Sunday, October 31, 2004


How cool is this??

So, I dragged my sorry butt into school this morning, to be greeted by the slightly worrying sight of several police officers wandering about the place. Quelling my initial urge to pull out my piece and start firing, I asked my manager what was wrong; she shrugged and mournfully indicated the entrance to the teachers' room.

broken glass on the floor

gaping hole in the glass part of the door

safe on the floor with the door wrenched off


I took a moment to absorb the full horror of this egregious deed (I had been hoping for a festive Halloween corpse,) remembered where I'd been last night- in a bar, there ARE witnesses- grinned surreptitiously to myself and stepped into the room.

At this point, one of the police officers started shouting "Hairanai de! DAME!!!" (Don't go in there! NOOO!!!) However, by the presence of another teacher's jacket on a chair in the room, I figured that the precious crime scene had already been contaminated. Besides, last time I stopped for a cop, I ended up in a cell. I had great fun explaining this to the old boy in my broken Japanese.

In other Halloween news, tonight my flatmate and I are staying up watching horror movies and eating cheese in the hope of having really messed up dreams. Apologies to Mr Timothy James of Earlsdon, Coventry, for stealing his idea. The time has come.

Happy Halloween folks!

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Kasparov's revenge

It began, as so many things do, with an ending...

I am fortunate enough to have two computer enthusiasts as my flatmates. In fact, "enthusiasts" may be something of an understatement, but I digress.

Anyway, a little while back, Mike's computer was being upgraded/revamped/whatever and, thanks to a cruel whim of fate, the motherboard and CPU got well and truly broken. Therefore, the intrepid duo got in a bunch of new parts and built pretty much a new system, leaving a few spare parts from Mike's old machine. I then hit upon the infallible plan of "appropriating" said spare parts, buying a few new bits and pieces and BUILDING MY OWN COMPUTER, according to my own unique specifications, by which, of course, I mean my meagre budget.

Brian, an MIT graduate and quite the computer whizz, kindly offered to help me. It wasn't what you'd call plain sailing, though. Here are some of the problems Brian and I encountered.

1- Got home from Denden town electronics district with a host of goodies, stripped out Mike's old case, then discovered that the new motherf- I mean, motherboard- wouldn't fit inside the case, thus necessitating another trip out into the typhoon-stricken streets of Osaka to buy a new case. This displeased me.

2- Put everything into beautiful new case and turned the machine on, only to be greeted with the sort of inertia that I usually see staring back at me across a classroom desk when I've asked a particularly cryptic question, such as: "how are you today?" This displeased me even further.

3- Waddled back into Denden town with increasingly unpopular computer under my arm to have it tested by the store staff where I'd purchased the motherboard and graphics card. After extensive testing, the store staff kindly explained to me (in Japanese) that, by smearing thermal-conductive grease all over the wrong parts of our new CPU, Brian and I had, in fact, damaged it beyond repair. I was delighted with the Japanese practice, but not exactly overjoyed with the result, as you may imagine.

4- After this debacle, I decided to dump the majority of the computer in a luggage locker at the nearest subway station, then take the (hastily polished) CPU back to the shop from whence it came and claim that they'd sold me a defective part. When I got to the subway station, I didn't have change for the locker and the geezer in the nearest shop said that I would have to make a purchase if I wanted change. As this was a medicine shop and I was in the rudest of good health, bar my frayed temper, I was, once more, not pleased.

5- After 30 seconds of me sarcastically playing "eeny meeny" along the shelves as I deliberated about what to buy, the shop geezer relented and gave me the change I required, no purchase necessary, please don't ever come into my shop again. I was, for once, pleased.

6- Furthermore, the computer shop staff uncomplainingly replaced the defunct CPU with a new one. YES, two in a row! My troubles were finally nearing an end.

7- ...Or so I thought. We now had the dubious pleasure of installing an operating system. As may be seen from the below screenshot, I eschewed the option of Microsoft Crappy Windows For Jerks.

This decision led to hours of fun as Brian worked tirelessly, installing various different versions of Linux, swearing at them, trying to make them work, then giving them up as a bad lot and trying something else instead.

Although I consider myself fairly computer-literate, I must confess that I was a complete bystander during this arduous process. I merely gave moral support and asked what I hoped were pertinent questions from time to time, in a vain attempt not to appear a complete dunce.

DAN So, where are we now?
BRIAN Well, I've got rid of the problem with your mouse.
DAN But we don't have any graphics, so we can't get the desktop to work, right?
BRIAN (cheerfully) Right!

I seem to have had this conversation, or myriad variations thereof, quite often over the past few days.

Finally, yesterday, an apparently working version of Linux emerged and my computer is now operational, 8 days and several thousand obscenities after I began building the wretched thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Deep Blue!

My first concern is to kick its butt at chess, although this will mean downloading an absurdly easy chess simulator. I love chess, but, as far as playing it goes, I stink out loud.

Spotter's badge for the title of this post, by the way.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Probably more information than you needed

Tonight, I picked a scab off my knee so crusty that I was able to use it as a rudimentary plectrum and play a song on my guitar.

I then ate the scab.

For those who care about these things, the song I played was Everybody hurts.


Sunday, October 24, 2004


And now, apropos of nothing...

...Dan's "Are you a Barbarian Warrior" quiz

1. By which of the following do your enemies know you:

a- The Crimson Blade
b- The silent killer
c- The twat in accounts

2. A horse is:

a- a man's best friend
b- a man's best lover
c- a man's best way of getting from A to B and, thereafter, an inexpensive alternative to kindling

3. Your hobbies are:

a- crosswords, reading and golfing
b- burning, looting and pillaging
c- ballet, pornography and cottaging

4. Conan The Barbarian was:

a- ground-breaking
b- abysmal
c- a romantic comedy

5. Your greatest fear is:

a- being dishonoured before the warriors of your tribe
b- soap
c- both of the above

6. You have a mysterious birthmark shaped like:

a- a strawberry
b- a crown
c- a vase, or maybe two people facing each other; it's very difficult to tell.

7. You are plagued by:

a- a strange feeling, which could even be guilt for your bloodthirsty actions (but probably not.)
b- fleas
c- the plague

8. How many times does the letter "X" appear in your name?

a- 2 or more
b- once
c- none whatsoever

9. Your mother was

a- the slave girl of a nomad chieftain
b- the mistress of an Ealing banker
c- mostly drunk

10. You cannot:

a- roll your "r"s
b- recite your alphabet
c- rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time

1. a- 3 points b- 2 points c- 0 points
2. a- 1 point b- 2 point c- 3 points
3. a- 0 points b- 3 points c- 1 point
4. a- 2 points b- 1 point c- 3 points
5. a- 1 point b- 2 points c- 3 points
6. a- 0 points b- 3 points c- 0 points
7. a- 2 points b- 3 points c- 3 points
8. a- 3 points b- 2 point c- lose a point for using the word "whatsoever"
9. a- 3 points b- 0 points c- 2 points
10. a- 0 points b- 3 point c- 2 points


0-10 points: Ealing banker! The last thing you pillaged was your little sister`s piggy bank, you pitiful suburban weed.

11-20 points: Nova Teacher! Definite barbarian potential, but let down by your tendency to use the word "whatsoever."

21-30 points: Barbarian warrior! You are bathing in the tears of your enemies' widows and orphans.

31 or more points: Uber barbarian warrior! So barbaric that you cannot even do the most basic mathematics and you are NOT bathing in the tears of your enemies' widows, as you have a marked aversion to bathing. As do I.


Saturday, October 23, 2004


One for the ladies...

So girls, ever wondered why his website has 8 photos of his roommate, but not a single one of you?

Well, apparently some of you have.

Anyway, on a COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE, here are some photographs of my roommates.

name: Brian Fisher

from: San Diego

hobbies: Drinking green tea, swearing at computers, being enthusiastic about Pandas.

name: Mike Goetz

from: New Jersey

hobbies: Downloading stuff, pretending to be deaf, saying the word "son" at the end of every sentence.

That's all for now- this whisky isn't going to drink itself, you know.


Monday, October 18, 2004


Taking the rusk

Sadly, my football team didn't win this weekend's tournament on Awaji Island, but we were all in good spirits for last night's award ceremony at The Outback Grill in Umeda.

I had high hopes of winning the "Goal Of The Tournament" prize after a dazzling solo effort which saw me take the ball 80 yards, bypassing the entire opposing midfield, before carving up the last defender and sliding the ball under the keeper, like a child joyously slotting the final piece into a particularly difficult and time-consuming jigsaw.

However, as this feat of footballing wizardry was accomplished against a team largely composed of girls, whom we eventually beat 14-0, I ended up with the "Taking The Piss" award.

This is a picture of me with my award: it's a Hello Kitty rusk.

Other prestigious gongs included the "Thanks for coming" award (which I was very glad not to win) and the "Marco Van Basten finishing award" for dollying presentable chances in front of goal. This latter was actually won by someone else from Earlsdon, which goes to show what a hotbed of footballing talent the place is.

Not to mention English teaching talent, of course.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004


How to start a conversation

It's the sort of thing that's really easy to get wrong. Take this little gem, for example:



SCENE I: American Beauty, a bar in Osaka

Bloke: Where are you from?

Dan: England.

Bloke: No kidding? I'm from Germany! Which part of England are you from?

Dan: Coventry.

Bloke: Coventry... Coventry... Oh- that's the place that the Germans fucked up during the war, isn't it?

Dan: That'd be the one.

Way to go, Fritz!


Tuesday, October 12, 2004


One trashed elbow, two grazed knees and 22 burning ears

So, last night, some Japanese son of a gun wiped me out while we were playing football. Completely off the ball, I might add.

Thanks to the hard, sandy gravel which passes for football pitches in these parts, this cost me the skin off both knees, as well as aggravating my bad elbow. Not half so much as it aggravated my bad temper, though.

I don't think the Japanese team were too impressed with the 30-second unbroken barrage of profanity to which I treated them after I picked myself up, but I wasn't too impressed with their approach to tackling either, so I guess that leaves us just about even (except that my team won 6-2, so there.)

I have a tournament next weekend and my elbow doesn't feel too bad, but my knees are pretty sore. However, thanks to the cathartic power of swearing, my temper has already made a complete recovery.


Sunday, October 10, 2004



This is a dream I had last night. What it says about my current mental state, I simply can't tell.

Nothing good, I imagine.

So, my dream was of the weather section of a news programme. The weatherman was issuing a live tornado warning, from the somewhat foolhardy position of the top of a very steep cliff, with the tornado rapidly approaching from the sea.

No sooner had he commenced speaking, than the tornado whipped him off the top of the cliff, as cleanly as a player taking a piece from a chess board. The luckless weatherman was carried back and forth across the cliff face by the whirlwind, like a cockroach in a vacuum cleaner.

Then, by an amazing stroke of luck, the tornado deposited him, unscathed, in the topmost branches of a very tall tree which stood on the clifftop.

Unfortunately, he was so dizzy from his ordeal that he fell out of the tree, hit the ground with a bone-shattering crunch and bounced over the edge of the cliff, plummeting a couple of hundred feet into the choppy waters below.

At this point, the newscaster, apparently unmoved by the weatherman's grisly demise, announced that it was time to go over to the sports desk.

And I woke up.


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