Friday, June 25, 2010


It's been a while! Well, a week or so since I last wrote anything, and even longer than that since I've written anything really meaty. This week, I've been spending my time seeing a lot of old friends and spending time with my girlfriend. I've also been studying/practicing Japanese, and putting quite a bit of time into Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. My best friend was right: "Let me warn you. Once you start, you can't put it down." IT'S SO TRUE! What a fantastic game. And I can even envision a potential sequal to this game, which would tie it into the rest of the MGS games that star Solid Snake; it would basically be a remake of Metal Gear (the very first game, on the MSX2 and NES).

Last weekend I saw Toy Story 3 with my girlfriend. AMAZING! Well, perhaps not "amazing," but definitely a good movie! It certainly belongs in the "good sequels" category. Speaking of movies, though..."The Last Airbender" comes out next week. Everything about the movie seems really cool...EXCEPT THE CASTING CALL! But anyway, I won't rant about that today. I just request that you don't support the movie.

I realized recently that I never made a post about *why* I'm going to Japan. So I'll say that now, while it's still June. Going to Japan was something I've always wanted to do, since I was a teenager. I never knew that study-abroad was possible as a high school student. Then, again, my high school wasn't really fortunate enough to have big exchange programs (we've had a few exchange students here and there, though), so I never really knew about the opportunities. Anyway, I went to college, and I studied Japanese. Quite a few; rather...a bunch of friends of mine studied abroad there during our junior year. I really wanted to. I did. But I knew it would set me back academically, so I was thinking that maybe I would just limit it to one semester. But in the end, I never went through with it because I didn't want to push med school back. Well...I pushed med school back anyway because I wasn't (and still am not) 100% sure that that's what's right for me. So anyway! I worked at a hospital for a couple years and was trying to figure out what I should do next. After having met my girlfriend, and talking to other friends about it, I decided that I should try to go to Japan again! I had heard about various ways to get there, but teaching English seemed like the best thing. Plus, it would give me teaching experience and allow me to decide if being a professor and teaching classes is something I wanted to do. Long story short, I applied to the JET Programme, and here I am! Keep in mind that I also looked into other private companies, such as Altia Central or AEONet, but luckily, I got accepted as a JET ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) and didn't have to continue with other application processes.

I got a package in the mail today; it's a copy of a documentary I helped my friend make! It's a documentary about me as a martial artist. It was her class project, and she ended up submitting it to a local film festival! I hear the audience responded positively. :-) I'll do what I can to convert it into a video file and post it on Youtube or something.

I've also been trying to decide which phone service to get while I'm over there. Docomo, AU, or SoftBank? SoftBank is apparently pretty popular with the foreigners because they are the only ones with the iPhone. While I like the iPhone's capabilities, I would rather have a Japanese phone 'cause I'm in Japan. I can always get an iPhone when I come back to the states.

Lastly, should I be called ハロルド先生 or バギノン先生? (first name, or last name?) The last name garners more respect, but the first name garners "coolness points".

Word of the day: 先生 「せんせい」 "sensei." It is the suffix for "teacher". The word for a teacher is a different word: 教師 「きょうし」 "kyoushi", though one can still refer to one's teacher as his or her "sensei."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I've noticed that my posts have been growing exponentially. Well here is a post to disrupt that trend. :-)

Also, E3 has arrived! It started today (well, technically yesterday, but I'm writing as if it were still Tuesday). I didn't get to watch it because I was traveling back to Pittsburgh. And there is way too much awesome news, so I recommend you check out the official E3 website for more info.

Or check this out, which is perhaps the most exciting news/trailer for me. :-D

[Update 6/16/2010]: These MVC3 videos are also amazing:

Word of the day: 雷電 「らいでん」 "raiden". That's pronounced "rye-den" for you English speakers, not "ray-din". Well, technically, it's "rah-ee-deh-n," if you were enunciating each mora, but that's not how you pronounce Japanese words in real-time conversational speed. Anyway, it means "thunder and lightning." Literally. That 電 「でん」 "den" is the same den found in words like "electronics," "electric train," and "electricity."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kung Fu Kid and Portable Games

I just got back from seeing "The Karate Kid" with my brother and his wife. Fun times. Good movie!

A year or two ago, when I first heard that there was a remake in the works for "The Karate Kid" starring Will Smith's kid and Jackie Chan, I flipped out. Well, not really, but I was disgusted with the concept that Jackie Chan should replace Pat Morita as the new Mr. Miyagi. And I was also upset that Jackie Chan would have anything to do with "karate," as he has always performed and represented Chinese martial arts (kung fu) and not Japanese martial arts (karate). So this concept just blew my mind and got me upset.

As time passed on and the movie was in production, I kind of forgot about it. Whenever it was brought up, I usually just dismissed it as something ridiculous. Then I saw a trailer, and I had mixed feelings (mostly confusion). In the trailer, you can clearly see kung fu as the martial art featured in the movie. Jackie also clearly says "I will teach you 'real kung fu.'" Not a lick of karate. Anywhere (at least in the trailer). So, my opinion changed to, "The movie could be good, but IT'S NOT KARATE! THEY SHOULD CHANGE THE TITLE."

So I went in there today with that mentality. That the movie could be good (and probably would be), and to try my damnednest to forget the title. Luckily, I didn't have to. By the end of the film, I feel that the movie has made up for the fact that it was called "The Karate Kid" in the US. (In Japan and China, it's called "The Kung Fu Kid" [note: I still think they should have called it "The Kung Fu Kid" here in the states]. In South Korea, it's called "Best Kid.") This 2010 remake of the 1984 movie of the same title pays lots of homage to the original in many ways, from the story telling to the teacher's antics. But the main reason why I think the movie makes up for its incorrect title is a key line in the movie: Dre's mom says something about him wanting to practice "karate," and he snaps back, "it's not karate!". Her next response indicates the common misconception people have about kung fu, karate, and the naming of martial arts. "Kung fu, karate..." something or other.

The filmmakers undoubtedly wanted to cash in on using a recognizable title, so they opted for "The Karate Kid" even though they considered "The Kung Fu Kid." Plus, the movie really does fit in as part of the "Karate Kid" series; without mention of "kid" in the title, movie critics would be calling out the film for its blatant ripoffs of the original. Even the last sequence was...nevermind, I won't spoil it. :-)

This movie did have a few annoying quirks. Jaden plays a prepubescent kid with an attitude. Sure, lots of kids that age are like that. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. The kid is disrespectful and rude at times, and he doesn't improve by much by the end of the movie. Too many times, the audience (at least I did) feels that Dre should be more respectful to his teacher at that point; but I guess it's good that he didn't do such a quick "I'm a good boy all of a sudden" kinda deal, to maintain the realism.

I'm very satisfied with this movie. It's a good movie, and I would recommend it as a movie for parents to take their kids (12 and up) to see. Jackie and Jaden do excellent jobs with surprisingly good acting. It's a feel good movie and a modern martial arts movie for kids. Watching it reminded me of my childhood and how I grew up watching movies like 3 Ninjas, Sidekicks, and Surf Ninjas. And of course TMNT. Anyway, go watch this movie. It's good. And also don't forget that "karate" is a Japanese martial art and they should have changed the title anyway. Oh well.

The other thing I wanted to mention briefly, which I should have made a post about yesterday, are portable games. I mentioned in my last post that I was playing with my aunt's Nintendo DSi XL. Well since then, I had been playing Picross 3D and Tetris on her DSi, and Crisis Core, Patapon 2, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on my PSP. And I must say, I've made great use out of that PSP, having played games like Patapon, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Kingdom of Paradise, and Final Fantasy Tactics. And with the re-release of a bunch of PSX (or PSone for you young'uns) games on the PSN to play on the PSP, Sony's hand-held is a pretty awesome system.

I'm gonna take this baby with me to Japan, and the various games I have for it. It'll do well to help pass the time while I travel. Now the question is, will Sony reveal anything at E3 this week? Nintendo is bound to steal the show with their 3DS. Can't wait to see!

Word of the day: 功夫 「カンフー」 "kanfuu", or kung fu. Also pronounced 「くふう」 "kufuu", but that's actually a different word with the same spelling and different meaning (skill, art, labor, or effort, in Chinese).

Friday, June 11, 2010


I have my International Driving Permit! Yay! Now I can legally drive in all these countries! Sweet.

I still have to send in the paperwork for my Visa, but that's very quick, I hear. And tomorrow, I'll send in the forms to get the Yakkan Shomei, so I can bring my contact lenses to Japan. Maybe I should just get laser eye surgery and not worry about this stuff again...contacts, glasses, blurry vision. Hmm.

I finally worked things out with my predecessor, who has been extremely helpful with the transition, regarding the purchasing of her things (car, appliances, household stuff). I'll have to show the same kindness to my successor when the time comes.

So I've been contemplating purchasing a Nintendo DS. I couldn't decide which version (original, Lite, DSi, DSi XL) to get, so I asked my best friend, who recommended a DSi or DSi XL. After some thought, I decided that the DSi XL would be nice for the larger, easier-to-read screen. After all, I've been playing the PSP for so long, that I've gotten quite used to its large size and weight. (I looked at my friend's DS Lite and it seemed so dinky!) Anyway, my aunt was asking me about my PSP, and she had mentioned wanting to get one to play while on the airplane. She then mentioned Tetris. "Ahhh, okay, you want a Nintendo DS then, not a PSP." So off to the mall we went! And we came back with a DSi XL, a couple puzzle games, and Tetris. Nice.

I played it a bit, and I must say; the pen stylus is REALLY nice. But I'm starting to think that the DSi XL's screen, because it's so big, and because the resolution is still the same as a regular DS...doesn't really make the games look very nice. All you techheads would know that a greater pixel resolution over a small area looks much nicer (like the new iPhone 4, for example). So now I'm leaning towards a DSi. But then there's news about the Nintendo 3DS! E3 is coming up, and more info about it will be revealed then. I will definitely wait to hear more about the up and coming system before I make any purchases. It's supposed to be backwards compatible anyway, so that's good news for me. :-)

So why do I want a DS so badly all of a sudden? Well, quite a few reasons actually. But mainly because of the great number of kanji trainers and kanji dictionaries that exist on it. I need a denshi jisho (electronic dictionary) anyway, and I'm a gamer; I might as well get a DS! Plus, I can finally play the definitive version of one of the greatest games of all time, Chrono Trigger, and the plethora of other fantastic titles on it.

Word of the day: 旅行 「りょこう」 "ryokou." It means "travel" or "trip." It's often used when describing a family vacation somewhere.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Japan Preparations

So it's Monday. About a week after I started this "blogging" business. Well, I guess technically, it's been 7 years or so. But anyway.

I have taken care of quite a few things for my preparations in Japan. Just three things left, really: 1) Get an International Driver's Permit, 2) Take care of visa stuff, and 3) Take care of prescription medication stuff, like contact lenses.

For #1, it's not a big deal; I just have to go to the local AAA and fill out a form. And yes, that means I get to drive in Japan legally! Woot! #2, I have to mail a form. #3 is the slightly annoying stuff, as it requires an updated prescription, which requires a visit to the doctor, along with a few forms to fill out (detailed description of meds), and more mailing stuff. Oh, and you have to get it all approved, so there is that slight chance of spending hundreds of dollars on medicine and then having it rejected. If that happens, the medicine must be mailed to Japan on a monthly basis, as no more than a month's supply of medicine can be imported without the approval form (known as a Yakkan Shomei).

Lastly, I am in somewhat of a dilemma. Well not really; it's just a matter of making a decision with regard to the purchase of my predecessor's things. Apparently, it seems customary to do so. The only thing is that I hate to jump into a purchase without really knowing what I'm buying. I've requested a list of the things (and hopefully a description of the status or age of the items). One of the things is a car. Hmm. Since I plan on being in Japan for an extended time (read: longer than a summer vacation), I intend on buying my "Cheap Dream Car."

You know, the car that is within a reasonable price range, and you know you want to get it, but you just don't have it yet. So it's still a "dream" car, as opposed to something in your driveway already. That car is a Toyota Celica GT-Four, from the '94-'98 models. Thing is a beauty. It's like Toyota's version of a Subaru Impreza WRX STi [car buffs should note that I intentionally referred to the car's old-school logo, as I don't really like the new models] or Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. In fact, the GT-Four has gone head-to-head against those two in rally races. Nice. Want.

I think I'll start ending my posts with a random Japanese word/definition.

Word of the day: 零 「れい」 "rei." It means "zero," though in Japan, usually they just say 「ゼロ」 "zero." Another way to refer to a "zero" character is 〇 「まる」 "maru," as you might have seen with how years are printed in the newspaper: 2〇1〇; also pronounced 「ゼロ」 "zero" when in this format.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Patiently Waiting

Well, today is June 1, 2010. This means I have two months left here in the US before I venture off to explore Japan! Due to popular demand, I have been forced to create this blog to record my various antics. It'll serve as an easy means to convey my stories to people all at once. I'll do my best to update this blog. I'm not very good with updating blogs or websites. Anyone remember my first website, back on Geocities? Then the one on Angelfire? Yeah? No. I'd be super impressed if *anyone* remembers it, but anyway, the point is that I'm not very good at updating things [proof is on my first blog, on Xanga]. Or writing. Because it takes me FOREVER to write something half-decent. And because I hate spending lots of time typing stuff, my posts here will likely have terrible writing and will be annoying to read. Have fun! :-)

So yeah, as I was saying, I'll be departing for Japan on July 31. So you better give your hugs and kisses before then! Keep in mind that this blog will contain only my adventures in Japan. Should I decide to write about things of a deeper nature (my contemplations about life, for example), I'll probably be posting that in a separate blog (maybe that Xanga one; hah!), if I decide to post it at all. Or I'll save it for material for whenever I decide to write my book. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoy the ridiculous content that I'll be posting in the coming months!