Friday, June 27, 2008

Rush Hour 3

(movie review)

"We've got a free period coming up next week," our Japanese teacher said. "What would you like to do?"
We had spent the last couple free periods watching Japanese anime, and it seemed a bit of a waste to watch videos every time. (After all, we could do that in on our own time if we wanted.) But no one could think of an alternative idea. Or at least no one could think of an acceptable alternative idea.

"Let's play basketball," someone said.
"We can't," the teacher answered. "There's no gym in the school."

"Let's study Japanese history," someone else said.
"What?" the teacher responded. "You don't want to do that, do you? These free periods are supposed to be for something fun and to break up the monotony." (Well, personally I would have been more than happy to have spent the time studying Japanese history, but I kept my mouth shut. I figured there was no reason to make everyone else in the class suffer just because I was a geek.)

"Let's do Karaoke," said someone in the back.
"Come on, get serious," the teacher said. "We can't leave the school campus, and I certainly can't take you to a karaoke place."

So, in the end we came back to the idea of watching a video. The question was now what video to watch.
After reading Donald Richie's book on Japanese film I have a large viewing list to work through, but again I kept my mouth shut. I figured I could work through my own viewing list on my own time, and I wanted to see where the class discussion was going.

The class, being composed of 95% Chinese students, soon began asking to see a Jackie Chan film.
"We can't see a Jackie Chan film," our teacher said. "That has nothing to do with studying Japanese."

"It would if we watched it with the Japanese dub on," someone said.
"And with the Japanese subtitles to practice kanji," another student said.

Surprisingly, our Japanese teacher gave in on this. The Chinese students said they wanted to see the Jackie Chan movie, "The Forbidden Kingdom", and our teacher agreed to go out and rent it.

The next week, she came in with a different video. "'The Forbidden Kingdom' isn't out in Japan yet," she said. "So I rented 'Rush Hour 3' instead."

Aha! An American movie. The linguistic tables have turned.
...But of course we watched it in Japanese. "To tell the truth," our Japanese teacher said apologetically as she set the DVD settings, "I would prefer to watch it in English myself. The dubbing is always so over the top and unnatural. But, this is Japanese class."

(This is a common complaint. When Shoko used to watch marathon sessions of "The O.C.", her eyes used to get so tired from reading all the subtitles so she would sit right in front of the TV.
"That's bad for your eyes," I would say. "Just switch it to the Japanese dub. I could use the Japanese practice anyway."
"I can't stand the dub," Shoko said. "In Japan they use professional anime voice actors for all the dubbing, and the voice actors are always trying to show off how dramatic they can be so that everything is too over done. It always takes me out of the story.")

And so we began watching the Japanese dub of "Rush Hour 3".

It was interesting watching a Jackie Chan movie with a room full of Chinese students. I never realized before how much they loved him. Every time he leaped across a building or did some dramatic acrobatic feat, the room would erupt into cheers, and someone would turn to me and say something like, "Wow, isn't he great?"
I guess this shouldn't have been a surprise to me. I've been living in Japan long enough to know that Ichiro, Watanabe Ken, or any Japanese person that's able to take the world stage automatically becomes a national hero. (In America we think it's only natural that our celebrities are world celebrities. In other countries, they don't take international stardom for granted).

The opening scene takes place in New York, and shows Chris Tucker trying to direct traffic and screwing up horribly. Several of the Chinese students turned to me and asked, "Is America really like this?" They continued to ask this question throughout the New York scenes.
My Chinese classmates were half asking in jest, but during my time in Japan I have spent many hours trying to convince Japanese people that the America I grew up in was very different from the America portrayed in Hollywood. It's a losing battle. I'm sure anyone who's lived overseas can vouch for the fact that Hollywood often acts as our nation's cultural ambassador more than we might wish it to.

Then, our heroes capture a would be assassin, and bring him in for questioning, only to discover he only speaks French.
--At this point the attention turned to the two French students in the class. But because the original French had been redubbed by a Japanese voice actor trying to speak French, the pronunciation was so bad the French students couldn't make it out.

(When they get into dubbing in this country, they dub right across the board. I'm not sure if there's some sort of technical reason for this (like maybe it's too difficult to mix voice tracks) or if they just get carried away, but even the foreign languages are redubbed with Japanese voice actors attempting to approximate foreign languages. Even Japanese itself is redubbed. I was watching the TV show "Heroes" a few months back, and discovered that on the Japanese dub they had even redubbed the Japanese parts---And in fact in this movie as well. In "Rush Hour 3" there was some Japanese in the original that someone felt the need to dub over).

Then, our heroes travel to France, where all sorts of French stereo-types are made fun of, and everyone has a good laugh at the French students. Then they get into a taxi cab, and the French taxi cab driver goes off on an anti-American rant about how America lost in Vietnam and are losing in Iraq. Everyone (including the Vietnamese student) looks to me for a rebuttal, but I just shrugged my shoulders.


The first "Rush Hour" movie was an instant classic with my roommates back at Calvin. My roommates thought it was the funniest thing ever, and there was a period of a couple months where it was being shown in our apartment just about every day.
I did my best to avoid watching it because of my "no movies during the school year" policy, but I couldn't help but be sucked in a few times.

"Rush Hour 2" came out while I was in Japan, and went out and rented it at the time because it reminded me of my old college roommates. When I next met up with them, I tried to talk to them about the movie, only to discover none of them had actually bothered to see the sequel, and their movie tastes had moved on.

I was a bit surprised they felt the need to make a "Rush Hour 3". For one thing "Rush Hour 2" was simply mediocre. For another, it's been 10 years since the first "Rush Hour" came out. (According to wikipedia, the delay was because of development hell).

However this movie is not bad at all. It's not the best movie ever made by a long shot, but it's a very pleasant waste of time. The action sequences are surprisingly good for a cliche buddy movie. And what's more there's plenty of action. There's very little dull moments in this movie.
Chris Tucker's not quite as fresh as he was in the late 90s, but he's funny enough to keep this movie entertaining.

....The plot makes absolutely no sense whatever, but you can't win them all.


The PC liberal in me can't resist making a couple quibbles with this movie. Stop me if I'm being too sensitive.

Despite the fact that my Chinese classmates took great pride in Jackie Chan being an American movie star, it was interesting to note that throughout this whole movie Jackie Chan never battled a Caucasian once. Despite being in New York and Paris, Jackie Chan was matched up exclusively against Asian thugs and Asian femme fatales. And from what little I remember about "Rush Hour" 1 & 2 (and granted it's been a long time since I've seen either movie), it was the same. Jackie Chan was in America, but he spent the whole time battling other Asians.

Do you suppose there was a internal Hollywood memo floating around somewhere that read: "Asian action hero? Great idea. But make sure he's not taking down blond haired blue eyed Americans. That could alienate the Midwest movie goers. Match him up against other Asian bad guys."

As for the Asian femme fatales in this movie (and the previous sequel, Rush Hour 2): is it just me, or are Asian femme fatales portrayed as more psychotic in Hollywood movies than their Western counterparts.

Edwin Starr's famous anti-war anthem closes out this movie, which I was always happy to hear. They did however cut the song off before any of the verses. And it wasn't really a smooth fade out at all, but rather a pretty abrupt cut right as Edwin Starr is gearing up to go into all the reasons he is against war.

Of course the first "Rush Hour" movie gave this song plenty of play, so I can't complain too much. But of course the first "Rush Hour" movie was 10 years ago, before we were fighting a war in Iraq. Do you suppose there was another Hollywood memo reading: "We don't want to be perceived as taking an opinion on the War one way or another. You can play the chorus if you want, but make sure you cut out before the verses come on."?

Link of the Day
Money Money Money
Y’know it’s funny that all of the Republicans who are wetting themselves about Barack Obama rejecting public financing seemed to have no problem with huge financial disparities when they were the ones outspending the Democrats in 2000 and 2004. Hell, at the time, they were the ones who were the loudest opponents of campaign finance laws, insisting that giving corporate interests the ability to buy elections was a “free speech” issue. Now that the tables are turned, however, they can’t complain loudly enough about Obama’s apparent “hypocrisy” for rejecting public financing after previous expressing support for it. Needless to say, it’s hard to take someone’s complaints of hypocrisy seriously when they’re committing and even more egregious form of insincerity by conveniently failing to mention that John McCain not only backed out on a binding promise to accept matching funds in the primary, but that in not binding himself to the public financing commitments that he made, John McCain’s campaign is breaking the law.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

(Book Review)

Since I've been busy with school and work, I've not had a lot of free time for reading. But thankfully there's always time for audio books.

This is a book I should have read a long time ago. My aunt gave it to me for Christmas 10 years ago (wow, that long ago already!) after my friends and I had hiked the Smoky mountains during spring break. (Not hiking on the Appalachian trail per se, but intersecting it a couple of times on our route).

Around the same time, my best friend Brett read the same book. And I still remember him recounting some of the funnier parts of the book to me on one of our hiking trips. (With all the major things you forget over the years, it's strange some of the inane things you remember, isn't it?)

I didn't read this book at the time for a number of reasons. Back when I was 20, I was trying to make up for a childhood that consisted almost entirely of solitude and books by trying to be more social and making a conscious effort to limit the amount of books I read. (Sounds a bit silly now, but that was my attitude at the time). Also, partly because I'm a slow reader, it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy for me to get through a book. And so I rarely read a book simply on someone else's recommendation, and will only pick up a book unless I'm personally motivated to get through it.

I did however spend two different spring break trips during college hiking the Smoky mountains, and at points overlapping with the Appalachian trails. I posted my journal from second trips as a retrospection a few years ago. The first trip, from Sophomore year, was before I started my journal, which is a pity because we had much more adventures and interesting stories on that trip. At least I can still remember a lot of it even if I didn't write it down at the time.

...Anyway, both trips were among the best experiences of my life. I love hiking, and the only thing better than a good hike is being able to share it with some of your best friends and have a lot of laughs along the way. And the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Words can't describe the beauty of the Smoky mountains. At times the woods were so thick with foliage we thought we were in a rain forest.

And it ended up being quite an adventure as well. I've mentioned this before, but on our first trip the trail criss crossed the river at several points. We had of course noticed this while we were looking at the map, but didn't think anything of it. I guess we had just assumed there would be bridges at all of these points. Not being experienced hikers, we were shocked when we came to the first crossing and there wasn't a bridge in sight.

The first river crossing we were able to hop skip and jump across using some rocks. But, just like a video game, the crossings became progressively more and more difficult as we continued. Pretty soon we were having to make long detours in order to find a spot with rocks we could jump to. Then we had to shimmy across a fallen tree to get across. Finally we got to a large river where there didn't seem anyway to cross.

It was early March, and we were still wearing our winter coats, so it was much too cold to wade across the frigid mountain river (especially considering we didn't have any warm place to dry off in afterwards). So we walked up and down the river for a while looking for another place to cross. We argued and some people talked about going back. And in the end we ended up spending close to two hours making our own bridge: going into the forest and finding fallen trees and branches which we would then lug into the river and attempt to make foot paths between some of the bigger boulders. The four of us guys were trying to show off as much as possible for the girls in our group by making leaps of daring back and forth along the rocks (or maybe I'm just speaking for myself).

Finally when the bridge was completed, we helped the girls across. (Our bridges, such as they were, were a bit flimsily and wobbly and hard to walk across unassisted).

And then, one girl slipped off the bridge, falling in the cold water and even worse getting her back pack and all her gear soaking wet. We all rushed to help her.

That night, we got caught in a heavy snowfall. And the next day the adventure continued on...

You'll excuse me if I spend most of this review talking about my own experiences rather than the book. But reading this,( or listening to it rather), did bring back a lot of fond memories.

Anyway, now that a friend gave me a copy of this book on audio, and having recently finished and enjoyed two other Bill Bryson books (The Lost Continent and The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid ) it was the perfect time to continue onto this book.

And what can I say? Bill Bryson is a funny guy! I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

In addition to Bryson's dry wit, his hiking companion (under the alias of Stephen Katz) is a writer's dream.
In "The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid" Bryson recalls his childhood with Stephen Katz. And, although I've not read them, apparently Katz makes appearances in several of Bryson's other books. He's fat, grumpy, lazy, surly, vindictive and more or less the perfect comic character to write about on a long grueling hiking trip. When asked how he feels about bears, Katz responds, "Hey, they haven't gotten me yet!" When forced to share a lodge with a group of preppy spring break kids, Katz remarks, "One of these guys just called me Sport. I'm getting the fuck out of here!"

(In "The Thunderbolt Kid" Byrson mentions in passing that the real Stephen Katz called this book largely a work of fiction. Bryson never went on to elaborate the truth behind the charge, but it did have me wondering the whole time as I listened to this book. Either way, given how Katz comes off in this book, it's not surprising that the real Katz would have some objections).

Despite the fact that Katz is almost the perfect character, the thought did occur to me a few times: "I bet our gang would have had Katz and Bryson beat." If we had been taken notes on the trail, if we had written up the experience when it was still fresh, and if one of us had the wit and writing skill of Bryson, we could have made a much funnier book. Maybe that's arrogant to say, but when I remember all the funny things that happened to us, all the laughs we had, and all the insane arguments over pointless things, I bet our story would have been better. Bryson may have had Stephen Katz, but I had a whole host of characters on my trip.

....But the thing is, none of us did have the writing skills or subtle wit of Bryson. And that's the thing about writing: the actual story doesn't count half as much as the skill in telling it. If you go follow my links above to my journal entry about our trip, you'll note it's not exactly Shakespeare. Whereas Bryson can take something as mundane as a road trip across the Midwest, and make it into an hilarious book in "The Lost Continent."

Oh well. I guess writers like Bryson gives the rest of us something to shoot for.

In addition to adventures along the trail, Bryson also tells a lot of the history of the Appalachian trail (how it came into existence, and the problems it has faced over the years) and some of the geology and botany of the trail. I know this sounds boring, but it's actually a lot more interesting than you would think once Bryson starts getting into it.

Bryson also continues many of his observations about American life, including the lengths to which ordinary non-hiking Americans will go to avoid walking. Continuing on themes in some of his previous books, Bryson observes how difficult it is to walk across an American city even if you wanted to. Once off the trail, Bryson recounts a near death experience trying to walk to a local K-mart, and being honked at by the passing drivers for "having the temerity to try and cross town without the benefit of metal."

As I said in my review of "The Lost Continent", I couldn't agree more on this point. With the coming energy crisis, American cities are going to have to be redesigned to be more cycling and pedestrian friendly.

According to Wikipedia, a film adaptation of this book is in the works. I'd be interested to see that when it comes out.

Link of the Day
Chomsky Speaks: On Iraq, Iran and Norman Finkelstein
and The Republican Good News Fairy

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Presidential Election

As with the last time I commented on the Presidential Election, I don't have anything new and earth shattering to say, but I do want to go on record with my own opinions.

It was certainly a nail biting primary season, wasn't it? Like most people, I had never been so concerned about a primary election before in my life. But this year every election day I would be addicted to the news feed. I kept checking CNN's cell phone website again and again to see the election results.

And now that it's all over, I couldn't be happier. We finally have a Democratic candidate we can be excited about, instead of simply the lesser of two evils. Obama's not perfect of course, (and I've linked to a number of articles critical of him in the past) but his progressive voting record is as close as we'll ever get. Not to mention his eloquence, which will be a refreshing change after our current bumbler in chief. Not to mention the historic significance of having a black president.
(From Japan my role in all this was just as a passive observer. I know some of you have been actively campaigning for Obama back home, and let me just say: you guys rock, thanks a lot).

Of course Obama hasn't won the general election yet, and he has a lot of obstacles to overcome, not least of which is racism in middle America. But McCain is such a flawed candidate that one can certainly dare to hope.

Hillary is looking slightly less attractive after the bitter primary season, but count me among the voters still hoping for a dream ticket. If Obama decides not to chose her, then I hope he goes with another woman. My reasons for wanting a woman VP are admittedly superficial. I just want the excitement of seeing two historic barriers shattered in the same election. But as women represent half the population, I'm sure there are as many qualified woman candidates to chose from as there are men, so why not?

...and well I'm on the subject of the general election, here's my short rant about
Hypocrisy on the Right

already those on the right are attempting to frame this election as eloquence versus service. McCain, they say, may not be as eloquent as Obama, but at least he has a record of service to his country. (You all read the newspapers. I'm sure you've heard these arguments before).

I've written several times now about political hypocrisy, and I probably should be over it by now. After all, I'm old enough where I shouldn't be so naive and idealistic about politics, and I should have learned to expect a certain level of hypocrisy. But it still burns me up.

For anyone with short memories, here's a quick recap of the Republican attitude towards military service

1992 election: Bush's father and Republican pundits makes Clinton's draft dodging one of the pivotal election issues (along with Clinton's marijuana use).

2000 Election: Bush, a Vietnam War supporter who found a way out of the war using family connections is running against Al Gore, who opposed the War but thought it was his duty to serve anyway. Republicans say over and over again it's not an issue, and get furious when liberals try and bring it up.

2004: Bush versus John Kerry. Well, we all remember how that went. A decorated Vietnam War hero runs against a chicken hawk. And guess which one of them got their patriotism questioned?
The fact that Bush avoided military service? How dare you bring that up?

2008: Republicans finally find a candidate who served in Vietnam. And suddenly, the whole election is about military service. Barak Obama is criticized for not serving in the Vietnam War which ended when he was still 14. And after spending his whole adult life as a community organizer, Obama is criticized for his lack of service.

I know, I know, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the rest of that gang are professional whores who have absolutely no shame. But what really disturbs me is how these ideas filter down to the rank and file. I remember at Calvin during the late 1990s talking to Republicans who would work themselves up into a fury talking about our draft dodging President. During the 2000 election, I would bring up the issue and they would just shrug and say it wasn't important.

Family values? same story. You can bet that if McCain had been a Democrat his divorce and marital infidelities would be a big topic this year.

Link(s) of the Day

Via ZNet: Why Clinton Lost: Press consumed with her poor strategy, not her poor choice in public office

and Why Obama Won.

Also this youtube video of McCain seems to have been making the rounds. It's interesting viewing, although I agree with the comments on this modern world about the questionable last couple minutes.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm Back

Sorry to anyone who wondered where I was last week. See the previous couple posts.

Well, I've had a week to think about it, and I've decided on what probably should have been pretty obvious in retrospect. I'm going to split my blogging into two different blogs, one for public consumption, one invite only.

From here on out, I intend to do all my personal blogging at a seperate site, starting with the "Break Up Post", which has been re-moved from this site.

I've decided not to spam all my friends and family by sending them unsolicited invitations, but if you want to be able to read the other blog just send me an e-mail. The standards to get invited aren't very high. You don't have to be my best friend. I just want to know who you are.

As for this site:
I'm not going to go through and purge all my archives, but from here on out I'm going to use it only for my - various- review projects, and perhaps the occassional political rant.
Of course, the way I write reviews they often tend to be filled with personal recollections as well, but I'm going to let a certain degree of that slide.

The "Better Know a City" project is a bit boarderline, but I'm going to keep it on this blog and count it as reviews of a city. Any other travelogues however will be moved to the 2nd blog.

The Retrospection posts will also be posted on the other blog from here on out.

Link of the Day
Secret Plan to Keep Iraq under US Control Revealed

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Me and My Critics

Below is a sampling of the public drubbing I've been getting on the internet over the break-up post. I've taken some representative comments from a couple different internet forums and as best I could edited out the parts concerning Shoko and only left in the parts criticizing me.

****Warning: Crass Language ahead. Read at your own risk***

*Blog of a prototypical NOVA loser Ha Ha Ha

*I gave up! Why do people write blogs like this?

*+1. And who does he think he's writing to?

*Oh man, what a tool. They should teach you at school, when you have to apologise to a girl over and over, your relationship is doomed to failure.

*Did you read the break-up post? Hell, after the psychological beat-down she gave that poor guy, I'd say he's lucky to be left with so much as one nut.

Disclaimer: if said dude happens to pick up on the discussion here and read this, my apologies. I'm not really trying to kick you while you're down, I just happen to be reading this and, well, I just happen to be an accidental asshole who can't help himself sometimes. In all seriousness, best of luck to you...and uh now you know why I'll probably never ever get married.

*She seemed perfectly alright to me, and clearly could do better. I only wish that she'd realised this sooner, so I could have avoided having to read that excruciatingly long blog entry.

*Shockingly, this was an interesting read. The guy is clearly the stereotypical underachieving-tool-ex-NOVA-slave-laborer-doomed-of-sitting-on-a-couch-for-the-rest-of-his-life-thinking-about-grad-school-for-a-bit-before-a-limp-wank-and-a-nap, but he writes fairly well for that demographic. It's a strangely engaging narrative, even ironically comical in places. For example, somewhere halfway through his long entry on the break up, after painfully describing the various inescapable (yet missed) warning signs, and the hilarious lengths to which he thinks he goes to keep her happy--while in fact doing nothing at all but wasting time--he gives us this break up scene.

Even his break up is anticlimactic! It's gold, it really is. If I were a publisher, I'd be commissioning this guy for a full novel, working title: "Anatomy of a Loser in Japan"

*no goals in life except to live with the girlfriend, nor doing anything to change that except to dream about studying history in grad school. jeez.

*I like how she still has him by the balls, they're broken up and can see other people, but there's a small and unlikely chance that she could come back to him! Ah, the poor fool... Actually, reading some of his linked articles, it's no surprise that she has complete control of him, he's a bloody wuss. When he talks about starting a school with another couple, they got into an argument because the girl wanted him to be an employee, not a partner. So, he decides to talk to the other guy about it, which seems like a good idea. Yet...
I intended to bring it up casually, but the right moment never came. Now that we weren't working at the same company, we didn't see each other every day and our meetings were more and more infrequent. And when we did meet, I wasn't sure how to phrase it so it didn't sound like an ultimatum. "Cut me in 50% or I'll go and open up my own school right down the street from yours."
What a bloody coward, I would have called the guy up right away and asked him about it, or made sure to bring up the conversation if we did meet. You don't just wait for a chance to vaguely drift toward it in conversation. I'm amazed that he was able to find a girlfriend in the first place.

*That guy is a major dork though, judging from the video. He is lucky he got her.

*Fvck that blog was a train wreck! But I couldn't stop reading... This should be preserved, distilled, at put on a motivational poster to remind everyone "at least I'm not that guy!" BTW, This story reads like the practical example of the marriage rates by income studies that Japan Echo ran last year. Good reading, if you can find it.

*I thought the part where she explained that she hated having to explain everything when he wanted to buy a car, get insurance, etc. I'm sure she's not the only Japanese gf who feels this way about their big gaijin babies. Feel bad for the guy, but he had grow balls sometime.

*so wait... the dude had lived in japan for 5 years and still wasn't able to do anything by himself? add that in with being a lazy, unmotivated piece of shit and i'd be running for the hills too. good on her for calling it off.

*I really actually feel for the guy. Reading his blog posts, I definitely sense a sort of intrinsic sadness in him. It's a shame he made the mistake of staying in Japan for so long... he could have used that time to build up his unimpressive CV that he constantly whines about.

*I loved his marriage proposal the best.
There was no big dramatic moment when I proposed to Shoko. Rather it was something that just came about. We had been talking about it for a while. At one point I think we were lying in bed, and I said, “I’m not going to stay in Japan much longer, but I’d like to continue our relationship.” And she said, “I’m not going to move to America unless we get married.” And I said, “Yeah, that’s what I meant. I mean I assumed that.” And she said, “Oh. Okay then.”

Not exactly the most tear-jerking of moments. I'm pretty well as socially inept as they come, but as far as communication with my GF goes we can talk about anything without having to be afraid of getting at each others throats. If he can't communicate with her without prancing around the issues, that's pretty well a dead giveaway that the relationship will never work.

*From his blogs, it is obvious that this guy was a complete slacker in all aspects of life. Romance, work, language, his future... he has no right to be disappointed; he has no one to blame but himself.

*I wanted to put the boot in but i've decided to refrain. My life is no box of chocolates either. Keep a stiff upper lad, a new shoko will come around.

*I don't see why it's appropriate to laugh at his misery.

First off, I got hired by a well known supermarket that you probably know of. I mentioned I had an interview with them a month ago, but now they finally had a position open up.As Brett would say, “Working this job sucks but...Well working this job sucks.” It’s a stocking job; nothing exciting. And legally they couldn’t possibly pay me any less. But at the same time it won’t kill me. I’ve done this kind of thing before during summer vacation when I was 18 and 19, before I discovered the wonderful world of dorm cleaning. And I survived alright then.Although at the time you do tell yourself, “I’m never doing this again once I get my college degree.” And then here I am. Well, after 5 years overseas you can’t just drop right into a great job, right? And I figure its good to be doing something well I look for that better job. For me to think that this job is somehow below me is probably a very ugly form of elitism. I feel like I have to be making excuses for doing this kind of job because I get a lot of flack from people, especially my sister (actually just my sister), but there’s nothing that really makes me any better than the people who have been doing this for 10 years.Still, I wouldn’t want to support a family on what they’re paying me. Hell, I wouldn’t even want to move out from the parents on what they’re paying me.
misplaced optimism + no shame = comedy gold

*The sheer earnestness of him. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

* I actually feel sorry for the guy in a way, because it's a tough lesson to learn. But sh*t, if he doesn't wake up and straighten himself out now, he's going to turn into a raging alcoholic ex-charisma man whose parents are going to have to come to Japan just to bring him home so he can live out his last days in their basement.

*Yeah, he really screwed up. I don't really get what he was thinking when he decided to go home then come back then piss about spinning his wheels. Hopefully this is the kick in the arse he needs to get his life on course. Maybe I've been watching too much Korean romantic cinema but what if he comes back in 3 years having become a big name executive and sweeps her off her feet.

*Check out his kareoke act. Its two minutes into this video.

*I think some of you criticizing this poor guy don't have much of a leg to stand on. He seems like a decent enough guy to me.

*I just don't see much difference between this guy and some of the most vocal people criticizing him.

*Doesn't seem like a bad guy. Just has some faults, but then again, doesn't everyone.

*Has he blocked his blog from the public? Can't access without a password now.

*Yeah I guess he has .Probably been having a read of this thread. It dosen't matter though as the whole thing is already Cached on Google .Read and have a laugh

* feel sorry for shoko. people having no ambition are total twats. i kicked my jap bird into touch a while ago after she didn't support me starting my own business. instead she was happy for me to be scratching out a living "teaching" english for the rest of my life. fortunately i've found a new lass who's not only stunning but also has plenty of drive as well. shoko has done the right thing and this tosser is an utter waster.

*excellent find - one of the best links this year. up there with that twat 19 year-old blogger on the guardian that honesty linked.

*I actually really enjoyed reading this. And from what was said, I couldn't help but think if I met Shoko in real life, I'd probably like her a lot

It seems obvious she cared for him a lot, but knew deep down he was completely wrong for her. And, it seems he is. She wants security (which is completely reasonable) and to be able to live more like a typical Japanese girl. The blogger himself doesn't come off to me as stupid, just incredibly lazy. I've met tons of people like this to, that actually have some intelligence, but have next to no drive to actually achieve anything. He will, obviously, never really achieve anything great in his life in terms of career or finances. She clearly recognises this, and seemed to have put it fairly obviously to him over an extended period of time. He just didn't want to let himself follow the very obvious signals that she had given.

*That was, unfortunately, exactly the problem. She told him pretty blatantly, and it seems it went right over his head. She loved him, no doubt, but he was getting older every year and wasn't doing ****. It was finally evident to her that all those promises of grad school weren't going to happen and that her boy was completely unmotivated and unable to provide for her or their future family. As she said herself, she was just being rational...

*Actually, you don't necessarily have to be smart to be 'successful' - certainly not a requirement to be financially stable. You just have to be disciplined, which this poor lad clearly isn't at the present. I am the last person to be throwing stones at this guy's glass house, as I didn't really get my ass in gear until about last year. I was ambitious straight outta college but then decided to fart around in Japan doing the whole rudderless teaching on a lark thing. I knew it was a dead-end and I'm sure this guy knows it; it's just that he's comfortable -- too comfortable -- with just making enough money to take the JR into town and drinking at an izakaya at night. Might work for him but no chick who feels confident about her prospects is going to want to stay long term with this guy. The good news for this dude is, he can always strike gold in the over-30 dating scene. There's nothing they won't date/marry.

*He is the personification of a weak loser

*His notion of love seems a little too romantic, almost naive, but part of him seems to acknowledge it.

*Damn, that blog is a howler. Also a warning to those about to make the big plunge and marry a local girl. There are so many warning signs that LIFE WILL CHANGE after marriage

*He will obviously get entanlged with a rough-looking lady approximatley 5-7 years his senior, marry, and spend his days getting kanchou-ed by 3 year olds at the "Happy Robin's Nest Engrish School" where he works, dreaming of his "glory days" at NOVA. He will deserve this.

*Another train wreck of a thread. I just don't understand why people put this stuff up on blogs. Bloggy stuff for friends and family, yeah, but god that's some serious wearing heart on the sleeve. Would you want your friends and family reading that?

*"Trainwreck." I really dislike how often this word used because it ignores the carnage witnessed in the course of an actual trainwreck. Then, when someone really awful comes along, there is nothing to call it. This was like watching a trainwreck in all of its horrid glory. I had a hard time reading through it because the guy was such a lazy dumbfuck. Wrong decision/reaction followed by wrong decision/reaction. The lesson for all of us: Don't be this guy. Don't be a pussy and use your f*** head.

*Lastly, it always annoys me when people make a public blog and then make it private. A blog that is private from the start, I get. But this guy was either lazy(big stretch there), or hoping for internet stardom (what with his "charisma man" musings) and distraught at actually getting negative attention. I've always kind of felt that part of being a writer or artist means being vulnerable to criticism(in this case, likely accurate). This guy is rather just a lazy, attention seeking pussy


*Don't think so.Someone probably told him that he was been torn a new one

*Jesus Christ that was a depressing read. Do you know the poor guy?

*he's almost the archetypal slacker-gaijin-in-Japan. In that case it seems the woman was far, far smarter than he, and finally got fed up with his wishy-washy wimpiness and moved on. Doesn't really seem like a Japan-exclusive thing, but I only skimmed that monster of a blog post, maybe I missed something important.

*The point is that he was a good for nothing who didn't think he could do better, so he stayed with her

*uh, yeah, the whole saga was pretty depressing...I wonder if the guy learned anything from it? Like maybe he needs some more job skills? Don't go back to school for a history PhD (which, by the way, at most good schools will take longer than 4 years, at least in the US), try business, or computers, or accounting, something that leads to employment! By age 30, you need to have something marketable, especially in these tough times.

*And I really don't understand how someone can post something like that guy PLF linked to. Doesn't he feel embarrassed, telling the world at large that she left him because he spent 5 years, was it, saying he was gonna do something, then basically handed her a Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card. I wouldn't tell anyone why she left me; certainly wouldn't post it on the internet, where any potential employer who searches my name would be able to see that I was a procrastinator who didn't try hard enough to keep my love until it was just too late - boo-hoo.

*I read further into the blog and now I see that this guy didn't even speak Japanese after five years in Japan and dating this Japanese woman. Yikes.

Later edit: OK, I finished this blog. This seems like a particularly harsh example of a desperate and romantically insecure guy in Japan. The fact that he still wonders what would have happened if he hadn't told his girlfriend it was all right for her to break up with him is pretty amazing--it's pretty obvious that they would have broken up anyway, just a week or a month later. And it's also disturbing that he's still holding on to the idea that they're "taking a break" without being completely broken up. Here's a tip: when your girlfriend says she wants to take a break and date other people, your relationship is already over and the best thing you can do is cut your ties cold turkey.

*I read the article and couldn't help but feel like he's a whiny little SOB. Sure, he came to Japan and did things to try to keep them together (claiming them as "sacrifices" when he probably enjoyed his lax life as an English teacher in Japan), but he seemed to only put in a half-hearted effort. It's a nice thing to teach English for a couple of years but to try to settle down and seriously support someone, without even learning Japanese, is futile (unless you can pull a japanat). At least by coming back to America to study, he'd be working towards a better career. He just couldn't focus his life though, even when he had time, to really make anything out of it. And now, he is well on his way to becoming one of those 30-40 year old bums drifting through eikaiwa or ALT jobs. I can totally see where the woman is coming from. No woman should have to stick with a loser like him.

...And this folks, is why you've got to have tough skin on the internet.

As of now, the discussion is still on-going on a few of these threads. I have ever reason to believe I'll get a lot more abuse before everyone loses interest

However the thing is, a lot of it's true. Maybe some of it was phrased a bit harshly, but it's probably just the kind of slap in the face I need. I mean, let's face it, I have made a pretty botched job of my life up until now, and a good hard look at these comments might not be a bad idea.

The big problem of course is that my irresponsible blogging subject Shoko to a lot of abuse. (And again, on this post I've done my best to edited out the comments that concern her).

All I can say is that it was a dumb move and I should have known better.

Were I to try and give an explanation of my thought process at the time, the short answer would be that I wasn't thinking. The long answer is that while I knew all along blogging was a public forum, I never expected to get so much attention. There are an estimated 250 million blogs on the internet, and I had been thinking for a long time now that whatever I post would just get lost in the sea of blogs and not be of any particular interest to anybody but me and a few friends. And over the years my numbers at statcounter have pretty much confirmed this. On the average day this blog gets little to no hits. I was aware that post like this doesn't show me at my best, but I figured in a few months it would be one of many post buried in the archives where someone would have to wade through a lots of boring book and movie reviews in order to find it.

It's safe to say I severely under-estimated how popular this post would be on the internet. And it's also fair to say that after 5 years of blogging and no one paying much attention I had also gotten sloppy.

Well, this has been a learning experience for me, and let's just call it a valuable lesson learned. Together with the whole break up saga, we'll call it 2 lessons for the price of one.

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