It has been a long time since I posted last. 2020 kept me extremely busy shifting my work online, and 2021 has continued this. In February, 2020, we shot the final episodes of English Weirdness, # 9 & 10. ( was released that spring, but 10 has been delayed ever since due to this shift I had to make. Forced into quarantine, I had to build a home tutoring business to support myself while the English language school industry all but collapsed.
Despite these challenges, I managed to keep hacking away at the final edit for episode #10 and it will release soon.
As well, I launched the Hard-Boiled English LIVE weekly show, which has been streaming on Facebook and Youtube since September 2020 and introducing Teacher Paul and English Weirdness to new viewers. In June 2021, I launched the first weekly Conversation Cafe, which allows viewer and learners to meet with me and my co-host, Aya Hioki, in a weekly conversational Zoom chat.
Thanks for all your patience everyone. I assure you that there is more English Weirdness on the way, so stay tuned.
I recently had the honour of being interviewed on not one, but two podcasts. The first one, The James Rice Show is now available. Mr. Rice’s show focuses on all things education, with a particular lean toward English language learning. It is available on Spotify, Spreaker, iTunes, and GooglePodcasts.
That’s the most unusual and engaging approach to teaching English that I’ve ever seen))) thank you so much for your creativity !!!!!
-Larisa P. , Educator, Ukraine.
Originally shot in the summer of 2019, episode & certainly took some time to get to its fans. We’ve had delays and challenges, not the least has been my own ongoing commitments to teaching English in the classroom; I love it, but it does consume time I would otherwise devote to editing each episode. However, Larisa’s response cited above is any indication, however, it seems to have been worth the time it took.
This episode features outstanding performance by its two leads, Camila and Vivian. Both former students of mine who have since gone on to college, they hadn’t met each other in a long time when they came together to shoot this episode. I have to say though, that you wouldn’t know that from the intensity they brought to their characters. I don’t know how the rest of our shooting crew felt, but when these ‘besties’ cranked up the tension, the room got pretty icy.
Also a stand-out in this episode is Luis Arturo Aulestias Sosa, another former student who plays the boyfriend “L.A.” Luis isn’t actually the type of guy his character is, but he sure turned on the schmaltz like a pro! And, in case Luis seems familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen his fantastic salsa orchestra, the Wasakaka All Stars, performing somewhere in Vancouver or elsewhere. If you haven’t go see them the next time they play.
Thanks for watching episode 7 everyone. Episode 8, 9, and 10 are on the way, so stay tuned, SUBSCRIBE to our Youtube channel, and keep spreading the Weirdness!
In the late winter of 2018, Uriel, Tomoko and I made our first video together, a little sample of my teaching style, intended to promote my online tutoring service. Shortly after making it though, we saw its potential as an educational series, and set about building on it. ENGLISH WEIRDNESS was born in that moment, and here we are, two years later, having wrapped shooting on the final two episodes of what became a 10-episode season.
And it almost didn’t happen. A little less than than a month ago, Uriel and I had accepted that we would not make it to 10 episodes, that the 8 we had shot already would be as far as we could take the series, having run out of the financial backing we had been given by our partners at Sakata Minami high school in Japan, and time with which to shoot it. He and I both had travel planned, and he will begin film school at the end of February.
It was then that my beloved wife Yuka came forward and suggested financing the completion of the series with her own resources. Could we really do it? There was one weekend available on which Uriel and I would both be in Vancouver. That is, if he returned from his family vacation in Mexico a bit early. We decided to go for it. He’d return a few days before his family, and we’d shoot the final two episodes.
But wait, there was no script. The original scripts I had written for eps. 9 & 10 were useless because they involved performers and locations no longer available, or not yet available until summer. I did have, however the commitment from Aya, a co-star in episode 4 with whom I had planned to eventually feature in an episode. She committed to starring in the new episode. So, with her in mind, I began writing. Like crazy.
The result was a final, two-part single episode now called AYA MOVES THE BIG CITY, and, surprisingly, it features, I think, some of my own best writing.
The, it was finding Aya a co-star. When teaching colleague of mine, Rafael, agreed to be in it, I was able to revise the script to fit him more closely. After a short volunteer campaign, we had built a crew of students who committed to the project. Logistics came next: scheduling, arranging props, organizing costumes, and clearing everything with my employer, who kindly allows us to shoot on its campus, food, supplies, and choosing the camera rental package. It was a ton of work, but when the day came, we were ready.
The shoot itself was grueling. Pressed for time to cover the material and access the locations, limited by the availability of the stars, and tested by the capricious Vancouver weather (the script called for exterior city scenes), and the parchingly dry air inside the school ‘studio’, over three days, the volunteer Weirdos, Uriel, Aya, Rafael and I managed to pull it off.
There were frustrating compromises, as always. Several pages of dialogue were cut from the schedule, and we ran out of time to shoot some coverage that I had really wanted to help bring the dramatic scenes to life. This, however, is the nature of filmmaking: you never get exactly what you envisioned, and the artistic challenge is to use what you DO capture to make the original vision come to life, and not just the way you intended, but better. That’s now my job. Over the next few months, I’ll be working hard editing not only this episode but the remaining two that were shot in the summer.
Thus, it will be some time before AYA MOVES THE BIG CITY is released. But, thanks to all the tireless support from our financial backers, and student volunteer crew, the great performances by Aya and Rafael, and of course, the creative and technical contributions of my most amazing collaborator from the start, Uriel, I can now say with certainty that this final episode will be a wonderful way to end this little video series that grew.
We don’t know what the future holds for English Weirdness, whether or not we’ll make another season of it. I’m going to try in the coming year to take it to the next level, and see what is possible, but nothing is guaranteed. I’ll also focus on making short-form videos in the “5-MINUTE MYSTERIES” series. As for Weirdness, all that is certain is what we have accomplished in these past two years, because the results are plain for anyone to see on Youtube and other platforms. Together the Weirdos and I have created something that might outlive all of us. That’s pretty cool. And a little weird.
So, to all of you who have supported us, participated in shooting, donated funds to us, encouraged us, or simply watched our videos, from the depths of my heart, thank you.