Last night I went to my first face-to-face Japanese lesson. I'd tentatively enrolled myself in the "Beginners Plus" class, which turned out to be the right decision, as my level of stumbling incompetence was a good match for that of the other three students, and although my meagre reserves of vocabulary drained from my brain every time I was asked a question so too did theirs, which was reassuring. No doubt we'll improve with time. The only slight downside is that it turns out we'll be learning hiragana and katakana, which I've already covered by myself, but some extra practice can't hurt, and meanwhile getting opportunities for actual conversation, be it never so halting, is invaluable.
In other news, I've finished Moribito (on lnhammer's recommendation), which I greatly enjoyed. It's one of those stories in which pretty much everyone is honorable and doing their best by their own lights, even though the upshot is that their nobility of heart frequently obliges them to fight to the death. There aren't many stories about fighting where I like everyone, so I treasure them when I find them. (1 Henry IV is the only Shakespeare play of that type.) Now I've started on Clannad, which is... odd. But it has excellent reviews, and I think may yet grow on me.
Meanwhile, to those of you across the Pond - I hope the hostage crisis on Capitol Hill is soon resolved.