Monday, March 10, 2014

Nothing Makes You Floss Like a Sadistic Dentist

... Especially if he's one of your students.

In order to supplement my income, I've taken on some private ESL students in my free time. It's actually quite easy for someone like me to find private students online. All you need is a profile on a Japanese-friendly ESL teacher website... and the students will basically find you. Most of them are generic businessmen who lead very monotonous lives... you might get a couple doctors or lawyers with something interesting in mind, but most of them are just looking to impress their boss with some English they've learned on the side.

We work 14 hours a day... cut us some slack!
We meet in cafes on an hourly basis... there is usually very little expectation of significant improvement. The majority of my private students are hard working gentlemen (and women) who are just trying to maintain the abilities they have learned in their youths. Out of 100% of the people I meet for a trial lesson, I accept about 80% for a repeat lesson. Approximately 60% continue on a regular basis, and 20% continue past a 3 month point. The rest stay with me almost permanently.
A win-win situation

But once in a while, I get an "Anomaly." A student who stands out from all the others. These people are not necessarily good at English, but are just SO WEIRD that I can't ignore them. And that kind of sh$t fascinates me.

The Dentist is a good example.

The Dentist's English is quite terrible. I'm not exaggerating. When we met, he didn't know the plural of "tooth."
Seriously... Let that sink in for a minute.

This man was accepting foreign patients when we met.


I've never trusted dentists. I think that anyone who sticks their fingers in another person's mouth for a living is not to be trusted. I've always been wary of their power over people, and I've never felt safe around them. I don't know why- I've actually had pretty great dental care my whole life. Despite my totally amazing dental-care history, I still carry this suspicion of dentists.

And then I met The Dentist.

He comes from a family of Dentists. His father is a Dentist, and his three older brothers are Dentists. His mother is a Dental Hygienist. I can just imagine the weird-ass upbringing this guy has had. Tooth-themed family outings... tooth-related children's toys...

And yet... when he asked me for a lesson, I said yes. I wanted to believe that I could look past the weirdness of his dentally-oriented history. After all, he's a doctor! He specializes in dental implants and has aspirations for dental surgery. He also seemed like a very nice person and was very passionate about his trade.
I respect that.

His lessons were always very dental-themed. After I discovered how little English he understood, I took it upon myself to teach him basic phrases for taking care of patients.
"Please sit down and lay back."
       "We need to extract the back molar."
                   "Please sit up and spit."
"Do you have insurance?"

After a couple months, things got... more specific. He was interested in high-end dental implants for seniors. I started teaching him phrases like:
"After we extract the tooth, we will drill into the jaw and surgically implant a replacement."
"Please come back tomorrow so that we can clean the area with ethanol and remove the stitches."
"You have something which looks like periodontal pre-cancer. We need to take x-rays."

I would have been proud of my work... if it wasn't for his reaction. Every time we talked about removing a tooth or doing something gruesome, he would smile and giggle... like a school boy. He would describe dental surgery like a puppy discovering food. He started to bring misshapen dental molds to our lessons for demonstration- in order to better describe how he would rip open gums and drill into jaw bones.

An actual thing that he brought to class
My student, The Dentist, became a confident monster. He would pantomime ripping out a tooth without anesthetic as a "hilarious mistake." He now had the English to tell me IN GREAT DETAIL ABOUT THE REPERCUSSIONS OF GUM DISEASE. He would laugh out loud about the poor bastards who couldn't afford long-term cavity-filling treatment, and were forced to come back to him every 3 years for "care."

Needless to say, I flossed before every lesson.

So now I'm stuck between a piece of plaque and a molar; I could get rid of the guy to stop my skin from crawling, but he's a hell of a student who's eager to learn and pays good money for the opportunity.

My sick sense of curiosity wants me to find out what he'll do next... (last class he pretended to stir his coffee with an upper jaw).
I'll probably keep seeing him- he's like a vicarious horror movie, for christsakes!
I'm genuinely conflicted on this one... What should I do?

Stay tuned and goodnight!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Bus Pass is Better Than Your Buss Pass, Part Two

At the beginning of every month, I put 20,000 yen (about $200) on my bus pass. There is a very good reason for this.

...But let's just get to the part where I prove my point.


Now, the obvious question is WHY.... Why is this the greatest??? That's a very legitimate question. Allow me to explain....

These are things that I can LEGITIMATELY BUY WITH MY BUS PASS:

1. Beer.

2. Beer. Literally any time of day.

3. Not just beer, but any liquor or wine...  24/7... from any convenience store. (There is no such thing as "last call" or "government regulated alcohol" in Japan).*

4. Anything you can fit in a vending machine. This is just embarrassing for the rest of the world... guys, I'm sorry... but you are simply not up to snuff in this category.

5. Did I mention vending machines?
And those are both hot and/or cold drinks...

6. Also these machines...

7. Don't know what #6 is? Cool. Me neither. My bus pass is so cool that it LITERALLY DOESN'T MATTER. I'M JUST THROWING THAT SH*T AROUND WHEREVER I WANT.

8. The local grocery store. Not even the "Big Brand Name Place." The small mom-and-pop grocery store next to my house will accept my bus pass as currency.

9. Ramen restaurants! 

10. Most Starbucks.

11. And also these modes of transportation.


JR (regular train)

Shinkansen (bullet train)



Tram or streetcar
I could, potentially, go several weeks without using any currency BUT my bus pass. There is very little left in my every day life that this card cannot take care of. The system is almost all-encompassing.

So please, Toronto... tell me about how hard it is to implement a multi-system train card which would include TWO WHOLE MODES of transportation. The Japanese are snickering in your general direction.

(I'm sorry.... but I did warn you that I would get smug).

Merci beacoup.

*The LCBO is a huge joke to the rest of the world... It's a monopoly on alcohol... I mean, really??? How can you even tolerate this garbage???

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Bus Pass Is Better Than Your Bus Pass, Part One

I was recently looking at a piece of news out of Canada about some Presto TTC card nonsense, and I had an urge to get smug. I then saw another piece of shit news about a time-based transfer system, and that urge got a little bigger. You see, there ain't no transportation system like the one in Tokyo. The maze of trains, subways, el-trains, bullet trains, buses, and streetcars make the TTC look like a severely inbred mutant child who has been abandoned under a bridge and deliberately neglected.
In short, the TTC is EMBARRASSING.
Toronto's "Solutions"
For a country that rich, with that much history, and with that many citizens, Canada should know better. But the operative word is "should." Getting it's transportationally-challenged ass off the couch just isn't a priority.

So now I'm gonna share with you what a Big Girl transportation system looks like. Sit up and take notes, Toronto. There will be a test later.

Step One: The Subway
These trains are considered "underground only."
This system is privately owned but has government financing. It is co-operative, so that a passenger can transfer lines without being charged for two tickets. The Marunouchi Line (the red one, and the line I live on) is rumoured to be owned by the Marunouchi Family. It's one of the oldest train lines in Tokyo, and one of the busiest. We can all assume that the Marunouchi Family sits atop a large pile of money and counts gold for a living. At a starting rate of 160 yen ($1.50), your ticket price is determined by the DISTANCE YOU TRAVEL. It is very difficult to spend more than $2 on a train. If you took the Marunouchi from one end to the other, it might cost you $1.90- and that's a 45 minute train ride. Literally everyone in Tokyo takes the subway at least three times a week. So... that's 30 million people... carry the one... and YUP! That's an ass-load of money.

Oh yeah, and if you leave the station to get groceries for 10 minutes? NO ONE GETS BUTT HURT. You can simply exit the train, get your sh$t, and jump back on. Basically, there's a 30 minute grace period. It's all hooked up with THE MOST AMAZING METRO CARD IN THE WORLD (which will also buy you beer... xmore on that later).

Step Two: The JR Trains (the Japanese National Rail System)
These are most of the "above ground trains."
Starting to feel like an asshat yet, TTC? Because you should. The JR system is one of the biggest in the world, and serves tens of millions of people every day. It's run by the government, and it's insane. Shinjuku station (my neighbourhood) sees over 3 million people every day. That's all of Toronto. In one station. Don't tell me that affordable government-run trains are financially "difficult." The other kids are doing it, Toronto, why can't you?

If you're only going a short distance, the JR is very cheap- starting at 150 yen (about $1.45). It gets pretty pricy if you take it for long distances- the cost of 100 km is almost $20. And yet... there are commuter passes for regular long-distance users, and many companies (like mine) will happily cover your transportation costs in their entirety. This system also connects to TRAINS THAT SPAN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

Step Three: The Shinkansen, or bullet train.

Want to cover huge distances in a ridiculously small amount of time? We got you. Sure, it's not cheap... but what do you expect from a train that goes 300 km/h? This system is actually not even one of the best in the world- it's considered "sub-par" when compared to the European bullet trains. But it's still better that NOT HAVING ONE. And in case you haven't been paying attention, Toronto- you don't have one. You still suck.

Step Four: Everything in between.
Tokyo also has an elevated train in some areas, along with a giant bus system and a super slow tram (streetcar) system. Just in case... I don't know. Whatever. I think I've made my point.

COMING SOON- Step Five: The most amazing metro card in the world!


For reference:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's totally fine.


It's totally fine! What could possibly go wrong? I've been busy... with stuff....

....So I've decided to post this next blog with the help of my drunk roommate...  These are his opinions on my pictures...
This is Andy. And these are his opinions...

"The tin foil coat... I can accept that. but the matching tin foil shoes? That's too far."

"I'm feeling it! Anything with Kyari Pamyu is awesome."

"I dunno... Hot or not? This is borderline. That dress is confusing..."

"Um.... That's a pig. That's a pig cooking a pig. That's pretty much what I think about Korea. It's incestuous."

"This is basically the Clark Kent version of my wife."

"b*tch! You hella skinny! Git off the subway!"

"Does that say Adolf???? Adolf is coming??? Racist."

"That looks delicious."

"Don't hide drugs here."

"Fun not allowed."

"The wonders of Crystal.... Crystal Meth!"

"White Woman. Product name not included."

"Banzai. May the Emperor live 10.000 years. This is Abenomics."

"First female prime minister of Japan"

"Did you notice that I have a new watch??? Did you?? Cause I took out an AD!!!"

"Shinjuku!!! I totally live here!"

"Michelin Man: Because I can wear this to work."

"We'll come back to this. But really, why is this an advertisement??"

"It's okay to sniff them on the train"

"Who said we're an endangered species?"

"I'm going to need to do that pap smear again..."

"Do you know about soy sauce?"

"Staff speaks not only foreigner, but alien as well. Tokyo 2020."

"Throat medicine."

"Your apartment is very nice."

"Interracial gay marriage. It's the future."

"you'll never guess what I did with the bodies."
 Suffice to say, I love my living arrangement.