It's all very well for The Belated Birthday Girl spending several years of her life studying the Japanese language, including three months last year at a college in Sapporo. Most of us don't have anything like that level of dedication, and are looking for quick-fix cheaty solutions. So each time we travel to Japan, I usually try to find some crash course method of learning Japanese beforehand: be it the Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook, Japanese for Dummies, Teach Yourself Instant Japanese or Earworms Rapid Japanese. All of them have taught me a couple of phrases apiece, but weren't much more help than that.
But why did I assume in a post-literate age that books or CDs could do the job, when a ten-minute TV programme is probably more my intellectual level?