火曜日, 9月 21, 2004

Do You Remember Me? My Name is Mayonnaise

    Some students of my high school were hanging out at my station one day. They recognized me, so I went over and talked with them. After some nervous giggling, one of them said:
    "Do you remember me? My name is Mayonnaise."
    More giggling. I tried to place Mayonnaise's face in my memory, but could not. And yet, how can you say "I'm sorry, I don't remember you, Mayonnaise?" In the end I just nodded and smiled.
    I think she must have meant that her nickname is Mayonnaise. She is probably one of those people (a "mayonnaiser") who puts mayonnaise on everything. The "pocket mayo" bottles I've seen in 100-yen stores are targeted for this market. It's bad for you and has no taste of its own, but mayonnaise is a food with a cult following in Japan.
    This opening is really just a ruse to talk about my 3-day weekend.


    I thought there might be a game meeting this Saturday, but there wasn't. So it was a staying home/doing laundry/playing video games kind of day. I toyed with the idea of going alone to Nara, but ultimately didn't go. I'm glad I didn't, because I was talking to M & U later and we all made plans to go to Nara together, which will be so much better. I haven't been to Nara for 10 years, and when I did go I couldn't see anything due to contact lens trouble that day. So why not go again now? M. says she hasn't been there for 10 years either.
    I was stuck on Dragon Quest I because I couldn't find the 太陽の石, but once I found it (not by myself, I cheated) I had no problem finishing the game that day. It was right in front of my nose, but I wouldn't have thought to look there. I have the Super Famicon game that is DQ I and II together, so I started DQ II after that. It is barely more advanced out of RPG kindergarten than DQ I, but it does have a few innovations: more than one character in your fighting party, more spells, and more than one monster can appear at a time during a random encounter.
    Then I started "Fratricide Grass," the suspense horror sound-novel game I mentioned earlier. It's cool. I played for a long time and my character and his girlfriend are still alive. Does that mean my choices are good? It's a good game for Japanese reading study, because it's all reading, and you have to pay attention to make good decisions. You can even flip back to see the previous pages - always good for language learners. I wish some other games had that feature. It had a lot of horror game cliches, like a wandering suit of armor, a ringing phone, and a wheelchair. The two people are basically exploring a haunted house. They spent a long time exploring the bathroom and I thought they might die in there from the hot water, but for some reason they got away unscathed. Sometimes the choices for what your character can say are kind of humorous. You see a mummy in one room and then some dried fish in the refrigerator, and you can choose to point out that dried fish is really mummified fish. I guess this isn't so funny really, but some of the dialogue seemed amusing at the time. I haven't solved the mystery of the house or the "fratricide grass" yet, so I have to keep playing. Another cool thing about it is that it saves your game instantly as you play. The save slots look like bookmarks --because, of course, you're supposed to feel like you're reading an novel, not playing a game. Actually, the writer of the game script is not from the video game industry at all; he's a novelist and scriptwriter who had never worked on a game before. Perhaps for that reason, it seems more "well-written" than most games.
    They rereleased this game for PlayStation, but the reviewers seem to think the original was better. The original I'm playing is here. Otogirizou on Amazon


    From 10-1 I studied Chinese/tutored English with Y. She invited me to a moon-viewing party next week. I made some Chinese mistakes that made her laugh, as usual.
    While still at Sannomiya station, I ran into 2 other ALTs, and we talked for a few minutes. Then I caught a bus to Kita-ku (the mountainous North Kobe). My friend U. and her husband have a cheap 2-room apartment there. They had to put in their own shower; the former occupants had taken the bathtub and shower with them when they left. She told me that this is customary for cheap apartments in Japan. There was a space where the bathtub used to be.
    Our friend M. was there too, and the three of us hung out there for awhile and cooked dinner. Later U.'s husband came home with two of his friends (all of them are from Inner Mongolia) and I taught all the guys how to play Settlers of Catan in Japanese. Japanese was the second, third or fourth language of everyone in the room except M. -- but they all spoke it well, because they have been living and working in Japan for several years. The guys speak Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese, so Japanese is their third language, and for U. it's her 4th language, because she speaks English too. She told me that most Inner Mongolians choose to study Japanese instead of English in school. The guys liked Catan so much we played 2 games, but sometimes they traded places with each other because the games were so long. It was after 1 am when everyone went to bed. The 3 guys slept on the floor in one room and we 3 women slept on the floor in the other. We could hear them snoring in the next room though.


    The guys woke up early and went to work. It was a holiday (Respect For The Aged Day) so I had the day off school. M. and U. had part-time jobs, but not until later, so we hung out some more in the morning, took showers and had breakfast. U. helped me with Chinese a bit and I made her read part of a Japanese book I had - M. was studying Chinese in the next room too, much more difficult than what I was studying.
    After leaving U.'s house so she could go to work, M. and I took the bus back to Sannomiya. We had coffee and a sandwich at Doutour. By that time I had been speaking a lot of Japanese over a 24-hour period, much more than I do normally, and I was feeling good about that, but I was also getting a little tired. At 3:30 I had plans to meet another ALT for a movie, so I said goodbye to M. with plans to meet her again the next day (today).
    I met a first-year ALT (J.) and we went to the movie theater. We wanted to see Fahrenheit 9-11, but it was sold out, so we saw "The Village" instead. It was okay - not a great movie, but I didn't feel totally cheated to have watched it because it had a couple cool moments and it was kind of interesting. I didn't like the way the talking was so stilted and the plot was very implausible, but visually at least it was kind of cool.
    Next I want to see "Swing Girls," a Japanese teen movie by the creators of "Waterboys," but the fact that it's in Japanese narrows down my list of potential people to ask to see it with me, and M. and U. aren't interested, so I'm wondering if I should just go see it alone.
    I finally got home at about 7 in the evening, fed my poor neglected hamster, and ate some ice cream. The end.