Ken roku roku

Dusk is setting in the hood…
First of all, I am overjoyed to report that finally, finally after months of suffering from withdrawl, disconnection with the world, intense boredom, and lackluster productivity, I am finally getting a computer again. How I have missed it…! *is currently a sweaty, pale shade of gray generally seen on recovering meth addicts…*
Said sweet box of beeping, flashing deliverance should arrive within the next couple of weeks, so then I can finally update this page with more regularity (since I know you all care so very very much…).
Miho came to visit this past weekend, and we went to Kenrokuen (finally!). I am somewhat ashamed to admit that though it is supposed to be “one of the top three most beautiful gardens in Japan”, to me it looked more like a golf course than anything else. Anyway, the pictures are from this past weekend.
A pensive Miho contemplates the water in silence…
I found out today that my much bally-hooed new “total air conditioning system” (as is emblazoned on the manual) does not, in fact, provide total air conditioning – as in, it does not heat the air as well. While most of you might be shaking your head saying “uh, duh, mr. panda, air conditioners are not supposed to heat air”, allow me to tell you first that the landlord and my supervisor (who handled the entire affair when my original airconditioner broke the first week I was here) both promised me it would “heat up the air”. Given that gadgets in this country are anything but short on suprises (Not only does my school`s toilet heat up, play music, adjust up and down and clean your arse for you, I think it can also transform into a gigantic robot and fight evil, if I press the right button on the remote control…). So I thought it not to be entirely outside the realm of human possibility that my brand new shiney “total air conditioning system” might also be capable of heating up my room too, since the remote does all sorts of other funky things, like dehumidify the air, de-(dust?) the air, recirculate the internal air, blast massive glacier gusts of artic wind into the room at high speeds, cause the unit to blink ominously ala 2002-space-odyssey-HAL (for no apparent purpose other than to look cool, to the best of my knowledge). And thus having placed my blind trust in the goodwill and technological know-how of my supervisor and the landlord, I passed up a good deal on a 2nd hand kotatsu (table heater) that went up for sale a couple of weeks ago.
Big garden. Little Panda.
Silly panda!! So today I was laying in bed, exhausted and shivering (the former due to the antics of my gigantic-pink-cock drawing students) (more about this later) and the latter due to the fact that it is getting quite cold here and one side of my apartment is composed entirely of glass doors. So I decide that this would be a fantastic time to try out the heating function of my super cool airconditioner! (no pun intended).
To make a long story short – no amount of button pressing on the remote could convince it to start heating the air. Consultation with the manual in turn yielded the curious revelation that in fact, a “heating” function was nowhere to be found in its entire 55 page heft (though the product specifications were translated into an impressive 13 languages). When I called my supervisor to inform him of it, he replied “huh! Well, I guess we must have made a mistake. I have to go now, it`s dinner time.” *click*
I guess it`s time for panda to go buy a kotatsu, ne?
Like a bridge over troubled… water… (urk, forgot rest of words)
It`s hard work teaching at a low level school. To be blunt, the kids posses the fatal one-two knockout punch of 1) having no motivation and 2) having little to no ability. This sounds cruel, but three months into this, I am realizing that I have to dispense with political correctness-motivated notions of “all children have talent, it just needs to be unlocked” (presumably by stern latin-american math teachers who run around shouting about “Ganas! You need to have GANAS!”) (I assume you have seen that cheezy after-school-special movie, or else you have no idea what the hell I`m talking about.). To be frank, many of my children have neither motivation nor capability when it comes to English, and this has necessitated a re-evaluation of my teaching approach. Gone are any notions I had that I can ever get the students to talk voluntarily, let alone form complete sentences, or even fragments longer than 5 words. Instead is the cold hard fact that many of my students do not know the days of the week in english, numbers higher than 8, or some, even the alphabet.
Happy. That`s because we just ate…
So it`s back to the basics – classes are spent drilling fundamentals, like counting 1-20, the days of the week, months of the year, letters and alphabetical order, basic phonetics. The problem of course, is that this is extremely boring. And no teacher wants to bore their children, especially when the children already dislike the subject matter to begin with – I don`t want them to leave my class thinking how much they hate english.
So slowly I have been trying to introduce games and projects into the classroom, trying to make the grinding fundamentals as fun as possible (as much fun as learning to count 1-20 can be…). Today with one my better classes (2nd and 3d year students), I decided to have them draw a manga based on a very simple dialogue inviting somebody to do something.
I cooked this. You will all bow down to the might of Iron Chef Panda.
Japanese children in general love to draw, and many of them are quite good at it (far better than their american counterparts, I would say). So the children set off to draw the various scenes based on the dialogue with topics I had given them. One girl`s task was to draw the dialogue inviting her friend to “join the yakuza” (I tried to make the topics as interesting as possible, which in hindsight was a terrible mistake as I ended up spending a ton of time explaining what “join the yakuza”, “kidnap David Beckham”, “rob a bank” etc. meant. The kids who drew topics like “drive a car” and “bake a cake” did the best. The precarious balance between interesting and comprehensible, I guess….)
M is caught in the act of trying to steal my agedashi-tofu…
Anyway, one girl was supposed to draw a picture about inviting a friend to “join the Yakuza”. And she set off drawing an amazingly detailed Yakuza, replete with fantastic tatoos and a very mean looking leather jacket. Which is all fine and great until the boy sitting in front of her turns around, and in front of both our incredulous eyes, draws a gigantic pink cock right on the gangster`s crotch.
…pause…
Of course she starts yelling “iyada” as I hesitantly inquire “Hiro, what on earth is that?” to which he replies with giggles.
But there is more. His topic was to draw a scene inviting a friend to help “steal a penguin from the zoo” (yeah, yeah, long week, OKAY?!). I wander over and see what I can only describe as a big pink elephant …
with a gigantic pink cock hanging from its face.
Now I know it wasn`t a nose, since the elephant already had a nose, and a mouth to boot. This was definitely an extraneous elepha-cock, hanging like a rooster waddle from the poor pink beast`s face. So I ask him what that is, to which he suddenly bolts up in his chair and starts shouting “ELEPHANT!!!!” over and over again, and continued in this fashion for the rest of the class period.
Lest you all think this is an isolated occurance, I suggest you check out Kitty`s experience with Japanese kids and gigantic pink cocks.
Gotta look good for the garden.
I had another surreal experience the other day. I was walking along the corridors of the school, returning to the staff room after teaching a class, and the kids were mobbing all around, tossing stuff in their lockers and getting their lunches, etc. As I turn the corner, all of a sudden, this kid with shaggy dyed hair, a silver cross earring, a bunch of braclets on each arm, big baggy B-boy jeans (sagging down low to show his boxers), an oversized Ecko hoody and all sorts of chains and crap hanging off his belt, cuts me off as he runs down the hall. I sort of bump into the wall as he pushes by, and I my first thought is instantly one of annoyance:
“What is it with kids now-a-days and their crazy get-up!? Why don`t they pull their pants up, put on a normal sized shirt, cut their hair and try and look responsible…?”
And at this I happen to catch sight of myself in the window as I push off the wall – clean shaven, close cropped hair, smart black suit, coordinating tie and immaculately starched dress shirt, uncomfortable black polished leather shoes.
And once again I realize I am well on my way to becoming an accidental adult…
Now listening to “Lost Witness – Song to the Siren (Did I dream) (Fable mix)”
(Off of Oakenfold`s “Perfecto presents another world”. Panda is happy when he has good music to listen to.)
10:37 am

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