Archive for December, 2015

December 19, 2005 – Hooray for warranty

My newly purchased used computer monitor from Hard Off (giggle) died today after a week. The picture was really dark from the moment I bought it, even with brightness all the way up. Instead of trying to carry the heavy, bulky monitor back to the store, I asked The Penpal very nicely if she could drive me after she was done work. The 20 inch monitor looked huge in the back of her tiny car!

At the store she explained politely in Japanese that the monitor had stopped working. Fortunately there was an identical model in stock (not always common for used electronics stores), and I was able to make a hassle free exchange. My new monitor has a great picture!

Hooray for Hard Off customer service and their warranty on used electronics!

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December 18, 2005 – Foreigner santa

Today was the day I got to be Santa at the Yamaha English school Christmas party!

In the morning The Penpal picked me up and drove me from Numazu to Izu Nagaoka, which is about a half hour south in Izu Peninsula. I met with the Yamaha English teachers and we all helped decorate the room. I was given a script, and took some time to rehearse. As I found out earlier in the week, I was going to be both a children’s entertainer and Santa.

The 5 year old and younger group was in the morning. The Yamaha teachers introduced me and then we all watched a puppet show. Afterwards there were some group activities which I tried to lead as enthusiastically as possible. At this point I told the kids I had to leave, and then I ran backstage to put on the discount store Santa costume that was provided. The costume was not good at all and didn’t have boots, but I did bring a pillow and some extra t-shirts to give myself a nice jolly Santa belly.

The Yamaha teachers had the kids start singing Christmas songs, and then I came out from the back, ho-ho-hoing as loudly as I could in a deep Santa voice. A bunch of the youngest kids cried, while some of the others looked like they were seeing the real Santa. I handed out presents and posed for pictures with the kids.

After the youngest kids cleared out, I got to take a lunch break with the teachers. I also sent The Penpal out to a nearby shoe store to buy black boots for my costume. If I was going to be Santa I was going to be the best Santa possible.

The afternoon show went a lot like the morning show, although a lot of the older kids started to figure out that the funny white guy they saw earlier might just be the guy in the Santa costume. The best part of my day came when one of the kids noticed that unlike every other Santa they had ever seen, I wasn’t Japanese. They said “Waa! Gaikoku no Santa da yo!” (Wow, it’s foreigner Santa!”).

I had a lot of fun being foreigner Santa for the kids. My only regret is not getting any pictures in my costume.

If anyone every asks you to be Santa, especially for young kids, say yes!

(2015 Update) Izu Nagaoka is now part of Izunokuni City.

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December 16, 2005 – Manos: The Hands of Fate


Recently I have been watching a lot of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. For those unaware, it was a show where evil scientists have sent a janitor into space and force him to watch terrible movies. The janitor has created robots to watch the movie with and they make funny comments throughout.

Tonight I watched one of the absolute worst crap fest movies that has ever been featured on MST3K – Manos: The Hands of Fate. Manos is typically near the top of any “worst movies of all time list”. It was filmed on a hand wound 16mm camera that could only record 32 seconds at a time with no sound. Three actors later “performed” all of the voice acting for every character.

In addition to the complete lack of production values, the movie features an undecipherable plot featuring a lost family, a cult, and a guy with a terrible cape.


I have watched a lot of terrible movies on MST3K, but this was by far one of the worst things I have ever seen. It was so bad that the mad scientists actually apologized half way through. There was literally not enough booze available to make this movie good.

It was so bad, it almost made Catwoman seem like a good movie.


If you ever feel like punishing yourself, get a few bottles of your favourite alcoholic beverage, a few friends (who likely won’t talk to you after), and track down the MST3K version of Manos. But remember – I warned you.

(2015 Update) Oh no! It’s available for free viewing on the official MST3K channel on Youtube here! I’m so sorry.

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December 15, 2005 – I want to go home

I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home.

(2015 Update) For those who haven’t been following my blog, I originally posted this 10 years ago when I was teaching English in Japan. I was 10 days away from another Christmas away from family, and feeling depressed and homesick. I am happy to report that as of the time this is posted, I will be 10 days away from Christmas WITH family, which I am very much looking forward to.


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December 14, 2005 – Santa planning

Last month, I agreed to be Santa for an upcoming Yamaha English school Christmas party. After work today, I went to meet the organizer for Sunday’s Christmas party. Yamaha English school uses Japanese teachers and has a kids English program. The Penpal used to work there and still has some connections with her old coworkers.

My original idea about the party was that I was going to put on a Santa costume for about 20 kids and hand out presents. I learned that I was actually going to double as a children’s entertainer and then Santa twice in the same day. The first show was going to be 60 kids 5 years old and younger. The second show will be 30 kids aged 6 and up.

What have I gotten myself into??

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December 13, 2005 – The Office UK Christmas Special

I have been feeling a little depressed lately, mainly due to the fact that I am stuck in Japan for Christmas instead of spending time at home with my family.

To cheer myself up, I have been watching The Office (the UK version), which is one of the funniest TV shows I have ever seen. I recently learned that there was a Christmas special set one year after the show ended.

The Office is known for its awkward, uncomfortable humour that usually promises no happy endings at all (like real life). The Christmas special actually finished with a happy ending that had me smiling from ear to ear. I didn’t realize how much I needed something to make me smile.

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December 12, 2005 – Best class ever!

Today I was working at my old branch in Mishima as part of a shift swap. I has a kids class that was scheduled for 5 young kids (3-6 years old). However, NOVA has been running a promotion where your child can bring a friend to a NOVA kids lesson for free. In addition to the 5 paying children, I had 3 visitors. This should have been a recipe for total disaster, but I somehow managed to give the BEST kids class I have ever taught in my entire time being an English teacher. I have no idea why things went so well, but the whole experience was fantastic.

There was no crying, no throwing stuff, no attempts to kancho the teacher, and no fighting. The regular kids all tried to help the visitors by showing them everything from what to say when they entered the classroom to helping them write their names in English on the workbook pages.

I will never have a better kids class than this one. The bar has been raised. And for all the complaining I do about NOVA kids, this was one of the few very pleasant surprises.

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