Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Wow! Where did the last month (and a bit!) go? Doesn’t Time Fly?

Anyway! Here’s wishing you all a very merry Christmas from Be & Me!

Here’s a little present for you: An online version of the song White Christmas that’s guaranteed to get you in the mood. Enjoy!

PS Now that the Christmas rush is over, I promise to get back to regularly updating this Blog.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bubble Wrap

Often my students are surprised at some of the obscure [strange, not known by many people] things that I know. (On the other hand, I’m often surprised by the important things I don’t know!) I have a secret: Many years ago, one of my friends gave me a Page-a-Day desk calendar on trivia. Every day, I could rip off a page and learn something new and useless.

The cover of next year’s Page-a-Day Trivia desk calendar
With the calendar came a “key” (actually a code of numbers) to their online service. Since I used that key on their Homepage, I have been receiving a daily e-mail telling me more new and useless information.

Last Thursday’s trivia question was, “What were the two engineers who invented Bubble Wrap trying to develop when they came up with the poppable protective packaging material?”

The answer was, “A plastic wallpaper with a paper backing. The two, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, quickly saw the potential of the bubbly laminated material they ended up with and established the Sealed Air Corporation to sell their new Bubble Wrap.”

Bubble Wrap

I remember the first time my family got a package wrapped in Bubble Wrap way back when I was a kid. My sister & I spent hours popping the individual bubbles with our fingers. What fun!

If you want to experience the modern day equivalent of that “fun,” you should check out Virtual Bubble Wrap.

If you like that, I also recommend you check out these other goofy (strange but funny) sites…

Kikkoman – You all know Batman & Superman, but who is Kikkoman?

Shinbashi – This is guaranteed to make you laugh! (If that doesn't play straight away, click on "cracking piece")

By the way, while I was checking out the new Page-a-Day Calendars, I found this interesting title...

Find out more at The Bad President Page-a-Day Calendar

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Inner Sky Concert this Friday Night

Our friend Simon holds a monthly concert called Inner Sky at Covent Garden in Kita Horie. The next Inner Sky is on this Friday November 16th, from about 8:30 pm. It costs 1,000 yen to enter, but that includes one "free" drink.

Simon has recently formed a new band called “Goodman Bad.” He’s very excited about the band and thinks this month’s concert will be a lot of fun. Here’s what he has to say about it:

"Osaka reggae-rock three-piece Goodman Bad return to Covent Garden (Kita Horie) on Friday, November 16 to do a range of 80s pop and 90s grunge covers in a laid-back acoustic style while you drink and dance.

今月の「インナー・スカイ」(アコーステック音楽のライブイベント)は11月16日(金)に行われます。Goodman Badというバンドが80年代のポップスや90年代のGrungeをレゲエふうAcousticで再現します。Goodman Badはベース、パーカッション、ギターの三人組。9月のライブも大好評でした。今月もお見逃しなく。"

場所は堀江のCovent Garden です。

20:30から \1000(1ドリンク付)


I have to teach until 9:30 pm tomorrow night but I will definitely go to the concert after that. Hope to see you there!

By the way, You can also check out some photos from the last time we went to "Inner Sky" here: Be & Me Inner Sky Photos

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pocky Day

As many of you already know, I’m interested in unusual holidays. Recently, I wrote about International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day. I made some class sheets based on those Blog entries which I used in the week leading up to that day. As a warm-up question to those sheets, I asked, “What’s the most unusual holiday you’ve ever heard of?” One of my students (Hi, Megumi!) suggested November 11th – Pocky Day! The reason November 11th is Pocky Day is pretty clear...
Pocky Day is this Sunday. Don’t forget!
How do you celebrate Pocky Day? Well, that’s easy! Just buy some Pockies & share them with your family & friends!

Did you know that they have Pockies in other countries? Just over 10 years ago, I travelled through Europe with my sister. We took a 3-day bus tour to Pompeii & Amalfi from Rome. (Everybody should visit Pompeii & Amalfi for 3 days!) On the way to Pompeii, the bus stopped at a service station [gas stand] for a break. I felt like a snack – something chocolatey – so I went for a wander through the convenience store. That’s when I found the European version of Pockies…

“The Mikado” is a famous Gilbert & Sullivan musical that is popular in Europe. Maybe that’s why Glico changed the name for the European market.

Internationally, November 11th is Armistice Day (in some countries it’s known as “Poppy Day”), the memorial of the end of World War One (“The War to End All Wars” – Mmmmmm?). An armistice is an agreement to stop fighting. The armistice that ended World War One was signed at 11:00 am, on November the 11th (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month"). People usually remember Armistice Day by stopping everything they are doing at exactly 11:00 am, and thinking quietly for 2 minutes about all the people who died in the war.

This Sunday, I guess you can do both. At 11:00 am, stop whatever you’re doing and think about the uselessness of war and the sacrifices made by all of our ancestors in the name of peace. Sometime after that, cheer yourself up again by sharing some Pockies with your family and friends!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Farewell, Good Friend!

I remember when I first came to Japan back in the early 90s. I landed at Itami airport and caught the bus into Namba, where my brother was waiting for me. After we dropped my luggage off at his house in Sakai, he said, “Let’s go eat yakitori & sing karaoke!”

We caught the Nankai line back to Namba. It was a Sunday evening, the day before the start of Golden Week. I had never seen so many people! (The movie Pretty Woman had been a big hit in Japan only months before so all the girls were wearing thigh-high leather boots and red mini skirts – I didn’t know where to look!) We walked up Ebisubashi Street towards Shinsaibashi. Everything was a swirl of colours and noise – people and bright flashing neon seemed to blur together.

Suddenly the canopy over the covered shopping street ended. We walked into the open, just before the bridge crossing the Dotonbori River and gazed across the water to …

The Kirin Plaza Building

It was beautiful! A beacon of sanity in the shambolic confusion that surrounded me!

Sadly, like my hair, the Kirin Plaza Building will soon be gone. Yes, that’s right! Next Wednesday, October 31st, they will close its doors forever. One of my first memories of Japan will become just that – a memory.

So, you have one week to get down there and have one last look. If you have time, you can have a beer brewed on the premises at the ground-floor bar, and then check out the upstairs gallery, which is having a special exhibition – the History of the Kirin Plaza Building.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day Revisited

Last Wednesday, September 19th, was International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day. I started the day off with an e-mail from my best friend Peter, a writer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He writes the Blog 6 things, top of my “Other Links” list. There was no text in his e-mail – just this photo…

Avast! A Pirate Keyboard! There be an “A” there somewhere, me hopes! Arrr!

Last Wednesday’s lessons (actually, most of last week’s lessons) were all about how to talk pirate. Some of the students really got into the spirit of the day by posing for pirate photos with me…

You can check out some of the photos at the Be & Me Photo Albums. (Don’t forget to click on “Page 2.”)

And speaking of photos! You can find many, many, many more International-Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day photos at the Official Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day Photo Album, including…

A lot of pets dressed as pirates!

I added the “Rrrr!” – I sure the original photographer doesn’t mind!

In my lunch break on Wednesday, I had to do some errands [small jobs – going to the bank, sending letters, and so on]. As I was walking back to the school along Shinsaibashi Street, I heard a strange “clink-clanking” noise. I turned my head to see where it was coming from and I saw…

A medieval knight drinking iced green tea!
Did he think it was Walk-Like-a-Knight Day?

I looked around but could see no evidence of any kind of promotion. Apparently, this guy was just going for a walk in his suit of armour! And he looked hot – and I don’t mean “sexy!”

I enjoyed International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day so much this year, I’ve decided to organise a Pirate Party next year. I hope you can join us! Arrrr!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Avast, ye Land Lubbers! Tomorrow be International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day! Arrr!

That’s right! On Wednesday, September 19th, people all over the world will be talking like pirates. Why? Click on the links below to find out more:

International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day (Basic)

このブログの日本語訳はこちら をクリックしてください!

John Baur and Mark Summers

On June 6th, 1995, John Baur and Mark Summers started talking to each other like pirates. They thought that talking like pirates was fun. They decided to make a new holiday, Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day.

June 6th is the anniversary of World War 2's D-Day – featured in the opening 20 minutes of the movie “Saving Private Ryan.” They decided it wouldn’t be right to talk like pirates on such a sad day. Mark came up with September 19th because it was his ex-wife's birthday, and the only date he could think of that wasn't something important like Christmas.

John sent an e-mail about the holiday to a newspaper. Stories about the holiday were printed in newspapers all over the world. Suddenly, Talk-like-a-Pirate Day became an international event.

Why do we celebrate International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day? What’s the point? Well, there is no point! But tomorrow, people all around the world will be saying "Arrr!" and "Avast!” – simply because it's fun! How about you?
How to Talk Like a Pirate

Avast!"Listen to me!" It can also be used to show surprise, like "Look at that!" or "No way!"

Aye!"Yes!” or “Yes, I agree!”

Aye, aye!"Yes, I'll do that straight away!”

Me Hearties"Friends.” Avast, me hearties!"Listen to me, my friends!"

Shiver me Timbers! – "Unbelievable!” or, more correctly, “What the Hell!”

Arrr! – This means many things: "Yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," and "My team is going to win!"


Avast! Here be links!

Shiver me timbers! The International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day Homepage!

Arrr! Here there be photos!

Avast, me hearties! The Be & Me Talk-Like-a-Pirate Photos!

(This page is based on content pirated [stolen!] from The International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day Homepage! )

このブログの日本語訳はこちら をクリックしてください!

International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day (Advanced)

Avast! There be John Baur and Mark Summers!
How it all started…
On June 6th, 1995, John Baur and Mark Summers were playing racquetball. For reasons they still don't understand, they started talking like pirates. By the time the game was over, they realized that talking like pirates had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. They decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new holiday, Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day.

First, they needed a date for the holiday. June 6th is the anniversary of World War 2's D-Day – featured in the opening 20 minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan. They decided it wouldn’t be right to talk like pirates on the memorial of such a tragic battle. Mark came up with September 19th because it was his ex-wife's birthday, and the only date he could think of that wasn't already taken up with something important like Christmas or the Super Bowl or something.

For the next seven years they celebrated Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day pretty much on their own. One day in early 2002, John sent an e-mail about the holiday to Dave Barry, a famous syndicated humor columnist. Dave Barry wrote about Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day in one of his columns, which was published in newspapers all over the world. The story was picked up by radio DJ’s and talk-show hosts in virtually all the countries where the column was published. Suddenly, Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day became an international event.

Why Celebrate Internaional Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day?
What is the point? Well, there is no point! But tomorrow, tens of thousands of people all around the world will be saying "Arrr!" and "Avast!” – simply because it's fun! How about you?
How to Talk Like a Pirate
The Basics

First of all, you have to remember some simple “pirate grammar.”

Be – Am/is/are Ye – You Yer – Your Me – My

Where be me ‘at?“Where is my hat?”

Where be yer shoes?“Where are your shoes?”

Next, you need to remember some important words.

Ahoy! – "Hello!"

Avast!"Listen to me!" It can also be used in a sense of surprise, kind of like "Check it out!" ["Look at that!"] or "No way!"

Aye!"Yes!” or “Yes, I agree!”

Aye, aye!"Yes, I'll do that straight away!”

Hearties"Friends.” Avast, me hearties! - "Listen to me, my friends!"

Shiver me Timbers!"Unbelievable!” or, more correctly, “What the Hell!”

Arrr! – This one is often confused with "Arrrgh!” – the sound you make when you sit on your sword. "Arrr!" can mean many things: "Yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." There are many more possible ways to use “Arrr!”

Advanced Pirate Lingo [Language]
Once you've mastered the basics, you're ready to start expanding your pirate vocabulary. Try these for starters.

Beauty – The best possible pirate address for a woman. Always preceded by “me,” as in, “C’mere, me beauty!” You’ll be surprised how effective this is.

Bilge Rat – The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It’s loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. A lot of guy humor involves insulting your buddies to prove your friendship. Since bilge rat is a pretty dirty thing to call someone, by all means use it on your friends.

Grog – An alcoholic drink, originally rum diluted with water, but in this context you could use it to refer to any alcoholic beverage other than beer. Call your beer grog too if you want – we won’t stop you!

Lubber – (or Land Lubber) This is pirate for “land lover.” A “lubber” is someone who does not go to sea, who stays on the land. In a room where everyone is talking like pirates, lubber is ALWAYS an insult.
Avast! Here be links!

(This page is based on content pirated [stolen!] from The International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day Homepage!)

Monday, September 10, 2007

September Inner Sky

Our friend Simon holds a monthly concert called Inner Sky at Covent Garden in Horie. The next Inner Sky is on this Saturday, September 15th, from about 8:30 pm. It costs 1,000 yen to enter, but that includes one "free" drink.

Simon has recently formed a new band called “Goodman Bad.” He’s very excited about the band and thinks this month’s concert will be a lot of fun. Here’s what he has to say about it:

“Acoustic 80s pop and 90s grunge done in reggae and rock styles will be provided by Goodman Bad -- Eric "Is there nothing he can't play?" Wiegman on percussion, Glen "Is there nothing he won't play?" on bass, and Simon "Is there anything he CAN play?" Yates on guitar. I'm hoping this will be the regular line-up of the band from now on, as we did a great show last month and it was exactly the sound I've been looking for for a long time. If you don't believe me, come and check us out on the 15th. If you do believe me, come and check us out on the 15th. If you were there last month, I'm sure you'll be coming down for this one too anyway.”

Don’t forget that this weekend is a “Long Weekend.” If you go to Inner Sky on Saturday night, you still have 2 full days to relax before you have to go back to work.

In March, we went to see Inner Sky with a group of students. You can check out some pictures at Inner Sky Photos.

Also, you can Click here for a map to Covent Garden.

Long Weekend

When the Friday before a weekend or the Monday after a weekend is a holiday, we call the resulting 3 days off work a long weekend.

Monday, September 17th, is Respect-for-the-Aged Day. Also, Sunday, September 23rd, is the Autumnal Equinox [one of two days every year when night & day are exactly the same length. The other day is the Spring Equinox]. Holding National holidays on Sundays doesn't have any meaning so Monday, September 24th, has been declared a holiday instead.

Wow! 2 long weekends in a row! Have fun!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Last Night's Lunar Eclipse

At 7:30 pm last night, Tomoko, Yuki & I interrupted our lesson for a quick fieldtrip. We went out onto the stairway of the school’s building to check out the Lunar Eclipse I wrote about in yesterday's Blog entry . Luckily, the clouds that had filled the sky for most of the day had cleared…

The View from the Stairs

Up Close

To be honest, the real view was much darker than these pictures. At first we couldn’t see the moon at all. We were about to go back to the classroom when Yuki’s eagle eyes spotted it lurking in the night sky.

Don’t forget to check out yesterday's Blog entry for an explanation of what an eclipse is and an example of how you can use the word “eclipse” in daily conversation!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


When the light from the Sun is blocked by a moon or planet, it’s called an “eclipse.”

The most famous kind of eclipse is a solar eclipse, when the light of the Sun is blocked by the Moon.

A Solar Eclipse

How it Happens

A lunar eclipse is when the light of the Sun is blocked from shining on the Moon by the Earth.

A Lunar Eclipse

How it Happens

These excellent photos & diagrams come from http://www.mreclipse.com/MrEclipse.html

Tonight from 7:00 pm to about 8:30 pm, you should be able to watch a lunar eclipse – if it isn’t too cloudy! Just look for the full moon and then watch it turn red.

In conversation English, “to eclipse” can also mean to make another thing or person less famous or successful by being more famous or successful. For example, in the 1980s, handsome young actor Eric Roberts seemed certain to become a big star.

Eric Roberts

However, he was soon eclipsed by his little sister…

Julia Roberts

If you want to check out Eric Roberts at his best, I recommend these movies:

Star 80 (1983)

The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)

The Coca-Cola Kid (1985)

(Click on the titles to get more information about these movies in Japanese)

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Kansai International Film Festival

The first Kansai International Film Festival (KIFF) starts today. Thirty-two “Japanese Films Made by Foreigners!” will be shown at Planet Station, in Morinomiya.

The film categories include: Documentary, Culture-Clash, Experimental, The Dark Side, Wabi-Sabi ("Japanese" films), and more. The directors come from ten different countries, and will no doubt present a view of Japan quite different from that in the mainstream Japanese media.

My friend Rik Sanchez will be there giving away DVDs of Nylon, a short film he made with writer/director/actor Kevin Karn. If you see him, go up & say, “Hello!” (He’s the guy with chilli peppers tattooed on his arm.) If you are friendly enough, he might give you a DVD.

KIFF organizer Darryl Knickrehm will be one of the featured filmmakers. His work Rodosha will be shown twice. Other featured works include Reggie Life’s Doubles, Junko Kajino and Ed Koziarski’s Homesick Blues, Rachael Lucas’s Bondi Tsunami, and many, many more. I’ve heard especially good things about Bondi Tsunami.

Details can be found on the KIFF websites:

Place: Planet Station (map and address in Japanese here) in Morinomiya, which is on the Osaka loop line.

Dates: August 24, 25, 26 (Fri, Sat, Sun)Time: 12-9 pm divided into 2 hour screenings

Categories: Documentary, Culture-Clash, Experimental, The Dark Side, Wabi-Sabi ("Japanese" films) and More

Screen: main screen = 140 seat theater

Admission: Free

It's free! What are you waiting for?

By the way, I was in a rush this morning so I stole this entry from Japan Visitor Blog. Sorry, Guys!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inner Sky this Friday!

Our friend Simon organises a monthly concert called Inner Sky. The next Inner Sky is on this Friday, August 17th, at Covent Garden, in Horie.

Acoustic 80s pop and 90s grunge will be provided by Goodman Bad –this time Simon on guitar is joined by bass stalwart Glen Gregus, back in Japan after many years of pro engagements in Australia, and Eric Wiegman of The Native Tongues on percussion, so the sound should be full and danceable.

That night will also feature a couple of Simon’s friends' birthdays, so a build-in crowd of rowdy drinkers will help bring the party up to speed.

1000 yen with 1 drink from about 8:30 onwards.

Come on down!

今月の「インナー・スカイ」(アコーステック音楽のライブイベント)が8月17日(金)に行われます。Goodman Bandというバンドがゲストを迎え、80年代のポップスや90年代のGrungeをAcousticで再現します。17日のゲストはAustralia出身ベースのプロGlen Gregusと大阪のパーカッション名人Eric Wiegmanです。お楽しみに。


場所は堀江のCovent Gardenです。

20:30から \1000(1ドリンク付)


Monday, August 13, 2007

English at Home

Today is the first day of my summer holidays – woo-woo! It’s only 6 days, but boy am I ready!

The Be & Me Eikaiwa Club will open again on Saturday, August 18th. If you’re missing your English lessons, you should check out English at Home.com. This site has lots of different material you can use to study English at home.

The Menu Selection from English at Home.com
Unfortunately, their listening-practice page isn’t working yet. If you want to download some short Podcasts to practice your listening with, don’t forget to check out Listen to English.com . (If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you should go straight to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While you’re there, don’t forget to click on the “Grammar Note” at the bottom of the entry – it’s very important!)
And speaking of Harry Potter, You can find a bunch of [a lot] our Harry Potter-themed Halloween photos on the following links:

Halloween 2001 at Mito's Bar

Halloween 2001 at Bar Soul Flower

Halloween 2001 at Tin's Hall

(Don’t forget to check out the 2nd & 3rd pages of each of those links!)
Enjoy your holidays!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Time Flies!

Wow! What happened to the last 2 weeks? They just seemed to fly by! In English, we often say that “time flies when we’re having fun.” This means that when we are having fun, time passes quickly. I’m not too sure if I’ve been having fun in the last 2 weeks (2 months!) – I’ve been too busy to notice! Actually, since the beginning of June, I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking! (Click on the expression to find out what it means.)

Oh, well! The summer holidays are just around the corner [coming soon]. Hopefully, I’ll find the time to put some more interesting posts on this Blog!

By the way, in British English instead of saying “2 weeks,” we often say “fortnight.”

Also, if for some reason you want to buy the clock in the photo, click here! However, please remember that it’s not a real clock – just a toy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The World Music Festival in Ogimachi Park this Sunday, July 22nd!

去年5月に開催されたRock Fanと7月に開催されたViva Mi Raza LatinaをMIXさせたイベントを、扇町公園で行います。開催時間は12:00より20:00となっています。ステージでは、ロックあり、サルサあり、レゲエありと楽しめて、飲食ブースも15テントが出展します。皆さん、楽しみにしていてくださいね!

The two popular outdoor events from last year, Rock Fan and Viva Mi Raza Latina, are joining forces to bring you a fun-filled day in the sun at Ogimachi Park. The event starts at 12.00pm and will go until 8pm. Entry is free! On stage will be a hot mix of rock, reggae, salsa and more. To help keep you cool, 15 booths will offer a mix of international and down-home food and drinks.

As it's the only international outdoor festival in Osaka City this summer, you absolutely should not miss it!

For More information, click on http://www.funkster.jp/kansai/

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Where is Man-Li?

All this week the T.V. news programs and newspapers have been warning us that Typhoon Number 4 was going to hit Osaka this morning. I was expecting to wake up to howling winds and driving rain. Instead, I was greeted by a slight breeze [little wind] and the “Me! Me! Me!” of cicadas [semi]. Admittedly, the clouds are looking really dark and ominous [hinting of a bad future], but I’m feeling let down.

In Japan, typhoons are numbered. In other countries, they are given names. (You probably all remember that New Orleans was devastated [badly damaged] by hurricane Katrina a couple of years back.) Today’s typhoon – wherever it is! – is called Man-Li. I googled [checked through the Google search engine] that name. As far as I can tell, that’s a Chinese name for an area near Hong Kong, and possibly a man’s name. Traditionally, tropical storms – hurricanes, cyclones & typhoons – were all given ladies’ names. These days, the names are half ladies’ and half men’s.

Anyway, enjoy your not-so-rainy Sunday!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monty Python Couples

I recently wrote about Monty Python’s Flying Circus (see SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM!), an English comedy troupe [a group of performers] known as “Okama-no-kyouryu” in Japan. They are probably the world’s most popular comedians.

A recent picture of some of the surviving members of Monty Python dressed as Gumbies, some of their most famous characters. I don’t think the 2 guys on the right are real Pythons.

The Be & Me Gumbies – “My brain hurts!”

You can find out more at The "Official" Monty Python Homepage or All About Monty Python in Japanese.

Writing about Monty Python reminded me of an interesting couple we used to meet every year at the Tin's Hall Halloween party. They were crazy about Monty Python! Every year their Halloween costume was based on one of the Monty Python comedy sketches [a sketch is a short comedy play]. Here are some examples of their costumes…

2000: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!


2002: Spamalot (Info in Japanese)

2003: The Bishop

You can check out all our Halloween-party photos, plus photos of lots of other events at Be & Me Event Photos. The different event albums are listed on the left side of the page.

You can rent the original Monty Python TV series from big video-rental stores like Tsutaya. You can also rent the following movies…

*** Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(Spamalot is based on this movie)

**** Monty Python’s Life of Brian
(A parody of the life of Jesus Christ! Very hard to find!)

***** Monty Python's the Meaning of Life
(Maybe the easiest movie for a non-fan to watch, however, it’s sometimes very shocking)

***** A Fish Called Wanda
(Not really a Monty Python movie, but written by & starring John Cleese & Michael Palin, 2 of the most talented members. A v-v-v-very f-f-f-funny m-m-m-mooooovie!)

Friday, June 29, 2007

8 years!

It was 8 years ago that we opened Be & Me in Shinsaibashi. Wow!

Our first student was Masahiro, a shy young University student who dreamed of travelling the world. His first lesson was 8 years ago today

Masahiro – 8 year ago today!

In Golden Week, we met Masahiro & his girlfriend Chika for dinner at Ola Tacos Bar, in Shinsaibashi. Masahiro has been living and working in New Zealand for the last 5 years, and now speaks excellent English!

Masahiro & Rigby outside Ola

Having achieved one big goal – living in another country – Masahiro & Chika are working on another big one: They’re planning to open their own Sushi restaurant in Australia. Go for it guys!

Before we opened Be & Me, we were teaching students privately in our apartment. When we opened the school, those students joined Be & Me. Two of those students are still studying with us! Thank you, Kazuya! Thank you, Yoshi!

Thank you to all the students of Be & Me – past & present! We’ve had a great time teaching you all, and look forward to many more great lessons together! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

June Inner Sky

Every month, our friend Simon holds a concert called Inner Sky at Covent Garden, a really relaxed & friendly “Canadian” pub in Kita Horie. The next Inner Sky is this Saturday, June 30th, from about 8:30 pm. The entrance charge is 1000 yen. That includes 1 drink.

Sunday, July 1st, is Canada Day, so they’ll have Canadian music on the turntables and Canadian food, cocktails and beers at the bar.

It’s Canada Day down Horie way...hope to see you there!
Covent Garden Map & Discount Coupon

Friday, June 22, 2007

Candle Night

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day (and therefore, the shortest night) in the year. [You can find out why at Summer Solstice (in Japanese)]

Also, tonight is Candle Night. Candle Night appears to have been started in Japan in 2003, but it is quickly becoming an international event. The organisers want everybody all over the world to turn their lights off and use candles from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm tonight. They hope that this will help save energy, encourage people to think about peace, and connect all the people of the world through the shared experience of candlelight.

You can find out more at The Official Candle Night Homepage. They also have a list of Candle Night Events in Osaka, including a Candle Night Party in Covent Garden, a friendly foreigner/Japanese bar in Kita Horie.

So, make sure you pick up some candles today and join the rest of the world in celebrating Candle Night tonight!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Do you want a replica watch? Cheap medicine? How about some low-cost insurance? Good news; that loan you didn’t even apply for has been approved! Today and every day, e-mail offering these things, and lots more, clog my inbox – often more than once a day! We call this kind of unwanted junk e-mail “spam.”

A lot of my students assume that “spam” stands for something in the same way that WWW stands for World Wide Web or IBM stands for International Business Machines, and in a way they are right. SPAM stands for Spiced Ham (or possibly Shoulder of Pork & Ham – the product was introduced in the 1930’s, and the manufacturer can’t remember exactly where the name came from!)

A Can of SPAM

The origin of the name of the canned meat is easy to understand, but what has that got to do with junk e-mail? The connection is a little bit more complicated…

Soon after SPAM (the manufacturer likes it to be written entirely in capital letters) was introduced, it became a popular food for the American Army. It was light; could stay fresh for a long time; could be eaten raw; and came in a square can, which made it easy to pack. (This is why SPAM is so popular in places like Guam, Hawaii, & Okinawa. The big American Army bases that are located on these islands sell their stocks of SPAM before they get old, making it a cheap meat in those markets.)

After the Second World War, Britain was very, very poor. Most fresh vegetables, fruit, & meat were rationed [carefully controlled by the government]. The only meat that was easy for Britons to get was SPAM. SPAM became a common menu item, especially in cheap restaurants, like roadside diners. Long after rationing was stopped, SPAM was still the number one meat in these types of restaurants.

In the late 60’s early 70’s, the comedy troupe [a group of performers] Monty Python became very popular in Britain, and eventually the world. (It could still be argued that they are the world’s most popular comedians!) One of their most famous sketches made fun of how common SPAM was in British restaurants. In the sketch, a couple are ordering breakfast at a roadside diner. As they are reading through the menu with the waitress, the other customers – all Vikings! – start singing “SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM! SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM!” It’s quite strange.

Monty Python’s SPAM sketch – note the Vikings!
You can check out the sketch here; SPAM Sketch on Video
(Just by chance, the video has Japanese sub-titles – lucky, eh?)
You can download an MP3 of the sketch here; SPAM sketch on MP3
Also, you can read the entire sketch at the end of this entry

As the Internet & the use of e-mail became more common in the 80’s, people started getting unwanted junk messages in their inboxes. They jokingly called this junk “spam,” because it was there every time they went on line, time after time, just like the word “SPAM” in the famous comedy sketch. These days, the use of words like “spam filter,” “anti-spam,” & “spamming” is common. Next time you hear the word “spam,” remember that it owes its modern meaning to canned meat, 2 men in dresses, and a room full of Vikings!

By the way, reading this entry it might look like I can’t decide how to write “spam.” Actually, there’s a method to my madness; “SPAM” refers to the product, while “Spam” refers to canned meat in general, and “spam” refers to unwanted junk e-mail. So now you know!

Anyway, here is...

Monty Python’s SPAM Sketch

Cut to a café. All the customers are Vikings. Mr and Mrs Bun enter - downwards (on wires).

Mr Bun (Eric)

Waitress (Terry J)

Mr Bun
What have you got, then?

Well there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and SPAM; egg, bacon and SPAM; egg, bacon, sausage and SPAM; SPAM, bacon, sausage and SPAM; SPAM, egg, SPAM, SPAM, bacon and SPAM; SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, egg and SPAM; SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, baked beans, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM and SPAM; or lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top and SPAM.

Mrs Bun (Graham)
Have you got anything without SPAM in it?

Well there's SPAM, egg, sausage and SPAM. That's not got much SPAM in it.

Mrs Bun
I don't want any SPAM.

Mr Bun
Why can't she have egg, bacon, SPAM and sausage?

Mrs Bun
That's got SPAM in it!

Mr Bun
Not as much as SPAM, egg, sausage and SPAM.

Mrs Bun
Look, could I have egg, bacon, SPAM and sausage without the SPAM.


Mrs Bun
What d'you mean uuugggh! I don't like SPAM.

Vikings (singing)
SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM ... SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM ... lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM ...

Brief stock shot of a Viking ship

Shut up. Shut up! Shut up! You can't have egg, bacon, SPAM and sausage without the SPAM.

Mrs Bun
Why not!

No, it wouldn't be egg, bacon, SPAM and sausage, would it.

Mrs Bun
I dont like SPAM!

Mr Bun
Don't make a fuss, dear. I'll have your SPAM. I love it. I'm having SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, , SPAM ...

Vikings (singing)

Mr Bun
... baked beans, SPAM, SPAM and SPAM.

Baked beans are off.

Mr Bun
Well can I have SPAM instead?


Vikings (still singing)
SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM ... (etc.)

Mr Bun


... lovely SPAM, wonderful, SPAM.

Shut up! Shut up!

The Vikings shut up momentarily. Enter the Hungarian.

Hungarian (John)
Great boobies honeybun, my lower intestine is full of SPAM, egg, SPAM, bacon, SPAM, tomato, SPAM ...

Vikings (starting up again)

Shut up.

A policeman rushes in and bundles the Hungarian out

My nipples explode ...

Cut to a historian

Superimposed caption: A HISTORIAN

Historian (Michael)
Another great Viking victory was at the Green Midget café at Bromley. Once again the Viking strategy was the same. They sailed form these fiords here, (indicating a map with arrows on it) assembled at Trondheim and waited for the strong north-easterly winds to blow their oaken galleys to England whence they sailed on May 23rd. Once in Bromley they assembled in the Green Midget café and SPAM selecting a SPAM particular SPAM item from the SPAM menu would SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM ...
The backdrop behind him rises to reveal the café again. The Vikings start singing again and the historian conducts them.

Vikings (singing)
SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM. Lovely SPAM wonderful SPAM ...

Mr and Mrs Bun rise slowly into the air


Fade out and roll credits, which read:



























Voice over (Michael)
Haagbard Etheldronga and his Viking hordes are currently appearing in Grin and Pillage it at the Jodrell Theatre, Colwyn Bay. The Dirty Hungarian Phrase Book is available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office, price - a kiss in the bum.


Finally, here’s a link to a page that explains it all in Japanese


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May Inner Sky

Our friend Simon hosts a regular concert called Inner Sky at Covent Garden, a really relaxed and friendly bar in Kita Horie. May’s Inner Sky is this Saturday, the 26th, from 8:30 pm.

As you can see on the flyer, there’s a door charge of 1,000 yen. That includes one drink. After that, you pay for all drinks & food as you order.

Click here for Covent Garden’s discount coupon, map, & address.

A group of Be & Me students went to the March Inner Sky. You can check out some photos from that night at Inner Sky Photos !

Thursday, May 17, 2007

American Splendor

In Golden Week, I watched American Splendor, the true story of filing clerk & comic book writer Harvey Pekar. (I wrote about it at A Golden Week at the Movies.)

My friend Peter (in one of only 3 comments ever written by anyone on this Blog!) said it was his favourite movie of 2003.

If you’re interested in seeing this movie, I have some good news! It’s going to be broadcast on NHK BS2 tonight from 9:00 pm. Don’t miss it!

You can read more about the movie (in Japanese) at American Splendor Review