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The Wrath of the Grape

Alcohol-fueled writing

The Artist

It started as a normal work day. I woke up with a head that felt like a yak had slept on it. I lit a smoke and had a few puffs. I then pulled a beer out of the personal beer cooler I kept by the bed. It was a lazy habit, but it gave me a reason to sit up in the morning. It's hard to drink a full can of beer supine.

Whiskey, Miles Davis, and That Experience

Since coming to Japan I've found myself robed in all kinds of roles. People seem happier here if they know what role to assign you. The conversation can then continue on a predefined script. I've noticed Japanese people feeling out the other person's status early on in the initial conversation. Once they find out, there is an "Ahhh!


It's a quiet Wednesday night and I've finished work early. Since my girlfriend left me, I've been in the habit of shaving twice a day. Rituals keep me anchored. I've got my Gillette Mach Synch 3 razor and my sturdy can of Schick shaving foam. I get home about five and I stand in front of the bathroom mirror scraping beard off my face until all that's left is a greyness behind the skin. As I'm shaving, I wonder why in movies no one ever finishes a shave.

Trading Places Part 3

The atmosphere in head office had descended to such depths that almost no-one spoke to me at all. Information dried up so I didn't know when or where to attend meetings. The sheets that got passed around the office with new policies for everyone's signature mysteriously bypassed my desk. Even more worrying for the long-term health of the company was the high turnover of staff. People were dropping like flies, and soon I didn't know half the staff working around me. Around this time, three incidents stick in my mind as particularly repellent.

Trading Places Part 2

The first warning I had that things were heading towards shit creek was on a random school visit. Having talked about the usual things, the teacher asked me why he had been interrogated by a couple of Japanese guys and pressed to make complaints about me and others in head office. From his description of the main guy, I surmised that he was one of the branch managers, whose face bore such a striking resemblance to that animal that he was known as "Fuguman."

Trading Places Part 1

Guest post by barten

I came to Japan to teach English 6 years ago. I started in Sendai and thought I'd found my dream job. My first school was American Club, hallways bubbling with students, teachers' room full of banter and jokes. On a working holiday visa, I was started part-time for Y100,000 a month. I worked 12 to 6 and looked for evening classes elsewhere with no luck. They promised to make me full-time down the track, but they seemed to be hiring other people over me. Then the pay started drying up.

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