On English Teacher John Show number 71:
- The recent solar eclipse!
- Interview with Charlie, who talks about his great creation, Fukurochan (website)
- Quotations about the environment
- music by Martin Chenhall‘s band U.May.C
- transcript (below)
== FULLTRANSCRIPT for English Teacher John Show 71 ==
The Dog Days of Summer are here. Hey, if you’re looking for an easy time of it you might be barking up the wrong tree. It’s time for a challenge. Time for some sharing, learning, and all that with some whip cream and a cherry on top [Laughter] if you’re lucky. Hey, it’s time for the English Teacher John Show 71. Let’s go Dog Days of Summer.
Welcome everyone to the English Teacher John Show 71. My name is John Koons and I am the host of this high tension Podcast. I don’t know I guess its part educational, part entertainment maybe something a little bit more, a little bit less than that. Our show is for everyone but especially for English Learners of all abilities.
We are all about clear and easy to understand English, good humor, interesting topics, and fresh minty breath, and sometimes we fail especially about the breath. Our Podcast is produced right here in our eco-friendly recycled studio in Matsumoto, Central Japan. Today’s episode has three segments. First, it’s some commentary about the recent solar eclipse which was partially viewed by my students and me. Then we’re going to hear an interview with my good friend Charlie who is the mastermind behind the Fukuro-chan phenomenon.
Charlie: It’s this cute little character which looks just like a plastic bag and lives out some crazy, fun, interesting adventures.
Haven’t heard of it yet? Well, stay tuned. Finally, in the third and last segment in the spirit of Fukuro-chan, we’ll bring you some quotations about the environment. Here we go!
Hey, how about the recent solar eclipse. In Japanese it’s called kaiki-nisshoku and I was excited about it for about the two weeks leading up to it. In the end, it was a pretty clouded over experience but I was able to at least view it and enjoy the eclipse with some of my students. As the big day approach, July 22nd, I continued to read all of the new stories that I could.
I also mentioned it in my lessons and hope to generate some excitement. “Man, Japan was right in the path of totality.” Parts of Southern Japan would get about six minutes of totality of mere darkness at 11:00 am in the morning. Now, how often does that happen?
Well, in fact, here in Matsumoto in Central Honshu Island, I learned that we would experience about a 65% or 70% eclipse. Hey, good enough for me. A little internet research gave me the idea for a very complicated eclipse viewing contraption. Basically two pieces of white paper with one of them having a pinhole in it.
OK not so complicated. Well, my Wednesday morning lesson on the 22nd started at 10:40 am, and I quickly reminded the students that we would go outside and check out the cosmic happening. I also warned everyone that it’s a very, very bad, that’s bad idea and dangerous idea to look directly at a solar eclipse. Isn’t it generally a bad idea to look directly at the sun anytime during the middle of the day? As we got outside, the only thing that was clear was the fact that the sky wasn’t very clear. Well, we waited patiently and sometime after 11:30 am, we were rewarded with a pretty good image of the eclipse.
As the clouds cleared, the eclipse began showing up on my high tech paper device. Also some of my students were watching the reflection in a puddle, very clever. I’ll have to check if that’s an approved and risk free way to watch. Well, between 11:30 am and about 11:45 am that day, we had some nice views of the eclipse.
And I think we were all happy that we had stayed outside and persisted a little longer than some of the other classes. In my opinion, it was well worth it. OK, coming up next it’s an interview with Charlie the creator of Fukuro-chan.
SEGMENT 2 – INTERVIEW
All right, Charlie welcome to the English Teacher John Show once again.
Charlie: Hello, nice to be back.
John: Yeah. Good to see you. Hey Charlie, you’ve got a new a project going on and I think the name is “Fukuro-chan”. What’s the name of your new project and your character?
Charlie: OK, the name for the character that I’m drawing is called “Fukuro-chan.” Fukuro is a Japanese for ‘plastic bag’ the kind that you get at the supermarket. And Fukuro-chan is this cute little character which looks just like a plastic bag and lives out some crazy, fun, interesting adventures and…
John: What’s the motivation like why did you choose a plastic bag? How did this come about? Have you been thinking about this for a while or was this kind of like a quick lightning strike?
Charlie: Well, I think the underlining motivation is to highlight something that’s kind of invisible for most people and take a simple object like a plastic bag and you wouldn’t think much of it. But if you had 120 million of these used then disposed of everyday, it definitely becomes an environmental issue that we just don’t see. But at the same time if this inanimate object, a plastic bag, became interesting became alive, became cute enough for you to think about, or care about, or just even notice it then you maybe have some part of your subconscious remind you every now and again that, “Hey, we’ve got to take care of this planet because we’ve only got one.”
John: So specifically like what behaviors or what things are you specifically trying to change or trying to make people aware of?
Charlie: Yeah, it’s difficult if you go in the direct root into telling someone like what they already know. Like if you say, “Hey, let’s not use plastic bags, let’s use our own bags and hey, if we do that and it will be fine.” In a sense that’s easy to say but it just doesn’t somehow happen that easily because we’re all stuck to our routines and things. So what I wanted to do is just to bring this character into the subconscious of those who read it.
Hopefully it will be as famous as Disney one day and people would know that every time they take a bag they’ll think about Fukuro-chan and they’ll be like, “Wow, yeah, this cute little fellow could be doing other the things other than carrying my shopping and being stuck in the bin straight after kind of thing.” So basically he’s trying to creep into the subconscious and it’s kind of like difficult because it’s ambitious trying to get it to be as famous as Disney it’s not going to happen soon but it’s cute enough and I think it might takeoff.
John: And Fukuro-chan you said it’s a comic that you draw and now recently I’ve seen that it’s also a costume that you wear.
Charlie: Yeah, imagine that. I first started off drawing a very short Yonkoma manga which is a four vignette comic strips. Just kind of funny stuff not really like ecologically themed just trying to make Fukuro-chan a character basically. It could be any character kind of thing and it being funny enough to keep the interest going. But now, I’ve decided to make a few more steps to get Fukuro-chan popularized then I think one of those steps is dressing up and visiting schools and kindergartens and festivals and say, “Hey, I’m Fukuro-chan. Come and check my story.”
John: And you had your first run trial run, I was lucky enough to see Charlie wearing his Fukuro-chan outfit. How did the first experience walking around as the live character Fukuro-chan? How did it go in this past weekend festival?
Charlie: It went really well. That suit it took me three weeks to make thereabout and it’s really hot inside so it’s not easy wearing it but it’s a lot of fun and the kids kind of pick up on things that you wouldn’t notice like if this is a safety pin that’s visible. The illusion kind of breaks down and they realized that there’s a person inside so it’s interesting to see the kid’s reactions. But yeah, some kids they’re like a little bit afraid because it’s one meter 80, 180 centimeters tall. How the kids really like it and yeah it was good fun hard work but good fun.
John: That was really good. I think you guys you really you got to see Charlie wearing his Fukuro-chan outfit, the comics. Charlie where can we find this stuff? What’s the best place if people want to see your Fukuro-chan stuff?
Charlie: OK. Well, there’ll be two places where you can find it and both of these websites link from my main website which is www.ex1st.com but Fukuro-chan has its own website which is Fukurochan.com. And I’ll be moving all the comic strips and the photos and whatever towards that website in the near future because if you’re new comics are only available on the Fukuro-chan.com website now so check them out and have a look. There’s a free download coloring sheets, printable postcards, stickers, and some fun campaigns coming up soon.
John: All right, any plans for a Fukuro-chan mate, wife, or girlfriend, or boyfriend?
Charlie: Well, that’s him. I mean Fukuro-chan is not really a boy, he’s not really a girl, it’s neither or both so whatever and there are so many of them that they don’t need anymore company and they’ve got lots of friends which you’ll learn about in the future. Please check it out. Yeah.
John: All right Charlie thanks for sharing a little bit about Fukuro-chan with us. You have something else you want to tell us plans for the future?
Charlie: Yeah, the next step for Fukuro-chan is to get a picture book written and published somehow maybe online or whatever so look out for that.
John: All right. Hey, thanks. I recommend everyone go take a look Fukuro-chan. Thanks for talking to us at the English Teacher John Show Charlie.
Charlie: Thanks for having me. All the best, see you guys soon.
SEGMENT 3 – QUOTATIONS
Well, in the spirit of Charlie and Fukuro-chan, let’s look at a few quotations about our environment.
I got these on the site: quotegarden.com
There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi
Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb
Our modern industrial economy takes a mountain covered with trees, lakes, running streams and transforms it into a mountain of junk, garbage, slime pits, and debris. ~Edward Abbey
For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death. ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962
The rose has thorns only for those who would gather it. ~Chinese Proverb
And finally, from the humorist and writer Art Buchwald:
And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: “Look at this Godawful mess.” ~Art Buchwald, 1970
These quotes are on our blog. Have a look …
SEGMENT – SIGNOFF
OK well, we’ve got the rain pouring down here on this evening in Matsumoto and that’s it for Show 71. I hope you enjoyed it and learn something today. You can find our blog, all of our video and audio podcast, some transcripts, an assortment of miscellaneous crap all of that and more at englishteacherjohn.com. And we’ll have the complete transcript for the show up on the blog soon.
You can find some of my other things especially the recent videos at offcue.com. Our email address is email@example.com. Well, thanks to you all for listening. Special thanks to Charlie and Fukuro-chan and always a big thank you to our music man Martin Chenhall. All right everybody, catch you next time and I hope you’re enjoying the Dog Days of Summer.
“Freedom” from U.May.C featuring Martin, Will, and Sho. Catch them on their MySpace page.