would not least not if he wanted to keep his summer home in Michigan.

To find out how you can help Texas secede from the United States (and to see a funny animation of Texas floating out into the Atlantic Ocean), visit