Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
And hey, I just realized I'm actually working on a sorta horror-themed article at the moment. Maybe I can clean it up and get it submission-ready in time to join the month's roster ...
Until I get wi-fi installed, I guess it's radio silence for now.
(Weird, though, that apparently the Japanese legal code ranks grown adults selling sexual favors as a crime comparably serious to trafficking minors.)
By the way, I've been meaning to mention, in terms of wrestling resources: I've heard good things about GLOW ("Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling") on Netflix. Haven't checked it out myself, but I seem to remember hearing it's a good entry point for people who aren't already familiar with wrestling. Granted, I understand time and bandwith constraints are a factor for you right now, but it might be worth making a note for future reference.
I tell ya, if it's not one thing it's another. Oy vey.
*sigh*, so true.
I guess national borders and immigration controls screw people over pretty much everywhere; some places more so than others.
Good luck with it all.
On the other hand, it's because of all this that I've remembered the genuine fear and anguish I felt during my brief week of homelessness. I'd forgotten that fear. I had such an amazing life in Kazo that I'd forgotten just how afraid I once was. But now I remember, and even as I swear to appreciate a stable life once it someday finds me again, I know that I will never be able to live up to that promise. Not really.
Also once I move in to my apartment I won't have wi-fi, unless my friend's extends across the whole complex. So... uh... maybe I won't even be able to post anything in October. So don't worry about the radio dramas. Still, if that's the case, it means my visa went through, I was able to move in, and I got insurance, so... yeah. :)
Raymond: wait, I'm still lost. Why would I perceive you enduring all the hardships you've faced as a negative thing?
Okay, let me see if I can break it down and make some manner of sense of all this. When I said
Robinson: My intention there was to correct, not to retaliate, and I'm sorry if I came across as aggressive.
I wasn't referring to my initial comment (henceforth, C1), but the follow-up (C2), specifically:
Robinson: Er, actually, I meant that as a word of encouragement for you to keep up the writing
And the reason why, in the comment I'm going to refer to as C3, I said I didn't mean to
Robinson: retaliate, and I'm sorry if I came across as aggressive.
Was in reference to your reply to C2, in which you said:
Raymond: I hope nothing I said came across as insulting or demeaning.
Which rather gave me the impression that I'd come across as aggravated and insulted in C2. So I thought maybe I'd said something in C2 that sounded unintentionally nasty or hostile, which would explain how I could've given that impression.
Raymond: Evidently this is one of the problems with purely text-based forms of communication.
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Huzzah! Another radio fan! Perhaps we should make my plan for October a group effort.
Er, I don't know about that. Horror's never been my genre, so I didn't associate it much back when I was a major radio buff - and like I said, that turned out to be a phase that I came out of back in my late teens. I might be able to come up with one or two horror radio dramas I've really enjoyed if I think hard enough, but I might not.
Concerning George Guidall, I didn't know who he was until I googled him, and the first two results say he's won the Audie award thrice and he's labeled the "King of Audio-Books" by the New York Times.
Given what I know of his narration work, that sounds plausible.
Arthur, thank you so much for that list. Again, I don't know how much spare time I'll have, but this list really helps.
Robinson... wait, I'm still lost. Why would I perceive you enduring all the hardships you've faced as a negative thing? Evidently this is one of the problems with purely text-based forms of communication.
Huzzah! Another radio fan! Perhaps we should make my plan for October a group effort. I was hoping to post a link to a good horror radio drama every day of October, with a little explanation/review detailing why I chose it, but unfortunately, especially in light of recent events, I've only been able to find 21 dramas that I think are worthwhile.
Concerning George Guidall, I didn't know who he was until I googled him, and the first two results say he's won the Audie award thrice and he's labeled the "King of Audio-Books" by the New York Times. Granted it's become hip to shit on the NYT these days, but still.
Also, much thanks to you for your own advice on wrestling things. Again, not much time, but this helps.
So, I'm gonna submit my Sekigahara article, and then try to address everyone in the comments section. I don't know if I'll be able to get a full-blown article on all the movies I watched this summer out before September, but even if it's just for one movie, I'll get another article up before the month is out. I think that's all on my end.
I also used to be a classic radio buff. The interest waned when I grew out of my teens, but I still have a soft spot for 'em. But my parents also used to read to me when I was a little kid, and since I was a precocious little tyke and didn't learn to read properly until several years past the standard age here in the US - ahh, unschooling - they needed something else to occupy my bored little mind when neither of them could read to me. Hence, I grew up with audiobooks, and there my interest hasn't waned. (And considering how very slow I am with regular books, it's unlikely to wane anytime soon.)
I've actually listened to many books narrated by George Guidall - he seems to be a pretty prolific narrator. And I'm not sure if he's really a cut above the rest; true, a lot of audiobooks I've encountered have had mediocre or down right crappy narration, but there's also a lot of real talent in the field, and they turn in some quality stuff. (Then again, I'm not the best person to judge this stuff - when it comes to movies and tv, I can't even spot a bad performance 4 times out of 5, so why imagine I'd be any more discerning when it comes to audio narration?)
I actually haven't read any of Banker's books so far - again, slow reader - but I appreciate those of his short stories I've heard on podcasts so far.
Anyway, congratulations on your job offers, and your refund; I'll cross my fingers that everything works out financially between now and October.
I know bugger-all about wrestling, but I have been entertained by Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler's video rants about it. I've also heard good things about Lucha Underground, which I understand is less than a decade old, but I don't know how one would go about watching it. Oh, and coming back to commentary, the funniest thing of any kind I've seen in a while have got to be Martin "Little Kuriboh" Billany's "Mark Remark" videos; practically incomprehensible to someone not already familiar with the WWE, but so incredibly funny that I have to pause an average of two or three times an episode because my sides hurt so much from laughing.
... Not sure if any of that helps with what you're looking for but, ehn, thought I'd mention just in case.
That said, I think a lot of them got their groundings in Western promotions before getting signed to Japanese ones; I'm not sure how the process of getting into the Japanese developmental systems works for Westerners.
I've also realized from conversations with friends that I've given the thought of becoming a pro wrestler far more thought than normal people do. Because I don't know where to start watching pro wrestling though (partially because it's so huge and impenetrable to newbies, partially because...I don't have a TV), I'm mostly contenting myself with documentaries on particular stars. If I had to pick one particular person to start following, it'd be Kenny Omega, as he made me realize that there were Western pro wrestlers in Japan (I know, I know, that must seem blatantly obvious to you fans, but I'm still new at all this), but again, I don't have a TV.
Lesse, what else? I still hope to keep my two-articles-per-month schedule up. I'm working on an article about the Sekigahara movie I saw recently, although I'm thinking of maybe doing one massive article about all the movies I watched this summer. Also I've got something big planned for October, let's hope Arthur lets me do it.
@Robinson, yes, I know it was meant to be encouraging, and I took it as such. I apologize if it seemed as though I misinterpreted your words, though I am curious as to what gave that impression. I'll admit, my upbringing as a writer has been somewhat Spartan (which caused no end of trouble when I took a Creative Writing class for the first time), but I hope nothing I said came across as insulting or demeaning.
I looked up this Banker guy, and I have a particular weakness for mythic retellings, so I have to check out at least one of his books now. I'd like to get settled into a new address before I even attempt ordering books (plus, y'know, no money till October), but I still haven't started my free trial with Audible, and I'm loving the audiobook version of Grendel I'm listening to now, so perhaps that will be an appropriate route for Banker and On the Jellicoe Road, especially if I end up with a job that requires a commute (my last school was 5 minutes bike from my apartment). Thank you for the review, and to answer your question, yes, audiobooks are significantly easier and cheaper to find than print books here. However, as a fan of radio, I've always born an irrational distaste towards audiobooks, perceiving them as a poor bastard spawn of two other superior media formats. It wasn't until I began listening to this Grendel audiobook that I began to come around (admittedly it is narrated by George Guidall, which I suppose puts it a cut above your average fare, but still).
As for recent reading of my own, Arthur’s review of The Manual of Detection convinced me to give it a go and, what do you know, I really enjoyed it! Extremely charming book.
Anyway, despite dealing with some pretty heavy topics, the tone of the story is fairly light - to the point where justice, when it comes, is shockingly intense, though I suppose it's warranted. And at the very end, the message of the story is
Not sure I'd call it a great story, but if someone is feeling despondent about the state of the world, and in the need of a pick-me-up, it may be worth checking out.
As for On the Jellicoe Road, I actually wrote a somewhat more straightforward review of the book (though loaded down with a bunch of tangential ramblings and personal axe-grinding) several years ago. I did think there might be trouble getting hold of a copy given your current geographic situation, but not knowing much about the minutiae of living in Japan, I wasn't sure how much. I dunno if you could get a copy in translation, or if so, whether your Japanese is strong enough to make that practical. I also don't know how easy or difficult it would be to get an audio copy in English online, or whether you go in for audiobooks at all (though if you do, I can give Rebecca Macauley's narration my highest recommendation).
I don't mean to push the book on you; you should decide for yourselves whether to read it, and if so, when, and how much effort you're willing to go to for it. I'm just putting it forward for your consideration.
I hope your RCS interview went well, or failing that, that an equally good opportunity comes down the pike for you soon.
@Robinson: The basic principle is that, if you took out a public loan from the US government, by serving the US government or one of its many branches, you may be forgiven for the loan. If you took out a private loan, which I did, the govt. can't do anything about that, although since I consolidated that loan, they'd probably be able to do something.
Concerning your writing, yes, please keep plugging! I've been plugging since day one, and really the only reason I decided to express myself with prose is because it's the only art form where nobody told me I was shit definitively enough to make me give up.
On the matter of driver's licenses, it's less the side of the road and more the fact that we have 50 states, each with their own individual DMV's (or BMV's), with their own set of rules and testing criteria. That simply isn't feasible for the Japanese government to get a handle on, so it's easier to just subject the poor foreigners to rigorous tests. Also, apparently there are more than five, it's just those are the most famous ones. Basically, being a cursed nationality means either
a) Your country has too many individual, prefectural driving organizations for the Japanese government to deal with
b) Your country is too poor/underdeveloped for the Japanese government to believe it capable of maintaining proper driving laws
c) Your country operates under a writing system besides the Roman alphabet or Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana, which makes it a pain to translate and put all the information into the computer systems (with the exception of South Korea)
So, basically, anyone who isn't European or some other, smaller G7 nation has to go through the extensive testing. But in the end, it's all rather a moot point, as I can't obtain a license anyhow until I have a new address on my residence card.
I have not yet read On the Jellicoe Road. I must admit I found the review somewhat nebulous, with it saying very little beyond that the book was good. However, if you and Kyra and quite a few other people say it's that good, it surely must be doing something right. Remember though, I have to pay exorbitant shipping fees for English books here. Even so, you have my thanks.
@Ichneumon: By semi-human...do you mean...?
And I say to you what I said to Robinson, keep on plugging! It sounds like your book shall be a weird and wonderful creation.
Also, on a more general note, RCS has finally responded, and scheduled an in-person interview with me tomorrow. I think of the great Alan Shepard as I do my best to plan in my sleep-deprived state.
No idea if that appeals to you at all, or if it does, how easy or difficult it would be for you to find a copy where you're at, but I wanted to put it out there, just in case it's helpful to you at all.
Ichneumon: I think a military in the vein of the Netherlands’ former armed forces can have its uses. But ours would naturally have to be almost unrecognisably restructured to see that end result
Ah, that sounds much more plausible. At least the second part does - I'm unfamiliar with the Netherlands' former military arrangement, so I can't comment on its usefulness.
I had to say a lot of goodbyes today. They were all painful to say, but I'm glad I at least got the chance to say them.
Yeah, I hear that.
It may sound like I'm joking or taking the piss when I say that that simple sentence did more to persuade me against a military career than anything that has been told to me in this Playpen, but it's the truth.
On the contrary, I find it heartening. I tend to think where an argument comes to us from is even more important in making a decision than how articulate the argument is; I hope most people would put more weight on the opinions of someone they know in person - let alone have a teacher-student bond with - than some faceless yahoos who happen to be on the same online message board. Of course I'm pleased with the commitment you've made, but I'm even more pleased with your reasons for taking that vow.
unfortunately I'm one of the 5 cursed nationalities
Huh, I didn't know about that. Is it because we drive on the wrong side of the road?
I guess there's not much else for me to add, except that I'm crossing my fingers that things will come together, and I hope you and your family are able to enjoy the trip to Mount Fuji, even with all this anxiety and uncertainty.
I had to say a lot of goodbyes today. They were all painful to say, but I'm glad I at least got the chance to say them. I cried, a lot, and I got so dehydrated I ended up with heatstroke. I'm better now, but my head still really hurts and I need to sleep soon.
One boy, I will never forget him, he's a third-year, but still the same height he was when he was a first-year. He's never been good at English, but he always tries his best, and I've always enjoyed our pre-class chats, even if he struggles to put together even a simple sentence. Today as I said goodbye to my students, he came up to me, and asked about what I would do. I told him about my options, about the various jobs I had received news on, was waiting to hear from, and was thinking of looking into. When I told him of Camp Zama though, he said, in broken, faltering English, with that confused but determined look he always has on his face "If you are soldier, I'm very sad." It may sound like I'm joking or taking the piss when I say that that simple sentence did more to persuade me against a military career than anything that has been told to me in this Playpen, but it's the truth. I saw the look on his face, heard him plea with me in Japanese, and I knew that I could never be a soldier as long as I remembered that boy. I may still end up working a civilian job, if no other options are available to me, but I will never be a soldier. I hereby make that vow.
AtoZ wants me to hurry with the driving license, but unfortunately I'm one of the 5 cursed nationalities, who have to undergo more rigorous testing than even Japanese citizens to obtain a license. And I've never been behind the wheel of a Japanese car, ever. To say I'm nervous and unsure would be an understatement. But thankfully, AtoZ has been more than understanding, and they have said that, while they want me to get the license as soon as possible, it's alright to wait a while until I feel ready to take the tests. AEON has said that they will have a decision for me by next week, and they thanked me for being so helpful with my application. I have a good feeling about them, and yet I can't bring myself to hope that they'll say yes. It feels too dangerous to dream of such things. I had to cancel with Altia, and RCS has yet to respond to my potential interview dates. There are other options waiting for me, but I cannot apply to any other jobs until things calm down.
Next week I will climb Mt. Fuji with my parents, who planned this trip many months ago. Fate has declared their arrival should coincide with this moment of uncertainty and stress in my life, but I hope to take this chance given to me. I hope everything works out alright. I really do.
@Raymond: I knew there was another more common term, but the adjective jingai sprang to mind because of its use (last I could recall) in formal and official contexts where gaijin would be especially dated and offensive.
There are a lot of animal skeletons in Barron, but the decay and feculence is largely... semi-human, shall we say.
I’ve been writing something which will be some sort of hypertext novel/comic hybrid for the better part of a decade, if sporadically, in addition to reams of poetry and some short fiction in varying states of completion. The poetry tends to wind up married to music in some capacity, but the novel-thing is very much its own beast.
Ichneumon: I’m with Robinson when it comes to institutions like the military on an ideological level, I think ... Militaries are useful in specific circumstances
Perhaps not quite so close as you imagine, then.
@Raymond: Congratulations! Great news. Good luck pulling the driver's license info together; hopefully it's not too arduous.
Raymond: I should have made myself clearer though. Even if I don't get a job at Camp Zama, the high concentration of foreigners and Hafu children in the area indicates that landlords would be more tolerant of foreigner tenants than elsewhere, something that would be very valuable to me as I try to find my own place.
Oh yeah. I didn't understand how that point fit in with the rest of the military discussion, so I just sort of skipped over it.
Also though, student loans... paid in full... in two years' time, rather than ten or fifteen. You do not know the things I would do to get this monkey of debt off my back.
You've got me there, as I've gone to considerable lengths to avoid getting caught in the debt trap in my studies so far. I can definitely imagine how important it must be for you to get out from under that looming weight sooner rather than later.
That said, one thing I've learned growing up in a pacifist religious community is that a lot of those perks the military advertises don't actually come through. It's been a while since I heard about it, so I don't remember the details - I'm sure it's not a complete fabrication, but my impression is that it's a lot more complicated than the PR makes it out. Maybe you already know that, coming from a military family and all, but I wanted to give you a heads-up just in case. I'd prefer you don't get involved with the military at all, but if you do, then I hope you do some outside research beforehand so you know what you're getting into.
besides, I think any complaints one could have about my working an imperialist or neo-colonialist job would be just as applicable to teaching English as it would to being in the military.
You raise an excellent point, and it's actually one of the reasons I'm resistant to teaching English in another country, despite wanting to spend more time working or studying abroad. However, in my view, there's a fundamental difference between the colonial/imperialist role of the military as opposed to teaching English. (I could go into my reasons, but I think it would likely be boring and might raise undo acrimony.)
I don't know if you'd enjoy my novel though. As with most first novels, it's mostly just an amalgamation of stuff I was enthusiastic about, slapped together into a somewhat coherent story. There are definitely parts I'm still proud of having written, that I re-read and smile about, but there are also parts that I re-read and cringe over, even if I know I gave the themes and subject matter everything I had at the time.
Oh yeah, I hear ya. I've been plugging away at this stuff for nearly fifteen years, and I still haven't produced much material I'd consider good enough to submit around.
But really, what I'm trying to say is: keep pluggin' away, man. I dunno if I'll ever read any of your stuff - other than what you post on this site - but you've definitely got the way with the words, and I think you should keep at it.