Friday, January 26, 2007

Japanese Language Basics @ Katsucon 2007

I am tentatively scheduled to appear at Katsucon in Washington, DC, February 16-18. The word "tentatively" is used because my panel request has just been accepted today, only three weeks prior, and I have to see if I can move things around to make myself available. If I am free to go, be prepared for the main panel to occur on the Friday afternoon/early evening of the con. I'll have details as plans become clearer.

Honestly, I was prepared not to go; I had heard acceptance letters had gone out earlier in the week, and for a con that I heard didn't have room for a fanfic panel last year (and what anime convention doesn't have a fanfic panel?), I figured I would've been easily squeezed out too.

Nonetheless, I've made a few improvements to the panel presentation from the last time at Anime USA. Some more slides, a few tweaks to the lesson execution, and I plan to have some local information about resources for learning Japanese in the DC area.

Well, stay tuned.

UPDATE - OK, looks like I'll be on my way. The sixth edition of Japanese Language Basics will take place on Friday, February 16th at 5PM. I've also asked for additional panel time to give extra lessons. That will be the free stuff for all Katsucon attendees. Beyond that, private Japanese lessons during the weekend of the convention can be commissioned at $20/hour (half my regular rate). Feel free to email me at if you are interested.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Muscular liberalism"

Newsweek article on Sen. James Webb's response to Bush's State of the Union.

Last night, one of them looked like a panhandler asking for handouts, while the other looked like a statesman.

Says Jonathan Alter:
Virginia Sen. James Webb, in office only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism—with personal touches—that left President Bush's ordinary address in the dust.
I get the feeling I'm not going to agree much with Sen. Webb on a whole lot of the domestic agenda (though he is right about the widening gap between executives on the top floor and the rest of us grunts), but I said before that the issue of Iraq is non-negotiable. On the war, it shouldn't be difficult for the left to rally behind Webb and the new direction that is sorely needed in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I prefer American over Japanese meds

Got sick on the Saturday of my trip. Still haven't recovered. Then there's all the media attention MLS is getting. Then I decided to watch 24...for the first time ever. Hence, very sparse blogging. I will catch up Real Soon Now.

In the meantime, this has to be the coolest pic I took of myself in Minatomirai last Sunday.

Honestly, I do have pictures with my friends and students. Can't share them...might have a student who might not want to be made public. If you know about karaoke in Japan, I think you'd understand.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Six days in Tokyo

Continuing my obsession with self-timed pictures.

I'm back in Tokyo on vacation for one week. I already did my shopping, now all that's left is meeting with my friends and former students for dinner throughout the week. A bit of sightseeing too.

My former hometown has changed very little. The school that I worked at closed down last month for lack of business; so happy that it wasn't on my watch. Other than that, the people who work at Starbucks, the bank, the stationery are all the same. Of course one has to pop in and say hello.

It was on to Ginza after that in search of new clothes. It's probably not a good idea to go shopping for clothing in Japan of all places when you're a half hour from Target and Kohl's back home, but on the plane I spilled some orange juice on the only pair of pants I took with me. One thing that either of the stores mentioned above doesn't have, though, are the size jeans I'm looking for (hey, I'm Asian, ergo short). The winter coats were also half off, one thing led to another, blah blah blah. It also has much to do that it's been two months since I've been on a date, and I have to figure if a change would do me good. Why not.

I don't know what happened in the six months I've been gone, but the Japanese have been much less surprised at foreigners who can speak the language. I've only been forced to exercise my native English twice since I got here.

I was thinking about dinner at the hotel restaurant, and then I watched that CNN report about Congress looking to cut college loan interest rates and I got sad. I mean, not for the lower interest rates I could get this summer and fall, but for the loans I already have. It can't be true that the average principal is just under $20K. How do people get Masters degrees? My dream would be a funded doctoral program, then I can defer the required payments for my federal loans (I think) and stay in academia for, like, forever.

I'm still jet lagged, and woke up at 3AM. Good thing though, because I got to see Congress change hands. Yes, I am a news and political junkie.

Speaking of which, of course not everyone is happy. Guess who the conservative punditry is blaming Iraqi deaths on? That's right, Democrats. As if George Jr. was our idea in the first place. It will never top Falwell blaming 9/11 on treating gays and lesbians as human beings, but it does seem that striving for that sort of wild crazy making is the hot trend on the right. The only regret is that The Daily Show is on reruns until next week and won't be commenting on something like this.

My Internet access will be irregular while I'm away, but I hope to blog every now and then.