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December 2003 - My First Haircut, Movie, and Live House

* I checked out this club in Tottori that bands play at (called After Hours).  It was really interesting because almost every band sang in English, but they couldn't actually speak English.  This one cover band had like 10 musicians.  The singer tried to sing "Rock this Town" by the Stray Cats, but it sounded horrendous cuz he didn't know how to sing (plus he kept having to look at a lyrics sheet).  I really wanted to go up on stage and help him out.  I think blues is really popular because 3 of the 4 bands were blues bands.  It's really interesting hearing English songs sung with Japanese accents.  It was quite a cultural experience.

* I went to a Japanese movie theater for the first time.  I saw "Matrix Revolutions."  I was the only one in the theater that didn't have to read the subtitles.  Whoooo!  Decent flick, but I kept  laughing at subtle nuances in the English that no one else understood.  Also, everyone was extremely quiet during the entire movie.  No laughing, cheering, or anything.  Again it was an interesting cultural experience.

* I visited Kobe.  Beautiful city!  The whole city is one massive shopping mall.  I highly recommend it if you're into shopping and awesome food.

* I really dig my job save for one little thing.  They do this thing called the "Self Study Campaign" during which I'm supposed to "recommend" some home study materials to all the students.  Basically, I have to become a sales person, and the head teacher keeps pressuring me to make sales.  I haven't made any yet and everyone else has several.  She loves to remind me of that.  I can tell she went through some training program on how to talk to foreign teachers about the campaign.  I studied psychology in college, so it was funny cuz the stuff she said to me was right out of one of my organizational psychology textbooks.  For example, she kept saying, "Next time WE should try this...."  Translation: "David, ya screwed up, so next time do it right, jackass!"  I swear to God I'm gonna buy one these freakin' things myself just to get them off my back.  I know the AEON trainer is gonna talk to me about it when he comes.  That's gonna be fun cuz I'll hear more stuff from my psychology book.  The Japanese culture is really interesting to me when it comes to stuff like this.  My Japanese managers never say "do this or do that."  They always say, "Can you do this?" or "We should do this."  But that translates to "DO THIS NOW!!"  It makes it a real challenge to get a read on them sometimes.  It's not only hard to read the language, but it's also hard to read the people.

* I was doing the lesson planning for a lesson on reported speech (He said..., He asked me..., etc.).  Anyways, the book said that the tenses have to change and match in a certain way.  For example: "I am going to the store" becomes "She said she was going to the store."  I disagreed with the book because changing the tenses depends upon the context.  My Japanese coworkers looked at me like I had 3 heads.  I said that people don't always change the tenses that way when they speak.  It depends on how recently you spoke and your intended meaning.  They said that they learned otherwise in school.  Anyways, my coworker grabbed her Oxford book of English grammar and showed me the chapter on tense change in reported speech.  Sure enough it gave examples saying that I was wrong.  I flipped to the next page and the grammar book said: "NOTE: The aforementioned examples are only general guidelines for reporting speech.  There are no strict rules for changing the tense in reported speech as it depends upon the speaker's intended meaning."  Then the book gave a dozen examples showing that I was indeed correct.  BoooooooooYaaaaaaaawwwwwwww.  Thank you, Mr. Caldwell.  

* I got a haircut for the first time in Japan.  I nervously walked in and told the woman at the front that I wanted a wash and cut.  She took my name and said something like, "It's really busy right now blah blah blah time blah blah blah."

Here's how the rest of the exchange went (translated):
Me: OK.  What time is free?
Her: Oh, no.  You misunderstood.  Blah time Blah Blah.
Me: Doh!  I'm sorry.  My Japanese isn't very good.  What's that again?
Her: Blah time Blah Blah
Me: Ummmmm...aahhhhhhhh....what do you recommend?
Her: Oh no!  You still don't understand.  Ummmmm...(much slower) We are really busy now, so you might have to wait a while.  Do you have enough time?
Me: (whoops!) Oh yeah!  Of course!  Today is my day off, so it's okay.

Then she led me to a seat and handed me a magazine.  The service was incredible: shampoo, cut (the hairstylist was really nice and talkative [good practice for me]), another shampoo, a drink, and a short shiatsu massage.  It was the best experience getting a haircut I've ever had.  I felt like I was at a spa or something.  It cost about 3900 yen ($39 US or so), and there is no tipping in Japan.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to my next haircut.

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