The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Well, I'm Still Alive...

Last night, I went out for dinner with my friend Karen (one of the other English teachers here) and some of her Japanese friends. They are middle-aged people with an interest in English, so we spent the evening chatting in English and Japanese. This sort of thing is not entirely uncommon; foreigners often get invited out to dinner for an informal "English lesson". Some people don't like it because they feel it's exploitation, but I don't really mind it; after all, it's not like I can't use some more friends, right?

Anyway, it turns out that they had invited us to a very high-end Fugu restaurant. Fugu is the notorious puffer fish, and Oita prefecture is the best place to eat Fugu in Japan (according to most people in Oita, anyway).

Kind of cute, isn't it? Well, here's what Wikipedia says about the fugu (in part):

The fish is highly toxic, but despite this — or perhaps because of it — it is
considered a delicacy in Japan. The fish contains lethal
amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in the
internal organs, especially the liver and the ovaries, but also in the skin and
the testicles. Therefore, only specially licensed chefs can prepare and sell
fugu to the public, and the consumption of the liver and ovaries is forbidden.
But because small amounts of the poison give a special desired sensation on
the tongue, these parts are considered the most delicious by some gourmets.
Every year a number of people die because they underestimate the amount of
poison in the consumed fish parts.
The poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays
fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. There is
currently no antidote, and the standard
medical approach is to try to support the respiratory and circulatory system
until the effect of the poison wears off. The fish is also featured prominently
in Japanese art and culture.

Fugu is also horrendously expensive. I'm guessing the meal cost about $100 per person. It was special Fugu cuisine, so every dish featured Fugu somehow. (I really like saying "Fugu".) There was raw Fugu in Fugu liver sauce, with a side-dish of Fugu skin salad. This was followed by deep-fried Fugu and Fugu saute, with some boiled Fugu meatballs. Then, we had a type of sake with a Fugu fin floating in it, and then a Fugu soup. It was all delicious, but I kept a close eye on my dinner companions for signs of paralysis.

Anyway, it seems that I lived through it. As I said it was pretty good, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, especially at that price. If I'm going to kill myself by eating something, it will be a bacon double cheeseburger, and I'll die the old-fashioned way: of blocked arteries, thank you very much.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sorry for the Long Absence

I want to apologize for the long delay in posting anything here. Basically, I haven't had much news to report, and the other thing is that most of the news has been bad, so I haven't really felt like writing too much.

First, I've just been really busy with school, and also with extra-curricular activities picking up. The Jodo club here at APU became an official club, so we've been practicing more often, and I also had to prepare for my Jodo grading (which I passed!) and that meant going into Oita city twice a week. So basically, I haven't had much free time to write, or much of anything to write about, either.

Then, my uncle passed away last week. It was, on one hand, not unexpected, but on the other hand, much, much too soon. He had been physically strong and healthy and it was just one of those things you can't understand but have to accept anyway.

And now, I'm trying to deal with the fact that, just as I thought I had finally managed to get a girlfriend here, she has decided to break things off because she doesn't want a long-distance relationship. I'm trying to make sense of this, too, but not having much success. Lots of second-guessing going on just now.

In the meantime, I'm here at school, on a Saturday no less, trying to catch up with my marking and planning ... but instead, I'm procrastinating with this Blog. Okay, okay ... now that you know I'm still kicking, back to work! Hope you're all enjoying the lead-up to Christmas. In Japan, it's all very tacky and weird, but somehow it's nice to know that my friends and family are getting ready to enjoy a real Christmas just the same...