Saturday, May 10, 2003

May 10

After nearly a whole day at home, it was nice to get out to see some people today. Mind you, my wish came true all too well as I hit that famous waiting spot in front of Studio Alta in Shinjuku. I'd probably say that the population density reached about 1 million per square centimetre at about 6 p.m. when I met up with some former students and one teacher to say goodbye to another alumnus on his way to America for college It was the usual karaoke-and-izakaya bit, but it was good catching up with the guys. Since their graduation a few months back, one has married and one has divorced.
The organizer of today's party had brought her cousin along, a newly-arrived 18-year-old from the wilds of Kagoshima making a start of it in Tokyo. I aged quite a bit with him around. We didn't speak much but we did go back to the station together. During the 5-minute walk, he was quite polite....a sure sign of filial piety.

Before heading out, I saw another old SF chestnut: V. Good golly, I remember when this NBC miniseries had made some waves 20 years ago with its Nazi allegory. And it came in between the first Star Wars trilogy and the Star Trek TV franchise. It's of course dated since then with the 80s production values and fashion, soundtrack veering between brass bombast and porn film romance and hackneyed acting approaching Dynasty levels. Jane Badler definitely illustrated the first three letters of her last name in both performance and character. However, it was interesting to see Robert Englund, aka Freddy the Evil from The Nighmare on Elm Street series, as a meek, adorable Visitor, and also Sarah Douglas, just fresh from playing another alien menace in Superman 2, as the Squadron Leader Pamela.

Friday, May 09, 2003

May 9

The countdown has begun on my full-time career at my school. I finished my final Friday; I'll be finsihing up next Thursday and then from that day forward I'll be coming in just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Well, at least things have been interesting. My class yesterday morning turned out to be one of my most interesting and uncomfortable ones in my 5 years there.

I had the top-level reading class in which the topic of genetics was broached. So as a good teacher, I asked everybody what is inherited down through the generations. The usual answers of eye color, hair color and temperament came up, but then our most fluent and oddball student cried out, "Earwax!" Apparently in Japan, people categorize their earwax as either wet or dry. The dry guys apparently are much stronger. I guess in a country where one of the more intimate acts of love involves the girl picking out the flecks of detritus from the boyfriend's aural orifices with a long wooden stick, I gather that earwax does have a special meaning. All I got was "Too Much Information!"
Also, things turned a bit weirder in the second hour when she suddenly started asking me about my confirmed bachelorhood at my ripe old age. I let out that I enjoyed my Fortress of Solitude and that I have different sides to my personaltiy. Well, at once, she went into shock that I would even admit that I'm not always the happy-go-lucky professional at home that I am at school. Apparently, she dwelt on that all throughout the day. Good golly, lady, let it go!

Well, if I'm lucky enough, I may get to see Matrix Reloaded a bit sooner than most everyone else since my good friend may be able to pick up some tickets for the sneak preview on the 24th. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, May 05, 2003

May 5

Well, it looks like I'm batting 2 for 2 on the movie watch. Caught X2 with a friend on Saturday and I wasn't disappointed. It was quite a bit better than the original which always seemed to be an appetizer than a main course. X2 is definitely a main course. The best battle scene was the introduction of Nightcrawler; he made better mincemeat of the Secret Service than Zod and his wrecking crew from Superman 2. However, that brings me to my main gripe about the movie; the ensuing battles didn't seem to be all that definitive...not like a final superfight between one hero and one villain; I guess it's just the weak thing of having so many characters duking it out. I'm sure that every actor wanted his/her time in the sun. On that note, Anna Paquin got the short end of the deal.
For all those longtime X-fans, there were a lot of nods to the comic book plots, including one major scene which came all the way back from the Chris Claremont era. That still surprised me. I may catch it again on the big screen but most likely I'll buy the DVD. After a spectactular $85 million opening, I think it's pretty much a done decision that X3 is on the boards. Probably will be the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Also caught an old chestnut of a sci-fi show this afternoon. On the old satellite channels, I saw a movie version of Space: 1999. It was a very ham-fistededly smashed concoction of the first 2 episodes of the Gerry Andersen show with Martin Landau...long before his notice as an Oscar-winning character actor.
1999 certainly looks a lot more dated now in the real 2003. For one thing, the moon is still in orbit. All joking aside, though, it was interesting to see this temporary antidote to Star Trek fever with then-current special effects almost on a par with 2001: A Space Odyssey and the camaraderie among Landau, ex-wife Barbara Bain and Barry Morse. Also, the music was very operatic, pre-John Williams. My main gripe about it is that the idiots who concocted this TV-movie version tore out the great opening credits. It almost makes me want to buy the DVD set.