Aside

Quickie

I couldn’t find time to write today, eep. But three quickies:

  • Trying to get back into comics, or to be more precise, get my husband to read English comics so I have someone who will pressure me into getting back into comics. Yeah, I dunno how my brain works, either. I’m trying to get him started on Chew, while I try and polish off Usagi Yojimbo‘s back catalog once and for all.
  • Watched sumo, which might be one of the very few sports I can watch for longer than two minutes without being bored out of my mind. I don’t know anything about it, but I love the whole “psyche out your opponent and throw a bunch of salt” phase before the matches start.
  • It might snow in Kanto tomorrow for the first time this winter, so uhhhh, that’s certainly something. Wonder if it’ll be too cold to ride the stationary bike…

Okay that’s a wrap gotta go byeeeee

Teacher Workshop

II was planning on using today’s blog entry to talk about a teacher workshop that I attended today, but it was such a disappointment that I can’t bear to think about it any more. I tweeted about it in frustration during the event, and I was not kind:

I can’t really go into specific details since not many people attended and I’ll be found out pretty quickly, so I’ll be very general with my criticism:

  • Workshops by and for university English professors tend to be so far removed from reality. They spend hours pontificating on some of the most basic tenets of teaching like it’s some new thing that nobody’s ever heard of, and love the sound of their own voices so much that  they just can’t ever seem to get to the point. One of the presentations was 90 minutes of a breakthrough new way of teaching where you have students work in groups so that they can practice L2 with each other, which… I don’t know of an eloquent way of putting this, but yeah no freakin duh.
  • If under the “Problems” section of your presentation you complain about “lazy” students not participating in your classes and don’t offer any solution for this other than “fail the student,” then you are not someone who should be in a position to teach, let alone lecture other teachers on how to teach.
  • For all their academia and faux-intellectual approach and withering condescension to people who aren’t “real” teachers (ALTs and eikaiwa instructors), lecturers sure don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. One speaker kept confusing phonemes with phonics, and another didn’t know what CLIL stood for even though he devoted an entire section of his presentation to it. Presenters also kept referring to L1 as “Japanese” but the universities they work for don’t cater exclusively to Japanese students.

I’m planning on going to another one of these workshops in a couple of weeks because for all my whining, I do think it’s important to learn what other teachers have to share. It’s also a nice little ego boost knowing that even without a masters degree or university teaching position, I can hold my own. I just hope the next workshop is a little better than this one was, sheesh.

Moriva and Thoughts On Wicked Wonders

I’m in my favorite coffee shop near Kannai, Yokohama. It’s called Moriva Coffee. I’m pretty sure it’s a chain café since all the menus are laminated, the coffee is relatively cheap and just tastes okay, and the cakes all look like convenience store fare. It’s near my work and is across from a nice little park though, and it’s never crowded.

I finished Wicked Wonders on the train today. My immediate reaction to these stories is that Ellen Klages is a very accessible writer; simple, no-nonsense prose, appealing precisely because of how comfortable it is. This was my first time reading Klages, and she has this incredible way of letting us peek into the corners of windows at these charming, wholly realized worlds, but whisking us away before we can be disappointed. I am interested in reading more of her work, and I especially wonder at how she handles full-length novels.

I didn’t connect with all the stories (Friday Night at St. Cecelia’s and Goodnight Moons), felt sort of iffy about others (Household Management, the ending to Woodsmoke), but fell deeply and passionately in love with most of them (Education of a Witch and Echoes of Aurora, omggg). I will probably at some point write my thoughts on the stories in more detail, though a quick summary of what I thought can be found on my Goodreads review-in-progress.

I do want to write about one of the stories, the ending to Woodsmoke, while I still have this first-read fresh on my mind. It obviously is one long spoiler, so I’ll put it behind the cut. Also CW for transphobia and gender dysphoria.

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Aside

Slump

Okay, I know, another Aside. I am a monster.

I’m going to have to figure out how I’ll keep up these daily blogs during the week since I am just weary after working all day in Shinjuku.

I read more of Wicked Wonders on the train home at least. I’m not finished yet, but I have written up thoughts up on each of the short stories as I read them. I’m going to try to finish this sometime soon (tonight? tomorrow?) and write up a fer-real review during my break tomorrow.

God, I just realized, tomorrow I have to work all day in Shinjuku and then teach evening classes in Yokohama. What is my life. What am I even doing.

Aside

Book Club

I’ve been making a lot of noise lately about wanting to start a book club in my area, and today was the day I finally got off my butt and started doing something about it. I have posted to a few sites and am now in the process of selecting some books that I want to recommend to the group.

I am very much aware of how unlikely this will be successful due to the language barrier, location, and the general busy schedules that adults have. I am still hopeful though that this will work out. It’ll be fine! I think!

Today was another black hole sort of day because I’m still recovering from how tired I was yesterday. I have work for the next two days as well so I’m going to be exhausted when the weekend rolls around. Thinking about this book club has got me excited about stuff, but it is also using up all of my energy just thinking about it.

Anyway, this is another plea for forgiveness for these short Aside entries. I suspected that this first week back to work would kick my ass and unfortunately that looks what’s happening, argh.

Aside

Exhausted

Just got back from my first day back at work after nearly a month away, and man I am tired.

I can’t think very well right now, let alone write. I first typed “right” just now, that’s how tired I am. I am the kind of exhausted that you read about in Greek epics.

These came yesterday though:

So, THAT’S cool.

Aside

Gurgle

Today was a pretty bad day. A contract for a class I was set to start teaching from next Monday got delayed into sometime in mid- to late-February, and even that’s still up in the air because they’re not sure if there will be enough students to fill the classes. I have been trying to get more info on this client and a definitive answer on their status since early December, and for it all to fall apart after so much waiting and anxiety was pretty much the worst.

Sorry everyone. Today I was supposed to use my last free day before Tokyo classes started up again to write something upbeat and light, but wasted my whole day in a black hole of depression. That’s already bad enough, but tomorrow morning I’ll be on the rush hour train going to Shinjuku.

I just want to curl up and sleep forever.

Thoughts on Rin-ne Vol. 1

I kind of feel like I was cheating with this volume since I’ve seen all the first and second seasons of the anime. I already knew everything that was going to happen, and anyway the first volume of a manga series like this is just the usual introductions to the characters and universe. In all honesty I could have skipped this since it was all covered in the anime anyway, and there isn’t really much to say about it since there aren’t too many differences between the two.

One thing that makes me cackle though is how rude Rinne is to Sakura, at least in these first few episodes. He never quite gets to Ranma levels of assholery, but he calls her おまえ and isn’t impressed when she clings to him. I won’t say I’m disappointed that he eventually (spoiler) falls for her, since smitten Rinne is also pretty cute, but these early episodes when he is just baffled by her is kind of great.

This was also true when I was watching the anime, but I LOOOOOOVE Sakura. I love that she’s not the annoying shrew that Akane and Kagome were in Ranma ½ and Inuyasha, respectively. I love how she is this strong, self-determined, curious character without having to fight with everyone to prove it. She just is, and it’s great. I love her.

Similarly to how I felt about the anime, I’m not in love with the whole “Rinne is poor, that’s the joke!” that a lot of the series is premised on. It’s one thing for poverty to be a central issue for why he is a shinigami, and to explain the situation when it’s found out that he lives in an abandoned school building and lives off the offerings left to the school’s weather box, but it’s sometimes uncomfortable for “jokes” like Sakura being cut off partway through saying “Rokudo is poor.”

And finally, Rokumon is too cute for words.

Look at this cute patoot.

That is all.

Bloggin’

My personal wager to myself to see how long I could keep up daily blog posts has gone better than any previous attempt… which might not be saying much since my current streak is only just over two weeks long. Of course, I started this round when I was in the middle of a nearly one-month break from work, so the real test will begin once I start commuting to Shinjuku again from Tuesday.

I’ve flip-flopped on whether I should give myself weekends off, since it’s hard to find time to myself with my husband at home. I feel like since we don’t have that much time together during the week, it’d be selfish of me to be tapping away at this blog instead of giving him my full attention. But I’ve been making do so far with the spare moments. Not to mention, scheduling posts to go up in the future, like I’m doing for this one! I guess we’ll see if I can keep this output going even after work begins in earnest.

I’m pleased with how I have relatively few Asides, even though I caught a cold this past week and have been under the weather. Again, I may need to rely on them more as my workload gears up for spring, but I feel like I’ve got a good momentum going of posting a good 300-500 words minimum per day. Future goals will be to bump that up to 1,000/day and work on series and features, but I’m satisfied for now with how things are going.

I would, ideally, like to start writing more reviews. I’ve only got one “full” review up (Slow Bullets), and started cheating with Reviews Done Quick and Thoughts On. I am also pretty unsatisfied with the Slow Bullets review, if only because I had such lukewarm feelings about the subject and am so unfamiliar with the genre. It’s hard for me to write about things I love, but paradoxically I don’t really do enough to step out of my comfort zone so the only things I consume are things I’m predestined to love.

I also still spend far too much of my time oversharing on Twitter. It’s handy in many ways because I can belch out my first draft thoughts there and then compile them in WordPress later, but also I just need to get out of my head, and Twitter is sort of the worst for that. The end of my (too) long winter vacation should hopefully give me the kick in the pants I need to take part in the real world a bit more…

Anyway, thanks for following along for the past two weeks, let’s see how much longer this can last!

Thoughts on March Comes In Like a Lion S2

Folks, my roaring headache seems to be here to stay, and on top of that I have to get ready for work tonight, so unfortunately today’s gonna have to be a quickie too.

I’m only a few episodes into S2 of March Comes In Like a Lion, and just like my feelings from the first season, I think this is just okay. I still love the animation, premise, location, and all of the side characters.

I still have far too many problems with the protagonist, Rei Kiriyama. Huge tracts of the show are spent inside of his head, listening to him drone on about either his feelings or a scene that played out just before. The former is fine, if done sparingly and eloquently, which it isn’t. The latter is the sort of thing that makes me want to tear all of the hair out of my head, because believe it or not this show is really good at landing those big tearjerker scenes, but then screwing up the landing by having Rei belch on about it.

Off the top of my head, there were two scenes that really stood out to me as being stunning, but were then ruined by Rei talking way too much. This might be getting a bit spoilery, so I’ll hide them behind the cut.

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